The Angelus has always been one of the Marian prayers that I found very hard to pray. This could be because of my unwillingness to pray it or because, as sometimes happens, we say our prayers mechanically, without really thinking about what we are saying. What we can be sure of is that I never thought I would receive such a big grace with this prayer.
It all began in a confession a few months ago. After listening to me, the priest reminded me of the three evangelical counsels: poverty, chastity and obedience. He helped me understand that the root of all my weaknesses, imperfections and sins was living out these three counsels poorly. I thought that only religious and priests should live them, but little by little he explained how every Christian, whatever their state (priest, married, single, consecrated or religious) should live in poor, chaste and obedient manner.
I am a 28-year-old university student, and when I discovered that the Lord was proposing this path to me, I understood that it was my duty to discover how to live it. If Heaven is my goal, this is the only way. Turning away from that path would simply be getting lost and never arriving.
The confession ended and my penance was to pray the Angelus. Later on in the chapel, when I began saying, "The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, and she conceived by the Holy Spirit," I had the experience of knowing that Mary was saying to me, "Ask me to help you live chastity.” Then when I said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word,” the same thing, but this time she said, "Ask me to help you live obedience." Finally, when I said, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us," she said to me, "Ask me to help you live poverty." I finished the prayer and stayed there reflecting on what had just happened, which was a very great grace for me, and little by little I have been going deeper into its meaning.
I understood that the first sentence of the Angelus is a reflection of the perfect chastity Our Blessed Mother lived, because she conceived of the Holy Spirit. She was the Mother of God without ceasing to be a Virgin, and in order to live that chastity and purity—which, ultimately, is to put God in the first place in our heart and let nothing take his place—we must go to and imitate Mary, our perfect model. No one like Her knew how to give her heart completely to God. It is so comforting to know that She is there to help us live chastity! She, the Ever Virgin, will help you discover how the Lord wants you to live out this chastity in your life.
In the second part I discovered the summary of the obedience that Mary lived throughout her life. She always said, "Be it done." Her entire life was a yes to God. If we have to choose a moment in which Mary's obedience shone in a special way, it was when She said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word." The path marked out Jesus is also one of obedience to the Father. This obedience is not always easy, but once again the Virgin Mary is our model: She placed her entire life in the Lord’s hands and let his plans be fulfilled in Her. This is what our life should be like. The degree we choose, the activities of each day, the decisions we make: everything should always respond to a greater plan, the plan that God has for us. So, who will help us to listen and understand the Lord’s calls to us every day? Who can we turn to for help in having a docile and obedient heart? To Mary. She will always help you answer yes.
And at the end of the Angelus I could see the example of a God who became poor, becoming incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary, "dwelling among us.” Jesus’ first "home" was the womb of Our Blessed Mother. God could have chosen wealth and honor, but he chose poverty and humility. It is this poverty of spirit that gives us freedom. What did Mary have to offer the Lord? Nothing material, but She gave Herself. Through Our Blessed Mother's example, we see how the Lord dwells in poverty—in poverty of spirit!—in a heart that, stripped of everything, can possess everything. From the manger to the cross, Jesus experienced complete detachment and on this path Our Lady was the first to follow Him. Who can we turn to in order to fight against the desire to possess and to find security in the material things that always tie us down or leave us empty? To Mary. She will help you to leave everything behind, which is really nothing, to give yourself to the One who became flesh in her womb, Jesus.
I understood that Our Blessed Mother will be the help and the greatest model in living this path that the Lord Jesus has marked out for us. Holding her hand we will be able to walk safely until we reach Heaven. She wants us to ask for it. She is the help of all those who, wanting to start on the path of holiness, are aware of their weakness. The Angelus is now the prayer that reminds me of this path that Jesus began and that Our Lady followed.
It is a joy to know that you can hold Mary’s hand. She doesn’t allow anyone who goes to Her to be lost. You have to be pure and chaste young people to truly love, obedient to live that simplicity that gives so much peace and joy, and poor in spirit to live authentic freedom. I hope the same thing happens to you, and every time you pray the Angelus you remember the path that the Lord has marked out for you and on which Mary wants to be your faithful companion.
-Mayra Rodríguez, HM Ecuador