I’ve always thought it would be nice to own a grandfather clock. The idea of a clock marking the passing hours with a chime just speaks to my heart. Perhaps the thought brings back memories of the clock at my grandparent’s house or the Church bells at our school. I’ve mentioned this desire to my husband a few times, and his reaction has always been the same… “That sounds like it would get annoying very quickly!” Needless to say, we don’t own a grandfather clock…yet, but I have acquired something that, in marking the passing of time, has had a considerable impact on my life. It is an app on my phone that reminds me to pray the Angelus.
For those of you who might not be familiar with it, the praying of the Angelus is an old devotion in the Catholic Church, where we remember the Incarnation and the role Mary played in the story of Salvation. Every day, at noon, my phone chimes. I stop what I am doing and, with bells ringing in the background, I unite my prayer to that of the Church. It takes less than a minute to pray, but I have to say, I feel like it has made a huge difference in my prayer life.
I love how this prayer invites me to slow down the passage of time. What I usually think of as one moment, one mystery, “The Incarnation,” is broken down into smaller moments. The prayer brings us in to participate in the conversation between Mary and the Angel. A back and forth between Heaven and earth. But there is something else. The way the bells just “show up” in my life, often catching me by surprise, is like God knocking on the door, checking up on me, saying, “What have you been doing with your time?”
Sometimes I am in the middle of writing an article or preparing an RCIA class. Other times I might be helping my son with schoolwork or ordering groceries online. But there are times when the bells find me scrolling down aimlessly through social media, or in other words, wasting my time.
Whether my morning was spent wisely or foolishly, this simple call to prayer has become a call to be awake, to stop, and to listen. What if death was the one who was calling this day? Would it find me ready? Would it find me at my station, fulfilling my duties, or would it find me indulging in some escapist behavior, being lulled to sleep by the white noise of the world?
“The angel of the Lord declared on to Mary…” Mary was ready. Will I be ready when it is my time? This prayer, this daily practice, helps me to keep this question in mind. Seeing how often I fail at it does not discourage me because I immediately repent and bring the Incarnation of Christ to mind. It is in this very prayer where the graces I seek are to be found. In pondering on the readiness and receptivity of Mary, I make room for those virtues to grow in my heart. This is how we grow and change, a little at a time. Falling, failing, but turning back to God each time.