The Angelus tolls in the crisp air, and I am reminded of the gift of God bestowed to the Virgin Mary. As the bell continues its patterned ring, I speak my prayers and offer my heart to the Lord. May this pause offer an opportunity to be mindful of Christ in my life and to keep Him present throughout my day.
The Angelus is one of many reminders we have throughout our busy days to stop and pause and pray to God. We say grace at meals. We pray before going to bed. We pray when we get up. We pray before taking a test. We pray during church. We pray at the flag pole. We teach our children what prayer is and when we should pray. We teach them specific prayers that we say at certain times of the day. As we get older, we have memorized prayers that we rely upon for strength, peace, guidance, temperance. These words offer us comfort, help to calm us, give us courage when we need it, reconnect us to our Father and God.
Fr. John-Julian, the Order of Julian of Norwich, designates a certain type of prayer, a “still” prayer, as “a state rather than an action.” We pray at certain times and at events throughout our days and during our lives. Fr. Julian takes our understanding of prayer deeper from that of an act that we do to a way that we are. Prayer is a moment of sharing a conversation with God. Prayer can also be more than just a moment; it can be a way of being that transcends the ticks on a clock.
God longs for us to speak with Him, to spend time with Him. In the beautiful lyrics from musician Larnelle Harris, “I miss my time with you, those moments together, I need to be with you each day, and it hurts me when you say you’re too busy, busy trying to serve me, but how can you serve me when your spirit’s empty.” God calls us to be with Him, and I believe He delights when we respond to His call and share moments of our life with Him. I also believe that He aches to be with us during ALL moments. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 prompts us to “pray without ceasing.” According to the verse, we are to be in a constant state of prayer.
But what does “pray without ceasing” look like? No, perhaps we don’t get on our knees, clasp our hands together, close our eyes, and speak our prayers to God. While some of our daily prayers may have that specific posture, God does not require that structured action. Still, or contemplative, prayer is a quiet from within that fills the spaces and centers our minds and hearts on God. Much like we can have a jar of pebbles that might represent our more formal prayers throughout the day, still prayer could be like the fresh water we pour into the jar that fills the spaces between the pebbles. In still prayer we are open to God’s voice and direction; we are thinking of “what is true, noble, righteous, and lovely” (Philippians 4:8).
As the final echo of the Angelus fades from the air, my thoughts and attention resumes on the tasks at hand and the business of the day. However, my heart and spirit remain connected with God through the Holy Spirit. May we seek God and respond to His voice not only in the specific moments during the day but also within the quiet spaces as well.