Every day now we ring the Angelus, which is a series of eighteen strikes on the chapel bell, in a particular rhythm. We encircle our day by ringing the Angelus at 6:30 AM, as the day begins with an hour of meditation (which we call The Hour of the Wolf); at noon (a respectiful nod to the tradition of Angelus-ringing); and at 6:30 PM, at the close of our evening meditation (The Hour of the Deer). The traditional monastic practice is to stop whatever you are doing at the first bell to say the prayers [see below] as the bells are rung.
I most enjoy the noon Angelus, because that’s when we might be engaged in any number of daily tasks: Pia’s been finishing the hermitage renovation and making a new pen for the ducklings; Sr. Lilli Ana might be cleaning out a guest room or planning an afterschool program; Sr. Heléna Marie and Sr. Donna Martha might be pulling weeds, planting, harvesting or otherwise tending the garden; I might be doing laundry, raking leaves or paying bills; Sr. Claire Joy might be cooking or shopping; Sr. Emmanual may be riding herd on the lunchroom at school. And then, suddenly, “CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!!” sings the ship’s bell we use for chapel, and simultaneously, seven woman stop in their tracks to pray.
When the Angelus began at noon today I was looking out the window of my office at the changing leaves. I could see Sr. Donna Martha working on fencing under the apple tree. and suddenly there we were like children playing “statue” — me with a cup of coffee in hand, Sr. Donna Martha with her hands full of deer netting and fence post. And there we stood for the next few minutes, two nun-statues, praying the same prayers together. Just then I felt the deep connection between our little family of Sisters, all of us standing quietly, praying words steeped in monastic tradition.
Old and new, shaking hands across the ages, joining time-tested tradition with emerging vision. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Prayers for the ringing of the Angelus
The pattern of ringing is three sets of three bells, rung fairly close together and with a pause between the sets for the completion of the Hail Mary. After the three sets of three, nine bells are rung evenly but spaced further apart for the final prayer. (Imagine a bell ringing at each asterisk.)
* The angel of the Lord announced unto Mary
* And behold she conceived by the Holy Spirit
* Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, prayer for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
* And Mary said, behold the handmaid of the Lord.
* Be it unto me according to your Word.
* Hail Mary …
* And the Word was made flesh,
* And dwelt among us.
* Hail Mary …
* Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
* That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.
* Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have * known the incarnation of your Son, Jesus Christ, * announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his * cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection * who lives and reigns with you * in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, * now and forever. Amen.