|The Angelus by Millet|
Archbishop Óscar A. Romero told his brother Tiberio that the secret to being happy in life was to pray the “Angelus.” Tiberio recalled that his brother told him that he should make praying three Hail Marys in the morning and three again in the evening the axis around which to ground his day. Tiberio also attested to the efficacy of the practice, saying that he has lived to see old age and developed a strong Marian devotion, thanks to the wise spiritual counsel he received from his brother. Archbishop Romero gave the same advice he gave his own brother to all the faithful on May 7, 1978, when he announced that he was instituting the recitation of the “Angelus” in the archdiocese of San Salvador.
"With joy I want to announce that beginning this Sunday,” Archbishop Romero said, “at twelve noon we will pray the Angelus on our radio program.” Archbishop Romero would be glad to hear that the advice he gave his brother Tiberio led to his developing a Marian devotion because, Romero told the faithful, “True Catholics ought to be characterized by this devotion to the Mother of the Church.”
We can think of three reasons Romero was devoted to the Angelus.
The first is its status as an authentic expression of the sensus fidei: it has a natural internal logic about it that suggests itself. In fact, the prayer arose just as Archbishop Romero prescribed it to his brother—as three Hail Marys, unadorned and unembellished, liturgically or theologically. This practice is first recorded in monasteries during the 11th Century—the monks would pray three Hail Marys during the evening bell. The three Hail Marys invoke the Three Persons of the Trinity, and immediately focus our thoughts, as do all Marian devotions, properly on God. Later, the practice became more widespread, and the custom arose of saying the Angelus in the morning, at noon, and in the evening—also, helping to naturally break up the day. One can see the practicality of doing this before the advent of clocks and watches. Jean-François Millet’s famous painting (shown) depicts peasants praying the Angelus out on a field. The Angelus as a staple of popular piety, of the simple wisdom of the people of God, and as a perennial spiritual practice in the history of Christianity, would have been enormously appealing to Archbishop Romero.
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