St. Teresa's Online Book Club. Our current book is Jared Dees' Praying the Angelus: Find Joy, Peace, and Purpose in Everyday Life. Growing up Catholic, I had never heard of the Angelus prayer. It was not until the summer of 2015 when a Totus Tuus group came to our parish that I learned about the Angelus as they prayed it after daily Mass. Then, my priest mentioned that it was part of his family's daily prayer routine.
In the book, Jared Dees starts with an invitation to integrate the Angelus into our daily lives three times a day, following the established custom. He talks about the origin of the prayer (and the Regina Caeli that replaces the Angelus during the Easter season), as well as how and why to pray them. My favorite concept from this section was the value in having something to turn our thoughts back to God, "Praying the Angelus [...] reminds us to dedicate our time, our work, and our lives back to God. Each time we stop what we are doing and pray; we orient our lives and our time to God, the source of our lives and the inspiration for our work. In pausing to consecrate time back to God and rededicate our lives to him, we recognize that our life and our work are gifts that he has given to us and that we give back in return" (p. 3), as well as "We can find peace in our busy lives when we stop and remember that we are put here on earth to do God's will" (p. 5). He explores this concept of time throughout the first part of the book.
I also liked that in the How to Pray the Angelus section he addressed why prayer can be so powerful, even though it requires courage and discipline to do so because it is not necessarily going to always feel like an immediate profound experience. However, when we commit to a regular prayer routine and then follow through, he describes how it can be transformational.
The second and third parts of the book focus on meditations of the different words in the Angelus and the Regina Caeli. He pulls out concepts from different lines which he describes briefly and then transitions into a meditation. In the book club, the facilitators have been drawing from these meditations to do daily posts for group discussion. This section of the book reminded me in some ways of St. Teresa of Avila's The Way of Prayer looking deeply at the Our Father.
The book inspired a deeper appreciation for the Angelus. Though I made some attempts to integrate it into my daily life, it is not a consistent part of my routine yet. One reason is logistics. I have a traditional slider cell phone, rather than a smart phone, so I am limited to setting 3 alarms. I tried to do a rotation of once I switched off one alarm, programming forward to another (such as 6 am to 6 pm and 12 pm to 3 pm - when I pause to reflect on Jesus' Crucifixion); however, that did not go too smoothly. The other challenge was that I do not yet have the prayer fully memorize (and am even further off on the Regina Caeli), and when I don't have the prayer memorized it is hard to pause and prayer whenever the alarm goes off if I don't happen to have the words with me at the time. A smart phone would be a quick solution to that as well, and with the prevalence of smart phones, I would imagine my challenges of the limited alarms and not always having access to the words wherever I happen to be would not necessarily be obstacles to smart phone users.
I am also trying to decide whether to layer in one more prayer routine or to continue with my current routines. Whether or not I add in the Angelus, the book was still valuable in considering the power of my current prayer practices from new lenses as a lot of what he said about the Angelus applies to my daily Rosary and the 3 pm pause to reflect.
Eventually, I would like to read Dees' other books.