25th November - The Angelus - The gift of art and imagination
When praying a Gospel scene it is good to have an image before us. If the physical scene is not available then we can have a mental picture. Perhaps the mental picture is even more important, because it helps us focus on the event - on what we are praying about at the time.

St Ignatius of Loyola strongly recommended that we use our imagination. Apart from our mind and heart and speech we have this other special faculty of the imagination. This has the power to draw us even more into the faith event and therefore most especially to our God -just as the people (like Mary in this case) were drawn into a deeper union with Him in the event itself.

There are many beautiful paintings of the Incarnation - the taking of flesh by our God, or of the Annunciation (announced by the Angel Gabriel) as we call it. I would like to submit the well-known and beautiful painting by Fra Angelico.

As we admire and reflect on this painting it will become more imprinted in our imagination.

As we use our powerful gift of imagination for this prayer we can do much more. We can put ourselves into the scene - get close as it were. In so doing Mary, the Angel and above all, Jesus, will become closer to us. In this way Jesus, our giving and lavish God, becomes more real for us each day.

18th November - The Angelus
Christmas is fast approaching. We don'€™t need the shops to remind us of that. It is an opportune time for me to begin some reflections on the Angelus.

This is a beautiful traditional and scripture based prayer, that has been prayed by people down through the centuries. Many still do so.

It is a practice for you? If not, could I suggest you pray it daily? Traditionally where there are Church bells, they were rang morning (6am), noon and evening (6pm).

It doesn'€™t matter when we pray the Angelus, but I believe it is important that we pray it.

I like to begin my prayer time in the morning with the Angelus. It helps me focus on God and particularly on Emmanuel, meaning '€˜God is with us'€™.

As an action of today'€™s reflection, could I ask for you to choose a time each day to pray the Angelus reflectively. For those who do not have it on hand I print a copy.