The beautiful painting of the “Angelus” as painted by the French artist Jean-Francois Millet is well worthy of deep reflection and prayer
Pictures can yield as much understanding as the revealed word if we ponder, like Mary, all these things in our hearts…
The pictures is painted in such delicate tones, that we are as it were immediately brought into the atmosphere of the event it captures….the praying of the Angelus.. we are drawn into an experience of prayer.
It is dusk, the birds in the sky are flocked and flying home to their nesting place, the labour of the day is well on and drawing to a close, the Farmer and his wife have laboured long and hard, and are eager to return home which is yet a journey away as they are far out in the fields… it is harvest time.
In the far distance we see the church spire, the bell is ringing…. the bell not electronically generated, but made, cast and named to give glory to God, and often dedicated to Mary the Mother of God. The sweet tones of such bells could carry on the wind over great distances…..
The Angelus bell was rung and still is in many countries, and places three times a day, 6am-12 Noon and at 6pm. It calls each to lay aside their work in hand and to stop and pray, to lift their hearts and minds to God in gratitude through the intercession of Mary.
This is so beautifully captivated in this picture, God was supreme, all things had to bow before him, for man understood that all he had, possessed was for and from God… he was the source of the blessing of the harvest, the grace of labour, the gift of the day.
If you look closely you will see that the harvest was not an easy picking it was a potato crop, before the invention of harvesters, a back breaking job indeed.
There is something profoundly touching, inspiring and worthy of imitation in this picture.
The farmer and his wife worked a full and demanding day and yet they knew their priorities, it was never the case that there was no time for God…. time was dedicated to God…. the Angelus was as it were the ‘poor persons office…. it is a most beautiful prayer, simple and yet so meaningful.
Traditionally it is always accompanied when recited in public by the ringing of bells, but even for a private recitation the offering can be made even more solemn by ringing just three times a small bell.
Let us reflect deeply upon this picture it can speak to us so much of God…. and a call to love God above all things.