Friday, March 20, 2015

J.M.J. During the 1972-1973 academic year, I was a fifth-grade student at Sacred Heart Elementary School in Aberdeen, South Dakota. My teacher was Sister M. Vianney Mannie, P.B.V.M., a kind and serious religious who obviously loved her students.

As fifth-graders, we were to memorize various prayers. There was a large poster on which was written the names of each pupil and the titles of certain prayers. After a student recited a particular prayer in front of Sister Vianney, a notation was made on the chart that he had memorized the prayer.

More than thirty years later, I recall that our instructor heaped special praise on four prayers that, according to her, would make us saints. Sister Vianney maintained that by praying the Angelus and the Acts of Faith, Hope and Charity three times daily, we would, thanks to God's grace, one day find ourselves in Paradise.

The other students and I found this foursome more difficult to "learn by heart," owing to length and the concepts expressed. But Sister Vianney's urging was paramount in the struggle to advance.

I never forgot Sister Vianney's comforting words and good example or, for that matter, these four prayers, which are appropriate for any time. Traditionally, the Angelus, which is replaced by the Regina Caeli during the Easter Season, is recited at 6:00 a.m., 12:00 noon and 6:00 p.m. The Acts of Faith, Hope and Charity make excellent companions to the Angelus.

Adding these prayers to our spiritual exercises brings great fruit not only to us but also to the Universal Church.

The Angelus
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. 
R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit. (Hail Mary, full of grace, . . . .)

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word. (Hail Mary, full of grace, . . . .)

V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us. (Hail Mary, full of grace, . . . .)

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray. Pour forth, we beseech Thee O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Pope Francis, among others, adds three times the "Glory Be" and the Prayer for the Faithful Departed.

V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.

V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. May their souls and all the souls of the Faithful Departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.)

Act of Faith
O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I believe that Thy Divine Son became man and died for our sins and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches because Thou hast revealed them, Who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

Act of Hope
O my God, relying on Thy infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace and Life Everlasting through the merits of Jesus Christ my Lord and Redeemer.

Act of Charity
O my God, I love Thee above all things with my whole heart and soul because Thou art all good and worthy of all my love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sister M. Vianney for encouraging me to learn and recite these prayers. This Sister of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary was right: these four "gems" contribute to our progress on the road to salvation.  

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