Q. Didn’t Mary’s consent occur before she conceived by the Holy Spirit? But in the Angelus prayer “She conceived of the Holy Spirit” comes before “Be it done unto me according to thy word … ”
— Tim, Florida
A. Here’s a reply from Msgr. Charles Pope:
Liturgical prayer accesses chronological time with reference to the fullness of time. Thus at Christmas, though referencing Jesus’ infancy, we still gather with him in the Upper Room, at the foot of the cross and celebrate him as the risen, glorified Lord, at Christmas Mass. Though we focus on one aspect of his temporal work, we always have the whole in mind. Content and context trump chronology.
The same can be said for the Angelus. We are not declaring the event of the Incarnation in a strict, chronological way, but in a way that theologically expresses all the components understood wholly: God’s initiative, Mary’s assent and the fact of the Word becoming flesh.