BILL Dougherty (Opinion, CL 26/2/12) desires that the Angelus reflect a literary scheme whereby God sends Gabriel, requests consent, receives a yes, conception follows.
He aligns his view with a similar view proposed by Sr Rita (Opinion 12/2/12).
Fr Raymond E. Brown in his book “The Birth of the Messiah“, acknowledged on page 306 that “… it would violate the genius of the Lucan narrative to have the conception take place before Mary has given her consent in verse 38 …”
However his main point in this context occurs at page 316. He asks us to realise that Mary’s consent to conception reflects broader Synoptic Gospel teaching that in Jesus’ ministry Mary was described as a disciple, a handmaid of the Lord (Luke 8:19-21).
This agrees with the chiastic structure of the Angelus prayer. Chiasms like the Angelus have an “a-b-a” structure.
The opening verses (a) describe the action of God coming into Mary’s life, and the closing verses (a) describe the action of God pitching His Tent amongst us. Sandwiched between these actions of God are the verses (b) describing Mary’s co-operation.
Literalness gives way to piety in this way of constructing a prayer.
There is a common Old Testament formula in Wisdom 9:5, and Psalms 86 and 115 which speak about “… your servant, the son of Your handmaid …”
The Angelus prayer is at all times focused upon the initiative of God.
Mary’s compliance is not so much a consent in the modern idiom with all its baggage.
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