Becoming a Slave to Mary

The first time I completed the Preparation for Total Consecration According to St. Louis Marie de Montfort (when I was an overzealous young adult), the concept of becoming a slave to Mary was quite scandalous to me. I could accept the challenge of surrendering all to her, of uniting my will, senses, and intellect to hers to that I could be more closely united to her Son, but slavery? Slavery connoted extreme subjugation, a type of bondage that would suffocate and imprison, rather than liberate.  Never in my life had I heard of the concept of slavery in a favorable manner, but only through the descriptions of horrific maltreatment of humans throughout various historical events.

Could I be a slave to Mary? I thought as I read the daily reflection.  What does it mean to enslave myself to her?  The words were too extreme, even for my uber-conservative perspective.  Even in Scripture, Jesus speaks of setting the captives free and releasing prisoners from their spiritual chains.  I couldn’t imagine that God would want us to consciously choose any form of slavery…or would He?

First of all, St. Louis de Montfort describes consecration to our Lady as a type of “holy slavery,” which seems incredibly oxymoronic and confounding.  In True Devotion, he explains that we can call ourselves “slaves of Mary,” “slaves of the Holy Virgin,” or “slaves of Jesus in Mary,” which is his preferred and most accurate description of this type of holy slavery (number 244).  The two principle means of consecration, which is to say, total abdication of ourselves to Jesus and Mary, further clarify this beautiful metaphor of holy slavery:

The Mystery of the Incarnation

St. Louis describes the Incarnation as a mystery of the Faith in which “Jesus is a captive and a slave in the bosom of Mary, and depends on her for all things” (number 243).  If we ponder this, we acknowledge the profound humility and humiliation in this truth.  All babies are captive in their mother’s wombs.  Unborn children exhibit this innate and constant dependence on their mothers for nourishment, protection, and love.  In order to become a slave of Mary – or of Jesus through/in Mary (since Jesus is our end, and Mary is our means to Him) – we must return to that psychological and spiritual infancy that includes unabashed abandonment, a total trust in her mystical womb that encases us with her motherly protection, intercession, and mercy.

If we long to imitate Jesus, then we must contemplate the details of this beautiful mystery and ready ourselves to reenter the womb of Mary with Him.  The safety and assurance that all of our needs will be cared for is certainly a type of enslavement, but it is one that all of us have already experienced when we were in our own mother’s wombs.

Resorting to mystical slavery may, at first, appear repugnant to most of us, who have adopted the societal mindset that autonomy is the highest form of freedom.  But as children of God, we know that the pull toward independence must be tempered by humility, and humility requires total dependence on God rather than self-sufficiency.  Holy slavery, then, is a type of radical abandonment into the care of Jesus through Mary.  It is an uncompromising, possibly diehard, form of trust, which is so contrary to our drive for independence.

Consider the necessary vulnerability required for holy slavery: a heart that is open and empty, ready and willing for God to fill it with His very essence, His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.  We cannot complicate our lives with frivolous and peripheral thoughts or activities.  Instead, we must somehow discipline ourselves to be delicate babies in the womb of Mary so that we can learn this radical form of trust.

In the Incarnation, we can “see Jesus only in Mary,” as St. Louis reminds us (number 246).  Therefore, her womb must become ours in a mystical sense so that we can belong entirely to Jesus.

Mary was chosen to be the mother of God

St. Louis further states that we should “thank God for the incomparable graces He has given Mary, and particularly for having chosen her to be His most mother, which choice was made in this mystery” (number 243).  Here is where we learn to approach Jesus through His mother.  The more we practice the first principle, the more we begin to understand more deeply that the hearts of Jesus and Mary are so inextricably intertwined that to know, love, and honor Mary with this total slavery, or abandonment of trust, is to know, love, and honor Jesus more fully.

We can participate in this “throne of mercy” (number 248), because Jesus is more lenient on us when we appeal to Him through His mother.  This liberality, or mercy, is what draws us to recognize that neither Jesus nor His mother can be separated, except in substance.  Their hearts, their intentions, their mission is the same.  If the idea of this indelible communion between mother and Son is still difficult to accept, try practicing the devotion to the United Hearts of Jesus and Mary.  Over time, you will discover that you cannot love Mary too much, only too little.  She will always lead you toward her Son and closer to Heaven.

Holy slavery to Jesus in Mary is one of the highest spiritual devotions, because it requires persistent self-abasement, a deliberate choice to relinquish control over the details of your life, and a radical trust that they will care for everything you need.  A soul who becomes enslaved to Jesus and Mary is a soul who loves them so deeply, so entirely, that it cannot fathom the bizarre, postmodern notion of abhorrence to such an act.

If you allow Jesus and Mary to shackle you in this slavery, it is because you know and trust them so intimately that it is impossible for them, out of love for you, to harm you in any way.  There is no thought that slavery equates imprisonment, unless you are imprisoned to unitive love.  And unitive, or perfect, love with Jesus liberates the soul through its desire to belong to Him.


Jeannie Ewing believes the world ignores and rejects the value of the Cross. She writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief.  As a disability advocate, Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters and is the author of From Grief to Grace , A Sea Without A Shore , and Waiting with Purpose.  Jeannie is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and contributes to several online and print Catholic magazines.   She, her husband, and three daughters live in northern Indiana. For more information, please visit her website

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  • MarcAlcan

    Here’s the problem with saying that we can be slaves to Mary:
    One of the ways of contrasting Christianity and Islam is that in Islam, God is Master we are slaves. In Christianity we are children of God.

    A slave has no personal relationship with the Master: he is merely chattel. One that can be bought, sold, beaten.

    A son, is one cared for, nurtured, disciplined with love, provided for.

    So the idea of being slave to the mother of God is scandalous. I doubt she will appreciate us referring to ourselves in such a manner. The slave does things out of duty and fear of retribution.

    But the loving child, does for her mother everything – with love.

    So, no. I don’t like the idea of being a slave to Mary.

    If that were so I would fear her. I would resent her. I would be obedient out of obligation.

    But she does not want that from me. She wants from complete trust, without the slightest hint of fear. She wants me to love her just as she loves me and not to fear her.

    At the foot of the Cross Jesus said to her behold your son – not behold your slave.

    Jesus was very clear, I no longer call you slaves, I call you friends. And now brothers and sister. He would not want anything less for His Mother.

  • kirk

    I’m sorry but have to agree with MarcAlcan. When I first saw the title of the column, my first thought was, “Oh no!” My second thought was that I was glad I didn’t tell my protestant relatives about this website. But, perhaps I can wander around in between these two extremes, and come up with an explanation that at least I can be comfortable with. When on the cross, Jesus said to John and his mother (Mary), “Son, behold your mother; Woman, behold your son.” As a convert, I’ve always been somewhat sensitive (and tentative) in what I see as excessive in the adoration of the Virgin Mary, but I believe the Church teaches that when Jesus spoke from that Cross to John and his mother, he was giving HER to all of us as children of God – with Jesus as our Brother and God as our Father. In that scenario, I’m afraid I’d have to reject the idea of “slavery.” to her, though we can dedicate our whole life and everything we say and do to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but immaculate as she was, she is not part of the Godhead. And, it is good to remember what Jesus said to his disciples, “I no longer call you slaves, but friends (brothers, sisters). So if Jesus freed us from slavery, and adopted us into the family of God, why should his mother want us to be slaves to her?
    I think I understand your devotion and the intensity of your prayer, but not the slavery. Perhaps I have misunderstood your intentions… if so, I apologize.

  • Charles Spinner

    I think the use of the word slave in this article doesn’t literally mean the kind of master n slave relationship we know. As you said it’s a father and child-like relationship. So…as children or once when we were children, we often felt imprisoned and restricted by our parents…and it was always our will against their. Submission to the will of our parents was seen as a form of slavery n controlling….and yet it was always for the better.
    So in our relationship with God according to my understanding of the article should be one of free submission to the will of God through our Lady…chaining ourselves lovingly to her sleeve so that Gods will becomes our will uniting our will completely to the Lord’s will in a sort of Holy slavery. As a child in full agreement and union with the wish and will of the Father. So that where He goes or bids me to go I go…what He asks me to do I do…more because of love for Him than just my preference or taste for it. Even unto death.

  • MarcAlcan

    To use the word slave and put another meaning to it is verbal engineering.
    Slave is slave. A father-child relationship is never slave-master even when the child is restricted because of the love and concern of the father.
    The master’s restriction is precisely that: he is master and you are beneath him.
    I don’t think there is ever Holy Slavery except perhaps for Muslims.
    Slavery means the absence of freedom and it is for freedom that Christ came.
    The child whose will is in total union with the Father is not one who is a slave but one who is totally and perfectly free.

  • John Keating

    So, um, are you going to call the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart and have them change their name?

  • MarcAlcan

    Why should I? If they choose to regard themselves as slaves that is up to them.

    I like to think of myself as her beloved child. Just as Jesus said I am.

    But I must say that it is incredibly sad that the Mother of God thinks of them as her children but they think of themselves as her slave. A disconnect with reality there.

  • Dom Prosper

    Right. One of the greatest Marian theologians in the history of your faith is wrong. An entire religious order committed to serving your church is wrong. But Dude on the Internet with A Hug-My-Self Sensitivity Theology Degree knows better than all and we bow to his brilliance. The ignorance of Catholics of their own faith is amazing to me.

  • MarcAlcan

    A Marian theologian is precisely just that – a theologian. And a group of religious sisters is precisely just that a group of religious sisters.
    If you can rebut my points and if you can find support for your believe in Scripture or in the Catechism, then maybe we can continue the conversation.
    But your response so far is just plain illogical and ignorant. Ignorant of Scripture and Ignorant of the teaching of the Church.

  • Dom Prosper

    What points to rebuff? You see the word “slave,” a word that occurs in your scriptures and was used by Augustine and other Latin Fathers quite often, and then you run into your safe space. You offer no real critique but just say, “I don’t like that word!” Well, lemme tell you something, chap, nobody cares about your feelings and icky feels do not an argument make.

  • MarcAlcan

    You see the word “slave,” a word that occurs in your scriptures and was used by Augustine and other Latin Fathers quite often, and then you run into your safe space

    And pray tell, how did Augustine and the Fathers use the word slave? Did they it is a good way to describe a Christian? Did they say that Christ died to make us slaves?
    Did they say we should be slaves of Mary?
    Do give me citations.

    And the rest of your post is just more illogical and irrational rant.
    You will have less and less of this the more you learn to think logically.

    And by the way, if you have the slightest bit of ability to comprehend, I did not merely say I dislike the word. I said why the word is the wrong word to use in our relationship to the Mother of God. I gave ample citations. But I guess these just flew by you as well.

  • Dom Prosper

    You mean I’ll think logically and have great arguments like you bringing up Islam for no apparent reason other than that both religions use the term slave within their literature? Ohh, can’t wait to be afraid of brown people! Flee, allay allay! I look forward to the day that my mind is as sharp as you, gov.

  • MarcAlcan

    Wow, you really are rationally challenged. How did Islam even figure into this?

    The reason I brought up Islam is because that is their relationship with God. The Koran says we are slaves and God is master. So if you think we are slaves then you have more in common with Islam than with Christianity.

    Christianity says we are God’s children.

    If you can’t even understand that, then it is no wonder you did not get any of my arguments.

  • kirk

    I’ve read through all these posts of the last 24 hours and I come to only one conclusion. Dumb (er, I mean Dom) Prosper is not really interested in knowing what Catholics really believe and the arguments are as old as Christianity. I used to be protestant, so I know how they think, and the disdain coming from their lips, posts etc is really obvious. I used to do it myself back then. By the grace of God, my objections to the CC melted away once I learned what Catholics really believe. I’ve been reading a book, written by a Protestant scholar, “Bearing False Witness, Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History” where the author delves into the detail behind all those myths, and how they merged into modern Protestant certainties. It is a real eye opener and I would urge Catholics to read the book. I’m not sure DomProsper wants to read it because it may change his outlook, and as I remember as a child growing up Protestant, I was once warned, “You must not read that book because those Catholics will reach out and steal your soul for damnation.” But, if Dom is up to a dare – I double dare ya.

  • MarcAlcan

    Welcome home!
    I googled that book and it seems to be a more scholarly version of another book I have on the myths about the Catholic Church as they both address the Inquisition, Crusades, Gallileo, Pius XII.