Fourth Vow: Consecration to Mary in Maternal Slavery of Love
Our special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is primarily demonstrated through our profession of a fourth vow of consecration to Mary in addition to the religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. We make this fourth vow to Our Lady because we need and implore her indispensable help in fulfilling our purpose to prolong the Incarnation of the Word “in all men, in all of man, and in all the manifestations of man.” By professing this fourth vow, we completely surrender ourselves to Mary in order to better serve Jesus Christ. This vow has two aspects: consecration to Mary and “marianizing” our life.
Everything through Jesus and through Mary;
with Jesus and with Mary;
in Jesus and in Mary;
for Jesus and for Mary.
In short, simply: Jesus and Mary, Mary and Jesus.
And through Christ, to the Father, in the Holy Spirit.
(Conclusion, Directory of Spirituality)
Consecration to Mary
First, we consecrate ourselves–all our material, spiritual and moral goods–to Mary in “maternal slavery of love” according to the method of Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. This consecration is a more perfect fulfillment of our baptismal promises through which the Blessed Virgin disposes all of our goods according to her good will, which is united so intimately to that of her Son. In this way, we are sure that we must go to the Incarnate Word through Mary, his mother, and that she will form “great saints.”
Our consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary as described by St. Louis de Montfort is a form of “voluntary slavery.” Slavery indicates not simply a spirit of service to Our Lady, but rather the humble recognition that, by virtue of our redemption through the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus, we no longer belong to ourselves, but to Him. Furthermore, we have no other purpose in life but “to glorify Him in our bodies and to let Him reign in our souls, because we are His conquest, His acquired people, His inheritance” (True Devotion, 68). However, by ourselves we are too weak to succeed in this lofty goal. Therefore, we freely consecrate ourselves to His service through the means of His Blessed Mother as slaves. Many argue that “slavery,” by nature, negates freedom. However, Venerable John Paul II countered this opposition by saying that “we are confronted here with the sort of paradox often to be noted in the Gospels, the words ‘holy slavery’ signifying that we could not more fully exploit our freedom…For freedom is measured by the love of which we are capable” (as quoted in Constitutions, 83).
The second aspect of our vow to the Blessed Virgin Mary is the fruit and natural consequence of the first. To “marianize” life is to do everything through Mary, with Mary, in Mary and for Mary.
- Through Mary: To unite our intention with Mary’s, who keeps nothing for herself, but in all things directs us to her Son.
- With Mary: To have Mary as our companion and model who guides all our intentions, actions and operations.
- In Mary: To act in intimate union with Mary in great love, imitating the Incarnate Word who dwelt in her womb.
- For Mary: It is necessary to do everything for Mary, the “proximate end, our mysterious intermediary, and the easiest way of reaching [Jesus Christ].” (St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion)
Living the Vow to Mary
Our consecration to Mary and our reliance on her intercession and aid is evident in our daily lives. We begin each day upon rising with prayers to Our Lady.We also daily pray the Rosary (usually walking through our local neighborhoods) as well as the Angelus to unite ourselves more closely through Mary to the mysteries of Jesus. After the reception of Holy Communion, our religious family has the tradition of praying to Mary in order to commend ourselves to her hands and renew our consecration to her. These elements are part of our religious life from its very beginning.
When sisters first receive the religious habit, they also are given a religious name that makes them “doubly” Mary. The religious name has two parts. First, all sisters take a form of Mary (Maria, Marie, Mariam, Maryja, etc.) as the first part of the religious name because Mary is the “prototype of religious life” and because “the life of women religious is like an explication of the mystery of Mary, its development and its fullness” (Las Servidoras, Tomo I). The second part of the religious name is generally an advocation of Mary. It is said that there are more than 30,000 advocations of Mary, which include titles referencing the specific mysteries of her life, her relationship to the mysteries of Christ, her virtues, privileges or attributes, or places where she has either appeared or famous images of her were discovered.
During the novitiate formation, sisters complete the 33-day preparation for total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary according the method of St. Louis de Montfort and make a public profession of this consecration on May 8, the feast of Our Lady of Lujan. This public consecration is a preparation for the profession of the vow of consecration to Mary.
How Mary Shapes the Daily Lives of the Members of our Religious Family
“Every faithful slave of Jesus in Mary must therefore, invoke her, salute her, think of her, talk about her, honor her, glorify her, entrust himself to her, rejoice and suffer with her, work, pray and rest with her. In brief, one must seek to live always, through Jesus and Mary, with Jesus and Mary, in Jesus and Mary, and for Jesus and Mary” (Constitutions, 89).