226. Although this devotion is essentially an interior one,
this does not prevent it from having exterior practices which
should not be neglected. "These must be done but those not
omitted." If properly performed, exterior acts help to foster
interior ones. Man is always guided by his senses and such
practices remind him of what he has done or should do. Let no
worldling or critic intervene to assert that true devotion is
essentially in the heart and therefore externals should be
avoided as inspiring vanity, or that real devotion should be
hidden and private. I answer in the words of our Lord, "Let
men see your good works that they may glorify your Father who
is in heaven." As St. Gregory says, this does not mean that
they should perform external actions to please men or seek
praise; that certainly would be vanity. It simply means that
we do these things before men only to please and glorify God
without worrying about either the contempt or the approval ofmen.
I shall briefly mention some practices which I call
exterior, not because they are performed without inner
attention but because they have an exterior element as
distinct from those which are purely interior.
1. Preparation and Consecration
227. Those who desire to take up this special devotion, (which
has not been erected into a confraternity, although this would
be desirable), should spend at least twelve days in emptying
themselves of the spirit of the world, which is opposed to the
spirit of Jesus, as I have recommended in the first part of
this preparation for the reign of Jesus Christ. They should
then spend three weeks imbuing themselves with the spirit of
Jesus through the most Blessed Virgin. Here is a programme
they might follow:
228. During the first week they should offer up all their
prayers and acts of devotion to acquire knowledge of
themselves and sorrow for their sins.
Let them perform all their actions in a spirit of
humility. With this end in view they may, if they wish,
meditate on what I have said concerning our corrupted nature,
and consider themselves during six days of the week as nothing
but sails, slugs, toads, swine, snakes and goats. Or else they
may meditate on the following three considerations of St.
Bernard: "Remember what you were - corrupted seed; what you
are - a body destined for decay; what you will be -food for
They will ask our Lord and the Holy Spirit to enlighten
them saying, "Lord, that I may see," or "Lord, let me know
myself," or the "Come, Holy Spirit". Every day they should say
the Litany of the Holy Spirit, with the prayer that follows,
as indicated in the first part of this work. They will turn to
our Blessed Lady and beg her to obtain for them that great
grace which is the foundation of all others, the grace of
self- knowledge. For this intention they will say each day the
Ave Maris Stella and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin.
229. Each day of the second week they should endeavour in all
their prayers and works to acquire an understanding of the
Blessed Virgin and ask the Holy Spirit for this grace. They
may read and meditate upon what we have already said about
her. They should recite daily the Litany of the Holy Spirit
and the Ave Maris Stella as during the first week. In
addition they will say at least five decades of the Rosary for
greater understanding of Mary.
230. During the third week they should seek to understand
Jesus Christ better. They may read and meditate on what we
have already said about him. They may say the prayer of St.
Augustine which they will find at the beginning of the second
part of this book. Again with St. Augustine, they may pray
repeatedly, "Lord, that I may know you," or "Lord, that I may
see." As during the previous week, they should recite the
Litany of the Holy Spirit and the Ave Maris Stella, adding
every day the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus.
231. At the end of these three weeks they should go to
confession and Holy Communion with the intention of
consecrating themselves to Jesus through Mary as slaves of
love. When receiving Holy Communion they could follow the
method given later on. They then recite the act of
consecration which is given at the end of this book. If they
do not have a printed copy of the act, they should write it
out or have it copied and then sign it on the very day they
232. It would be very becoming if on that day they offered
some tribute to Jesus and his Mother, either as a penance for
past unfaithfulness to the promises made in baptism or as a
sign of their submission to the sovereignty of Jesus and Mary.
Such a tribute would be in accordance with each one's ability
and fervour and may take the form of fasting, an act of self-denial, the gift of an alms or the offering of a votive
candle. If they gave only a pin as a token of their homage,
provided it were given with a good heart, it would satisfy
Jesus who considers only the good intention.
233. Every year at least, on the same date, they should renew
the consecration following the same exercises for three weeks.
They might also renew it every month or even every day by
saying this short prayer: "I am all yours and all I have is
yours, O dear Jesus, through Mary, your holy Mother."
2. The Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin
234. If it is not too inconvenient, they should recite every
day of their lives the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin,
which is composed of three Our Fathers and twelve Hail Marys
in honour of the twelve glorious privileges of Mary. This
prayer is very old and is based on Holy Scripture. St. John
saw in a vision a woman crowned with twelve stars, clothed
with the sun and standing upon the moon. According to biblical
commentators, this woman is the Blessed Virgin.
235. There are several ways of saying the Little Crown but it
would take too long to explain them here. The Holy Spirit will
teach them to those who live this devotion conscientiously.
However, here is a simple way to recite it. As an introduction
say:" Virgin most holy, accept my praise; give me strength to
fight your foes", then say the Creed. Next, say the following
sequence of prayers three times: one Our Father, four Hail
Marys and one Glory be to the Father. In conclusion say the
prayer Sub tuum - "We fly to thy patronage".
3. The Wearing of Little Chains
236. It is very praiseworthy and helpful for those who have
become slaves of Jesus in Mary to wear, in token of their
slavery of love, a little chain blessed with a special
It is perfectly true, these external tokens are not
essential and may very well be dispensed with by those who
have made this consecration. Nevertheless, I cannot help but
give the warmest approval to those who wear them. They show
they have shaken off the shameful chains of the slavery of the
devil, in which original sin and perhaps actual sin had bound
them, and have willingly taken upon themselves the glorious
slavery of Jesus Christ. Like St. Paul, they glory in the
chains they wear for Christ. For though these chains are made
only of iron they are far more glorious and precious than all
the gold ornaments worn by monarchs.
237. At one time, nothing was considered more contemptible
than the Cross. Now this sacred wood has become the most
glorious symbol of the Christian faith. Similarly, nothing was
more ignoble in the sight of the ancients, and even today
nothing is more degrading among unbelievers than the chains of
Jesus Christ. But among Christians nothing is more glorious
than these chains, because by them Christians are liberated
and kept free from the ignoble shackles of sin and the devil.
Thus set free, we are bound to Jesus and Mary not by
compulsion and force like galley-slaves, but by charity and
love as children are to their parents. "I shall draw them to
me by chains of love" said God Most High speaking through the
prophet. Consequently, these chains are as strong as death,
and in a way stronger than death, for those who wear them
faithfully till the end of their life. For though death
destroys and corrupts their body, it will not destroy the
chains of their slavery, since these, being of metal, will not
easily corrupt. It may be that on the day of their
resurrection, that momentous day of final judgement, these
chains, still clinging to their bones, will contribute to
their glorification and be transformed into chains of light
and splendour. Happy then, a thousand times happy, are the
illustrious slaves of Jesus in Mary who bear their chains even
to the grave.
238. Here are the reasons for wearing these chains:
a) They remind a Christian of the promises of his baptism
and the perfect renewal of these commitments made in his
consecration. They remind him of his strict obligation to
adhere faithfully to them. A man's actions are prompted more
frequently by his senses than by pure faith and so he can
easily forget his duties towards God if he has no external
reminder of them. These little chains are a wonderful aid in
recalling the bonds of sin and the slavery of the devil from
which baptism has freed him. At the same time, they remind him
of the dependence on Jesus promised at baptism and ratified
when by consecration he renewed these promises. Why is it that
so many Christians do not think of their baptismal vows and
behave with as much licence as unbelievers who have promised
nothing to God? One explanation is that they do not wear
external sign to remind them of these vows.
239. b) These chains prove they are not ashamed of being the
servants and slaves of Jesus and that they reject the deadly
bondage of the world, of sin and of the devil.
c) They are a guarantee and protection against
enslavement by sin and the devil. For we must of necessity
choose to wear either the chains of sin and damnation or the
chains of love and salvation.
240. Dear friend, break the chains of sin and of sinners, of
the world and the worldly, of the devil and his satellites.
"Cast their yoke of death far from us." To use the words of
the Holy Spirit, let us put our feet into his glorious
shackles and our neck into his chains. Let us bow down our
shoulders in submission to the yoke of Wisdom incarnate, Jesus
Christ, and let us not be upset by the burden of his chains.
Notice how before saying these words the Holy Spirit prepares
us to accept his serious advice, "Hearken, my son," he says,
"receive a counsel of understanding and do not spurn this
counsel of mine."
241. Allow me here, my dear friend, to join the Holy Spirit in
giving you the same counsel, "These chains are the chains of
salvation". As our Lord on the cross draws all men to himself,
whether they will it or not, he will draw sinners by the
fetters of their sins and submit them like galley-slaves and
devils to his eternal anger and avenging justice. But he will
draw the just, especially in these latter days, by the chains
242. These loving slaves of Christ may wear their chains
around the neck, on their arms, round the waist or round the
ankles. Fr. Vincent Caraffa, seventh General of the Society of
Jesus, who died a holy death in 1643, carried an iron band
round his ankles as a symbol of his holy servitude and he used
to say that his greatest regret was that he could not drag a
chain around in public. Mother Agnes of Jesus, of whom we have
already spoken, wore a chain around her waist. Others have
worn it round the neck, in atonement for the pearl necklaces
they wore in the world. Others have worn chains round their
arms to remind them, as they worked with their hands, that
they are the slaves of Jesus.
4. Honouring the mystery of the Incarnation
243. Loving slaves of Jesus in Mary should hold in high esteem
devotion to Jesus, the Word of God, in the great mystery of
the Incarnation, March 25th, which is the mystery proper to
this devotion, because it was inspired by the Holy Spirit for
the following reasons:
a) That we might honour and imitate the wondrous
dependence which God the Son chose to have on Mary, for the
glory of his Father and for the redemption of man. This
dependence is revealed especially in this mystery where Jesus
becomes a captive and slave in the womb of his Blessed Mother,
depending on her for everything.
b) That we might thank God for the incomparable graces he
has conferred upon Mary and especially that of choosing her to
be his most worthy Mother. This choice was made in the mystery
of the Incarnation. These are the two principal ends of the
slavery of Jesus in Mary.
244. Please note that I usually say "slave of Jesus in Mary",
"slavery of Jesus in Mary". We might indeed say, as some have
already been saying, "slave of Mary", "slavery of Mary". But I
think it preferable to say, "slave of Jesus in Mary". This is
the opinion of Fr. Tronson, Superior General of the Seminary
of Saint-Sulpice, a man renowned for his exceptional prudence
and remarkable holiness. He gave this advice when consulted
upon this subject by a priest.
Here are the reasons for it:
245. a) Since we live in an age of pride when a great number
of haughty scholars, with proud and critical minds, find fault
even with long-established and sound devotions, it is better
to speak of "slavery of Jesus in Mary" and to call oneself
"slave of Jesus" rather than "slave of Mary". We then avoid
giving any pretext for criticism. In this way, we name this
devotion after its ultimate end which is Jesus, rather than
after the way and the means to arrive there, which is Mary.
However, we can very well use either term without any scruple,
as I myself do. If a man goes from Orl‚ans to Tours, by way of
Amboise, he can quite truthfully say that he is going to
Amboise and equally truthfully say that he is going to Tours.
The only difference is that Amboise is simply a place on the
direct road to Tours, and Tours alone is his final
246. b) Since the principal mystery celebrated and honoured in
this devotion is the mystery of the Incarnation where we find
Jesus only in Mary, having become incarnate in her womb, it is
appropriate for us to say, "slavery of Jesus in Mary", of
Jesus dwelling enthroned in Mary, according to the beautiful
prayer, recited by so many great souls, "O Jesus living in
247. c) These expressions show more clearly the intimate union
existing between Jesus and Mary. So closely are they united
that one is wholly the other. Jesus is all in Mary and Mary is
all in Jesus. Or rather, it is no longer she who lives, but
Jesus alone who lives in her. It would be easier to separate
light from the sun than Mary from Jesus. So united are they
that our Lord may be called, "Jesus of Mary", and his Mother
"Mary of Jesus".
248. Time does not permit me to linger here and elaborate on
the perfections and wonders of the mystery of Jesus living and
reigning in Mary, or the Incarnation of the Word. I shall
confine myself to the following brief remarks. The Incarnation
is the first mystery of Jesus Christ; it is the most hidden;
and it is the most exalted and the least known.
It was in this mystery that Jesus, in the womb of Mary
and with her co-operation, chose all the elect. For this
reason the saints called her womb, the throne-room of God's
It was in this mystery that Jesus anticipated all
subsequent mysteries of his life by his willing acceptance of
them. Consequently, this mystery is a summary of all his
mysteries since it contains the intention and the grace of
Lastly, this mystery is the seat of the mercy, the
liberality, and the glory of God. It is the seat of his mercy
for us, since we can approach and speak to Jesus through Mary.
We need her intervention to see or speak to him. Here, ever
responsive to the prayer of his Mother, Jesus unfailingly
grants grace and mercy to all poor sinners. "Let us come
boldly before the throne of grace."
It is the seat of liberality for Mary, because while the
new Adam dwelt in this truly earthly paradise God performed
there so many hidden marvels beyond the understanding of men
and angels. For this reason, the saints call Mary "the
magnificence of God", as if God showed his magnificence only
It is the seat of glory for his Father, because it was in
Mary that Jesus perfectly atoned to his Father on behalf of
mankind. It was here that he perfectly restored the glory that
sin had taken from his Father. It was here again that our
Lord, by the sacrifice of himself and of his will, gave more
glory to God than he would have given had he offered all the
sacrifices of the Old Law. Finally, in Mary he gave his Father
infinite glory, such as his Father had never received from
5. Saying the Hail Mary and the Rosary
249. Those who accept this devotion should have a great love
for the Hail Mary, or, as it is called, the Angelic
Few Christians, however enlightened, understand the
value, merit, excellence and necessity of the Hail Mary. Our
Blessed Lady herself had to appear on several occasions to men
of great holiness and insight, such as St. Dominic, St. John
Capistran and Blessed Alan de Rupe, to convince them of the
richness of this prayer.
They composed whole books on the wonders it had worked
and its efficacy in converting sinners. They earnestly
proclaimed and publicly preached that just as the salvation of
the world began with the Hail Mary, so the salvation of each
individual is bound up with it. This prayer, they said,
brought to a dry and barren world the Fruit of Life, and if
well said, will cause the Word of God to take root in the soul
and bring forth Jesus, the Fruit of Life. They also tell us
that the Hail Mary is a heavenly dew which waters the earth of
our soul and makes it bear fruit in due season. The soul which
is not watered by this heavenly dew bears no fruit but only
thorns and briars, and merits only God's condemnation.
250. Here is what our Blessed Lady revealed to Blessed Alan de
Rupe as recorded in his book, The Dignity of the Rosary, and
as told again by Cartagena: "Know, my son, and make it known
to all, that lukewarmness or negligence in saying the Hail
Mary, or a distaste for it, is a probable and proximate sign
of eternal damnation, for by this prayer the whole world was
These are terrible words but at the same time they are
consoling. We should find it hard to believe them, were we not
assured of their truth by Blessed Alan and by St. Dominic
before him, and by so many great men since his time. The
experience of many centuries is there to prove it, for it has
always been common knowledge that those who bear the sign of
reprobation, as all formal heretics, evil-doers, the proud and
the worldly, hate and spurn the Hail Mary and the Rosary.
True, heretics learn to say the Our Father but they will not
countenance the Hail Mary and the Rosary and they would rather
carry a snake around with them than a rosary. And there are
even Catholics who, sharing the proud tendencies of their
father Lucifer, despise the Hail Mary or look upon it with
indifference. The Rosary, they say, is a devotion suitable
only for ignorant and illiterate people.
On the other hand, we know from experience that those who
show positive signs of being among the elect, appreciate and
love the Hail Mary and are always glad to say it. The closer
they are to God, the more they love this prayer, as our
Blessed Lady went on to tell Blessed Alan.
251. I do not know how this should be, but it is perfectly
true; and I know no surer way of discovering whether a person
belongs to God than by finding out if he loves the Hail Mary
and the Rosary. I say, "if he loves", for it can happen that a
person for some reason may be unable to say the Rosary, but
this does not prevent him from loving it and inspiring others
to say it.
252. Chosen souls, slaves of Jesus in Mary, understand that
after the Our Father, the Hail Mary is the most beautiful of
all prayers. It is the perfect compliment the most High God
paid to Mary through his archangel in order to win her heart.
So powerful was the effect of this greeting upon her, on
account of its hidden delights, that despite her great
humility, she gave her consent to the incarnation of the Word.
If you say the Hail Mary properly, this compliment will
infallibly earn you Mary's good will.
253. When the Hail Mary is well said, that is, with attention,
devotion and humility, it is, according to the saints, the
enemy of Satan, putting him to flight; it is the hammer that
crushes him, a source of holiness for souls, a joy to the
angels and a sweet melody for the devout. It is the Canticle
of the New Testament, a delight for Mary and glory for the
most Blessed Trinity. The Hail Mary is dew falling from heaven
to make the soul fruitful. It is a pure kiss of love we give
to Mary. It is a crimson rose, a precious pearl that we offer
to her. It is a cup of ambrosia, a divine nectar that we offer
her. These are comparisons made by the saints.
254. I earnestly beg of you, then, by the love I bear you in
Jesus and Mary, not to be content with saying the Little Crown
of the Blessed Virgin, but say the Rosary too, and if time
permits, all its fifteen decades, every day. Then when death
draws near, you will bless the day and hour when you took to
heart what I told you, for having sown the blessings of Jesus
and Mary, you will reap the eternal blessings in heaven.
6. Praying the Magnificat
255. To thank God for the graces he has given to our Lady, her
consecrated ones will frequently say the Magnificat, following
the example of Blessed Marie d'Oignies and several other
saints. The Magnificat is the only prayer we have which was
composed by our Lady, or rather, composed by Jesus in her, for
it was he who spoke through her lips. It is the greatest
offering of praise that God ever received under the law of
grace. On the one hand, it is the most humble hymn of
thanksgiving and, on the other, it is the most sublime and
exalted. Contained in it are mysteries so great and so hidden
that even the angels do not understand them.
Gerson, a pious and learned scholar, spent the greater
part of his life writing tracts full of erudition and love on
the most profound subjects. Even so, it was with apprehension
that he undertook towards the end of his life to write a
commentary on the Magnificat which was the crowning point of
all his works. In a large volume on the subject he says many
wonderful things about this beautiful and divine canticle.
Among other things he tells us that Mary herself frequently
recited it, especially at thanksgiving after Holy Communion.
The learned Benzonius, in his commentary on the Magnificat,
cites several miracles worked through the power of this
prayer. The devils, he declare, take to flight when they hear
these words, "He puts forth his arm in strength and scatters
7. Contempt of the world
256. Mary's faithful servants despise this corrupted world.
They should hate and shun its allurements, and follow the
exercises of the contempt of the world which we have given in
the first part of this treatise.