– We belong to Jesus and Mary as Their Slaves –
We must conclude, from what Jesus Christ is with regard to us, that, as the Apostle says (1 Cor. 6:19-20), we do not belong to ourselves but are entirely His, as His members and His slaves, whom He has bought at an infinitely dear price, the price of all His Blood. Before Baptism we belonged to the devil, as his slaves; but Baptism has made us true slaves of Jesus Christ, who have no right to live, to work or to die, except to bring forth fruit for the God-Man (Rom. 7:4); to glorify Him in our bodies and to let Him reign in our souls, because we are His conquest, His acquired people and His inheritance. It is for the same reason that the Holy Ghost compares us: (1) to trees planted along the waters of grace, in the field of the Church, who ought to bring forth their fruit in their seasons; (2) to the branches of a vine of which Jesus Christ is the stock, and which must yield good grapes; (3) to a flock of which Jesus Christ is the Shepherd, and which is to multiply and give milk; (4) to a good land of which God is the Husbandman, in which the seed multiplies itself and brings forth thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold. (Ps. 1:3; Jn. 15:2; 10:11; Matt. 13:8). Jesus Christ cursed the unfruitful fig tree (Matt. 21:19), and pronounced sentence against the useless servant who had not made any profit on this talent. (Matt. 25:24-30). All this proves to us that Jesus Christ wishes to receive some fruits from our wretched selves, namely our good works, because those works belong to Him alone: ‘Created in good works, in Christ Jesus’ (Eph. 2:10) – which words of the Holy Ghost show that Jesus Christ is the sole beginning, and ought to be the sole end, of all our good works, and also that we ought to serve Him, not as servants for wages, but as slaves of love. I will explain what I mean.
Here on earth there are two ways of belonging to another and of depending on his authority: namely, simple service and slavery, whence we derive the words ‘servant’ and ‘slave.’
By common service among Christians a man engages himself to serve another during a certain time, at a certain rate of wages or of recompense.
By slavery a man is entirely dependent on another during his whole life, and must serve his master without claiming any wages or reward, just as one of his beasts, over which he has the right of life and death.
There are three sorts of slavery: a slavery of nature, a slavery of constraint and a slavery of will. All creatures are the slaves of God in the first sense: ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof’ (Ps. 23:1); the demons and the damned are slaves in the second sense; the just and the saints in the third. Because by slavery of the will we make choice of God and His service above all things, even though nature did not oblige us to do so, slavery of the will is the most perfect and most glorious to God, who beholds the heart (1 Kg. 16:7), claims the heart (Prov. 23:26), and calls Himself the God of the heart (Ps. 72:26), that is, of the loving will.
There is an entire difference between a servant and a slave:
A servant does not give all he is, all he has and all he can acquire, by himself or by another, to his master; but the slave gives himself whole and entire to his master, all he has and all he can acquire, without any exception.
The servant demands wages for the services which he performs for his master; but the slave can demand nothing, whatever assiduity, whatever industry, whatever energy he may have at his work.
The servant can leave his master when he pleases, or at least when the time of his service expires; but the slave has no right to quit his master at will.
Lastly, the servant is only for a time in his master’s service; the slave, always.
There is nothing among men which makes us belong to another more than slavery. There is nothing among Christians which makes us more absolutely belong to Jesus Christ and His holy Mother than the slavery of the will, according to the example of Jesus Christ Himself, who took on Himself the form of a slave for love of us (Phil. 2:7); and also according to the example of the holy Virgin, who called herself the servant and slave of the Lord. (Lk. 1:38). The Apostle calls himself, as by title of honor, ‘the slave of Christ.’ Christians are often so called in the Holy Scriptures; and the word for the designation, ‘servus,’ as a great man has truly remarked, signified in olden times a slave in the completest sense, because there were no servants then like those of the present day. Masters were served only by slaves or freedmen. This is what the Catechism of the holy Council of Trent, in order to leave no doubt about our being slaves of Jesus Christ, expresses by an unequivocal term, in calling us mancipia Christi, ‘slaves of Jesus Christ.’
Now that I have given these explanations, I say that we ought to belong to Jesus Christ, and to serve Him not only as mercenary servants, but as loving slaves who, as a result of their great love, give themselves up to serve Him in the quality of slaves simply for the honor of belonging to Him. Before Baptism we were the slaves of the devil. Baptism has made us the slaves of Jesus Christ: Christians must needs be either the slaves of the devil or the slaves of Jesus Christ.
What I say absolutely of Jesus Christ, I say relatively of Our Lady. Since Jesus Christ chose her for the inseparable companion of His life, of His death, of His glory and of His power in Heaven and upon earth, He gave her by grace, relatively to His Majesty, all the same rights and privileges which He possesses by nature. ‘All that is fitting to God by nature is fitting to Mary by grace,’ say the saints; so that, according to them, Mary and Jesus having but the same will and the same power, have also the same subjects, servants and slaves.
We may, therefore, following the sentiments of the saints and of many great men, call ourselves and make ourselves the loving slaves of the most holy Virgin, in order to be, by that very means, the more perfectly the slaves of Jesus Christ. Our Blessed Lady is the means Our Lord made use of to come to us. She is also the means which we must make use of to go to Him. For she is not like all other creatures who, if we should attach ourselves to them, might rather draw us away from God than draw us near Him. The strongest inclination of Mary is to unite us to Jesus Christ, her Son; and the strongest inclination of the Son is that we should come to Him through His holy Mother. It is to honor and please Him, just as it would be to do honor and pleasure to a king to become more perfectly his subject and his slave by making ourselves slaves of the queen. It is on this account that the holy Fathers, and St. Bonaventure after them, say that Our Lady is the way to go to Our Lord: ‘The way of coming to Christ is to draw near to her.’
– Saint Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary –
– Lucas G. Westman