Marianist Doxology

Marianist spirituality is essentially Marian, but in a comprehensive and doctrinally sound way. Christ is central and through him is the presence of the Holy Trinity. The spiritual realities of the Marianist creed frequently holds not in voluminous texts but in signs, acts, traditions, and short prayers. One of these traditions is what we cal the Marianist Doxology. This short prayer celebrates the honor and glory Mary gives to the Holy Trinity since all of her being and mission is expression of trinitarian love for her and through her to the whole of humanity.

Here is that short prayer: May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

The following text, a study by Father Emilio Cárdenas, S.M., and translated by Elmers Dunsky, S.M. and Father Joseph Stefanelli, is only an excerpt of the complete study and highlights historical, theological, and spiritual aspects of the Marianist Doxology.

– Father Johann G. Roten, S.M.


After 1885, the doxology had the same formulation and the same usage in the successive formu-laries of vocal prayers both in the French editions and in the German, English, Spanish, or Italian, during the first half of the 20th century.

In the French formulary of 1953, there was added, at the end of the doxology, the statement of the indulgences which might be gained by those who devoutly recited it and fulfilled the required conditions: indulgence of 300 days for the religious, students, and affiliates.1 It also pointed out that an indulgence of five years might be gained each time; and a plenary indulgence each month and at the moment of death, if the doxology was recited frequently during a lifetime.2

Decrease in the use of the formulary of prayers and of the doxology.

With the Vatican Council II and the renewal of the Constitutions, there was a decline in the use of the old formularies of vocal prayers proper to the Society of Mary. The doxology was reduced to private use. However, some Marianist provinces published small booklets with several formulas of the Marianist tradition, among which was the doxology. In any case, its use was more rare as it lost its daily use in the community exercises of the religious.

A return to the doxology.

In more recent times, the Marianists have begun to interest themselves again in the doxology. There have been several attempts to set the text to music, so that it might be sung by the commu-nities of both the religious and the lay members of the Marianist family. Adaptations were made in various languages.3 The proposal was well received and is, in fact, in use in a number of countries.

1. HISTORICAL ASPECTS

We have clear indications that the doxology was used already in the first community of the religious in Bordeaux in 1818. This is a formula which probably was in French at first. Only much later did the Marianists use it also in Latin, and only when the Formulary of Prayers began to be translated into other languages.

Already before the first printing of the Formulary of Prayers, the “religious of Mary” knew it by memory in French, and used the doxology as an ejaculatory prayer. The reference to the Immaculate Conception and the fact that the community developed directly from the Marian Sodality under the auspices of the Immaculate Conception (which Chaminade had established in Bordeaux) leads us to think that the doxology would have been in use in the Sodality even before the foundation of the religious institute in 1817. We have no clear evidence that it was Chaminade who was its creator, but there are sufficient reasons to suppose that it came from Chaminade or from his closest followers.

The doxology was used at first as an ejaculatory prayer in regular recitation by the religious “every hour” throughout the day. Later, it began to find a place in the so-called “minor conclusion” with which they closed distinct moments of the day both in prayer and in work, and after the Sub tuum, that is to say, after the words Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. That is, they substituted this doxology for the invocation to the Immaculate Virgin which it had been customary to add to the Sub tuum since the origin of the Marian Sodality of the Jesuits.

Later on, this doxology was transmitted to the students of the Marianist schools and to the affiliates of the Society of Mary. The formula was enriched with indulgences which would signify approbation and specific recommendation on the part of the Church.

2. THEOLOGICAL ASPECTS

The believer, immersed in the dimensions of time and space, desires, by means of the recitation of the Marianist doxology, to renew his life of consecration-alliance, making it like that of Mary, who, by her humility, glorified God, One and Triune, with whom she is bound in a special alliance.

In time.

Such union is lived especially in the daily and Sunday liturgy. At the heart of the Eucharist, the Per ipsum, as has already been said, introduces us into this union with the Trinity, renews our alliance with the Trinity, and, transcending the now of our time, introduces us into the condition of a perpetual and eternal praise of the Trinity.

Of course, the liturgy does not exhaust either the prayer or the interior life of the believer. The living of the liturgy becomes more profound and renewed especially during the time of daily mental prayer. Chaminade himself explains, in the various successive versions on the “Method of Prayer,” how in this exercise we live the daily elements of our union with Christ. There, as can be presumed, Mary is not absent, for the Church allows us to invoke her intercession, as well as that of the saints:

We unite ourselves to Jesus Christ to pray through him, with him, in him. However, if the prayer is addressed directly to Jesus Christ, he will be addressed through one of the mysteries accomplished in his sacred humanity. Then, we can pray to him through our Mediatrix, the august Mary. We may also, with much fruit, invoke the protection of the saints. Litanies of the saints are approved by the Church.4

Through the liturgy and meditation, union with Christ must be transformative, conforming life itself into Christ. This is to be verified precisely throughout the various daily activities. For Chaminade, this spirit of conforming with Christ was renewed by means of “acts of faith” which keep alive in the soul a spirit of faith:

On the Exercise of Faith. This exercise consists in multiplying always more often each day acts of faith, of the mind and of the heart, in the manner taught by the apostles; that is, in producing sentiments of faith, of confidence, and of love.5

Now, the doxology is an act of faith which sums up and includes the faith of the Apostles’ Creed. Its recitation should be done with mind and heart, and be repeated with dispositions of faith, hope, and love. When reciting and repeating the doxology we renew ourselves in our conformity with Christ and we create within ourselves a spirit of humility which gives glory to God. Chaminade, writing to the new superior of the Daughters of Mary, speaks of the importance for them to live the faith throughout the day so that they may re-form (conform with Christ) their consecrated lives:

If all of them work at preparing themselves for mental prayer by placing themselves often during the day in the presence of God by good acts of faith; if they work at making during the day actions of truly pure faith, reform will not be long in introducing itself … for they all have the same reason of the glory of God and the sanctification of souls.6

According to Chaminade, by these acts which we make during the course of the day we will be obeying the precept to adore the Lord always and continuously, or, as Jesus teaches us, to pray always and without ceasing. Here is what he said toward the end of his life to the Marianist novices of St. Ann:

You shall adore the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve. Does this precept suffer exceptions at least from time to time? Are we obligated to observe it always and our whole life long? Had God excepted certain times, he would have said so. From my rising to my retiring, and even when I wake up during the night, I am to adore God; I must even take precautions to sleep with such a light sleep that my mind be not entirely relaxed and be freer to adore God. Adore God always, as much as you can.

Our Savior explains this in a more forceful way that any had ever before: We must pray always, and never cease doing so. We must pray always, and never cease praying. Is it possible to pray always? If prayer with the mouth is not always possible, it must be in the dispositions of the heart and in keeping with whatever possibility one has. Only our Savior prayed always, and, after him, the Blessed Virgin was, of all creatures, the one who best imitated this divine model.

Why must this command to adore always continue? Because God is always God; he is immutable; he always deserves to be adored as long as he gives the strength to do so. We each have our own measure of graces and must correspond to all this measure. We must not only correspond to all our grace, but to the full extent of our grace. When I am serving God, when I am working for him, how can I stop adoring him? No, we must work while adoring, walking always in the presence of God.7

So, reciting with both mind and heart the doxology throughout the day, the person consecrated to Mary renews a consecration-alliance with Mary and remains in a condition of union with Jesus Christ in order to give permanent glory to God, One and Triune.

In space.

A life open to a universal mission: “in all places.” Of course, a sodalist of Mary and a religious of Mary does not give glory to God through the Immaculate Virgin by the simple practice of repeating acts of faith and doxology formulas, but by an authentic life of consecration: truly a life of a Missionary Apostolic of Mary. It is in an open horizon of mission that a consecration to Mary is lived out. The person consecrated to Mary is a missionary of Mary and spreads the faith, multiplies Christians, and lives only to make Mary known, loved, and served so that, through the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the most holy Trinity may be glorified “in all places.”

Mary enrolls us in her militia and consecrates us as her apostles. Oh, my honorable son, how sacred is this contract; how fruitful in blessings for us! … Now, we the last of all, we who believe ourselves called by Mary herself to aid her with all our power in the struggle against the great heresy of this period of history [religious indifference], we have taken as our battlecry … the words of the most Blessed Virgin to the servants of Cana: do whatever he shall tell you. Convinced that our own mission, despite our weakness, is to exer-cise toward our neighbor all the works of zeal and of mercy, we embrace, consequently, all works of zeal and of mercy ….

Our work is grand, it is magnificent. If it is universal, it is because we are missionaries of Mary who has said to us: Do whatever he shall tell you! Yes, we are all missionaries. To each one of us the most Blessed Virgin has confided a mandate to work at the salvation of our brothers and sisters in the world.8

It is with a view to this universal mission that the sodalist and the religious continue repeating the doxology which opens for them the limitless horizon of the mission.

3. SPIRITUAL ASPECTS

In summary: the doxology used by Marianists since the time of the founder is a perfect synthesis which admirably codifies the spirituality proper to Father William Joseph Chaminade.

The State of Consecration

The doxology is so worded that it can be lived throughout the day as a state of consecration to Mary. The formulation of the Marianist doxology has a recipient, or, better, a subject which distinguishes it: the Marianist sodalist or religious. It can also be extended to include the broader circle of the Marianist Family. Whoever recites it, an individual or a community, is marked by it in time and space. Those who repeat it at each hour of the day, or when awakening during the night, desire to consecrate the totality of their time, raising it to the transcendence of eternity within the Trinity. With regard to space, they extend their horizon “in all places,” that is, in all places where they wish the Immaculate Virgin to be honored, and, through her, to give glory to the Trinity.

Act of Faith

The doxology is an act of faith, a renewal of faith, which is fittingly repeated so as to prolong in living the glory given in the liturgy, and to live in the spirit of faith. The one who prays in this way thus becomes a person of faith who is constantly renewed in humility so as to give glory only to God, One and Triune; to give glory to the Trinity through and in Jesus Christ.

Mary, Temple of the Trinity

Now, Mary was created immaculate and full of holiness by the Trinity in order that she might be, by her divine maternity, temple of the Trinity, citadel of the alliance with the Trinity. The Trinity has contracted an intimate alliance with the Immaculate Virgin. Designated by the Trinity to be a collaborator with the Son, winning, with the Son, the battle against sin, she united herself with him in his abasement and humiliation and was received in glory by the Trinity.

Alliance with Mary

Similarly, by a consecration, both the sodalist and the religious contract an alliance with the Immaculate Virgin. Through this alliance they associate themselves to her to live by grace and to overcome sin through faith. The honor and cult of Mary to which this alliance obliges them does not, even for a moment, diminish the glory of God or arouse the jealousy of God. On the contrary, to honor Mary at all times and in all places with confidence in and devotedness to her is what can most honor him. For this reason the consecrated persons join Mary is giving the glory due only to the triune God. In pronouncing this doxology, they also renew their alliance with Mary. United with the Immaculate Virgin and through her, they are desirous that, in Jesus Christ, their entire lives, their prayer, their work, their mission may serve to give all honor and all glory to God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.


1 Formulaire des Prières vocales, Tours, 1953, p. 18.

2 Formulaire des Prières vocales, Tours, 1953, p. 19.

3 The American Marianist Howard Hughes composed a musical accompaniment for the doxology at the urging of José María Salavarri, S.M., Marianist Superior General. Aurelio Zorzi, SM, also composed an accompaniment which the religious of the Italian Province chant on various occasions.

4 See Chaminade, “Practice of mental prayer, purgative life,” Writings on Prayer, no. 405.

5 See Chaminade, “Direction in the Society of Mary in the pathways of salvation,” Ecrits de direction, vol. 1, no. 1251.

6 See Chaminade letter 546, Sept. 23, 1830, to Mother St. Vincent.

7 See “Notes of a conference by Good Father Chaminade, the morning of June 6, 1843, at St. Ann.” Notes de retraites, vol. 3, p. 557 [French].

8 See Chaminade letter 1163, Aug. 24, 1839, to the preachers of retreats.

More Information

International Marian Research Institute

300 College Park 
Dayton, Ohio 45469 

Connect