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Praetorian Membership of the Legion
September 2005
Fr. Bede McGregor O.P. Spiritual Director to the Legion of Mary
Everyone in heaven is a saint whether they are canonized or not. The central focus of the Legion is to help its members to get into heaven or in other words to become saints. Of course, every Legionary seeks to bring as many other people as possible to heaven with them. We are called to be saints and we are called to be apostles. Now becoming saints and apostles is a gradual process. As our love for God and our neighbour grows we seek new ways of expressing it. Once more the Legion comes to our assistance. It invites active Legionaries to become Praetorians. The praetorian member of the Legion is encouraged to accept more gifts from God in order to grow even closer to our Lord and His Mother. They are invited to root themselves even more deeply in the heart of the mystical Body of Christ. They do this in three ways.
First, they recite every day all the prayers in the Tessera. The Tessera is such an important instrument for the spiritual formation of the Legionary it is worthwhile reflecting again on some of its key elements. It begins with a prayer to the Holy Spirit. All of us need to turn to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis in order to acquire a deep habit of openness to Him in all the circumstances of our daily lives and to receive his guidance, gifts and friendship. To truly discover, in an intimate way, the role of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives is an inestimable gift and the invocation to the Holy Spirit is a little step taken every day in sincerity and with the heart. Its positive effect in our lives, especially over a long period cannot be overestimated. The Holy Spirit is the primary agent in every apostolic work and we allow him to take over our whole lives. Of course every prayer in the Tessera contributes significantly to our growth in holiness if prayed reverently and from the heart.
Next we pray the Rosary. By the daily praying of the Rosary we enter the privileged school of Mary and we ask her to form us to the likeness of Jesus in all his mysteries. From the very beginning the gentle rhythm of the Rosary in the company of Mary has been a major factor in the formation of Legionaries. It is a compendium of the Gospel, a daily meditation in the heart on all the mysteries of the life of Jesus. It is Mary's way of cementing us in the deepest friendship with Jesus and steeping us in the Gospel. St. Jerome said that ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. The Rosary will guarantee that we will never be ignorant of the Scriptures because it is a constant reflection on the mysteries of Jesus as given to us in the Scriptures. The Beads and the Bible go together.
After the Rosary we recite the Magnificat. In this prayer of Mary we centre ourselves with her on God. There is thanksgiving, praise and petition in a great spirit of faith. Above all it is a prayer of humility. We recognise with Mary that everything that is good in us or about us comes from God. We owe Him all the glory and seek nothing for ourselves. The reflective, loving praying of the Magnificat every day will be the source of great graces.
Then comes the concluding prayers, especially the Sub Tuum (We fly to your patronage O Holy Mother of God prayer), which is the oldest recorded prayer to Our Lady in the history of the Church. Finally we have the great prayer for faith composed by our Founder Brother Duff himself. Faith is the greatest need of every Legionary and makes us like Our Lady who is outstandingly a woman of faith. Besides these prayers the Tessera asks us to pray to some of the great saints and the Angels so that we remember that we are never alone in our efforts to become more authentic friends of Jesus and slaves of Mary.
So the praying of the whole Tessera every day is the first gift that the Legion offers to Praetorians. Secondly, the Praetorian undertakes to participate both in daily Mass and to receive Holy Communion. The impact of daily Mass and Communion on the spiritual life of the Legionary must be as obvious as it is profound. There can be no greater apostolic activity than to participate in the action of Christ on Calvary for the salvation of the world. And that is what we do at Mass. Also there is no more effective way of growing in relationship with Our Lord than by Holy Communion. In Communion we receive Jesus, one to one, in total intimacy. We receive Him body and blood, soul and divinity. Is there any need to indicate the supreme advantage for our spiritual lives of this meeting with Jesus in the Eucharist on a daily basis.
Thirdly, the Praetorian is asked to pray an Office approved by the Church. The Divine Office or at least a substantial part of it, namely, Morning and Evening prayer is recommended above all. The active Legionary already participates in the official apostolate of the Church and by praying an Office we participate in the official prayer of the Church. That means we no longer pray simply as private individual Christians but united to Christ as Head of the mystical Body, in His name and that of the whole Church for the needs of the Church and the whole world. We pray the psalms that Jesus and Mary and Joseph and an endless number of saints prayed. We pray the psalms inspired by the Holy Spirit and pray so much of the rest of the Scriptures, the writings of the Fathers of the Church and the saints. The intercessory power of the Divine Office derives from the fact that it is primarily the prayer of Jesus Himself in union with the whole Church. Is it any wonder that the Legion should encourage us to be Praetorian members if it is at all possible for us and as we grow in union with Our Lord under the guidance and influence of Mary?
Finally, while I ask every Legionary to consider from time to time the possibility of undertaking the praetorian degree of active membership for their own eternal good and the good of their apostolate I do not wish to put any moral pressure on them. Praetorian membership is a case of a private contract between Mary and the Legionary. But I merely want to stress that the Legion does make this suggestion to those who are able to undertake it and who seek to deepen even more their contemplative and apostolic lives.

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Quote of the Day
The basic principle of the True Devotion is to go to Jesus through Mary just as Jesus comes to us through Mary. The aim of the Legion therefore is to bring Mary to the world as the infallible means of winning the world to Jesus.

This presupposes a proper understanding of the God given role of Mary in the plan and execution of the work of redemption. Following on those principles Frank Duff passionately believed that real devotion to Mary obliges us to apostleship.

An important way of understanding the nature of all apostolate is by seeing it as a sharing in Mary's maternal care of the mystical Body of Christ and indeed of all humankind.
Rev. Fr. Bede McGregor, O.P., Concilium Spiritual Director