Edel Quinn and the True Devotion to Mary

We have been reflecting on the inner life of Edel Quinn in preparation for the celebration of the centenary of her birth this year. What went on in the inside is even more important than the heroic achievements she accomplished on the outside. It is attention to her spiritual life that will contribute most to the worldwide spirit of the Legion and every member of the Legion. So far we have meditated on her profound and habitual devotion to the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in her soul through grace. We have also spoken about the centrality of the Mass and Holy Communion in her life. We recall the resolution she made in her private notes: “What a desolation life would be without the Eucharist. We want to be united to Him, to give ourselves to Him utterly. Our faith tells us He is in the Eucharist; let us seek Him there. If we knew we could find Him anywhere on earth, we would do our utmost to go there. We can find him at every free moment on the altar. Be with Him there, better than all the books. Thank the Trinity over and over again for this gift.”

Today we reflect on her tender and intimate devotion to Mary the Mother of God and the Mother of each one of us. A close friend of Edel said that she formed the impression that it was nothing but love for Our Lady that enabled Edel to give herself to the active work of the Legion. Edel herself admitted that she never spoke without first turning to Our Lady. And at the end of her life, asked by a Priest if she ever refused Mary anything, she replied immediately and in all simplicity: ‘No, I could never refuse her anything whatsoever once I believed she really wanted it.’ We know that she asked her Spiritual Director if she could practice by vow the True Devotion to Mary as set forth by St. Louis Marie De Montfort. Fr. Moynihan O.P., the vice postulator of her cause wrote that she read and re-read that little book until its teaching became part of the very textrure of her soul. Edel carried out to the full the De Montfort formula of doing everything in Mary, with Mary and for Mary. It is worth quoting again from the private notes of Edel. She writes, ‘let us renounce our own human views to take on Mary’s and so be led by her spirit in all things. Let us adapt her outlook, her thoughts in all things be hers in order to be all the more His Mary, the Mother of the Life of our souls. Turn to her in all circumstances so that she may teach us to love Jesus, to serve the Father, to become like a child in our attitude - trusting utterly, never doubting, showing loving tenderness in little things’. One of the really difficult areas in our spiritual life is the tendency to judge others and therefore hold back the joy and freedom of our own interior life. I find Edel’s guidance very helpful in this whole situation. She writes in her notes: ‘It is no part of our duty to judge others, so let us not torment ourselves about their doings. We will love our neighbour - and we will be unable to speak ill or criticize - if in each one we see Christ. Restrain the tongue: employ it as you think Mary would have used her speech. Noli judicare.’ It is noteworthy that the only reference to Edel in the Handbook concerns this matter. ‘The role of Legionaries is never to be that of judge or critic. They must always consider how Mary’s soft eyes would look on all these circumstances and persons. Then let them try to act as she would act. It was one of Edel Quinn’s practices and never to find fault without referring the matter to the Blessed Virgin.’ It is part of life that at sometime or other we will be deeply hurt, justly or unjustly, and anger and the temptation to revenge or resentment will settle in and our whole interior life will seem to be in tatters and our judgements become all unbalanced. Then is the time when we really must be deeply rooted in our practice of our true devotion to Mary. Gradually with the help of Mary the hurt and its consequences will burn themselves out and we will not only recover our peace of mind and heart but it will become deeper than ever before. This is what Edel and the Handbook put before us.

Of course sometimes we may have to make difficult decisions about others for the common good of the Legion that may cause hurt and rejection and then we must make doubly sure we are acting in the spirit of Mary and in love for her. However it was not only in difficult times that Edel practiced true devotion to Mary but in all the circumstances of her life. She really enjoyed life to the full, always ready to laugh and smile and gifted with a great sense of humour and playfulness. She did all this in union with Mary and the joy of her magnificat. Her consecration to Mary included the whole of her life. She included Mary and was united to Mary in everything. It has been said that with regard to St. Louis Marie De Montfort, ardent follower though Edel was of his doctrine that she was not at all attracted by his own personality; perhaps he was a bit too solemn for her joyful spirit and vivaciousness.

I think her extraordinary freedom from worry and fret, her lovely and habitual serenity were rooted in her complete trust in and love of Mary as her Mother and intimate friend. This should be the secret of the life of every Legionary. May the centenary of her birth be an occasion for the worldwide Legion to refocus on the practice of the True Devotion to Mary as set forth by De Montfort and made even more accessible in the Handbook of the Legion and the lives of so many outstanding legionaries.