January Allocutio 2024

St Paul

Fr. Eamon Devlin CM

The Feast of the Conversion of St Paul which occurs on Thursday is one of the most significant conversions in the history of Christianity. Saul, persecutor personified of the early Church becomes Paul, preacher par excellence of the faith and apostle of the Gentiles. He is one of the patrons of the Legion, and for good reason.

Paul’s Damascus experience of the Risen Christ, who asks him ‘Why do you persecute me?’ reveals to him the mystery of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ – a mystery Paul took great pains to elaborate and proclaim. It is the mystery which underlies the Legion’s understanding of itself and its mission: All have a place in Christ, all have a responsibility to do something about that place. The Legion has a place and a work for everyone – There is no least or greatest in the endeavour of making Christ present in the world for those who haven’t met Him or who haven’t stayed with Him. Every cell of the Legion from the smallest praesidium to Concilium itself is a manifestation of Christ’s Mystical Body.

Part of St Paul’s legacy to the Legion is the sense of belonging, the reaching out to the other. Christ invests Himself in the insignificant. The other part is his restless apostolic effort which he pursued at great personal cost. Our understanding of ourselves as Legionaries of Mary compels us to be no less than people who possess the Spirit of Mary - the Holy Spirit, and strive in all and every opportunity to make her Son known and loved. For some Legionaries this will include the kind of hardships St Paul endured by land and sea and in different cultural settings. For all of us it includes the sharing in the joys and sorrows of the Mystical Body of Christ, whether through prayer, outreach or even being among them in any of the ways the Legion makes possible through PPC and Correspondents.

We hear of difficulties endured by Christians in countries such as Nicaragua mentioned today. Yet, the work goes on. In Ireland there is now, a white martyrdom of faith. While reflecting on today’s Feast Day of the Word of God, let us pray for Church Unity. As legionaries, we should know who we are and do something about being a member of the Christ’s Mystical Body. The Mother of Jesus stands by us.