Mary and the Legion
The month of September is a time when we spontaneously and constantly go back to the origins of the Legion. It is not simply a nostalgic trip into the past. Obviously, like Mary we must never forget the wonders God has done for us in the past. We look back with profound thanksgiving for the loving providence of God with regard to the Legion and the numerous signs of the maternal protection and presence of Mary in the Legion. We also renew our awareness of the centrality of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Legion. But we also look back to our beginnings for the inspiration and motivation we need in the present and for the confidence and courage we need to face the future challenges.
I would like to dwell a little on just two points among many that characterize the beginnings of the Legion and that we need to have stamped on our inmost being as Legionaries. They are simple and obvious things that at the same time can gradually and almost imperceptibly be diminished in us amidst the wear and tear of daily life and incessant pressures. The first is the place of Mary in our lives. The Legion is inextricably linked to the True Devotion to Mary as explained by St.Louis Marie de Montfort. As Frank Duff said in one of his talks: ‘Now in the matter of devotion to Our Lady, it is not enough to say that I have a very high opinion of Our Lady and then put it in the back of your mind and then go on in the old merry way.’ There is very little to be gained by simply having a tremendous admiration or esteem for Our Lady if it has little or no impact on the way we actually live.
True Devotion to Mary is based on a clear understanding of the role of Mary in the divine plan of redemption. What is the place God has given to Mary not just in the salvation of all mankind in general but in my own personal salvation and destiny? Well first of all she has been given to each one of us as our Mother. Our biological mother may give us our first experience of what it means to be loved by someone but it is as nothing compared to Our Lady’s maternal love for each one of us. There is absolutely nothing that is good for us that Mary is not willing and wanting to give us.
Our union with and dependence on her in God’s plan for us is staggering. We know how close a child is to its mother during pregnancy. They share the one heartbeat and circulation of blood, they are as if one being. But our dependence on and union with Mary is incomparably more intimate and profound than that. In the order of grace if a soul is separated from Mary it lives outside the possibility of all God’s graces. Mary is given to us our Mother in order that Jesus may be formed and grow in us and with us. The reality and implications of Mary’s maternity of each one of us must be branded on our souls. It must not be just a momentary thing, something we call to mind on a pilgrimage or in times of crisis or even in some daily prayer in her honour, it must be habitual and at least implicit in every moment of our lives. We are not just the Legion but with the totality of our being we are the Legion of Mary.
Our response to God’s gift to us of Mary as our Mother is to be totally hers in order to be totally given to Jesus. To be totally hers means to give into her hands absolutely everything. I am all yours my Queen and my Mother and all that I have is yours. This is fundamental to Legion spirituality. Of course, we try to live in the heart and spirit of Mary. We strive to imitate her virtues and never give up trying. But above all we try to live the most characteristic feature of the life and work of Our Lady. The identity and mission of Mary are expressed most succinctly and accurately in the one word: Motherhood.
Let me quote in full a paragraph from our Founder that sums up what I want to say: ‘The work of Our Lady is the work of Motherhood. She brought Jesus Christ into the world, and she is still bringing Him into the world in every soul. This is her great function - her Maternity. We must all share this, if we are to imitate her. It is not enough to imitate her virtue of purity or her prayerfulness. If you try to imitate any of her virtues and not her motherhood, you will make a great mistake because you will not imitate her in her prime function. This imitation of the motherhood of Mary is work for souls. You may imitate certain qualities or aspects of her life, but if you leave this out, you are leaving her out of the work. This point is the most important of all. Our Lady is dependent on that help; that is that sharing of ours in her function. She is the Mediatrix of all graces - she is the key to the treasury of all graces, but she cannot give them until we let her, because she cannot touch souls directly. She must have human cooperation. This is the Law of God. So not only is Our Lady necessary for us but we are necessary to her as the only instruments for bringing God’s graces to mankind.’ So true and real devotion to Mary is work for the salvation of souls. That is real sharing in the spirit and mission of Mary and it is the very essence of what her Legion stands for.
So I leave you with two questions as a kind of examination of conscience. To what extent does the fact that Mary is your Mother in the order of grace impact on your daily life? To what extent do you really work with Her for the salvation of souls?