May 2018 Allocutio
The Holy Spirit and Mary
It is a lovely providence of God that our Concilium Meeting today takes place on the magnificent feast of Pentecost. We celebrate the ultimate fruit and gift of the total work of our redemption - the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church and to each one of us. The Holy Spirit is the Personal Love between the Father and the Son. He is not some kind of abstract force however powerful and influential. He is first of all a divine Person defined as infinite love and gift. He is the primary agent in the Mission of the Church and in every form of evangelisation. All holiness is primarily the work of the Holy Spirit. He indwells in each one of us by grace as our most intimate friend, guide and support. He comes with all His gifts and fruits.
But today I would like to offer a reflection on the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Mary especially in the context of Legion spirituality. The angel Gabriel said to Mary: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you.’ This union between Mary and the Holy Spirit is not just a momentary relationship but an habitual one. They become inseparable in the divine design for the salvation of the world. This principle of the inseparability of Mary and the Holy Spirit is central to the spirituality of Frank Duff and the Legion. When Frank composes the Legion Promise which is the only entrance to being a member of the Legion of Mary he writes: ‘The secret of a perfect legionary service consists in being completely united to her who was so completely united to the Holy Spirit.’ There can be no doubt that the spirituality of Frank Duff is centred on the life giving union between Mary and the Holy Spirit. It is this union which is the source of the Incarnation and the work of our redemption and sanctification. Jesus Christ comes into our world and our personal lives through the union of Mary and the Holy Spirit and this truth is still fundamental to our Christian faith and apostolate.
In the Handbook and not infrequently in his letters and articles Frank Duff recalls the very first meeting of the Legion. The first corporate act of the Legion was for the legionaries to go down on their knees and pray and they called on the Holy Spirit and prayed to him. He considered this act as profoundly significant for every future meeting of the Legion. It indicated the primacy of the Holy Spirit in Legion spirituality. Then on the feast of St. Joseph, the 19th of March 1933 Concilium approved the Legion Promise that was composed by Frank Duff. Here we have a beautiful consecration to the Holy Spirit in union with Mary. It begins: ‘Most Holy Spirit, I … desiring to be enrolled this day as a legionary of Mary, Yet knowing that of myself I cannot render worthy service, Do ask of you to come upon me and fill me with yourself, So that my poor acts may be sustained by your power and become an instrument of your mighty purposes.’ Throughout his life Frank Duff spoke and wrote about the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Mary and especially in his later years. I suggest it would be a great blessing for a praesidium or indeed any other higher Council to read and discuss articles such as ‘Devotion to the Blessed Virgin is incomparably the best devotion to the Holy Spirit’ or ‘The Mystical Union between the Holy Spirit and Mary’ both of which can be found in his book ‘Victory through Mary.’ In any case it would be supremely beneficial to discuss the Legion Promise together regularly even when there is no probationer preparing to make the Promise.
Apart from the writings of our founder on the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Mary in Legion spirituality a great source of help and encouragement would be the writings of St. Louis Marie de Montfort especially his True Devotion to Mary. The Handbook tells us: ‘It can, however, be safely asserted that no saint has played a greater part in the development of the Legion than he. The Handbook is full of his spirit. The prayers re-echo his very words. He really is the tutor of the Legion.’ Pere Laurentin who is quoted in the Handbook and in many writings of Frank Duff, points out that de Montfort refers to the Holy Spirit 74 times in the True Devotion to Mary alone. His teaching is simple and definite: ‘We must be living copies of Mary and display the same docility to the Holy Spirit who leads us to her. Between the Spirit and Mary there is a moral union, an affinity, and even an irrepressible attraction. Wherever Mary is the Spirit comes, when the Holy Spirit finds Mary in a soul He hastens thee. It seems that this attraction is mutual according to de Montfort. The Holy Spirit comes to where Mary is and Mary goes to where the Holy Spirit is. He leads to her and she leads to Him who brings everything about.’ In other words true devotion to Mary necessarily leads to true devotion to the Holy Spirit and vice versa.
Finally, in a certain sense, every meeting of legionaries from the praesidium up to the Concilium should be a Cenacle experience because of the presence of Mary and the Holy Spirit. The signs that a meeting is really a Cenacle event is, the presence of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit: joy, peace, mutual love and respect, and deep unity. Our prayer should always be: Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of all our Legionaries. May Mary share with us her openness to the Holy Spirit.