The Renewal of the Legion
It is that time of the year when the Legion throughout the whole world, both individually and collectively, renews its commitment to the Mother of God. The Handbook puts it very simply: “Bearing in mind the importance of devotion to Mary in the Legion system, each year there shall be a consecration of legionaries to Our Lady. The consecration - which shall comprise both an individual and collective consecration - shall take place on the 25th of March or on a day close thereto, and will be known as the Acies.” The first Acies meeting took place on the 29th of March 1931 just ten years after the founding of the Legion. It was a simple, beautiful, inspiring and formative celebration and is now the great central annual function of the Legion. It is a magnificent principle of renewal for the Legion.
The Handbook explains the core meaning of the Acies as follows: “The essential idea of the Legion, upon which all else is built, is that of working in union with and in dependence on Mary, its Queen. The Acies is the solemn expression of that union and dependence, the renewal - individual and collective - of the legionary declaration of fealty.” The words of individual consecration to Mary are brief but they include everything most precious to the Legion spirit and vocation. “I am all yours, my Queen, my Mother, and all that I have is yours.” This brief formula of consecration sums up the whole teaching of St. Louis Marie de Montfort and the Legion.
The Handbook gives us an important reminder that the words of our consecration to Mary ‘should not be mechanically or thoughtlessly pronounced. Each one of us should compress into it the fullest degree of understanding and gratitude.’ What we publicly and solemnly proclaim must be first nourished and rooted in our hearts. Our whole personhood and all that we possess both in terms of material and spiritual goods we give to Mary. Absolutely nothing is held back from her. As legionaries we are defined by this total consecration to and dependence on Mary. And of course it means that all we are and possess is given to Jesus but through and in Mary. There is no better way of being totally christocentric - centred in Christ.
Sometimes it might happen that we become overwhelmed with meetings, discussions, many tasks, difficulties and vexing questions from within the Legion and from outside it. So it is vital for us to remember that the Legion revolves around a person - the person of the Mother of God. That is why the Legion altar is so important for us. It tells us who is running the Legion. The Acies should have the same effect. We recall the oft quoted words of Cecily Hallack in her book on the Legion: “The Legion does not fight as a collection of people dedicated to Mary, but as Mary.” We desire to be a continuation of the presence and work of Mary in the world - putting everyone in saving contact with Jesus. Mary is not simply the patroness of the Legion. She is so much more. She is our Mother and Queen and we seek to be the instruments of her maternal care for the mystical Body of Christ and the whole of human kind. All these thoughts come to our minds and stir our hearts as we celebrate the annual Acies. It is our relationship with Mary that puts warmth in our hearts amid the relentless efforts and sometimes stress of the apostolate.
As the years go by in our membership of the Legion we should be able to make our consecration to Mary with greater love and understanding. A help towards this is the constant prayerful study of the Handbook as a whole and especially A Marian Synthesis contained as an appendix of the Handbook.
There can be little doubt that if we really put our mind and heart into this consecration to Mary at the Acies it will be an infallible principle of renewal for ourselves and the whole Legion. On the other hand, the Handbook rightly says: “Hence it is manifest that any legionaries who can attend, and fail to do so, have little or none of the spirit of the Legion in them. The membership of such persons is not an asset to the Legion.” I hope and pray that there are no legionaries who would not make some sacrifice in order to be with their fellow legionaries in making their total consecration to Mary, the Mother of God and the Mother of each one of us. Our consecration is our thanksgiving to Mary for all that she has done for us and for all she means to us. And we should never forget that every grace and blessing that we have received and will receive comes to us through her.