The Spirit of Mary and the Eucharist

The attractiveness of the Legion should be the attractiveness of Mary herself. The Legion seeks to be a presence of Mary in a parish or diocese or wherever she exists. There are some sentences in the Handbook that we must never tire of returning to. They give the Legion her indispensable focus and we neglect them at our peril. One such sentence is: The spirit of the Legion of Mary is that of Mary herself. That means we seek a total union with her. In his poem ‘The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air we breathe’ Gerald Manly Hopkins encapsulates something of the relationship of the legionary to Mary

Be thou then, O thou dear
Mother, my atmosphere;
My happier world, wherein
To wend and meet no sin;
Above me, round me lie
Fronting my froward eye
With sweet and scarless sky;
Stir in my ears, speak there
Of God’s love, O live air,
Of patience, penance, prayer:
World - mothering air, air wild,
Wound with thee, in thee is led
Fold home, fold fast thy child.

We know that the spirit of Mary is one of total intimacy with the Holy Spirit. So everything a legionary does is done because of a promise made to the Holy Spirit in union with Mary. We seek explicitly to share in Mary’s intimacy with the Holy Spirit. We also know that the spirit of Mary is totally riveted on Jesus. There is absolutely nothing in Mary that does not lead and point to Jesus. But today I want to say a few words about the spirit of Mary and the Eucharist.
In the Mass we have the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. We are fed from the table of the Word and the table of the Bread of life. Mary is our Mother who teaches us how to live both these parts of the Eucharist. We remember how St. Luke describes the spirit of Mary in his Gospel. He writes in two places: ‘And Mary kept all these words, pondering on them in her heart’. Pope Benedict writes: ‘Mary stands as the embodiment of the Church’s memory….. Thus Mary becomes a model for the Church’s mission, i.e. that of being a dwelling place for the Word, preserving it and keeping it safe in times of confusion, protecting it, as it were, from the elements’. So the legionary in the spirit of Mary seeks humbly to be a dwelling place for the Word. It would be difficult to exaggerate the love the legionary should have for the Word of God at all times but especially when proclaimed in the Liturgy throughout the year. One of the deepest aspects of our Legion formation must be our harmony with the Liturgy of the Church.

It is easy for us to recognise the close union between the spirit of Mary and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Eucharist makes present among us the full reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Sacrifice of the Mass is the identical same Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. It would be impossible for Mary to forget the passion and death of Jesus. She consented to it. She too offered it to the Father. But she remembers not just the horrific details of the crucifixion she also treasures the reasons for it. She is the primary human witness to the love of Jesus for each one of us on the Cross. That is what the Eucharist means to her maternal heart. At the heart of the drama of Calvary we are given to her as our Mother. She is part of every Eucharist because it is a sacramental re-enactment of the drama of Calvary. Of course, Mary lived the spirit of the Eucharist long before the Institution of the Eucharist. She was the first living tabernacle of the real presence of the Incarnate Lord on earth. For nine months she carried the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus in her womb and in her heart. I do not need to labour the point any further because every legionary should know that just as Mary is the Woman of the Eucharist and the spirit of the Legion is the spirit of Mary herself therefore the Eucharist must be central to every legionary too.

At the beginning of the Year of the Eucharist I suggested as a possible task for every legionary that they go to daily Mass and Communion and set themselves the task of encouraging at least one person back to the Eucharist. The Year is coming rapidly to an end, so may I suggest and encourage each legionary brother and sister throughout the whole world to renew their Eucharistic resolutions in the spirit of Mary and out of love for her. One of the earliest apostolates of Frank Duff was to recruit people for the Daily Mass League and Edel Quinn confessed that she could not live without the Eucharist and made enormous sacrifices to get to daily Mass and Communion. Daily Mass was also a central part of the spirituality of Alfie Lambe. The Eucharist is the greatest treasure the Church possesses and that must be true for the Legion too.