Legion of Mary  |  Legion of Mary Handbook



(See chapter 11, Scheme of the Legion)

  1. This duty is more difficult when one is tired than when fresh; and in bad weather than in fine; and, generally, when one is tempted to go elsewhere. Yet where is the test but in the difficulty, and where the real merit but in the conquering of difficulties?
  2. It is easier to see the value of doing a work than the value of attendance at a meeting to report on that work, yet the meeting is the prime duty. The meeting is to the work as the root is to the flower; the latter will not live without the former.
  3. Fidelity in attendance in the face of long travelling to and fro is proof of a deep supernatural vision, for natural reasoning suggests that the value of the meeting is outweighed by the waste of time involved in the travelling. But it is not time wasted. It is a part, and a specially meritorious part, of the whole work done. Was Mary's long journey in the Visitation a waste of time?

"To her other virtues St. Thérése joined an unflinching courage. It was always a principle with her that 'we should go to the end of our strength before we complain.' How many times did she not assist at Matins suffering from vertigo or violent headaches! 'I am still able to walk,' she would say, 'and so I ought to be at my post.' Thanks to this undaunted energy, she performed acts that were heroic." (St. Thérése of Lisieux)


  1. This work should be "substantial," that is, the legionary should spend a couple of hours a week at it. But legionaries should not thus mathematically restrict themselves. A large proportion of legionaries far exceed that minimum, going on to the gift of several days in the week. Many are found who give every day. The work must represent some definite active duty assigned by the praesidium, not something dictated by the pleasure of the individual legionary. Prayers or other spiritual exercises, however considerable, do not satisfy
    this obligation, or even supply in part the place of active work.
  2. The work is but prayer in another form, and the rules of prayer must be applied to it. No work will persist for long without that supernatural framework. Either a duty will be easy, in which case it will become monotonous; or if interesting, it will most probably be difficult and marked by rebuffs and seeming failure. In either event, human considerations will quickly urge its abandonment. Instead, the legionary must be trained to look through the mists of human sentiments, which obscure every work, for its true outline which is the supernatural. The more that work is like a cross, the more it is to be esteemed.
  3. The legionary is a soldier, and duty should not be a less virile thing to the legionary than it is to the soldiers of earthly causes. Everything that is noble and self-sacrificing and chivalrous and strong in the soldierly character should be found at its height in the true legionary of Mary, and of course reflected in that legionary's work. Soldierly duty may variously mean death, or the monotony of a sentry beat, or the scrubbing of a barrack-floor. But in each case, duty alone is looked to, not what that duty comprises. In all circumstances is found the same fidelity, and defeat or victory do not affect duty. No less solid must be the legionary's conception of duty; no less thorough its application to each item of work, the most insignificant as well as the most difficult.
  4. The legionary work is to be done in closest union with Mary. But, in addition, it must be regarded as an essential aim of that work to instil into those who are the object of it a knowledge of Mary and a true love of her, which will cause those souls to undertake some form of service of her. An understanding of Mary and a devotion towards her are necessary to the health and development of souls. "For she is a partner in the Divine mysteries and may indeed be described as their guardian. On her, as on the most noble foundation after Jesus Christ, rests the faith of all generations." (AD 3) The consideration of legionaries is invited to other thought-provoking words of Pope St. Pius X: "As soon as devotion to the august Mary has driven deep its roots into souls, then - and not till then - will he who labours for those souls see proceed from them fruits of virtue and sanctity corresponding to his toils on their behalf."
"Remember, you are fighting a winning battle, like our Lord on Calvary. Do not be afraid of the arms he sharpened nor to share the wounds he bore. Whether the victory should come in your generation or in the next, what is that to you? Carry on the tradition of patient toil; and let the Lord take care of the rest, for it is not for us to know the time nor the moments which the Father has appointed in his power. Take heart and bear the burden of your knighthood with the unflinching courage of the high-souled men who went before you." (T. Gavan Duffy: The Price of Dawning Day)


This is a very important duty, and one of the chief exercises which help to sustain interest in the work of the Legion. It is for this latter purpose as much as for the supplying of information to the meeting that the report is intended. A good test of the efficiency of the legionary is the care given to the preparing of the report, and the manner of presenting it. Each report is a brick in the edifice of the meeting, and the integrity of the latter depends upon the perfection of the reports. Each report missing or defective is a blow at the meeting, which is the source of life.
An important part of the training of the member should lie in the learning of the methods of other members, as disclosed through their reports, and in the hearing of the comments which one's own reports elicit from experienced legionaries. It follows that if a report gives only meagre information, it cannot be the means of helping either the member who makes it or those who listen to it.
For fuller consideration of the report and the manner of making it, see section 9, chapter 18, Order of the Praesidium Meeting.

"Bear in mind the insistency with which St. Paul calls on Christians to succour, and to be mindful of, and to pray for 'all men; for God would have all men to be saved . . . for Christ gave Himself in redemption for all.' (I Tim 2:6) And this principle of the universality of duty and of the object of it comes also into this sublime saying of St. John Chrysostom: 'Christians, you will render an account not of yourselves alone but of the whole world'." (Gratry: Les Sources)


by the legionaries in regard to what they hear at their meetings or in the course of their work. This knowledge comes to them because they are legionaries, and it would be an intolerable treachery to the Legion for them to divulge it. Reports must, of course, be made to the praesidium meeting, but even here there must be circumspection. This question is more fully discussed in section 20, chapter 19, The Meeting and the Member.

"Guard what has been entrusted to you." (1 Tim 6:20)


in which will be kept a brief record of cases.
(a) It is due to the work to attack it in a business-like way;
(b) past and unfinished cases will not be lost sight of;
(c) without its aid a suitable report will not be made; (d) it will form a training in habits of order;
(e) this tangible record of work done will prove a valuable corrective in that inevitable hour when present failure casts its hue over past performance.

This record should be of a guarded character (that is, a species of code should be devised), so as not to disclose delicate information to eyes other than those of the legionary. It should never be entered up in the presence of the persons concerned.

"All things should be done decently and in order." (1 Cor 14:40)


composed principally of the Magnificat, Mary's own prayer, the evening hymn of the Church,"the most humble and grateful, the most sublime and exalted of all the Canticles." (St. Louis-Marie de Montfort)
As the name implies, this is the link between the Legion and the daily life of all its members, active and auxiliary, and the bond which unites them one to another and to their Blessed Mother. The name is suggestive, too, of the obligation of daily recitation. Let the idea of a chain, composed of links - each link vital to perfection - be to each legionary an admonition against forming a broken link in the Legion's chain of daily prayer.
Legionaries whom circumstances have forced to relinquish active membership (and even those whom less weighty reasons have caused to forsake the ranks) should still keep up this beautiful practice and preserve at least this bond with the Legion unbroken during life.
"When I converse familiarly with Jesus, each time I will do this in Mary's name, and partly in her person. Through me she desires to re-live those hours of sweet intimacy and of ineffable tenderness which she spent in Nazareth with her beloved Child. With my aid, she would once more talk delightedly with him; thanks to me, she would embrace him and press him to her bosom, as once she did at Nazareth." (De Jaegher: The Virtue of Trust)


Legionaries are ready enough to honour in a general way the duty of loving their fellow-members, but sometimes do not remember that it must include an attitude of kindliness towards seeming shortcomings. Failure in this direction will deprive the praesidium of grace, and may have the dire effect of causing others to discontinue membership.
And on the other hand, all should be sensible enough to realise that their membership is something quite independent alike of the fact that they have a President or colleague whom they find pleasant or the reverse and of real or imagined slights or lack of appreciation, or of disagreements, or rebukes, or of other accidental circumstances.
Self-suppression must be the basis of all work in common. Without it even the best workers may threaten the organisation. Those serve the Legion best, who moderate their own individuality and adapt themselves most completely and most harmoniously to the system. On the other hand, he that says something or does something that departs from the sweetness which should characterise the Legion, may be opening an artery with fatal results. Let all, then, watch that they do those things which fall to the centre, not from it.
When discussing the attitude of legionary to legionary there is special need to refer to what are lightly, but incorrectly, called the "petty jealousies." Jealousy is seldom petty in itself. It means acid in the individual heart. It enters all but universally into human relations, poisoning them. In the malevolent, it is a fierce and maddening force which can perpetrate most dreadful things. But likewise it tempts the unselfish and the pure of heart through their sensitive and loving natures. How hard it is to see oneself displaced by others, outpaced in virtue or in performance, put aside in favour of the young! How bitter is the contemplation of one's own eclipse! The best of souls have felt that secret pang, and have learned from it their own amazing weakness. For that bitterness is really smouldering hate, and near to bursting into destructive flame.
Relief may lie in trying to forget. But the legionary must aim at higher things than such a peace. He must be satisfied with nothing less than victory, a vastly meritorious conquest over stark nature arrayed in battle, the transformation of the half-hate of envy wholly into Christian love. But how can such a wonder be achieved? It will be done by putting into force the fulness of legionary duty to his fellow-members and to those around him, in each of whom he has been taught to see and reverence his Lord. Each sting of jealousy must be met by this reflection: That person, whose increase has caused my pain, is none other than the Lord. My feelings, therefore, must be those of St. John the Baptist. My joy is filled that Jesus is exalted at my expense. He must increase, but I must decrease.
That outlook is heroically holy. It is the raw material for a destiny. What glorious scope it gives to Mary to free from every stain of vanity a soul through which the light will shine unto others (Jn 1:7), for her fashioning of yet another selfless envoy to prepare the way before the Lord! (Mk 1:2)
A precursor must always desire his own eclipse by him whom he announces. An apostle will always see with joy the growth of those around him, and will never think to measure their uprise against his own. He is no apostle who wishes growth to all, except when that growth casts shadow on his own! That jealous thought would show that self is first when self is touched, whereas self in the apostle must be always last. Nay more! the spirit of envy cannot co-exist with true apostleship.

"With her first words of respect and loving salutation, Mary imparts that first sanctifying impulse which purifies those souls, regenerating John the Baptist and in the same moment ennobling Elizabeth.

But if those first words have worked such great things, what is to be thought of the days, the weeks, the months which followed? Mary is giving all the time . . . And Elizabeth receives - and why not say it boldly out - receives without jealousy. That Elizabeth, in whom God has likewise effected a miraculous maternity, bows before her young cousin without the slightest secret bitterness at not having been herself the one chosen by the Lord. Elizabeth was not jealous of Mary; and later on, Mary will be incapable of feeling jealous of the love her Son will give to his apostles. Nor will John the Baptist have a jealousy of Jesus, when his own disciples leave him for Jesus. Without a trace of bitterness, he will see them go from him, his only comment being: 'He that cometh from above, is above all . . . He must increase but I must decrease'." (Jn 3:30-31) (Perroy: L'Humble Vierge Marie)


Legionaries owe an especial duty to their co-visitors. Here is the mystic number "two" - the symbol of charity upon which all fruitfulness depends: The Lord "sent them on ahead of him, two by two". (Lk 10:1) But "two" must not signify merely two persons who happen to be working together but a unity such as that of David and Jonathan, whose souls were knit one with the other. Each loved the other as his own soul. (1 Sam 18:1)
"(They) shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves." (Ps 126:6)
It will be in small details that the union of co-visitor with co-visitor will be shown and developed. Broken promises, missed appointments, unpunctuality, failures in charity of thought or word, little discourtesies, airs of superiority: these dig a trench between the two. In such circumstances no unity is possible.

"Next to religious discipline, the most precious guarantee of blessings and of fruitfulness for a religious society is found in fraternal charity, in harmonious union. We must love all our brothers, without exception, as the privileged and chosen sons of Mary. What we do to each of them, Mary regards as done to herself, or rather as done to her Son Jesus - all our members being called by their vocation to become, with Jesus and in Jesus, the very sons of Mary." (Petit Traite de Marialogie Marianiste)


Part of the duty of every legionary shall be the winning of new members. We are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves; hence if the Legion is a blessing to oneself, shall not one seek to bring that blessing to others ? If one sees souls uplifted by its work, should one not aspire to extend that work?
And finally can any legionary not strive to gather in new members, if he reflects that the Legion cannot but advance them in the love and in the service of Mary? This, after Jesus Himself, is the greatest blessing which can enter a life. For God has made her-in dependence on Christ and inseparable from Him-the root and the growth and flowering of the supernatural life.
If not approached and urged thereto, innumerable persons will never think to enter the High Way, for which they inwardly yearn, and which would lead on to such wonderful things for themselves and, through them, for other souls.

"To every man there openeth
A way, and ways, and a way.
And the High Soul climbs the High Way
And the Low Soul gropes the Low,
And, in between, on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.
And to every man there openeth
A High Way and a Low,
And every man decideth
The Way his soul shall go."
(John Oxenham)


It is imperative that every member should study the handbook thoroughly. It is the official exposition of the Legion. It contains in briefest possible compass what it is important that every properly equipped legionary should know of the principles, the laws, the methods and the spirit of the organisation. Members - and in particular officers - who do not know the handbook cannot possibly work the system properly; while, on the other hand, increased knowledge will always bring increased efficiency. The unusual feature will be presented of interest growing with time, and quality with quantity.
The cry "Too long!" is not uncommonly heard, and sometimes, by a strange disproportion, from persons who each day give to the perusal of the newspapers an amount of time adequate for the reading of the major part of the handbook.
"Too long! Too much detail!" Would the serious student of his country's laws, or of medicine, or of military science, apply such words to a text-book of only similar size which embodied all that he was expected to know concerning the particular science he was studying ? Far from saying or thinking so, he would in a short week or two have committed to memory every idea, every word even, contained in such a treatise. Verily, "the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light." (Lk 16:8)
And the objection is made that "the handbook is full of difficult ideas and advanced matters, so that many of our younger and simpler members can hardly understand it. So why not have a simplified handbook for such as them?" It should not have to be pointed out that such a suggestion is contrary to the first laws of education which require that the student be gradually led on into unknown territory. There is no education at all if a person understands a thing fully in advance; and when the new is no longer proposed to the mind, the process of education has ceased. Why should a legionary expect to understand the handbook straight away, anymore than a student be expected to understand immediately his first text book? It is the function of the school and the whole idea of education to make clear what was not clear and to implant it as knowledge.
"Even the words are hard!" But can they not be learned? The vocabulary of the handbook is not so very advanced; it can be acquired by asking questions and by looking up a dictionary. In actual fact it is precisely the vocabulary of the daily newspapers which are read by everyone. Who ever hears it suggested that those newspapers be simplified? And does not every legionary owe it to himself and to his Catholicism to master words that have been found necessary for the full explaining of the spiritual and other principles of the Legion?
What has been said of the handbook vocabulary is to be repeated in respect of the handbook ideas. They are not obscure ideas. "There cannot be in the Church's teaching an inner body of doctrine which only the few can grasp" (Archbishop John Charles McQuaid). This has been proved by the fact that countless legionaries, ordinary and even simple people, have completely grasped those ideas and have made them food and fibre for their lives. Neither are those ideas unnecessary. Actually, they must be reasonably comprehended if the apostolate is to be properly fulfilled, for they are only the common principles, that is to say the very life, of apostleship. Without a sufficient understanding of those principles, the apostolate would be deprived of its true meaning - its spiritual roots, and would not have the right to be called Christian at all. The difference between the Christian apostolate and a vague campaign of "doing good" is as the distance between heaven and earth.
Therefore the apostolic ideas of the handbook must be absorbed, and the praesidium must play the part of teacher. This process will be accomplished through the spiritual reading, through the Allocutio, and by stimulating the legionaries in a systematic reading and study of the handbook. Knowledge must not remain theoretical. Each item of the active work must be linked to its appropriate doctrine and thus given spiritual significance.
Once when asked how to become learned, St. Thomas Aquinas replied: "Read one book. Whatever you read or hear, take care to understand it well. Attain certainty in what is doubtful." The master of learning was not here pointing to one particular great book, but had in mind any worthy book which aimed at the imparting of knowledge. Therefore legionaries can take his words as an incentive to an exhaustive study of the handbook.
In addition it has a catechism value. It affords a simple, comprehensive presentation of the Catholic religion, conformed to the legislation of the Second Vatican Council.

"Although he held knowledge to be the result of interior illumination, St. Bonaventure, nevertheless, was well aware of the labour which study entails. And so, quoting St. Gregory, he put forward as an illustration of study the miracle at the marriage at Cana of Galilee. Christ did not create the wine out of nothing, but bade the servants first fill their pitchers with water. In the same manner the Holy Spirit does not grant spiritual intelligence and understanding to a man who does not fill his pitcher - that is his mind - with water - that is with matter learnt from study. There can be no illumination without effort. An understanding of eternal truths is the reward of the labour of study which no man can avoid." (Gemelli: The Franciscan Message to the World)


As far as prudence will dictate, the legionary must aim at bringing the spirit of the Legion to bear on all the affairs of daily life, and must ever be on the alert for opportunities to promote the general object of the Legion, that is, to destroy the empire of sin, uproot its foundations, and plant on its ruins the standard of Christ the King.
"A man will meet you in the street and ask you for a match. Talk to him, and in ten minutes he will be asking you for God." (Duhamel.) But why not make sure of that life-giving contact by first asking him for the match?
So commonly as to tend to harden into custom, Christianity is understood and practised only in a partial sense, that is as an individualistic religion directed exclusively towards the benefiting of one's own soul and not at all concerned with one's fellow-man. This is the "half-circle Christianity" so reprobated by Pope Pius XI. Evidently the Command that we must love God with our whole heart and with our whole soul and with our whole mind; and our neighbour as ourself (Mt 22:37-39), has fallen on many ears that are determined to be deaf.
It would be evidence of this gravely incorrect point of view to regard the legionary standards as a sort of sanctity, intended for chosen souls only. For these standards are only elementary Christian ones. It is not easy to see how one can descend much below them and at the same time claim to be rendering to our neighbour the active love which is enjoined by the Great Precept, and which is part of the very love of God; so much so, that if it be omitted the Christian idea is mutilated. "We must be saved together. We must come to God together. What would God say to us if some of us came to Him without the others?" (Péguy)
That love must lavish itself on our fellow-men without distinction, individually and corporately, not as a mere emotion but in the form of duty, service, self-sacrifice. The legionary must be an attractive embodiment of this true Christianity. Unless the True Light is made to shine before men through numerous and conspicuous rays of that Light, that is by practical examples of real Christian living, there is not only the danger but the certainty that it will not be reflected in the common standards of Catholics. These may sink to the minimum compatible with keeping out of hell. This would mean that religion had been stripped of its noble and unselfish character-in other words made the ridiculous opposite to what it is supposed to be, and therefore capable of attracting nobody and holding nobody.
Duty means discipline. Being always on duty means unrelaxed discipline. Therefore, one's speech, and dress, and manner, and conduct, however simple they may be, must never be such as to disedify. Persons will look for fault in those whom they observe to be active in the cause of religion. Failings, which in others would hardly attract notice, will in a legionary be considered disgraceful, and will largely spoil his efforts to do good to others. Nor is this unreasonable. Is it not just to require a goodly standard from those who are urging others on to higher things?
But there must be here, as in all things, right reason. Those who are well-intentioned must not be deterred from apostolic effort by the sense of their own deficiencies. For that would mean the end of all apostleship. Neither are they to think that perhaps it would be hypocritical for them to counsel a perfection which they do not possess. "No," says St. Francis de Sales, "it is not being a hypocrite to speak better than we act. If it were, Lord God! where would we be? We would have to remain silent."

"The Legion of Mary aims simply at the living of normal Catholicism. We say 'normal'; we do not say 'average'. In these days there is a tendency to think that the 'normal' Catholic is one who practises his religion altogether for his own sake without taking any active interest in the salvation of his brethren. To judge thus would be to caricature the real Catholic, and indeed Catholicism itself. Average Catholicism is not normal Catholicism. It would seem to be necessary to subject to a close scrutiny, to a process of revision, this prevalent notion of 'good Catholic' or 'practising Catholic'. One is not a Catholic if one falls below a certain apostolic minimum, and this indispensable minimum, on which will depend the Last Judgement, is not being reached by the mass of so-called practising Catholics. Therein is a tragic situation; therein lies a fundamental misunderstanding." (Cardinal Suenens: La Théologie de l'Apostolat)


Though the recital of the Catena Legionis is the only daily duty imposed by the Legion on its active members, the latter are earnestly urged to include all the prayers of the tessera in their daily programme. The auxiliary members' duty requires those prayers, and it would be a reproach to the active units were they to fall short of what the auxiliaries, in countless numbers, are contributing. It is true that the auxiliary does not perform the active work. Nevertheless, it is certain that the auxiliary is of greater service to the Legion's Queen than the active member who works but does not pray. This is the reverse of the intention of the Legion, which conceives the active membership as the spearhead of its attack and the auxiliaries as the haft only.
Moreover, the fervour and perseverance of the auxiliaries will depend in great measure upon their conviction that they are supplementing a self-sacrificing and in fact heroic service-one far beyond their own. For this additional reason, the active member must constitute a model and an inspiration to the auxiliary. But a genuine inspiration he can hardly be, if his service of prayer falls below that demanded from the auxiliary, leaving a doubt as to who serves the Legion the better.
Every legionary, active and auxiliary, should enrol in the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary. The benefits attaching to membership are immense. (see appendix 7)

"In all petitions the Most Holy Name of Jesus is at least implicitly invoked, even though the words 'through our Lord Jesus Christ' are not expressly said: because he is the necessary Mediator to whom appeals must be presented. Moreover, when the suppliant addresses God the Father directly, or when he confides his request to an angel or a saint without calling on the most holy name of Mary, then the same must be said of the Blessed Virgin as of her Divine Son. Just as his Name is ever implicitly invoked because he is the sole necessary Mediator, so the name of his Blessed Mother who is associated with him is also in all prayers implicitly invoked with his. Whenever God is asked, she is virtually asked. Whenever Christ as Man is asked, she is thereby asked. Whenever a saint is asked, she is asked." (Canice Bourke, O.F.M. Cap.: Mary)


"It is no longer I who live" says the apostle "but it is Christ who lives in me." (Gal 2:20) Interior life means that one's thoughts, desires and affections converge on our Lord. The model for achieving this is Our Blessed Lady. She continually advanced in holiness, for spiritual progress, is, most of all, progress in charity or love, and charity grew in Mary during her whole life.
"All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fulness of Christian life and to the perfection of love.... All the faithful are invited and obliged to holiness and the perfection of their own state of life." (LG 40, 42) Holiness is a practical attainment. "All of holiness consists in the love of God, and all of the love of God consists in doing his will." (St. Alphonsus Liguori)
"To be able to discover the actual will of the Lord in our lives always involves the following: a receptive listening to the Word of God and the Church, fervent and constant prayer, recourse to a wise and loving spiritual guide, and a faithful discernment of the gifts and talents given by God as well as the diverse social and historic situations in which one lives." (CL 58)
The spiritual formation of legionaries at praesidium level greatly helps in the development of their holiness. But it must be noted that the spiritual guidance given is collective. Since each member is a unique individual with personal needs, it is desirable that the collective be supplemented by individual guidance and consequently that the member avail of a "wise and loving spiritual guide" (op. cit.)
There are three necessary requirements for a Christian life: prayer, mortification and sacraments, and they are interconnected:

(a) Prayer
It has to be private as well as public, because there are two sides to our nature, individual as well as social. The duty of worship obliges us primarily as individuals, but the whole community, linked together by social bonds, is bound by it also. The liturgy, like the Mass and the Divine Office, is the public worship of the Church. However Vatican Council II comments: "The Christian is indeed called to pray with others, but he must also enter into his room to pray to his Father in secret; furthermore, according to the teaching of the apostle, he must pray without ceasing." (SC 12) Private forms of prayer include: "meditation [or mental prayer], examination of conscience, retreats, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and special devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, above all, of course, the rosary." (MD 186) "Nourishing the spiritual life of Christians, as they do, they cause them to take part with great profit in all the public functions, and prevent the liturgical prayers from degenerating into an empty ceremony." (ibid. 187)
Private spiritual reading, as well as developing Christian convictions, greatly helps prayer-life. Preference is to be given to the reading of the New Testament, with a suitable Catholic commentary (cf DV 12) and spiritual classics, chosen according to one's needs and abilities. It is here that the "wise" guide is especially important. Well-written lives of saints provide a good introduction to the spiritual life. They provide a headline which would draw us on to goodness and heroism. Saints are the doctrines and practices of holiness made visible. If we frequent their company, we will soon imitate their qualities.
Every legionary should, if at all possible, make an enclosed retreat once every year. The fruit of retreats and recollections is a clearer vision of one's vocation in life and a brighter willingness to follow it faithfully.

(b) Mortification or self-denial

It means getting rid of self to allow Christ to live his life in us and to share that life more fully. It is self-discipline in order to love God and others for the sake of God. Its need arises because by original sin our intellect is darkened, our will is weakened and our passions incline us easily to sin.
The first requirement is the willing fulfilment of what the Church lays down with regard to days and seasons of penance and how they are to be observed. The Legion system, followed properly, gives a valuable training in mortification.
After that comes the loving acceptance from God's hands of "the crosses, toils and disappointments of life." Positively there is the question of controlling our senses, especially with regard to what we permit ourselves to look at, listen to or say. All that helps to control the internal senses of memory and imagination. Mortification also involves the overcoming of laziness, moods and selfish attitudes. A mortified person will be courteous and pleasant to those he lives close to at home and at work. Personal apostolate, which is friendship carried to its logical conclusion, implies mortification because it means taking trouble to put friends right with kindness and delicacy. "I have become all things to all people" says St. Paul "that I might by all means save some." (1 Cor 9:22) The efforts needed to check dangerous tendencies and cultivate good habits also serve as atonement for our sins and the sins of others in the Mystical Body. If Christ the Head suffered on account of our sins, it is only right that we should be in solidarity with him; if Christ the innocent one paid for us the guilty, surely we the guilty have to do something ourselves. Every fresh evidence of sin inspires generous Christians to make positive acts of reparation.

(c) Sacraments

Union with Christ has its source in baptism, its further development in confirmation and its realisation and potent nourishment in the Eucharist. As these sacraments are dealt with elsewhere in the handbook, here mention should be made of the sacrament in which Christ continues to exercise his merciful forgiveness through one who acts in his person - a Catholic priest. It is variously called confession, penance, reconciliation. Confession, because it is a frank acknowledgement of sins committed; penance because it denotes change; reconciliation, because through the sacrament a penitent is reconciled with God, his Church and all mankind. It is closely linked with the Eucharist, because Christ's forgiveness comes to us through the merits of his death - the very death we celebrate in the Eucharist.
Let every legionary avail of Christ's invitation to meet him personally in his sacrament of reconciliation and to do so frequently and regularly, "for by this means we grow in a true knowledge of ourselves and in Christian humility, bad habits are uprooted, spiritual negligence and apathy are prevented, the conscience is purified and the will strengthened, salutary spiritual direction is obtained, and grace is increased by the efficacy of the sacrament itself." (MC 87) Through experiencing the benefits of the sacrament of reconciliation legionaries will be encouraged to share them by inviting people to confession.
To summarise, the salvation of souls and their sanctification as well as the Christian transformation of the world come about only as a consequence of the life of Christ in souls. In point of fact, this is really the most vital issue.
"Marian spirituality, like its corresponding devotion, finds a very rich source in the historical experience of individuals and of the various Christian communities present among the different peoples and nations of the world. In this regard, I would like to recall, among the many witnesses and teachers of this spirituality, the figure of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, who proposes consecration to Christ through the hands of Mary, as an effective means for Christians to live faithfully their baptismal commitments."(RMat48)
"There is a living link between our spiritual life and the dogmas of our faith. The dogmas are lights along the pathway of our faith. They light it up for us and give us security as we journey. On the other hand, if we are living as we ought to, our mind and our heart will be open to receive the light coming from the dogmas of faith." (CCC 89)


The Legion proposes a way of life rather than the doing of a work. It gives a training which is meant to influence every department of life and every hour of that life. The legionary who is only a legionary for the duration of the meeting and the work assignment is not living the spirit of the Legion.
The Legion's purpose is to help its members and all those in contact with them to live out their Christian vocation to the full. That vocation has its source in baptism. By baptism one is made another Christ. "We have not only become other Christs, but Christ himself." (St. Augustine)
Incorporated into Christ at baptism, every member of his Church shares his role as Priest, Prophet and King.
We share in Christ's priestly mission by worship, private and public. The highest form of worship is sacrifice. By spiritual sacrifice we offer ourselves and all our activities to our Father God. Speaking of the lay faithful Vatican Council II says: "For all their works, prayers and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit - indeed even the hardships of life if patiently borne - all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (cf. Pet 2:5) In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord and so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God." (LG 34)
We share in Christ's prophetic (teaching) mission. He "proclaimed the kingdom of his Father both by the testimony of his life and by the power of his word" (LG 35). As lay faithful, we are given the ability and responsibility to accept the gospel in faith and proclaim it in word and deed. The greatest service we can render to people is to speak the truths of faith - to tell, for example, what God is, what the human soul is, what the purpose of life is and what follows death. Above all, about Christ Our Lord who contains all truth. It is not necessary to be able to argue and give proofs for what we say, but to know and live these truths and to be aware of the difference they make, and to talk about them intelligently, conveying enough of their meaning to arouse interest and possibly make the person willing to seek fuller information. Legion membership helps to improve one's knowledge of the faith and how to live it. It helps also by strong motivation and experience to speak about religion to strangers. But people who have the greatest claim on our apostolic charity are those we meet habitually at home, school, trade, profession, social and leisure activities. These will not normally be part of our Legion assignment, but they are committed to our care all the same.
We share in Christ's kingly mission by overcoming in ourselves the kingdom of sin and by the service of our fellowmen, for to rule is to serve. Christ said that he came to serve, not to be served. (Mt 20:28) We share, above all, in this mission of Christ by doing our work well, whatever it is, in the home and outside it, out of love for God and as a service to others. By work well done we continue the work of creation and help make the world a better and more pleasant place to live in. It is the privileged task of lay Christians to permeate and perfect the temporal order, that is, all earthly affairs, with the spirit of the Gospel.
We pray in the Legion Promise that we may become instruments of the Holy Spirit's mighty purposes. Certainly our actions should always be supernaturally motivated, but our nature also must provide the Holy Spirit with as perfect an instrument as possible.
Christ is a Divine Person, but his human nature played a part in his actions, his human intelligence, his voice, his glance, his manner of behaviour. People, including children, the most discerning of all, liked to be in his company. He was a welcome guest at everyone's table.
St. Francis de Sales was a man whose conduct and manners were not the least of the means by which he brought many souls to God. It was he who recommended that everyone who wished to practice charity should cultivate what he called "the little virtues": friendliness, courtesy, good manners, consideration, patience and understanding, especially with the difficult.
"Identity of blood implies between Jesus Christ and Mary a similarity of formation, of features, of inclinations, of tastes, of virtues; not only because identity of blood very frequently creates such a similarity, but because in Mary's case (her maternity being altogether a supernatural fact - the effect of overwhelming grace) this grace took hold of this more or less general principle of nature and developed it in her in such a manner as to make her the living image and portrait of her divine Son in every way so that whoever could see her, could admire the most exquisitely formed image of Jesus Christ. This same relation of motherhood established between Mary and her Son an intimacy not only as to intercourse and communion of life, but as regards an interchange of hearts and of secrets; so that she was the mirror reflecting all the thoughts, feelings, aspirations, desires and purposes of Jesus, as he in turn reflected in a more eminent manner, as in an unspotted mirror, the miracle of purity, of love, of devotedness, of immense charity which was the soul of Mary. Mary could, therefore, say with greater reason than the Apostle of the Gentiles; I live, now not I; it is Jesus who lives in me." (De Concilio: The Knowledge of Mary)