BASIC DUTIES OF LEGIONARIES
AND PUNCTUAL ATTENDANCE AT THE WEEKLY MEETINGS OF THE PRAESIDIUM
(See chapter 11, Scheme of the Legion
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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."
3. FURNISHING AT THE MEETING A VERBAL
REPORT OF WORK DONE
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.
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.
MEMBER SHOULD HAVE A NOTEBOOK
in which will be kept a brief record
(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
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
6. THE DAILY
RECITATION BY EACH LEGIONARY OF THE CATENA LEGIONIS (CHAIN OF THE
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
OF THE HANDBOOK
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
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.
11. TO BE IN A SENSE
ALWAYS ON DUTY
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
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."
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)
"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:
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.
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.
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."
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.