Legion of Mary  |  Legion of Mary Handbook



Sometimes Mary is kept in the background so as to meet the prejudices of those who make small account of her. This method of making Catholic doctrine more acceptable may accord with human reasonings. It does not reflect the Divine idea. Those who act in this way do not realise that they might as well preach Christianity without Christ as ignore Mary's part in redemption. For God himself has thought fit to arrange that no foreshadowing or coming or giving or manifestation of Jesus should be without Mary.
From the beginning and before the world she was in the mind of God. - God himself it was who first began to tell of her and to sketch out for her a destiny unquestionably unique. For all that greatness of hers had a beginning very far back. It began before the constitution of the world. From the first, the idea of Mary was present to the Eternal Father along with that of the Redeemer, of whose destiny she formed part. Thus far back had God answered the doubter's saying: "What need has God of Mary's help?" God could have dispensed with her altogether, just as he might have dispensed with Jesus himself. But the course which it pleased him to adopt included Mary. It placed her by the side of the Redeemer from the very moment in which the Redeemer was himself decreed. It went further; that plan assigned to her no less a part than that of Mother of the Redeemer and necessarily, therefore, of those united to him.
Thus from all eternity Mary was in a position exalted, alone among creatures, and utterly outside comparison even with the sublimest among them, different in the Divine idea, different in the preparation she received; and therefore fittingly singled out from all others in the first prophecy of redemption, addressed to satan: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel." (Gen 3:15) Here is the future redemption summarised by God himself. Definitely, Mary is to be in an order of her own; even before her birth, and ever after, the enemy of satan; below the Saviour, but next to him, and like unto him (Gen 2:18), and remote from all others. Not any prophet - even the Baptist - is thus set with him, nor king nor leader, nor apostle nor evangelist - including Peter and Paul themselves; nor the greatest among the popes and pastors and doctors; nor any saint; nor David, nor Solomon, nor Moses, nor Abraham. Not one of them! Alone, out of all creatures that will ever be, she is divinely designated as the Co-worker of Salvation.
Vividly and unmistakably revealed in prophecy. - The course of prophecy continues: "The Virgin," "the Virgin and Child," "the Woman," "Woman and Child," "the Queen seated at the right hand of the King," the constantly recurring assurance that a woman is to be a prime element of our saving. What sort of future does this foretell of her? Do not the very greatest things that can be said of her seem to follow logically on? Hardly do we realise how crushing, how conclusive is the bearing of prophecy on this question of the place of Mary in the Christian religion. A prophecy is a shadow of a thing to come, a glance which pierces time instead of space, a pale outline of a distant prospect. Necessarily, a prophecy must be less vivid, less clear, less real, than the reality of which it speaks. But necessarily, too, it must preserve harmonious proportion with that reality. Prophecy which pictured redemption as wrought by a Woman and her Child together (and no other with that pair), who crush the head of satan, would be radically inconsistent with an actual redemption which relegates the woman to obscurity. Thus, if prophecy is truly named, and if Salvation is a lifelong working of the Incarnation and the death of Jesus Christ into the fabric of the human soul (and Holy Church and Holy Scripture jointly so declare); then in the Christian system Mary must be found with Jesus, inseparable from him in his saving work, the New Eve, dependent on him but necessary to him - indeed no other than the Mediatrix of all Graces, as the Catholic Church sums up her gracious office. If what prophecy had glimpsed is really God's country, then those who belittle Mary are aliens to it.
Likewise, the Annunciation shows her key-position. - The culmination of the prophecies arrives ; the fruition of her age-old destiny is now at hand.
Consider the awe-inspiring working out of the merciful design of God. Attend in spirit the greatest Peace Conference ever held. It is a Peace Conference between God and mankind, and it is called the Annunciation. In that Conference God was represented by one of his high Angels, and mankind was represented by her whose name the Legion is privileged to bear. She was but a gentle maiden, yet the fate of all mankind hung upon her in that day. The angel came with overwhelming tidings. He proposed to her the Incarnation. He did not merely notify it. Her liberty of choice was not violated; so that for a while the fate of mankind trembled in the balance. The Redemption was the ardent desire of God. But in this, as in all matters minor to it, he would not force the will of man. He would offer the priceless boon, but it was for man to accept it, and man was at liberty to refuse it. The moment had arrived to which all generations had looked forward, just as ever since all generations have looked back to it. It was the crisis of all time. There was a pause. That maiden did not accept at once; she asked a question, and the answer was given. There was another pause, and then she spoke the words: "Let it be with me according to your word" (Lk 1:38), those words that brought God down to earth and signed the great Peace Pact of humanity.
The Father made redemption depend on her. - How few realise all that follows from that consent of hers. Even Catholics in the main do not realise the importance of the part that Mary played. The Doctors of the Church say these things: Supposing that maiden had refused the offer of motherhood that was made to her, the Second Divine Person would not have taken flesh in her. What a solemn thing that is! "What a terrible thought to think that God has made the entrance of the Redeemer dependent upon the 'Let it be with me' (Lk 1:38) of the handmaid of Nazareth; that this saying should be the termination of the old world, the beginning of the new, the fulfilment of all prophecies, the turning-point of all time, the first blaze of the morning star which is to announce the rising of the sun of justice, which as far as human will was able to accomplish, knit the bond that brought Heaven down upon earth and lifted humanity up to God!" (Hettinger). What a solemn thing indeed! It means that she was the only hope of mankind. But the fate of men was safe in her hands. She pronounced that consent which, though we cannot fully understand, commonsense nevertheless tells us must have been inconceivably the most heroic act ever performed in the world - such that in all ages no other creature but she could have performed it. Then to her came the Redeemer; not to herself alone, but through her to poor helpless humanity, on behalf of whom she spoke. With him, she brought everything that the faith means, and the faith is the real life of men. Nothing else matters. Everything must be abandoned for it. Any sacrifices must be made to get it. It is the only thing in the world of any worth. Consider, therefore, that the faith of all generations: those that have passed away up to the present, and the uncountable millions yet to come: the faith of all has depended on the words of that maiden.
No true Christianity without Mary. - In return for this infinite gift all generations must henceforth call that maiden blessed. She who brought christianity on earth cannot be denied a place in christian worship. But what of the many people in this world who hold her cheaply, the many who slight her, the many who do worse? Does it ever occur to those people to think that every grace they have they owe to her? Do they ever reason that if they were excluded from her words of acceptance that night, then Redemption has never come on earth for them? In that supposition they would stand outside its scope. In other words, they would not be christians at all, even though they may cry: "Lord! Lord!" all the day and every day. (Mt 7:21) And on the other hand, if they are indeed christians, and if the gift of life has come to them, then it has only come because she gained it for them, because they were included in her acceptance. In a word, the baptism that makes a person a child of God makes one simultaneously a child of Mary.
Gratitude, therefore - a practical gratitude - to Mary must be the mark of every christian. Redemption is the joint gift of the Father and of Mary. Therefore, with the words of thanks to the Father must go up the word of thanks to Mary.
The Son is always found with his Mother. - It was God's will that the reign of grace should not be inaugurated without Mary. It was his pleasure that things should continue in the self-same way. When he desired to prepare St. John the Baptist for his mission of going before himself, he sanctified him by the charitable visit of his Blessed Mother in the Visitation. On the first Christmas night those who turned her from their doors turned him away. They did not realise that with her they refused him whom they awaited. When the shepherd-representatives of the chosen people found the Promised of all Nations, they found him with her. If they had turned away from her, they would not have found him. At the Epiphany, the Gentile races of the world were received by our Lord in the persons of the three Kings, but they only found him because they found her. If they had refused to approach her, they would not have reached him.
What had been done in secret at Nazareth had to be confirmed openly in the Temple. Jesus made offering of himself to the Father but it was between the arms and by the hands of his Mother. For that babe belonged to its Mother; without her the Presentation could not be made.
Proceed, and it is learned from the Fathers that our Lord did not enter upon his public life without her consent. Likewise her request at Cana of Galilee was the beginning of the signs and wonders and mighty deeds by which he proved his mission.
Man for man: Maid for maid: Tree for tree. - When the last scene came on Calvary which finished the awful drama of Redemption, Jesus hung upon the tree of the Cross and Mary stood beneath it, not merely because she was a fond Mother, not in any accidental way, but precisely in the same capacity as she was present at the Incarnation. She was there as the representative of all mankind, ratifying her offering of her Son for men's sake. Our Lord did not offer himself to the Father without her assent and offering made on behalf of all her children; the Cross was to be their Sacrifice and his Sacrifice. "For as truly as she suffered and almost died with her suffering Son"-these are the words of Pope Benedict XV -"so truly did she renounce her maternal rights over that Son for the sake of our salvation, and immolate him, as far as with her lay, to placate God's justice. Hence it may justly be said that with Christ she redeemed the human race."
The Holy Spirit operates always with her. - Come a little further to the feast of Pentecost - that tremendous occasion when the Church was launched upon its mission. Mary was there. It was by her prayer that the Holy Spirit descended on the Mystical Body and came to abide in it with all his "greatness, power, glory, victory and majesty." (1 Chron 29:11) Mary reproduces in respect of the Mystical Body of Christ every service which she rendered to his actual Body. This law applies to Pentecost, which was a sort of new Epiphany. She is necessary to the one as she had been to the other. And so of all divine things to the end: if Mary is left out, God's Plan is not conformed to, no matter what one's prayers and works and strivings may be. If Mary is not there, the grace is not given. This is an overpowering thought. It may provoke the question: "Do those who ignore or insult Mary receive no graces?" They do, indeed, receive graces, for failure to acknowledge Mary may be excused on grounds of utter ignorance. But what a sorry title to Heaven! and what a way of treating her who helps us! Moreover, the graces which come in such circumstances are but a fraction of what should flow, so that one's life's work is largely failing.
What place must we assign her? - Some may take alarm and say it is a slight to God to credit such a universal power to a creature. But if it has pleased God to make it so, how does it slight his dignity? How foolish it would sound were anyone to say that the force of gravity derogates from God's power! That law of gravity is from God, and accomplishes his purposes throughout all nature. Why should one think it disrespectful to allow as much to Mary in the universe of Grace? If the laws which God has made for nature show forth his might, why should the law which he has made for Mary do otherwise than manifest his goodness and omnipotence?
But even if it is conceded that acknowledgment is due to Mary, there still remains the question of its manner and amount. "How"- some will say - "am I to apportion prayer to Mary and prayer to the Divine Persons or to the saints? What is the exact amount - neither too much nor too little - which I am to offer to her?" Others will go further and their objection will present itself as follows: "Would I not turn away from God were I to direct my prayers to her?"
All these grades of doubt proceed from applying earthly ideas to heavenly things. Such persons are thinking of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and of Mary and the saints, as if they were so many statues, so that to turn to one they must necessarily turn away from others. Various examples might be utilised to help towards a better understanding of the true position. But, strange to say, the simplest and at the same time the holiest solution of such difficulties lies in the recommendation: "You must, indeed, give all to God, but give it all with Mary." It will be found that this apparently extreme devotion to her is free from the perplexities which measuring and moderation bring.
Every action should endorse her Fiat. - The justification of this method is to be found in the Annunciation itself. In that moment all mankind were joined with Mary, their representative. Her words included their words, and in a sense she included them. God viewed them through her. Now, the daily life of a christian is nothing else than the formation of our Lord in that member of his Mystical Body. This formation does not take place without Mary. It is an outpouring and a part of the original Incarnation, so that Mary is really the Mother of the christian just as she is of Christ. Her consent and her maternal care are just as necessary to the daily growth of Christ in the individual soul as they were to his original taking of flesh. What does all this involve for the christian? It involves many important things of which this is one: he must deliberately and whole-heartedly acknowledge Mary's position as his representative in the sacrificial offering, begun at the Annunciation and completed on the cross, which earned Redemption. He must ratify the things she then did on his behalf, so that he can enjoy, without shame and in their fulness, the infinite benefits thereby brought to him. And that ratification: of what nature is it to be? Would a once-repeated act suffice ? Work out the answer to this question in the light of the fact that it was through Mary that every act of one's life has become the act of a christian. Is it not reasonable and proper that likewise every act should bear some impress of acknowledgment and gratitude to her? So the answer is the same as that already given: "You are to give her everything."
Glorify the Lord with Mary. - Have her before the mind, at least in some slight way, at all times. Unite the intention and the will to hers in such fashion that every act done during the day, every prayer you utter, is done with her. She should be left out of nothing. Whether you pray to the Father, or to the Son, or to the Holy Spirit, or to a saint, it is always to be prayer in union with Mary. She repeats the words with you. Her lips and your lips form the words together, and in everything she has a part. Thus she is far more than at your side. She is, as it were, in you; your life is you and she together giving to God all you jointly have.
This all-embracing form of devotion to Mary acknowledges handsomely the part she played and daily continues to play in the workings out of salvation. Likewise it is the easiest devotion to her. It solves the doubts of those who say: "How much?" and of those who fear lest giving to her is taking from God. But even some Catholics may say: "It is extreme." Yet where does it offend against sweet reason? And wherein does it deny his due to the Almighty? The latter fault is better laid to those who say that they are jealous of the dignity of God, but will not work the plan which he has made; who say they hold the Scriptures as the sacred word of God, yet will not hear the verses which sing that he hath done great things to Mary, and that all generations shall call her blessed. (Lk 1:48-49)
To all these doubting ones it is best to speak in terms of this rich and full devotion. But how indeed can legionaries talk in any other terms of her? Minimising and reduction only leave her a mystery. If Mary is a shadow or a sentimental notion, then surely not the Catholics, but those who treat her lightly are justified! And, on the other hand, the statement of the fullness of her claims and of her essential place in christian life contains a challenge which cannot be ignored by any heart in which grace has some dominion. Then calm examination of the role of Mary will leave such people at her feet.
The purpose of the Legion is to mirror Mary. If true to this ideal, the Legion will share her crowning gift to cast the light into the hearts of those who are in the darkness of unbelief.

"The great master of Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, has a delightful phrase in a commentary on the Annunciation portion of the Gospel, which, rendered freely, says that Mary's Son gives infinitude to his Mother's excellency, there being also in the tree which produces the fruit some of that infinite perfection which belongs properly to the fruit.
In practice the Catholic Church looks upon the Mother of God as being an unbounded power in the realm of grace. She is considered as the Mother of the redeemed on account of the universality of her grace. In virtue of her divine motherhood, Mary is simply the vastest, the most efficient, the most universal supernatural power in Heaven and on earth, outside the Three Divine Persons." (Vonier: The Divine Motherhood)


The note of sternness must be banished from the legionary mission. Qualities essential to success, and above all when dealing with the outcast and the sinner, are those of sympathy and unvarying gentleness. Constantly in the affairs of life, we persuade ourselves that particular cases are subjects for rebuke or for the cutting word, and we use those words, and later are left regretting. Possibly in every case a mistake has been made. Why cannot we remember in time that it is from rough usage - all no doubt well-deserved - that the hardness and perversity of which we complain have grown up! The flower that would have opened under the influence of the gentle warmth of softness and compassion closes tightly in the colder air. On the other hand, the air of sympathy which the good legionary carries with him, the willingness to listen, to enter wholeheartedly into the case as put before him, are sweetly irresistible, and the most hardened person, completely taken off his (or her) balance, yields in five minutes ground which a year of exhortation and abuse would have failed to gain.
Those difficult types of people are usually trembling on the verge of rage. He who further irritates them causes them to sin and hardens their resistance. He who would help them must lead them in the opposite way. He can only do this by treating them with extreme forbearance and respect.
Every legionary ought to burn into his soul these words applied by the Church to Our Blessed Lady: "For the memory of me is sweeter than honey, and the possession of me sweeter than the honeycomb." (Sir 24:20) Others may effect good by stronger methods. But for the legionary there is only one way of doing God's work-the way of gentleness and sweetness. Let him not depart from that way under any circumstances whatsoever. If he does, he will not achieve good; he will rather work harm. Legionaries who stray outside that realm of Mary lose touch with her on whom their work depends. What then can they hope to accomplish ?
The very first praesidium of the Legion was given the title of Our Lady of Mercy. This was done because the first work undertaken was the visitation of a hospital under the care of the Sisters of Mercy. The legionaries thought they were choosing that name, but who can doubt that in reality it was conferred by the sweet Virgin herself, who thereby indicated the quality which must ever distinguish the legionary soul.
Ordinarily, legionaries are not found remiss in their pursuit of the sinner. Frequently years pile up in the tireless following of some determined defaulter. But sometimes persons are encountered who put one's faith and hope and charity to trial. They appear to be outside the category of the ordinary sinner; persons of superlative badness, incarnate selfishness, or bottomless treachery, or full of hatred of God or of a revolting attitude towards religion. They seem not to have a soft spot in them, a spark of grace, or a trace of the spiritual. So utterly detestable are they that it is difficult to believe that they are not equally repellent to God himself. What can he possibly see in the midst of disfigurements so frightful to make him desire closest intimacy with them in Holy Communion, or their company in Heaven?
The natural temptation to leave such a one to himself is almost irresistible. Nevertheless, the legionary must not let go. Those human reasonings all are false. God does indeed want that vile disfigured soul; so much, so ardently, that he has sent his Son, our most dear Lord, to that soul, and he is with it now!
Here is the motive for legionary perseverance, exquisitely put by Monsignor R. H. Benson: "If a sinner merely drove Christ away by his sin, we could let such a soul go. It is because - in St. Paul's terrifying phrase - the sinful soul holds Christ, still crucifying him and making him a mockery (Heb 6:6), that we cannot bear to leave it to itself."
What an electrifying thought! Christ our King in the possession, so to speak, of the enemy ! What a watchword for a lifelong campaign, for the grimmest battle ever waged, for an unrelenting pursuit of the soul that must be converted in order that Christ's agony be ended ! Everything that is natural must be burnt up in the white-hot act of faith that sees and loves and stands by Christ crucified in that sinner. Just as the toughest steel turns to liquid at the fiery breath of the blow-lamp, so will the most hardened heart soften under the flame of that invincible charity.
A legionary of wide experience of the most depraved sinners of a great city was asked if he had met any that were absolutely hopeless. Reluctant, as a legionary, to acknowledge the existence of that category, he replied that many were terrible but few were hopeless. Being pressed, he eventually admitted that he knew of one who seemed to be capable of being so described.
That very evening he received his overwhelming rebuke. Quite accidentally he met in the street the person he had named. Three minutes' conversation, and the miracle of a complete and lasting conversion took place!

"One episode stands out in the life of Saint Madeleine Sophie, in which the faithful pursuit of a soul is seen in all its pathos. For twenty-three years she clung with persistent love to one whom God's providence had brought across her path: a lost sheep, who but for the Saint could never have found the fold. Where Julie came from, no one ever knew-she never told her own story twice in the same way. But she was alone and poor and of a difficult and wayward disposition; like nothing in ordinary life, it was said; deceitful, treacherous, mean, passionate to the verge of frenzy. But the Saint saw only a soul, found in dangerous places by the Good Shepherd and put into her care by him. She adopted her as her own child, wrote more than two hundred letters to her, and suffered much on her account. Repaid by calumny and ingratitude, the Saint still held on, forgave her again and again, and ever hoped . . . Julie died seven years after the Saint and in peace with God." (Monahan: Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat)


Each profession calls for its own particular type of courage, and counts as unworthy the member without that courage. The Legion's demand is especially for moral courage. Nearly all of its work consists in the approaching of persons with intent to bring them nearer to God. Occasionally, this will be met by resentment or lack of understanding, which will show itself in various ways, less deadly than the missiles of warfare, but-as experience shows-less often faced. For the thousands who brave the hail of shot and shell, hardly one can be found who will not shrink from the mere possibility of a few jeers, or angry words, or criticism, or even amused looks, or from a fear that he may be thought to be preaching or making an affectation of holiness.
"What will they think? What will they say?" is the chilling reflection, where instead should be the Apostles' thought on the joy of being deemed worthy to suffer contempt for the name of Jesus. (Acts 5:41)
Where this timidity, which is commonly called human respect, is allowed free play, all work for souls is reduced to triviality. Look around and see the tragedy of this. Everywhere the faithful are living in the midst of great communities of unbelievers or non-Catholics or lapsed Catholics. Five per cent of these would be won by the first serious effort which presented the Catholic doctrines to them individually. Then that five per cent would be the thin end of the wedge to conversions on a great scale. But that effort is not made. Those Catholics would wish to make it. Yet they do nothing, because their powers of action are paralysed by the deadly poison of human respect. For different people the latter assumes different labels: "common prudence," "respect for the opinions of others," "hopelessness of the enterprise," "waiting for a lead," and many other plausible phrases; but all of which end in inaction.
It is told in the life of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus that when he was about to die, he enquired of those about him how many unbelievers there were in the city. The reply came quickly: "Seventeen only." The dying bishop meditated a while on the figure stated, and then remarked: "Exactly the number of believers whom I found when I became bishop here." Starting with only seventeen believers his labours had brought faith to all but seventeen! Wonderful! Yet the grace of God has not been exhausted by the passage of the centuries. Faith and courage could draw on it as freely to do the same to-day. Faith is ordinarily not lacking, but courage is.
Realising this, the Legion must set itself to a deliberate campaign against the operation in its members of the spirit of human respect. Firstly, by opposing to its action the force of a sound discipline. Secondly, by educating its legionaries to look upon human respect as a soldier would upon cowardice. They must be taught to act in the teeth of its impulses, and brought to realise that love and loyalty and discipline are after all poor things if they do not bring forth sacrifice and courage.
A legionary without courage ! What can we say about such except to apply the expression of St. Bernard: "What a shame to be the delicate member of a thorn-crowned Head!"

"If you fought only when you felt ready for the fray, where would be your merit ? What does it matter even if you have no courage, provided you behave as though you were really brave? If you feel too lazy to pick up a bit of thread, and yet do so for the love of Jesus, you gain more merit than for a much nobler action done on an impulse of fervour. Instead of grieving, be glad that, by allowing you to feel your own weakness, our Lord is furnishing you with an occasion of saving a greater number of souls." (St. Thérèse of Lisieux)


It is a fundamental Legion principle that into every work should be thrown the best that we can give. Simple or difficult, it must be done in the spirit of Mary.
There is another reason which is important. In spiritual enterprises there is no telling how much effort is required. In dealing with a soul, at what point can one say "enough"? And, of course, this applies with particular force to the more difficult works. In the face of these we find ourselves exaggerating the difficulty and whirling around the word "impossible." Most of the "impossibles" are not impossible at all. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. But we imagine them to be impossible, and then by our attitude we render them so.
But sometimes we are faced with works which are really impossible, that is to say, beyond human effort. Obviously, if left to our own devices, we will refrain from what we would regard as useless action in those cases of imagined or real impossibility. Perhaps that might mean that we would leave untouched three-quarters of the more important work which is waiting to be done - which would amount to reducing to a mimic warfare the vast, adventurous Christian campaign. So the Legion formula demands effort in all circumstances and at all costs - effort as a first principle. Both naturally and supernaturally the repudiation of impossibility is the key to the possible. That attitude alone can solve the problems. It can go further, for definitely it is a hearing of the Gospel cry that with God no work shall be impossible. It is the believing response to our Lord's own call for the faith that casts the mountain into the sea.
To think of spiritual conquest without at the same time stiffening one's spirit into that indomitable attitude would be sheerly fantastic.
Appreciating this, the Legion's primary preoccupation is that strengthening of its members' spirit.
"Every impossibility is divisible into thirty-nine steps, of which each step is possible" - declares a legionary slogan with seeming self-contradiction. Yet that idea is supremely sensible. It forms the groundwork of achievement. It summarises the philosophy of success. For if the mind is stunned by the contemplation of the apparently impossible, the body will relax into a sympathetic inactivity. In such circumstances every difficulty is plainly an impossibility. When faced with such - says that wise slogan - divide it up; divide and conquer. You cannot at one bound ascend to the top of a house, but you can get there by the stairway - a step at a time. Similarly, in the teeth of your difficulty, take one step. There is no need yet to worry about the next step; so concentrate on that first one. When taken, a second step will immediately or soon suggest itself. Take it and a third will show - and then another. And after a series of them - perhaps not the full thirty-nine steps of the slogan, which only has in mind the play of that name - one finds that one has passed through the portals of the impossible and entered into very promising land.
Observe: the stress is set on action. No matter what may be the degree of the difficulty, a step must be taken. Of course, the step should be as effective as it can be. But if an effective step is not in view, then we must take a less effective one. And if the latter be not available, then some active gesture (that is, not merely a prayer) must be made which, though of no apparent practical value, at least tends towards or has some relation to the objective. This final challenging gesture is what the Legion has been calling "Symbolic Action." Recourse to it will explode the impossibility which is of our own imagining. And, on the other hand, it enters in the spirit of faith into dramatic conflict with the genuine impossibility.
The sequel may be the collapse of the walls of that Jericho.

"And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, 'Shout! For the Lord has given you the city' . . . As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it." (Josh 6:16-20)


The Legion without its spirit would be like any other lifeless body. That spirit of the Legion, so transforming of its members, is not floating around in the air, waiting to be breathed in. No ! that vital spirit is the product of grace out of effort. It depends on the work which is being done, and on the way in which it is being done by the individual legionaries. If there is no effort, the spirit flickers low and may die.
Due to
(a) a reluctance to embark on work which is considered difficult, or
(b) to an inability to discern the work which exists abundantly even in the smallest places, but most of all to
(c) a dread of adverse criticism; there may be a tendency to avoid active work or to allot insignificant tasks to the members. But all are warned that the Legion machinery is designed to supervise substantial active work. There is no justification for setting up the system at all unless such work is being undertaken. An army which refuses to engage in battle: what a misnomer! Similarly, members of a praesidium, which is not engaged in some form of active work, have no right to the name of legionaries of Mary. It is reiterated that spiritual exercises do not satisfy the legionary obligation to do active work.
The inactive praesidium is not only untrue to the Legion purpose of showing a virile apostolate in action, but it does a further grave injustice to the Legion. It creates the impression that the Legion is not suited to the doing of certain work, whereas the real fact is that the Legion, though perfectly capable, is not even being employed on that work.


The work is to be appointed by the praesidium. Members are not free to undertake in the name of the Legion any work they may think fit. This rule, however, should not be interpreted so rigidly as to prevent a member from availing of a chance of doing good which may cross his path. In fact, the legionary must regard himself as being in a sense always on duty. Work, encountered accidentally, could be brought up and reported upon at the following meeting, and if adopted by the praesidium would then become ordinary legionary work. But in all this the praesidium should be careful. There is a natural tendency in many people of great goodwill to do everything but what they are supposed to do, to wander all over the field instead of standing at the work which has been assigned to them. These persons will do harm rather than good, and if not curbed will do much towards breaking down the legionary discipline.
Once the sense of responsibility to the praesidium, the idea that one is its messenger going from it with definite instructions and returning to it to report on the execution of the allotted work, is shaken, the work itself will soon cease to be done, or else be a source of danger to the Legion. Should a grave error be the sequel of such independent action, the Legion would be held to blame, although the fault had proceeded from disregard of the Legion system.
When specially enthusiastic legionaries complain that their efforts to do good are being fettered by too much discipline, it is well to analyse the matter along the above lines. But it is also necessary to take care that a complaint of this kind is not well founded. The essential purpose of discipline is to drive people on, not to hold them back; but some persons seem to have no other idea of exercising authority than to say "no" and otherwise act restrictively


Visitation should be carried out in pairs. In prescribing thus, the Legion has in view the following purposes:- First, the safeguarding of the legionaries. Ordinarily, it will be less the streets than the actual homes being visited, which will call for this precaution. Second, the visitation in pairs is a source of mutual encouragement. It is a help against the movements of human respect or common timidity when visiting difficult places or homes where one is exposed to a cold reception. Third, it puts the seal of discipline on the work. It secures punctuality and fidelity in the carrying out of the appointed visitation. If left to oneself, one is easily led to alter the time of, or postpone altogether, one's weekly visitation. Fatigue, bad climatic conditions, natural reluctance to face the unpleasant visit all operate freely if there is no appointment to be kept with another. The result is that the visitation becomes disorderly and irregular and unsuccessful, and eventually is abandoned altogether.
The usual practice in regard to the situation which arises as a result of a legionary failing to keep an appointment with his co-visitor is the following. If the work is, say, hospital visitation, or other work where there is, obviously, no element whatever of risk, the legionary may proceed to it alone. If, on the other hand, it is work which would throw the legionary into difficult circumstances, or where disreputable surroundings are in question, the legionary must forego the visitation. It is to be understood that the above permission to visit alone is exceptional. Repeated failures on the part of the co-visitor to keep appointments should be viewed very seriously by the praesidium.
This requirement as to visitation in pairs is not to be read as meaning that the two must together address themselves to the same persons. For instance, if a hospital ward is in question, it would be in order, and in fact the proper course, for the two legionaries to move about separately and devote themselves to different individuals.


The Legion must guard against the danger of being made use of by too ardent social reformers. The work of the Legion is essentially a hidden one. It commences in the heart of the individual legionary, developing therein a spirit of zeal and charity. By direct personal and persevering contact with others, the legionaries endeavour to raise the spiritual level of the whole community. The work is done quietly, unobtrusively, delicately. It aims less at the direct suppressing of gross evils than at the permeation of the community with Catholic principles and Catholic feeling, so that the evils die of themselves through lack of a soil favourable to them. It will consider its real victory to lie in the steady, if sometimes slow, development among the people of an intense Catholic life and outlook.
It is important that the intimate nature of the Legion visitation should be jealously safeguarded. It will not be preserved if legionaries gain the reputation of seeking out abuses for public denunciation. The visits of legionaries to people's homes, as well as their general movements, would tend to be looked on with doubt. Instead of being regarded as friends, in whom complete confidence could be reposed, the suspicion would attach to them that they were engaged on detective work for their organisation. Inevitably their presence would be resented, and this would mark the end of real legionary usefulness.
Therefore, those in charge of Legion activities will be chary of associating the name of the Legion with ends which, though good in themselves, presuppose methods which have little in common with those of the Legion. Special organisations exist for the purpose of combating the glaring abuses of the day. Let the legionaries avail of them when the need arises, and lend their support in their private capacities, but let the Legion itself continue to be true to its own tradition and its own methods of work.


The Legion visitation should be as far as possible from home to home, irrespective of the people living there. Offence may be taken if persons think they are being singled out for attention.
Even the homes of those discovered to be non-Catholics should not - except strong reasons to the contrary exist - be passed by. These are not to be approached in a spirit of religious aggression, but for the purpose of establishing a footing of friendship. The explanation that all homes are being visited to make the acquaintance of their tenants will lead to a kindly reception in many non-Catholic homes, a circumstance which Divine Providence may utilise as an instrument of grace to those "other sheep" which it desires to have within the fold. A friendship towards Catholics of the apostolic type will cause many prejudices to die; and a respect for Catholics will unquestionably be followed by a respect for Catholicism. Information may be sought, books asked for, and from all this still greater things may come.


Material relief must not be given - even in the smallest ways; and experience shows that it is necessary to mention that old clothing belongs to this category.
In ruling thus, the Legion does not slight the act of relief-giving in itself. It simply declares that for the Legion it is impracticable. To give to the poor is a good work. Done with a supernatural motive it is a sublime one. The systems of many great societies rest upon this principle; notably that of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to whose example and spirit the Legion rejoices to proclaim itself deeply indebted - so much, in fact, as to make it possible to say that the roots of the Legion lay in that Society. But to the Legion is assigned a different field of duty. Its system is built upon the principle of bringing spiritual good to every individual in the population. This programme and one of relief-giving are not compatible in practice because:-

(a) The visits of an organisation which gives relief will seldom be welcomed by persons who do not need relief. They will fear lest such a visitation would label them in the eyes of their neighbours as benefiting in some material way. So the praesidium which earns the name of relief-giving will quickly find its field of work narrowed exceedingly. Material relief may be to other societies a key which opens. It is the key with which the Legion locks itself out.
(b) Those who expect to receive, and are disappointed, become aggrieved and hence impervious to legionary influence.
(c) Even among those who are subjects for relief, the Legion will not accomplish spiritual good by giving. Let the Legion leave this to those other agencies whose special work it is, and which have a special grace for it. Certainly, legionaries will have no grace for it, because thereby they break their rule. The praesidium which errs in this way will find itself involved in grievous complications, and will never bring anything but sorrow to the Legion.
Individual legionaries may plead the duty of giving charity according to one's means, and may urge that they do not desire to give relief as legionaries, but in their private capacities. Analysis of this contention will indicate what complications must inevitably arise. Take the case - and it is the usual one - of someone who did not indulge in such personal relief-giving prior to joining the Legion. In his rounds, he comes across persons whom he deems to be in need in some way or another. He refrains from giving anything on the day of the official Legion visit, but goes some other day "as a private individual" and gives. Surely he is breaking the Legion rule as to the giving of material relief, and surely the double visitation only covers a quibble? He visited in the first instance as a legionary. The cases came to his knowledge as a legionary. The recipients know him as a legionary; and certainly they do not enter into the quibble. To them, the transaction is simply one of Legion relief-giving, and the Legion agrees that they judge rightly.
Be it remembered that the disobedience or the indiscretion of a single member in this direction may compromise the whole praesidium. The name of relief-giving is easily won. It does not require a hundred instances. A couple suffice.
If a legionary, for some reason, wishes to help in a particular case, why not save the Legion from all complications by giving anonymously through a friend, or through some appropriate agency? Reluctance to do this, in the circumstances, would seem to indicate that the legionary is seeking an earthly rather than a heavenly reward for the act of charity.
Legionaries must not, however, be indifferent to the cases of poverty and want which they will inevitably find in their visitation, and they should bring them to the notice of other organisations suited to the type of need which is in question. But should all efforts by the Legion fail to secure the desired help, the Legion is not itself to step into the gap. That is not its work, and it is impossible to conceive that in any modern community no other individuals or agency can be found which will look to the relief of a deserving case.
"Unquestionably, the pity which we show to the poor by relieving their needs is highly commended by God. But who will deny that a far higher place is held by that zeal and effort which applies itself to the work of instruction and persuasion, and thereby bestows on souls not the passing benefits of earth but the goods that last forever." (AN)
As many instances have shown that this rule can be interpreted too narrowly, it is necessary to state that works of service do not constitute material relief. On the contrary they are recommended. They turn aside the accusation that legionaries confine themselves to talking religion and are indifferent about people's needs. Legionaries should prove the sincerity of their words by pouring out their love and service in every permitted form.


Much in the same category as relief-giving, and coming under the same ban, would lie the regular utilisation of the legionary visitation for the purpose of collecting money.
Such might secure the money, but never the atmosphere for the accomplishment of spiritual good and would represent a supreme example of the policy known as "penny-wise, pound foolish."


No legionary body shall allow its influence or its premises to be used for any political purpose or to aid any political party.


The essence of religious work is its desire to reach every individual, to take into the sphere of its apostolate not merely the neglectful, not alone the household of the Faith, not only the poor or the degraded, but ALL.
Especially the most repulsive forms of religious neglect must not intimidate the legionary. There is no person, however abandoned and hopeless to all appearance, in whom the faith and courage and perseverance of the legionary will not produce results. On the other hand, it would be an intolerable limitation of the mission of the Legion to confine attention to the graver evils. The special attractiveness of the search for the sheep that is straying or in the hands of the thief, should not blind the legionary to the fact that a wider field lies to hand in the urging on of that vast multitude who, though called by God to sanctity, are contenting themselves with a life of mere performance of the essential duties. Now, to induce persons, who have been content with merely satisfying their obligations, to take on works of zeal or devotion will only be accomplished by a long-continued visitation, requiring much patience. But if, as Father Faber says, one saint is worth a million ordinary Catholics; and if, as St. Teresa of Avila tells us, one soul, not a saint but seeking sanctity, is more precious to God than thousands living common lives, how delightful, then, the achievement of setting the first steps of many in the path that turns aside from the ordinary rut.


Not a single one of those encountered in visitation should be left on the same level as when found. There is no one so good that he may not be brought a great deal nearer to God. Frequently will legionaries find themselves approaching persons who are holier far than they, but even then it is not for them to doubt their capacity to do great good. They will impart new ideas, new devotions. They may enliven a routine. Certainly, they cannot fail to edify by their cheerful practice of the apostolic life. So, whether the legionaries are dealing with the saint or the sinner, let them proceed, confident in the knowledge that they are not there in their own spiritual poverty but as the representatives of Mary's Legion, "united with their pastors and their bishops, with the Holy See and with Christ." (UAD)


In each case the purpose must be the effecting of considerable and definite good. Great good must be done to a great number, if possible; if not, then great good to a smaller number; never be content to do a little good to a great number. The legionary who is treading the latter path may do a disservice in that he is labelling as done, work which is, according to Legion ideas, little more than begun, thus preventing others from entering upon it. But another danger lies in the fact that the moment of discouragement will represent the little good done to the many as being in reality no good done to anyone. This feeling of ineffective membership places membership itself in peril.


It is to be emphasised that real and extensive good can only be effected by the establishing of friendship between the legionaries and those to whom they go. Good otherwise done will be only scanty or accidental. This must especially be borne in mind in the case of visitation carried out under the auspices of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart. Though this work is excellent in itself and the source of blessings, it is not to be esteemed the principal aim. A visitation that quickly results in the enthronement, and is then discontinued would in the eyes of the Legion have reaped but little of the fruits intended. Many and extended visits to each family mean slow progress by a pair of legionaries, and hence the need for many legionaries and many praesidia.


Nowhere and in no case is visitation to be carried out in a spirit of philanthropy or mere human pity for the unfortunate. "Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." (Mt 25:40) With these words written on his heart, the legionary must see our Lord in his neighbour (who is all mankind without distinction) and render service accordingly. The evil, the unthankful, the afflicted, the despised, the outcast, the greatest objects of natural repulsion, all are to be viewed in this new light. They are surely the least of Christ's brethren and (mindful of Christ's words) to be rendered a princely and reverential service.
Always will the legionary bear in mind that he is visiting not as a superior to an inferior, not as one equal to another, but as an inferior to his superior, as the servant to the Lord. It is the absence of this spirit that produces the patronising manner. The visitor, possessed of the latter, will accomplish neither supernatural nor natural good. His presence will be tolerated only when he is the bearer of gifts. On the other hand, the gentle, sympathetic visitor, humbly asking admission to the homes at which he knocks, will be joyfully received though his gifts are not material; and he will quickly establish himself on a footing of true friendship. Legionaries should bear in mind that a want of simplicity in dress or accent will raise a barrier between them and those they visit.


The words of a legionary explaining the successful outcome of a very unpleasant and difficult visitation: "We got them to like us," admirably summarise legionary methods. To awaken this affection it is first necessary to show it: to love those visited. There is no other way, no other diplomacy, no other key to real influence. St. Augustine puts the same idea in another form when he declares "Love and do what you will."
In a masterly paragraph of his life of St. Francis of Assisi, Chesterton asserts that distinctive Christian principle: "St. Francis only saw the image of God multiplied but never monotonous. To him a man was always a man, and did not disappear in a dense crowd any more than in a desert. He honoured all men; that is he not only loved but respected them all. What gave him his extraordinary personal power was this: that from the Pope to the beggar, from the Sultan of Syria in his pavilion to the ragged robbers crawling out of the wood, there was never a man who looked into those brown, burning eyes without being certain that Francis Bernardone was really interested in him, in his own inner individual life from the cradle to the grave; that he himself was valued and taken seriously."
But can one love to order in this way? Yes, by seeing in all of those met the person of our Blessed Lord. Love is enkindled at the very thought. Again, it is most certain that Mary wills that there be shown to the Mystical Body of her Beloved Son just such another love as she lavished on his actual body. In this she will help her legionaries. Where she finds in them the gleam, the readiness to love, she will fan it to a consuming flame.


Inexperience is apprehensive of the "First Visit," but the legionary, whether new or tried, who has taken to heart the lesson of the preceding clause, possesses the passport to every home.
It is insisted that one does not enter by any form of right, but solely by the courtesy of the occupants. Approach must be made cap-in-hand, so to speak, one's whole demeanour showing the respect with which one would enter the palaces of the great. A statement of one's mission, accompanied by a humble request to be permitted to enter, will usually open wide the door and bring an invitation to be seated. Then the legionaries must remember that they are not there to lecture, or to ask a multitude of questions, but to sow the seeds of that eventual intimacy which will open the floodgates of knowledge and influence.
It has been said that the special glory of charity is to understand others. There is no greater need in this sad world than such a gift. For "the majority of people seem to suffer from a sense of neglect. They are unhappy because nobody takes them in hand, because nobody is ready to accept the confidences they offer." (Duhamel)
Initial difficulties must not be taken too seriously. Even where deliberate rudeness is at work, a meek submission will turn it to shame and produce its harvest at a later stage.
Interest in the children provides opportunity for conversation. Questions as to their religious knowledge and reception of the sacraments may be asked, which at this early stage might be resented by the elders if asked about themselves; and through the children, efficacious lessons may be addressed to the parents.
Departing, the way must be left open for another call. The simple intimation that one has enjoyed the visit, and hopes to see the family again, provides both a natural leavetaking and an effective preparation for the return visit.


Legionaries visiting an institution must remember that they are there simply on tolerance, as much guests as if in a private house. The officials there always look somewhat doubtfully upon the charitable visitor who, coming in to visit the patients, is apt to forget that deference is also due to the staff and to rules and regulations. The legionary must never be found wanting in this way. Visiting should never be done at inconvenient hours, nor should medicine or other prohibited articles be brought to the patients; nor should sides be taken in any of the internal disputes of the place. Persons will profess to be the victims of ill-treatment by the staff or by other patients, but it is not the function of the legionaries to redress these grievances, even if they really exist. They will, of course, listen sympathetically to the woes narrated, and endeavour to instil feelings of resignation, but ordinarily the matter should finish there. Should strong feelings of indignation be aroused in the legionary, it will serve as a safety-valve to discuss the matter at the praesidium. The latter will see the circumstances in full perspective and will counsel appropriate action if desirable.


Not alone the legionary manner, but-still more important - the legionary mind, must be stamped with this delicate respect. It is inconsistent with the mission of the legionary for him to sit in judgment on his neighbour, or to set up his own standards of thought and conduct as standards which must be conformed to by all. He must not assume that those who differ from him in various ways, who refuse to receive him or even oppose him, are necessarily unworthy persons.
There are many people whose actions seem open to criticism, but the legionary is not to be the critic. Too often such persons are like the saints who were wrongly accused. Again, the lives of many are unsightly with grave abuses. But God alone sees the heart and can judge as to the real position. For, as Gratry says: "Many lack the benefit of primitive education. They are born without moral patrimony, and perhaps as food for their journey through this difficult life have received only perverted maxims and examples. But likewise, nothing will be asked of anyone but that which has been given to him."
There are many, too, who parade their riches and whose lives are far from mortified. Of these it is the spirit of the day to speak in bitter words. But here again the legionary must reflect. There is always the possibility that such persons may resemble Nicodemus, who came to our Lord secretly by night, and who did much for him, won him many friends, loved him truly, and in the end had the unique privilege of assisting at his burial.
The role of legionaries is never to be that of judge or critic. They must always consider how Mary's soft eyes would look on all those circumstances and persons. Then let them try to act as she would act.
It was one of Edel Quinn's practices never to find fault without referring the matter to the Blessed Virgin.


Frequently in these pages, reference is made to the paralysing effect exercised upon even the best-intentioned by the fear of hostile criticism. Hence, it will be helpful to consider the following principle. A main object of the Legion-that by which it will win its widest results-is the creation of high standards of thought and practice. The members set themselves to live the apostolic life, and thereby hold up a lofty headline of lay life. By virtue of the strange instinct which leads men to imitate, even in spite of themselves, those things which impress them, all will be impelled in varying degrees to approximate to that headline. One sign that an effective headline has been set is that many will openly and with good heart seek to follow it. Another, and more common, sign will be that symptoms of dissent will be evoked. For such a headline is a protest against the lower standards. It is a sting to the popular conscience, and like every other sting, it will provoke the healthy reaction of discomfort and protest, soon to be followed by the upward urge. But if there is no reaction of any kind, it proves that no effective headline has been set.
Therefore, there is no need to be unduly disconcerted should legionary activities stir up some little criticism; provided always that defective methods are not responsible for that criticism. Bear always in mind another great principle which must govern apostolic effort: "Men are conquered only by love and kindness, by quiet discreet example which does not humiliate them and does not constrain them to give in. They dislike to be attacked by the man who has no other idea but to overcome them." (Giosue Borsi)


Sometimes the most devoted labours, heroically prolonged, show little fruit. Legionaries do not set their hearts on visible results, but nevertheless it would not be for their good to work with a sense of frustration. It will console them, and it will nerve them to still more strenuous efforts, if they reflect that even a single sin prevented represents an infinite gain. For that sin would be an immeasurable evil, dragging in its train an endless series of calamitous consequences. "However tiny the mass, it plays its part in the balance of the stars. Thus, in a way that only Thy mind, O Lord, can perceive and measure, the slightest movement of my little pen running across the paper is connected with the motions of the spheres, and contributes to, and is a part thereof. The same takes place in the world of intellect. Ideas live and have their most complex adventures in that world of intellect, a world immeasurably superior to the material world; a world united and compact also in its vast, plenteous, and most varied complexity. As in the material and intellectual worlds, so it is in the infinitely greater moral world." (Giosue Borsi) Each sin shakes that world. It inflicts hurt on the soul of every man. Sometimes the first link in this process is visible, when one person leads another to sin. But visible or unseen, sin leads to sin; and likewise one sin prevented wards off another. And similarly does not the averting of that second sin prevent a third, and so on unendingly until that chain gathers in the whole world and stretches throughout all time? Is it, therefore, too much to say that each sinner converted to a good life, will eventually represent a goodly host marching behind him into heaven?
Accordingly, to prevent a grave sin would justify most arduous labours - even the effort of a lifetime - for thereby every soul will feel the glow of extra grace. It may be that the saving of that sin will be a moment of destiny, the inauguration of a process of uplift, which will in time transfer a whole people from a godless life to one of virtue.


But the chief danger of discouragement does not lie in the resistance - however strong - of the forces against which the Legion finds itself arrayed. It lies in the distress which the legionary cannot but feel when aids and circumstances, on which he feels entitled to rely, are found wanting. Friends fail, good people fail, one's instruments fail; and all whereon we lean is traitor to our peace. O what a harvest of good could be reaped - it seems - but for the bluntness of the sickle, but for the deficiencies in one's own camp, but for that cross which crushes one!
This impatience at the narrowing down of the possible good to souls may be a danger. It may bring the discouragement which the hostile forces had not been able to create.
It must always be remembered that the work of the Lord will bear the Lord's own mark, the mark of the cross. Without that imprint, the supernatural character of a work may be doubted: true results will not be forthcoming. Janet Erskine Stuart states this principle in another way. "If you look," she says, "to Sacred History, Church History, and even to your own experience which each year must add to, you will see that God's work is never done in ideal conditions, never as we should have imagined or chosen." That is to say - amazing thought! - that the very circumstance which to the limited human vision seems to prevent those conditions from being ideal and to spoil the prospects of the work, is not an obstacle to success but the requisite for success; not a flaw but a hall-mark; not a deadweight on effort but fuel which feeds that effort and aids it to achieve its purpose. For it is ever God's pleasure to show his power by extracting success from unpromising conditions and by accomplishing his greatest projects with inadequate instruments.
But the legionaries must note this important proviso: If those difficulties are to be salutary, they must not proceed from legionary neglect. The Legion cannot expect to derive grace from its own faults of omission or commission.


Viewed aright, the work should be an endless source of joy. Success is a joy. Failure is a penance and an exercise of faith-a higher joy to the thoughtful legionary, who sees therein merely a postponed and greater success. Again, it is a natural pleasure to be received with the grateful smiles of the many who value intensely the visit. But the doubtful looks of others should bring a deeper consolation, for here is something seriously amiss which has been escaping attention. It is the legionary experience that true Catholic feeling - even when complicated by some religious neglect - is responsive to the friendly, sympathetic visitor, so that the contrary not infrequently marks a soul in peril.


There must be patience with the defects of praesidia or individual legionaries. The fact that zeal is so sluggish, that improvement seems negligible, and that worldly failings are sadly in evidence should not bring discouragement. The following line of thought will help in such circumstances.
If those legionaries, with the drive of their system behind them and unquestionably influenced by its prayer and devotion, are nevertheless found wanting, what would their standards be without the Legion altogether? Again, what are the spiritual levels of the community which cannot produce the few worthy workers required to make a good praesidium?
Plainly, the logic is that those spiritual levels must be raised at all costs. The best, in fact the only, means of doing this lies in the infusion of an apostolic leaven which will work in the population until the whole be leavened. (Mt 13:33) Therefore, the apostolic material available must be cultivated with invincible patience and sweetness. Ordinary Catholic spirit itself is a thing of slow growth. Why, therefore, expect the apostolic spirit to be an instantaneous product? If heart be lost, the only remedy is gone.


The Legion shall not permit itself to be made an instrument for the personal material benefit of any of its members. But, indeed, no legionary should have to be admonished against the unworthy exploitation, either inside or outside the Legion, of his membership.


The giving of money or equivalent presentations by branches of the Legion to their members is prohibited. The number of such presentations, if tolerated, would tend to be large and to constitute a financial burden. This must be guarded against, especially in view of the great number of persons of small means whom the Legion is happy to have in membership.
Therefore, if praesidia or other legionary bodies want to signalise some special event in the life of a member, let them do it by presenting a spiritual bouquet.


Generally, the Legion is opposed to the formation of praesidia whose membership is restricted to a particular class or section of the community. Some reasons are:-
(a) Too often restrictive will mean exclusive, with consequent injury to fraternity.
(b) The best method of recruitment is normally that by the members amongst their friends, and these might not be entitled to join a particular sectional praesidium.
(c) It will almost invariably be the case that praesidia with a membership representative of various walks of life will prove the most efficient.


Of set purpose the Legion should aim to combat the divisions and the innumerable antagonisms of the world. This process must begin in the Legion's unit of organisation, the praesidium itself. It would be sheer futility for the Legion to talk of bridging differences if at the same time the spirit of disunity were evident in its own ranks. So let the Legion think in terms of the unity and charity of the Mystical Body, and try to organise accordingly. When it has brought together, as fellow-members of the one praesidium, persons whom the world was keeping apart, it has accomplished something really great. The contact of charity has been made, and out will go the sacred contagion which may seize on and kill the turbulence of the world around.


The choice of work may create a doubt. Sinister problems may exist, but perhaps the priest may fear to entrust them to an infant praesidium. Motives of timidity should generally not prevail, lest to ourselves be applicable the saying of St. Pius X that the greatest obstacle to the apostolate lies in the timorousness, or rather cowardliness, of the good. Still, if doubts persist, let the beginning be along lines of caution and let the praesidium feel its way on simpler work. As meeting follows meeting, and experience is gained, certain of the members will emerge as manifestly capable of the most difficult work. Let these be assigned to the work of early doubt: then others as the work requires, and as the members prove themselves. Even if only a couple of legionaries are engaged on difficult work, it exerts a tonic effect upon the work of the remainder.


The system will reduce unfavourable possibilities to an absolute minimum, but perhaps the element of risk may attach to some important work. Should calm consideration show (a) that otherwise a work, on which depends the salvation of souls, will in whole or part remain undone, and (b) that everything possible has been done in the interests of safety; then let the attack go on with picked material. It would be an intolerable thing for legionaries to look on impassively while their neighbours were going to ruin. "God keep from us the serenity of the ignorant. God keep from us the peace of cowards." (De Gasparin)


Legionaries share in Mary's faith in the victory of her Son - her faith that through his death and resurrection all the power of sin in the world has been conquered. According to the measure of our union with Our Lady the Holy Spirit puts this victory at our disposal in all the battles of the Church. With this in mind legionaries should be an inspiration to the whole Church by the trust and courage with which they take in hand the great problems and evils of the day.
"We must understand what the warfare is. It is being fought not simply to enlarge the Church, but to bring souls into union with Christ. It is that strangest of wars which is fought for the enemy, not against him. Even the term 'enemy' must not be allowed to mislead.
Every unbeliever is, as every Catholic is, a being with an immortal spirit, made in the image of God, for whom Christ died. However violently hostile to the Church or to Christ he may be, our aim is to convert him, not simply to defeat him. We must never forget that the devil wants his soul in hell as he wants ours, and we must fight the devil for him. We may be forced to oppose a man to prevent his endangering souls; but always we want to win him for his own soul's salvation. It is in the power of the Holy Spirit (sic) that we must fight, and he is the Love of the Father and the Son; in so far as the Church's soldiers fight in hatred, they are fighting against him." (F. J. Sheed: Theology for Beginners)


Legionaries will not neglect the use of the scapulars, medals, and badges approved by the Church. In distributing these and spreading devotion to them, channels are set up, along which - as a million instances have shown - it is the will of God that grace will copiously flow.
Particularly they should think in terms of the brown scapular which is the very livery of Mary. "Some interpret literally the text: 'He who dies wearing this habit will not be lost.' St. Claude de la Colombière would brook no restriction: 'One may lose one's scapular, but one who wears it at the hour of death is saved.' " (Père Raoul Plus)
Likewise, they will promote piety in the homes of the people by encouraging them to have crucifixes and statues, to hang upon their walls religious prints and pictures, to keep holy water in the house, and beads properly blessed for the Indulgences. The home wherein the sacramentals of the Church are despised runs great risk of gradually forsaking her sacraments. Children are especially receptive of external aids to devotion, and in a house which lacks a statue or a holy picture they will find it hard to acquire the true and intimate character of the Faith.


A theme dear to Pope Leo XIII was that Mary is the Mother of all people, and that God has implanted the germ of love for her in every heart, even in those who hate her or do not know her. This germ is meant to grow, and like any capacity it can be fostered by giving it proper conditions. Souls must be approached and informed as to the maternal role of Mary.
The Second Vatican Council has proclaimed that universal motherhood of Mary (LG 53, 65), and has declared that she is so much the source and model of apostleship that the Church must depend on her in its efforts to save all people. (LG 65)
Pope Paul VI requires that everywhere, and especially where there are many non-Catholics, the faithful shall be fully instructed in the maternal office of Mary so that they may share that treasure of knowledge. Moreover he commends to her loving heart the entire human race that she may fulfil her mission of orientating all souls towards Christ. Finally, in order to set in a revealing light her maternal and unifying duty towards all the members of the human family, His Holiness confers on Mary the significant title: "Mother of Unity."
Therefore they err sadly who regard the Blessed Virgin as a barrier to conversion which should be lowered. She is the Mother of grace and unity so that, without her, souls will not find their way. Legionaries must consistently apply this principle to their efforts to convert, that is by explaining to all what is sometimes, but incorrectly, called the legionary devotion to Mary. It is no property of the Legion which has only learned it from the Church.
"The Virgin Mary has always been proposed to the faithful by the Church as an example to be imitated not precisely in the type of life she led, and much less for the socio-cultural background in which she lived and which today scarcely exists anywhere. She is held up as an example to the faithful rather for the way in which, in her own particular life, she fully and responsibly accepted the will of God (cf Lk 1:38), because she heard the word of God and acted on it and because charity and a spirit of service were the driving force of her actions. She is worthy of imitation because she was the first and the most perfect of Christ's disciples. All of this has a permanent and universal exemplary value." (MCul 35)