Legion of Mary  |  Legion of Mary Handbook



Already it has been stressed that the holiness of the member is of fundamental importance for the Legion. It is moreover the primary means of action, for only in the measure that the legionary possesses grace can he be the channel of it to others. Hence it is that the legionary begins his membership by a request to be filled, through Mary, with the Holy Spirit and to be used as an instrument of his power which is to renew the face of the earth.
The graces, which are thus asked for, flow one and all from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary. By means of the Mass, the Sacrifice of the Cross is continued among men. The Mass is not a mere symbolic representation of the past, but places really and actually present in our midst that supreme action which our Lord consummated on Calvary, and which redeemed the world. The cross was not worth more than the Mass, because the two are but one and the selfsame Sacrifice, time and space being pushed aside by the hand of omnipotence. The priest and the victim are the same, the setting alone is different. The Mass contains everything that Christ offered to God, and all that he acquired for men; and the offerings of those who assist at Mass become one with the great offering of Christ.

Therefore to the Mass must the legionary have recourse if a plenteous sharing in the gifts of redemption is desired for oneself and for others. By reason of the fact that opportunities and circumstances differ so much, the Legion does not impose any obligation on its members in this matter. Nevertheless, solicitous for them and their work, it urges and implores each one of them to assist frequently - every day if at all possible - at Mass, and at that Mass to receive Holy Communion.

Legionaries perform their actions in union with Mary. Especially does this apply to their taking part in the Eucharistic celebration.

The Mass as we know is made up of two principal parts - the liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist. It is important to bear in mind that these two parts are so closely connected with each other that they constitute one single act of worship. (SC 56) For this reason the faithful should participate in the whole of the Mass where both the table of God's Word and the table of Christ's Body are prepared, so that from them the faithful may be instructed and nourished. (SC 48, 51)

"In the Sacrifice of the Mass we are not merely reminded of the sacrifice of the cross in a symbolical form. On the contrary, the sacrifice of Calvary, as a great supra-temporal reality, enters into the immediate present. Space and time are abolished. The same Jesus is here present who died on the cross. The whole congregation unites itself with his holy sacrificial will, and through Jesus present before it, consecrates itself to the heavenly Father as a living oblation. So holy Mass is a tremendously real experience, the experience of the reality of Golgotha. And a stream of sorrow and repentance, of love and devotion, of heroism and the spirit of sacrifice, flows out from the altar and passes through the praying congregation." (Karl Adam: The Spirit of Catholicism)


The Mass is above all a celebration of faith, of that faith which is born in us and nourished through the hearing of the Word of God. We recall here the words of the General Instruction on the Missal (No. 9): "when the Scriptures are read in church, God Himself is speaking to his people, and Christ, present in his word, is proclaiming the Gospel. Hence the readings from God's word are among the most important elements in the liturgy, and all who are present should listen to them with reverence." Of great importance also is the homily. It is a necessary part of the Mass on Sundays and Holydays, while on other days it is desirable that there be a homily. By its means the homilist explains the sacred text in the light of the Church's teaching for the building up of the faith of those present.

As we participate in the celebration of the word, Our Lady is our model for she is "the attentive Virgin who receives the word of God with faith, that faith which in her case was the gateway and path to the divine motherhood". (MCul 17)


Our Blessed Lord did not begin his work of redemption without the consent of Mary, solemnly asked and freely given. Likewise he did not complete it on Calvary without her presence and her consent. "From this union of sufferings and of will between Mary and Christ, she merited to become most worthily the restorer of the lost world and the dispenser of all the graces Jesus purchased by his death and by his Blood." (AD 9) She stood by the cross of Jesus on Calvary, representing all mankind there, and at each new Mass the offering of the Saviour is accomplished subject to the same conditions. Mary stands at the altar no less than she stood by the cross. She is there, as ever, co-operating with Jesus - the Woman, foretold from the beginning, crushing the serpent's head. A loving attention to her ought, therefore, to form part of every Mass rightly heard.

And also with Mary on Calvary were the representatives of a Legion, the Centurion and his men, who took a mournful part in the offering of the Victim, though indeed they did not know they were crucifying the Lord of Glory. (1 Cor 2:8) And, wonder of wonders, grace burst upon them! "Contemplate and see," says St. Bernard, "how piercing is the glance of faith. Consider attentively what lynx-eyes it possesses. On Calvary it enabled the Centurion to see life in death, and to recognise in a dying breath the sovereign Spirit." Looking upon their dead and disfigured victim, the legionaries proclaimed him to be the very Son of God. (Mt 27:54)
These fierce rude converts were the fruits, swift and unexpected, of Mary's prayers. They were strange children that the mother of men first received on Calvary; yet they must have ever made the name of legionary dear to her. So, who can doubt that when her own legionaries - united to her intention, part of her co-operation - come to the daily Mass, she will gather them to her, and give to them the "lynx-eyes" of faith and her own overflowing heart, so that they will enter most intimately (and with surpassing profit) into that continuation of the sublime sacrifice of Calvary.

When they see the Son of God lifted up, they will unite themselves to him to be but a single victim, for the Mass is their sacrifice as well as his sacrifice. Then they should receive his adorable Body; for this partaking, with the priest, in the flesh of the immolated Victim is essential, if the fullness of the fruit of the Divine Sacrifice is to be gathered.
They will understand the essential part of Mary, the new Eve, in those holy mysteries-such a part that "when her beloved Son was consummating the redemption of mankind on the altar of the cross, she stood at his side, suffering and redeeming with him." (Pope Pius XI) And when they come away, Mary will be with her legionaries, giving them a share and part in her administration of graces, so that on each and all of those they meet and work for are lavished the infinite treasures of redemption.

"Her motherhood is particularly noted and experienced by the Christian people at the Sacred Banquet - the liturgical celebration of the mystery of the Redemption - at which Christ, his true body born of the Virgin Mary, becomes present.

The piety of the Christian people has always very rightly sensed a profound link between devotion to the Blessed Virgin and worship of the Eucharist: this is a fact that can be seen in the liturgy of both the West and the East, in the traditions of the Religious Families, in the modern movements of spirituality, including those for youth, and in the pastoral practice of the Marian Shrines. Mary guides the faithful to the Eucharist." (RMat 44)


The Eucharist is the centre and source of grace: therefore, it must be the very keystone of the legionary scheme. The most ardent activity will accomplish nothing of value if it forgets for a moment that its main object is to establish the reign of the Eucharist in all hearts. For thereby is fulfilled the purpose for which Jesus came into the world. That purpose was to communicate himself to souls so that he might make them one with him. The means of that communication is chiefly the holy Eucharist. "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." (Jn 6:51-52)

The Eucharist is the infinite good. For in that sacrament is Jesus himself, as much present as he was in his home at Nazareth or in the Upper Room at Jerusalem. The holy Eucharist is no mere symbol of him, or instrument of his power, but is Jesus Christ himself substantially. So that she, who had conceived him and nurtured him, "found again in the adorable host the blessed fruit of her womb, and renewed in her life of union with his Sacramental presence the happy days of Bethlehem and Nazareth." (St. Peter Julian Eymard)

Many who think Jesus little better than an inspired man are found to yield him reverence and imitation. If they thought him to be more, they would render him more. What, therefore, should proceed from the household of the faith? How inexcusable are those Catholics who believe, but do not practise that belief. That Jesus whom others admire, Catholics possess - ever living in the Eucharist. They have free access to him and can, and should, receive him even daily as the food of their souls.

Considering these things, one sees how sad it is that such a splendid heritage should be neglected; that persons having the faith of the Eucharist should nevertheless permit sin and thoughtlessness to deprive them of this vital need of their souls, which Our Lord had in mind for them from the first moment of his earthly existence. Even as a new-born babe in Bethlehem (which means the House of Bread), he lay on that straw of which he was the Divine Wheat: destined to be made into the heavenly bread which would make men one with him and with each other in his Mystical Body.

Mary is the mother of that Mystical Body. As she once anxiously attended to the wants of her Christ-child, so now she yearns to feed that Mystical Body, of which she is, no less, the Mother. How her heart is anguished at seeing that her babe, in his Mystical Body, is hungry - even starving - by reason of the fact that few are nourished as they should be with the Bread Divine, while many do not receive it at all. Let those, who aim to be associated to Mary in her maternal care of souls, share her maternal anguish, and strive, in union with her, to allay that hunger of the Body of Christ. Every avenue of legionary action must be availed of to awaken knowledge and love of the Blessed Sacrament and to dissipate the sin and indifference which keep men from it. Each Holy Communion brought about is truly an immeasurable gain. Through the individual soul, it nourishes the entire Mystical Body of Christ, and causes it to advance in wisdom and growth and grace with God and men. (Lk 2:52)

"This union of the Mother and the Son in the work of redemption reaches its climax on Calvary, where Christ "offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God" (Heb 9:14) and where Mary stood by the cross. (cf. Jn 19:25) "suffering grievously with her only-begotten Son. There she united herself with a maternal heart to his sacrifice, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this victim which she herself had brought forth" and also was offering to the Eternal Father. To perpetuate down the centuries the Sacrifice of the Cross, the divine Saviour instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the memorial of his death and resurrection, and entrusted it to his spouse the Church, which, especially on Sundays, calls the faithful together to celebrate the Passover of the Lord until he comes again. This the Church does in union with the saints in heaven and in particular with the Blessed Virgin, whose burning charity and unshakeable faith she imitates."
(MCul 20)