The duty of periodically bringing
together the members of the Legion in any district in order that they
may know each other and that the spirit of unity may be fostered, is
imposed upon each Curia.
The following are the functions of
Bearing in mind the importance of
devotion to Mary in the Legion system, each year there shall be a
consecration of legionaries to Our Lady. The consecration - which shall
comprise both an individual and a collective consecration - will take
place on the 25 March or on a day close thereto, and will be known as
the Acies. This Latin word, meaning as it does an army ranged in battle
array, is appropriate to a ceremony in which the legionaries as a body
assemble to renew their fealty to Mary, Queen of the Legion, and from
her to receive strength and blessing for yet another year's battle with
the forces of evil. Moreover, the word is in effective contrast with
praesidium, which contemplates the Legion, no longer drawn up in united
array, but split up into its various sections, each engaged in its own
particular sphere of duty.
The Acies is the great central
annual function of the Legion, so that it is necessary to stress the
importance of attendance on the part of every member. The essential
idea of the Legion, upon which all else is built, is that of working in
union with and in dependence on Mary, its Queen. The Acies is the
solemn expression of that union and dependence, the renewal-individual
and collective-of the legionary declaration of fealty. Hence it is
manifest that any legionaries who can attend, and yet fail to do so,
have little or none of the spirit of the Legion in them. The membership
of such persons is not an asset to the Legion.
The following is the procedure:-
On the day fixed for the ceremony, the legionaries shall assemble - if
possible in a church. At a convenient spot is placed a statue of the
Immaculate Conception, suitably decorated with flowers and candles. In
front of the statue will stand a large-size replica of the Legion
vexillum, which is described in chapter 27.
The proceedings commence with a
hymn, followed by the opening prayers of the Legion including the
Rosary. An address by a priest on the significance of the consecration
to Our Lady follows. Then the procession towards the statue begins. The
Spiritual Directors go first in single file. Then the legionaries, also
singly, except in the case of great numbers when they may advance in
pairs. On reaching the vexillum, each one (or each pair) pauses; then,
placing the hand upon the staff of the vexillum, he repeats vocally, as
an individual act of consecration, the following words: "I am all
yours, my Queen, my Mother, and all that I have is yours." This done,
the vexillum is relinquished, the legionary bows slightly and passes
on. If the number of legionaries is large, the making of the individual
act of consecration will occupy some time, but the impressiveness of
the ceremony will gain rather than lose by that fact. It will help if
an organ be played during the procession of the legionaries to and from
It would not be in order to use more
than one vexillum. Such expedient would shorten the proceedings, but it
would destroy their unity. Moreover, the note of haste would be
discordant. The special characteristic of the Acies should be its order
When all legionaries have resumed
their places, an act of consecration to Our Lady is said aloud by the
priest on behalf of all present. Following this, the Catena is recited,
all present standing. Then follows, if at all possible, Benediction of
the Most Blessed Sacrament; after which the concluding prayers of the
Legion are recited, a hymn is sung, and the Acies terminates. It would
be in order, of course, to have Holy Mass celebrated on the occasion of
the Acies, in place of the Benediction, the other details of the
ceremony remaining the same. The Celebration of the Paschal Mystery
would absorb into itself and present to the Eternal Father, through the
"one Mediator" and in the Holy Spirit, all the consecrations and
spiritual offerings which are placed in the maternal hands of "the
generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord." (LG 61)
The above formula of consecration:
"I am all yours, etc." should not be mechanically or thoughtlessly
pronounced. Each one should compress into it the fullest degree of
understanding and gratitude. As a help towards this, he should study A
Marian Synthesis, appendix 11. This endeavours to set forth the unique
part played by Mary in
salvation, and accordingly the extent of each one's debt to her.
Perhaps the Synthesis could be made the subject of the spiritual
reading and of the Allocutio at a praesidium meeting shortly before the
Acies. It is suggested that it be also used as the collective act of
consecration at the ceremony itself.
At a time as near as possible to the
feast of the Immaculate Conception a reunion of all the members shall
be held. If desired, this may begin with a church celebration.
There follows a social evening. If
not already recited at a church function, the full Legion prayers are
to be said, divided into three parts as at a meeting.
It is better to confine this
programme to the contributions of legionaries. In addition to lighter
items, there should be some addresses or papers of legionary interest.
It will surely be unnecessary to
remind legionaries that formality must find no place there. This is to
be specially guarded against where many legionaries are participating.
It must be the object to make all those present know each other better.
Therefore, the programme should afford opportunity for movement and
conversation. Those in charge should contrive that the members do not
keep together in parties and thus frustrate the main purpose of the
function, which is the fostering of the spirit of unity and affection
in the Legion family.
The holding of this function dates
back to the earliest days of the Legion. It is not obligatory, but it
is recommended. It may take the form of an excursion, pilgrimage, or
outdoor function. As determined by the Curia, this may be either a
Curia or a praesidium function. In the latter event, two or more
praesidia may combine for the function.
It is strongly recommended that each
praesidium will hold a social function about the feast of the Nativity
of Our Lady. In centres where there are many praesidia, several
praesidia may, if they desire, combine to hold such a festival.
Suitable persons, who are not
legionaries, may be invited to attend, with a view to inducing them to
It is recommended that the full
Legion prayers (including the rosary) be said, divided into three parts
as at a praesidium meeting. The time thus taken from the social part of
the evening does not amount to many minutes, but this tribute to Our
Lady will be more than repaid by the enhanced success of the function.
The Queen of the Legion is the "Cause of Our Joy," and she will reply
by making the occasion one of special happiness.
Interspersed among the musical items
should be at least one short Legion talk. All will, thereby, learn a
little more about the Legion, and incidentally the programme will be
diversified. Mere entertainment tends to pall.
The first Legion Congress was held
by the Clare (Ireland) Curia on Easter Sunday, 1939. Its success led to
imitation, as success always does, and now that feature has been firmly
grafted into the Legion system.
A Congress should be confined to a
Comitium or a Curia. Assemblies on a wider basis would not be in line
with the primary conception of a Congress and would not produce the
intended fruits. Therefore, the name of Congress should not be applied
to those assemblies, if held; nor should they be regarded as
substituting for a Congress. But visitors from other areas may be
invited to a Congress.
The Concilium has ruled that an area
should not hold a Congress more often than every second year. A whole
day should be devoted to the function. The availability of a Religious
house will solve many of the problems. If possible, the proceedings
should begin with Mass, followed by a short address by the Spiritual
Director or other priest, and should terminate with Benediction of the
Most Blessed Sacrament.
The day is divided into sessions,
each session having its subject or subjects. Each subject should be
very briefly opened up by someone who will have previously prepared his
contribution. All should take some part in the discussions. This
general participation forms the very life of the Congress.
Again it is emphasised that
presiding officers are not to talk much nor to intervene constantly in
the discussions. Congresses, like council meetings, are to be run on
the parliamentary method, that is, on lines of universal participation
regulated from the chair. Some chairpersons show a tendency to comment
on the utterance of every speaker. This is the opposite idea to the
Congress idea, and it should not be tolerated.
The assistance of some
representatives of a higher governing body would be desirable. These
could perform some of the special duties, for example, presiding,
inaugurating discussions, etc.
Any striving after oratorical effect
is to be avoided, for it would create an air of unreality. That is not
the Legion climate; in it no one will be inspired, no problem will be
Sometimes all the legionaries are
brought to the Congress, sometimes only the officers of praesidia. In
the former case it would be allowable at the first session to divide
the legionaries according to their different offices, the ordinary
members being in one body. Then the special duties and needs of each
would be considered. Or alternatively, the legionaries could be divided
according to the works on which they are engaged. But such dividing up
is optional, and in any case the subsequent sessions should not be
subdivided. It would be inconsistent to bring the members together and
then keep them separated for most of the time. It is to be noted that
the duty of officers has a wider scope than the routine functions
belonging to each office. A Secretary, for instance, whose official
horizon was bounded by his minute book would indeed be a defective
officer. As all the officers are members of the Curia, their session
must investigate methods of perfecting the working of the Curia, both
in regard to its actual meetings and its general administration.
A Congress must not amount merely to
a Curia meeting, occupying itself with the same administrative details
and queries that would fall to be dealt with at the Curia. It should
apply itself to the fundamentals. But of course all the lessons learned
at the Congress should be put into force by the Curia.
The subjects to be dealt with should
concern the main principles of the Legion, broadly:-
- The devotional system of the Legion. The Legion is not
understood unless its many-sided devotional aspect is to some
reasonable extent grasped by the members; and the Legion is not being
properly worked unless that devotion be linked to the active work so
intimately as to be its motive and its spirit; in other words, the
devotion must animate the whole work as the soul animates the body.
- The legionary qualities, and how they are to be developed.
- The methodical system of the Legion, including the
conducting of the meetings and the vital matter of the members'
reports, that is, the manner of giving them and of commenting on them.
- The Legion works, including the improvement of methods and
the planning of those new works which will enable the Legion to reach
out to every person.
An item of the Congress should be a
special Talk, by some Spiritual Director or legionary qualified to give
it, on some aspect of legionary devotion, idealism, or duty.
Each session should begin and close
with prayer. The Legion prayers will provide for three of those
Careful timekeeping and stewarding
is imperative. Failure in this department will ruin the day.
There must be diversification as
between successive Congresses in the same area. Only a limited number
of topics can be covered at a single Congress, whereas it is necessary
that over a period of years much new ground be ploughed up. Secondly,
there must never be a sense of standing still. Therefore change for the
very sake of change must be sought. Thirdly, the success of a
particular Congress naturally suggests that the same programme be
adhered to on the next occasion. But part of that success was certainly
due to the element of novelty, and this is spent by the first
production. If novelty is to figure as a stimulating ingredient in each
new Congress, the event must be preceded by ingenious planning.