Legion of Mary  |  Legion of Mary Handbook


It is significant that the first corporate act of the Legion of Mary was to address itself to the Holy Spirit by his Invocation and Prayer, then proceeding by the rosary to Mary and her Son.
Similarly significant is the fact that when the vexillum was designed some years later, the same note was unexpectedly struck. The Holy Spirit proved to be the predominant feature of that emblem. This was strange, for that design was the product of artistic and not of theological thinking. A non-religious emblem, that is, the Standard of the Roman Legion, had been taken and adapted to the purposes of the Marian Legion. The Dove entered in by mode of substitution for the Eagle; and Our Lady's image was in substitution for the image of the Emperor or Consul. Yet the final result portrayed the Holy Spirit as using Mary as the channel to the world of his life-giving influences, and as having taken possession of the Legion.

And later, when the tessera picture was painted, it illustrated the same devotional position: the Holy Spirit broods over the Legion. By his power the undying warfare accomplishes itself: the Virgin crushes the head of the serpent: her battalions advance to their foretold victory over the adverse forces.It is an additional picturesque circumstance that the colour of the Legion is red, and not, as might be expected, blue. This was determined in connection with the settling of a minor detail, that is the colour of Our Lady's halo in the vexillum and in the tessera picture. It was felt that Legion symbolism required that Our Lady be shown as full of the Holy Spirit, and that this should be denoted by making her halo of his colour. This drew with it the further thought that the Legion's colour should be red. The same note is struck in the tessera picture, which depicts Our Lady as the biblical Pillar of Fire, all luminous and burning with the Holy Spirit.

So, when the Legion Promise was composed, it was consistent - though initially causing some surprise - that it should be directed to the Holy Spirit and not to the Queen of the Legion. Again that vital note is struck: it is always the Holy Spirit who regenerates the world-even to the bestowing of the smallest individual grace; and his agency is always Mary. By the operation of the Holy Spirit in Mary, the Eternal Son is made Man. Thereby mankind is united to the Holy Trinity, and Mary herself is placed in a distinct, unique relation to each Divine Person. That three-fold place of Mary must at least be glimpsed by us, inasmuch as an understanding of the divine arrangements is the choicest sort of grace, one which is not intended to be out of our reach.

The saints are insistent on the necessity for thus distinguishing between the Three Divine Persons and for rendering to each one of them an appropriate attention. The Athanasian Creed is mandatory and strangely menacing in regard to this requirement, which proceeds from the fact that the final purpose of Creation and of the Incarnation is the glorification of the Trinity.
But how can so incomprehensible a mystery be even dimly probed? Assuredly by divine enlightenment alone, but this grace can confidently be claimed from her to whom, for the first time in the world, the doctrine of the Trinity was definitely intimated. That occasion was the epochal moment of the Annunciation. Through its high angel the Holy Trinity thus declared Itself to Mary: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God." (Lk 1:35)

In this revelation all the Three Divine Persons are clearly specified: first, the Holy Spirit, to whom the operation of the Incarnation is attributed; second, the Most High, the Father of him who is to be born; third, that Child who "will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High." (Lk 1:32)

The contemplation of Mary's different relations to the Divine Persons helps towards our distinguishing as between the Three.

To the Second Divine Person Mary's relation is the one nearest to our comprehension, that of Mother. But her motherhood is of a closeness, a permanency, and a quality infinitely surpassing the normal human relationship. In the case of Jesus and Mary the union of souls was primary, and of flesh secondary; so that even when separation of flesh occurred at birth, their union was not interrupted but went on into further incomprehensible degrees of intensity and association - such that Mary can be declared by the Church to be not only the "helpmate" of that Second Divine Person - Co-Redemptress in salvation: Mediatress in grace - but actually "like unto Him."

Of the Holy Spirit, Mary is commonly called the temple or the sanctuary, but these terms are insufficiently expressive of the reality, which is that he has so united her to himself as to make her the next thing in dignity to himself. Mary has been so taken up into the Holy Spirit, made one with him, animated by him, that he is as her very soul. She is no mere instrument or channel of his activity; she is an intelligent, conscious co-operator with him to such degree that when she acts, it is also he who acts; and that if her intervention be not accepted, neither is his.
The Holy Spirit is Love, Beauty, Power, Wisdom, Purity, and all else that is of God. If he descend in plentitude, every need can be met, and the most grievous problem can be brought into conformity with the Divine Will. The man who thus makes the Holy Spirit his helper (Ps. 77) enters into the tide of omnipotence. If one of the conditions for so attracting him is the understanding of Our Lady's relation to him, another vital condition is that we appreciate the Holy Spirit himself as a real, distinct, Divine Person with his appropriate mission in regard to us. This appreciation of him will not be maintained except there be a reasonably frequent turning of the mind to him. By including just that glance in his direction, every devotion to the Blessed Virgin can be made a wide-open way to the Holy Spirit. Especially can legionaries so utilise the rosary. Not only does the rosary form a prime devotion to the Holy Spirit by reason of its being the chief prayer to Our Lady, but, as well, its contents, the fifteen mysteries, celebrate the principal interventions of the Holy Spirit in the drama of redemption.

Mary's relation to the Eternal Father is usually defined as that of Daughter. This title is intended to designate: (a) her position as "the first of all creatures, the most acceptable child of God, the nearest and dearest to him" (Cardinal Newman); (b) the fulness of her union with Jesus Christ which makes her enter into new relations to the Father,* thereby entitling her to be mystically styled the Daughter of the Father; (c) the pre-eminent resemblance which she bears to the Father, which has fitted her to pour out into the world the everlasting light which issues from that loving Father.

* "As Mother of God, Mary contracts a certain affinity with the Father." (Lépicier)

But that title of "Daughter" may not sufficiently bring home to us the influence which her relation to the Father exerts on us who are his children and her children. "He has communicated to her his fruitfulness as far as a mere creature was capable of it, in order that he might give her the power to produce his Son and all the members of his Mystical Body." (St. Louis-Marie de Montfort) Her relation to the Father is a fundamental, ever-present element in the flow of life to every soul. It is the requirement of God that what he gives to man must be reflected in appreciation and co-operation. Therefore, that life-giving union must be made a subject of our thoughts, and so it is suggested that the Pater Noster, which is often on the lips of legionaries, should take particular account of that intention. This prayer was composed by Jesus Christ our Lord, and therefore it asks for the right things in the ideal way. If recited with the right advertence and in the spirit of the Catholic Church, it must accomplish perfectly its purpose of glorifying the Eternal Father and of acknowledging his everflowing gift to us through Mary.

"Let us recall here, as a proof of the dependence we ought to have on Our Blessed Lady, the example which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit give of this dependence. The Father has not given and does not give his Son except by her. He has no children but by her, and communicates no graces but by her. God the Son has not been formed for the whole world in general except by her; and he is not daily formed and engendered except by her in union with the Holy Spirit; neither does he communicate his merits and his virtues except by her. The Holy Spirit has not formed Jesus Christ except by her, neither does he form the members of our Lord's Mystical Body except by her; and through her alone does he dispense his favours and his gifts. After so many and such pressing examples of the Most Holy Trinity, can we without an extreme blindness dispense ourselves from Mary, and not consecrate ourselves to her, and depend on her ?" (St. Louis-Marie de Montfort: Treatise on True Devotion, Par. 140)