Legion of Mary  |  Legion of Mary Handbook


A particular application of the Doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ may be made to the Legion meetings, especially to the praesidium meeting which forms the heart of the Legion system.
"Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." (Mt 18:20) These words of our Lord assure us that his influential presence in the members of his Mystical Body is intensified according to the number in which they unite to serve him. He specifies number as a condition for the complete displaying of his power. Possibly this is a consequence of our individual defectiveness, the virtues of each being so limited as to permit Christ to show himself only partially through that one.
A simple natural image may illustrate how this may be. A coloured glass will transmit only its own shade of light, obstructing all the other shades. But when glasses of all the different colours jointly project their shades, these unite to make the fullness of light. Similarly, when Christians in some number combine for the purposes of the Lord, their qualities supplementing each other, he is enabled through them to manifest his perfection and his power more fully.
So, when legionaries gather together in the praesidium in his name and for his work, he is present in that potent way; it has been made evident that power goes out from him there. (Mk 5:30)
Also with Jesus in that little Legion family are his Mother and St. Joseph, who have towards the praesidium the same relation that they had to him; which permits us to look on the praesidium as a projection of the Home of Nazareth, and this not as a mere devotional exercise but as something based on reality. "We are obliged," says Bérulle, "to treat the things and mysteries of Jesus not as things past and dead, but as things living and present and even eternal." Likewise we may piously identify the premises and equipment of the praesidium with the fabric and the furniture of the Holy House, and we may regard the behaviour of the legionaries towards those adjuncts of the praesidium as a test of their appreciation of the truth that Christ lives in us and works through us, necessarily availing of the things that we are utilising.
This thought provides a sweet and compelling motive for a bestowing of a careful attention upon the things that surround the praesidium and form its home.
Legionaries may have limited control over the room in which they meet, but other accessories of the meeting are more fully in their charge, such as the table, chairs, altar, books. How are the legionaries enabling the mother of the praesidium Home of Nazareth to reproduce in it the devoted housekeeping which she started long ago in Galilee? Their aid is necessary to her. They can deny it to her or they can give it negligently - thus perverting her work for the Mystical Christ. Faced with this idea, let legionaries try to imagine how Mary kept her home.
Poor it was, and its furniture far from elaborate. Yet it must have been most beautiful. For among the wives and mothers of all time this one was unique, gifted with exquisite taste and refinement which could not but show themselves in every item of her home. Each simple detail must somehow have possessed a loveliness, each common thing a charm. For she loved - as only she could love - all those things because of him who made them and who now made human use of them. She cared them and cleaned them and polished them and tried to make them nice, for they had to be quite perfect in their way. We may be certain that there was not one jarring note in all that domicile. There could not possibly be. For that little house was like no other. It was the cradle for the redemption, the frame for the Lord of the world. Everything in it served strangely to mould him who had made all things. Therefore everything had to be fit to serve that sublime purpose and fit it was by the order, cleanliness, brightness and indefinable quality which Mary contrived to impart to it.In its own fashion everything about the praesidium plays its part in moulding the member and therefore should reflect those characteristics of the Holy Home, just as the legionaries themselves should reflect Jesus and Mary.
A French author has written a book entitled "A Journey Around My Room." Make such a thoughtful journey around your praesidium and analyse most critically everything that strikes the eye and ear; the floor and walls and windows; the furniture; the components of the altar, in particular the statue which represents the pivot of the home, its mother. Above all, observe the demeanour of the members and the method of conducting the meeting.
If the sum total of what is seen and heard is unattuned to the Home of Nazareth, then it is not likely that the spirit of Nazareth abides in that praesidium. But without that spirit the praesidium is worse than dead.
Sometimes officers, like worthless parents, pervert those entrusted to their care. Nearly always the shortcomings of praesidia can be traced back to the officers. If members are unpunctual and irregular in their attendance, doing insufficient work and doing it irregularly, failing in their attitude at the meeting, it is because that defective behaviour is being accepted from them, because they are not being taught any better. They are being warped by the training they are receiving from their officers.
Contrast all that inadequacy with the Home of Nazareth. Imagine Our Lady being thus neglectful about details and order, giving that disfiguring sort of training to her child! Try - it is difficult, but try - to think of her as slatternly, weak, unreliable, indifferent; letting the Holy House go to wrack and ruin, so that it is the contemptuous talk of the neighbours! Of course the very idea is fantastic. Yet more than a few Legion officers let things drift thus shamefully in the praesidium Home of Nazareth which they profess to be administering as the very embodiments of Our Lady.
But if, on the other hand, all those things by their perfection prove the praesidium's devotion, then we may know that our Lord is there in that fullness indicated by his words. The spirit of the Holy Family was not confined by the Holy House, nor by Nazareth, nor by Judea, nor by any boundary. Neither, therefore, can the spirit of the praesidium be confined.

"Catholic love for the Mother of God shows a praiseworthy sense of the artistic by its reluctance to ask for elaborate details of the life at Nazareth. We know that at Nazareth there dwells a life that is not of man's experience, hardly of man's comprehension. Is there anyone here on earth who could draw a picture of those two lives of superhuman intensity which find in their very intensity a most complete blending of all their movements, affections, aspirations? Let me watch from the hilltop over Nazareth a woman going down to the well with the pitcher poised on her head, a boy of fifteen at her side. I know that between the two there is a love such as is not found among the spirits that dwell before the throne of God. But I know, too, that I am not entitled to see more lest I die of wonderment." (Vonier: The Divine Maternity)