THE MYSTICAL HOME OF NAZARETH
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.