Legion of Mary  |  Legion of Mary Handbook



A solemnity attaches to last words even though they are uttered in turmoil or weakness. What then is to be thought of our Lord's final injunction to the apostles: what has been called his last will and testament, delivered at a moment more awesome than that of Sinai - that is as the completion of all his earthly lawgiving and immediately before his Ascension? As he speaks, he is already clothed with the very majesty of the Trinity: "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation." (Mk 16:15)
Those words supply the Christian keynote. Faith must strain after people with inextinguishable ardour. Sometimes that essential note is missing. People are not sought after, neither those in the fold nor those outside it. But if that Ascension commandment be disregarded, it will be at a price - the price of loss of grace, of diminution and decay, even to the extinction of faith. Look around and see how many places have already paid that awful price.
When Christ said all, he meant ALL. Actually he had before his eyes each individual one - "for whom he had worn the Crown- and borne the Cross, the nails, the lance - the rabble's ignominious glance - unnumbered griefs, unmeasured woes - faintings and agonising throes - and death itself on Calvary." Labour so great must not be thrown away. The Precious Blood must now be touched to everyone for whom it was so prodigally shed. That Christian commission drastically drives us out to people everywhere - to the least ones, to the greatest ones, to those near, to those remote, to the ordinary people, to the wickedest, to the farthest shack, to all afflicted creatures, to the diabolical types, to the loneliest lighthouse, to the leper, to the forgotten sort, to the victims of drink and vice, to the dangerous classes, to the dwellers in caves and caravans, to those on the battlefield, to those who hide, to the avoided places, to the lowest den, to the icy wastes, to the sun-baked desert, to the densest jungle, to the dismal swamp, to the uncharted island, to the undiscovered tribe, out into the absolute unknown to find if there is someone living there, right on to the ends of the earth where the rainbow rests! No one must evade our search lest the gentle Jesus frown upon us.
The Legion must be, so to speak, obsessed by that final commandment. It must, as a first principle, set out to establish a contact of some sort with every soul everywhere. If this be done - and it can be done - then the Lord's command will be moving towards fulfilment.
Our Lord, it will be noted, does not order that every person be converted, but only that approach be made to every one. The former may be beyond human possibility. But it is not impossible to make the approach. And if that all-embracing, undiscriminating contact be made, what then? It is certain that there would be an aftermath. For our Blessed Lord does not order unmeaning or unnecessary steps to be taken. When that comprehensive approach to people has been effected, at least the divine command has been obeyed; and that is the important circumstance. What happens next might well be the renewal of the Pentecostal fires.
Many earnest workers believe that by labouring to the limits of their strength, they have done all that God expects of them. Alas, such single-handed effort will not carry them far; nor will the Lord be satisfied with that solitary striving; nor will he make good what they leave unattempted. For the work of religion must be set about like any other work which exceeds the individual power, that is by mobilising and organising until the helpers are sufficient.
This mobilising principle, this effort to join others to our own efforts, is a vital part of common duty. That duty applies not merely to the higher ones of the Church, not merely to the priests, but to every legionary and every Catholic. When the apostolic ripples proceed from every believer, they will add up into a universal deluge.
"You will find that your powers of action will always be equal to your desires and your progress in faith. For it is not in heavenly as it is in earthly benefactions; you are stinted to no measure or boundary in receiving the gift of God. The fountain of Divine Grace is ever flowing, is subject to no precise limitations, has no fixed channels to restrain the waters of life. Let us encourage an earnest thirst after those waters and open our hearts to receive them, and as much will flow in upon us as our faith will enable us to receive." (St. Cyprian of Carthage)


"We must not allow the crowded altar-rails at the morning's Mass to blind us to the existence of horrible contrasts: entire families where things are wrong, or even whole neighbourhoods corrupted and abominable, where evil is, as it were, enthroned with its court all around it. Second, we should remember that although sin is in such places congested and doubly repulsive, it is none the less vile where it is more spread out. Third, though we see there the matured fruit - the Dead Sea fruit of evil - the roots lie in the soil of every corner of the country. Wherever neglect is creeping in or venial sin putting up its head, there is a preparation for abominations. Wheresoever the worker may be, there is work to hand to do. Were it nothing else, speak words of consolation to some poor old body in an infirmary, or teach little children to bless themselves and lisp the answer to: 'Who made the world?' and, little though you realise it, you strike a fierce blow at the whole machinery of evil. Fourth, and this is a message of hope to the apostolic worker who is overmuch inclined to lose heart in the presence of formidable evil, even such a riot of disorder as we have pictured is not incurable. There is a remedy - and there is only the one - and it lies in the intense and patient application of the religious system of the Church.
Under all that crusted depravity, the bare outline of which makes one shudder, there is a faith which in better moments longs for goodness. If, then there is someone at hand to coax and encourage and speak of better things and hold out hope that all can be repaired, the worst victim of that depravity can be brought to priest and sacraments. With these received, a renovation has taken place which can never be completely undone. Frequently, the great power which goes out from Christ in his sacraments is manifested, and we are left marvelling to find that the miracle of the changed life - an Augustine or Mary of Magdala in a minor key - has been renewed.
For others the cure will be less striking. The draw of the evil habits and the old influences will be irresistible. There will be the falling and rising again. They may never be made into what would be called good citizens, but sufficient of the supernatural will probably find a place in their lives to bring them to port in the end. The great object will have been achieved.
In fact, there will be little failure for the legionary with simple, courageous faith, no matter where or in what dark and evil places he or she may labour. The rule is short - spread abroad the reign of the sacraments and the popular devotions, and sin will melt away before you. Do good anywhere, and you raise all, it suffices to break the opposing battle-line at any point. Shape your instruments to the necessity. Six families in a house are standing aloof from Mass and the sacraments and resist persuasion. Possibly you can induce one of these to do something which requires a smaller degree of cooperation. Get the Sacred Heart enthroned in that home and you have already won the day. They will lift themselves farther and the others with them. In the end people who have dragged each other down by bad example will prove an inspiration to each other." (Father Michael Creedon, first Spiritual Director of Concilium Legionis Mariae.)

"This robber stole Paradise! No one before him ever received such a promise not Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, or Moses, or the prophets, or apostles; the thief pressed in before all these! But his faith also surpassed theirs! He saw Jesus tormented, and adored him as if he were in glory. He saw him nailed to a cross, and petitioned him as if he were enthroned. He saw him condemned, and asked a favour of him as of a king. O admirable thief! thou didst see a crucified man, and thou didst proclaim a God." (St. John Chrysostom)


The work of bringing the message of Jesus Christ to every person, which, in the words of Pope Paul VI, is the "essential function of the Church" (EN:14), is closely linked to that other great commitment of the Church which is the promotion of reconciliation and unity among Christians. We recall here the prayer of our Lord at the Last Supper, "May they all be one. Father may they be one in Us, as You are in Me and I am in You, so that the world may believe it was You who sent Me." (Jn. 17:21).
In the wake of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) Christian Unity is one of the great priorities of the Catho]ic Church in these times, for as the same Council points out "the division among Christians openly conradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching of the gospel to every creature". (UR:l).
In the context of the above the following quotation from Pope John Paul II Apostolic Letter "Orientale Lumen" written as an aid to restoring unity with all Christians of the EasL is of the greatest importance:

"Since in fact, we believe that the venerable and
ancient tradition of the Eastern Churches is an
integral part of the heritage of Christ's Church,
the first need for Catholics is to be familiar with
that tradition
, so as to be nourished by it and to
encourage the process of unity in the best way
possible for each.
Our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters are very conscious of being the living bearers of this tradition, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. The members of the Catholic Church of the Latin tradition must also be fully acquainted with this treasure and thus feel, with the Pope, a passionate longing that the full manifestation of the Church's catholicity be restored to the Church and to the world, expressed not by a single tradition, and still less by one community in opposition to the other; and that we too may all be granted a full taste of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church which is preserved and grows in the life of the Churches of the East as in those of the West. (No I)."
Further on the Holy Father speaking of the Orthodox Churches, says:

"A particularly close link already binds us to them. We have almost everything in common; and above all, we have in common the true longing for unity. (No.3).'
These Orthodox Churches are truly our Sister Churches, we must promote in every way possible reconciliation and unity between us according to the mind of Christ and in keeping with the guidelines of the document "Unitatis Redintegratio" of the Second Vatican Council.
In the succeeding sections of this chp, what is said in reference to the conversion of those who are not Catholics does not apply to our brothers and sisters of the Orthodox Churches,


"The Church," Pope Pius XI has solemnly declared, "has no other reason for its existence than to extend over the earth the Kingdom of Christ and so to render people sharers of his saving Redemption." It is sad, therefore, that Catholics should live in the midst of multitudes who are not of the Church, and make little or no effort to win them to it! Sometimes this arises from the fact that the problem of shepherding those who are in the fold is thought so grievous that those outside it are lost sight of as part of the problem. Need one be surprised if in the end neither those inside are preserved nor those outside brought in?
Make no mistake about it. The faith must be brought to the notice of every person outside the Church. Timidity and human respect and difficulties of one kind and another must all be swallowed up in the supreme desire to share that gift of faith with those who have it not. The Gospel must be brought to every creature. The exertions to that end must be like those of people beside themselves, thought St. Francis Xavier. But others will counsel prudence. Yes, much depends on it in its true sphere, which is that of safeguarding necessary action, not crippling it. The rightful place of prudence in a system is that of brake, whereas the error is almost invariably made of supposing that it is to be the engine. And then there is surprise at the inaction. Oh there is need for those people beside themselves, who do not think in terms of selfish caution, who live above base fear, not erring into what Pope Leo XIII branded as criminal excesses: recklessness, and that so-called prudence. For souls are being swept along in the rapid flowing river of time. Delayed effort will gather in other souls - but not those souls - the abyss of eternity will have enfolded them!
"By dint of repeating that people are not ready to receive the Gospel, one would end up by not being ready to bring it to them." (Cardinal L. J. Suenens)
Persons outside the Church toss on a sea of doubt from which their hearts crave rest, but they need to be persuaded that in the Church there is really faith and calm. The first step towards convincing them must necessarily be the approaching of them. How can they understand the truth unless some man show them? (Acts 8:30-31) How can fantastic misunderstandings be dispelled if Catholics ever preserve a stately silence on the subject ? How can the opponents of the Church guess from the outward chill of Catholics the warmth of faith that lies beneath? And are they not to be excused for thinking that Catholic belief, which seldom shows any enthusiasm, is little or not at all removed from their own admitted unbelief?
There is a tendency to think that sufficient has been done when the Catholic claims have been made known by the communications media, or by the addressing of public meetings. But, in fact, the approach becomes the less effective according as it loses the personal touch. If conversions depended on the reaching of people in bulk by means such as the above, the present age of technology should also be one of conversions on a grand scale. But, instead, it is found difficult to keep even the Catholic fold intact.

No! The approach to be really effective must be an individual and intimate one! The media can be made to play an awakening or supporting part in a scheme to bring those "other sheep" to the Good Shepherd, but the centre of that scheme must be the appeal of one person to another person. According to the laws that rule the spiritual world, as Frederick Ozanam puts it, the attraction of one soul is needed to elevate another. In other words the law of charity must operate; and the gift without the giver is bare. But only too often does the individual Catholic assume an attitude of helplessness. He may think that many outside the Church are too firmly rooted in prejudices and in ignorance to be moved. Admittedly, prejudices are many, traditional, almost inborn, and hardened by education. What resources would the Catholic have to deal with such a situation? He need not fear. He possesses in the doctrine of the Church, however simply explained, a shining sword whose efficacy is best described in Cardinal Newman's noble words: "I have an intense feeling in me as to the power and victoriousness of truth. It has a blessing from God upon it. Satan himself can but retard its ascendancy; he cannot prevent it."
But also he must remember another principle to which he must not prove false: "Truth in combating error never grows angry. Error is never calm in contending with truth" (De Maistre). As has been repeatedly urged in these pages, the approach to those whom it is desired to win must be like to that which the Divine Shepherd would make in such a search. There must be nothing of the controversial, nothing overbearing. Every word must breathe humility, affection, sincerity. And actions as well as words must show forth one essential thing, that they are backed by a genuine belief. Then they will seldom be seriously resented and will never fail to leave a deep impression, which will ripen in a high proportion of cases to conversion.
"We must always remember," said Dr. Williams, former Archbishop of Birmingham, "that religion is caught, not taught. It is a flame set alight from one person to another. It is spread by love and not in any other way. We take it only from those whom we think friendly to us. Those whom we regard as indifferent or hostile cannot recommend religion to us."
If personal contact is necessary, not many cases can be dealt with by the individual worker. Therefore for many conversions many workers will be required. Legionaries must be multiplied.
As part of any scheme the following should receive attention:-

  1. The work of study should be undertaken, not for the purpose of mere controversy, but to fit oneself to assist the sincere enquirer.
  2. Existing converts should be looked up in order to ensure that they have the support of Catholic friendships, or to bring them, if suitable, into Legion membership. None will be more qualified than they to meet the difficulties of their former brethren.
  3. The following up (from lists supplied by those who specialise in instruction) of those who had embarked on a course of instruction in which they did not persevere. Experience indicates that the default is usually due, not to a loss of the desire to become Catholics, but to accidental circumstances which cause a break in the attendance; shyness or procrastination then prevents resumption.
  4. The opportunities of effective contact with people who are not Catholics are plentiful if legionaries would only act towards them in a natural Christian way. To Catholics who are in perplexity, in grief, or in trouble of any kind, the legionary would counsel prayer or would seek to induce them to read something likely to help them. He would speak to them of God's love and of the motherhood of Mary, thereby comforting them and uplifting them. Similarly effective use could be made of the oft-recurring periods of trial in the lives of people who are not Catholics, but they are not utilised. The topic of religion is taboo. Only worldly sentiments are uttered which do not console, nor show forth faith, nor accomplish anything. But let legionaries avail of those perfect opportunities of approach. At those times, when normal barriers are shaken, the spiritual words would be gratefully received and could be made to develop fruitfully.
  5. A system of one-day retreats for people who are not Catholics has been established in innumerable places. The standard form would comprise: Mass, three lectures, question session, lunch, tea, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and sometimes a film with a spoken commentary. If a Religious house can be secured it will provide the ideal atmosphere, and will dispel misunderstandings and prejudices.

The procedure has been to fix a day, and then to print invitation cards bearing on the back the time-table. Through the legionaries of the district and all other possible channels, these cards are brought to the notice of people who are not Catholics and the idea of the retreat is explained to them. There is a helpful psychology attaching to the right use of these cards. Therefore at no stage are they to be distributed indifferently in the fashion of advertising matter. Record should be kept of those to whom they are issued, and there should be a subsequent check-up on the disposal of the cards. The card must only be given to persons who afford some degree of hope that they will go on the retreat.
The taking of the card by the legionary represents the acceptance of a commission to find someone willing to make the retreat. Until this end is achieved, the card remains accusingly in one's possession, the tangible reminder of an unfulfilled commission.
It has been the custom that people who are not Catholic would be accompanied by the Catholic friend who had been instrumental in bringing him or her on the retreat. The purpose of this is to make the people who are not Catholic at home in the novel conditions, to deal with questions, and to encourage recourse to the priest during the day. Silence is not enforced. The retreats are open to both men and women. They should keep to their own purpose. Converts and neglectful Catholics should not be brought on them.
The larger the number who are approached, the larger will be the number on the retreat; and the larger the number on the retreat the larger the number received into the Church. Experience has shown that a chain of proportion runs through this sequence. Accordingly the doubling of the number of the initial contacts (which is definitely within our power) will double the number of conversions.
"That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us." (Jn 17:21)
"Take away Our Blessed Lady's contribution to the Gospel testimony, efface her testimony to Christianity, and you find not simply a link broken, but the very fastening of the whole chain wanting; not merely a gap, or a break, made in the structure, but the foundation gone. The belief in the wonders wrought in the Incarnation, the belief of ages, the belief of the world, rest upon one point of testimony, a unit, a single voice - that of the Blessed Virgin Mary." (Cardinal Wiseman: The Actions of the New Testament)


Too much time is often spent on arguments which - even if they are proved-do not attract to the Church. The aim in all discussions should be to make those outside the Church catch a glimpse of the treasures which are within. There is no more effective way of doing this than by the presentation of the doctrine of the Eucharist.
Even those who know Jesus dimly and uncomprehendingly are lost in admiration of him. On the strength of human evidence they acknowledge that he exercised an unexampled power over nature, so that the elements obeyed him; the dead returned to life; and infirmities fled at his command. He did all these things directly of his own power, because, though man, he was likewise the Eternal God himself, who made all things, whose word is might.
The Scriptures tell how once that God-man - among innumerable other wonders - accomplished the sweet miracle of the Eucharist. "Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said 'Take, eat; this is my body'." (Mt 26:26) This is a mighty scripture, but for how many has it not been a sealed one? "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?" (Jn 6:60) The objection of some even of his own disciples has echoed down through the centuries to the infinite loss of souls: "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (Jn 6:52) Those disciples could almost be pardoned for their
unbelief, for they had not grasped the real nature of him who stood in their midst. But what is it that clouds the minds of those persons who acknowledge the Divinity and hence thc omnipotence of Christ? Surely these should see how deceptive - how unthinkable therefore - it would be for that same Divine Person -- when solemnly addressing simple folk - to say "My Body," while meaning "not My Body." Let them absorb the ruthless logic of Pascal: "How I detest this folly of not believing in the Eucharist. If the gospel is true; if Jesus Christ is God; where is the difficulty in the matter?"
The challenge of so overwhelming an idea as the Eucharist cannot be heard unheeding. To hold up persistently to the notice of those who are not Catholics this crowning glory of the Church must force their minds to contemplate its possibility; so that many will reason to themselves: "If this is true, how dreadful is my present loss!" In the pang of that thought will come the first big impulse towards their true home.
Many earnest persons outside the Church read the Scriptures, and in meditation and sincere prayer seek to draw Jesus out from the dim past of history, rejoicing if their imagination creates a vivid picture of their Lord engaged in his works of love. O! if these souls could only understand that in the Church there is the wonder of the Eucharist, which could bring Jesus as he is, whole and entire, in all his physical reality, with all his Divinity, into the sphere of their present lives! If they could realise that by this means they could touch him, talk to him, contemplate him, or busy themselves about him more closely, more intimately by far than did his dear friends at Bethany! Nay more! by Holy Communion in union with Mary they could render to that Divine Body all the loving cares of a Mother, and thus, in some sense, thank him adequately for all that he has done for them. Surely the unsurpassable good of the Eucharist has only to be explained to multitudes outside the Church to cause them to yearn for light. Then Jesus will give them understanding of the things that are concerning him. Like the disciples journeying to Emmaus, their hearts will burn within them as he speaks on the way and opens to them the sense of that "hard saying" of his: "Take, eat; this is My Body." (Mt 26:26) And their eyes will be opened, and they will know him in the breaking of the Bread Divine. (Lk 24:13-35)
In this recognition of the Eucharist, the misconceptions and prejudices which chilled the understanding and darkened the view of heaven, melt away like snowflakes in a burning sun, so that he who had walked unseeing will exclaim with overflowing heart: "One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." (Jn 9:25)

"Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament is Mary receiving in her capacity as universal dispenser of grace the full and absolute disposal of the Eucharist and of the graces which it comprises. For this Sacrament is the most efficacious means of salvation, the most excellent fruit of the redemption brought by Jesus Christ. Consequently it is for her to make Jesus known and loved in this Sacrament. It is for her to spread the Eucharist all over the world, to multiply churches and to plant them among infidel peoples, to defend the belief in the Eucharist against heretics and the impious. It is her work to prepare souls for Communion, to move them to visit frequently the Blessed Sacrament and watch constantly before it. Mary is the treasury of all the graces which the Eucharist contains, of all which lead to it, of all which flow from it." (Tesnière: Mois de Notre-Dame du T. S. Sacrement)


There is the awful problem of irreligion on a great scale. In very many of the world's centres of population entire districts, which are nominally Catholic, are leading lives in which Mass or the sacraments or even prayer play no part whatsoever. In one such case, a survey discovered only 75 practising Catholics out of a total population of 20,000. In another case, 400 attended Mass out of 30,000, and in another 40,000 out of 900,000. Only too frequently the irreligion of such areas is left to fester and to grow in peace. No effort worthy of the name is made to deal with it. It is argued that direct approach would be fruitless or would be resented, and perhaps prove dangerous. And, strange to say, such arguments are accepted even by those who think it natural that missionaries should go to the ends of the earth to face danger and even death.
The saddest thing about such places is that the clergy are practically debarred from that direct approach. One of the dire complications of the frenzy of irreligion is that its victims turn against their fathers in God and drive them from them. Here is the unique value of the Legion. It represents the priest and carries through his plans; yet it is of the people, so that it cannot be kept at arm's length. It lives the life of the people, so that the irreligious cannot destroy its work. Nor can they prevent its approach by the smoke-screen of lies, which can so easily be raised against a separated order like the clergy
What can they give in return for their life? (Mk 8:37) What effort shall a man make for the salvation of his neighbour? Assuredly, it must be a supreme effort - even to the peril of death, were such necessary. Those great irreligious areas must be evangelised with no less determination than are the far-distant mission fields. It is not suggested that those who cry "hopeless", or those who allege "danger", should be entirely ignored. Possibly something they say will conduce to the success and to the safety of the Legion campaign. But in no circumstances should any word of theirs be allowed to paralyse that attack. Great faith must be shown if mountains of evil are to be removed: faith akin to that referred to by St. Ignatius of Loyola when he said that so great was his trust in God that he was prepared to commit himself to the deep in an oarless, sailless skiff.
It will be found that martyrdom does not await the legionaries, but that a remarkable degree of success does await them. A fair number of souls are actually waiting for the first direct appeal to them.
A method of approach. - In conditions such as those supposed, where the most elemental obligations of religion are being ignored, the first efforts of the legionaries might be applied to the emphasising of that great central requirement - attendance at Mass. Let a leaflet be secured which sets out in simple but effective language the beauty and power of the Mass. If the leaflet bears a coloured picture illustrative of its subject, its effect will be enhanced. Armed with a supply of these, the legionaries will undertake a home to home visitation. To each person who will accept one, a copy of the leaflet is given, accompanied, if possible, by a gentle exhortation on devotion to the Mass. Legionaries need not be reminded that their attitude in all circumstances must be one of infinite sweetness and patience; never one of mere interrogation; never one of rebuking neglect.
Rebuffs at first may be many, but these will be compensated for by many immediate successes. The ordinary methods of Legion visitation will be followed, the underlying idea being the effort to establish relations of true friendship with the persons visited. That gained, almost everything is gained.
Each individual case of resumption of the practice of religion must be regarded as soldiers would view the capture of a point of vantage in war, for each one will bring others. As the captures grow in number, public opinion will begin to suffer modification. All in the area are observing the legionaries. All are talking, criticising, thinking; and hearts that were chill begin to burn. Year will follow year, each with its substantial list of captures. For many years the general attitude of the populace towards religion will seem to be unchanged. Then, just as a touch causes an ant-eaten fabric, which looked sound, to fall suddenly into dust, some event reveals that the hearts of the people have
returned to God.
The result of effort. - Of a certain town, with a population of 50,000, it could be said that hardly any were practising their religion. This condition of neglect was complicated by abnormalities of every kind. A priest could not pass through many districts without insult. A praesidium was started in a spirit of faith, and the apparently hopeless task of visitation was embarked upon. All were surprised by an immediate flow of results, increasing in number and in importance as the legionaries gained numbers and experience. After three years of unexpected success, the Church authorities were emboldened to call for a General Communion of men, and ventured to hope for an attendance of 200. The actual number that participated was 1,100, showing that the entire population had been stirred to its depths by the three years' apostolate. Plainly, the end is already in sight, so that the next generation in that town will be born into a changed order of things. Holiness will reign where once the Mass had been universally scorned and its ministers were derided. Other places, similarly circumstanced, should seek a remedy in the same way.
"Jesus answered them, 'Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea', and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mk 11:22-24)


The Mission situation
Missionary activity here refers to that directed to peoples and groups who do not know Christ or believe in him - among whom the Church has not yet taken root and whose culture is untouched by Christianity.
In those to be evangelised there exist wide differences in levels of culture, education and social conditions. Even within the boundaries of one country, one can find both densely populated cities and scattered rural communities. There can be contrasts of rich and poor, highly educated and unschooled, diversity of ethnic and language groups.
The number of people on the global scale who do not know Christ is expanding faster than the number of true believers.
Into this vast field enters the missionary: priest, religious or layperson. Coming from outside, they are hindered by differences of race, language and culture. Experience and training will ease but hardly remove these handicaps.
In a newly opened-up territory their task is to establish local Christian communities which will eventually grow into self-supporting Churches, intended in turn to evangelise.
Initially, they will endeavour quickly to make a wide range of contacts and friends. Where possible, they will establish needed services, such as schools and medical clinics, to give Christian witness and facilitate contacts. From converts will be selected catechists and other Church personnel.
The missionary or local catechist can only instruct those who want it. Creating that desire is, properly speaking, convert-making. Under God, it normally comes from contact with a Catholic layperson and only later with a priest. It is a gradual growth in friendship and confidence. "I came because I know a Catholic", inquirers are wont to tell a priest.
To the hard-pressed missionary, the Legion offers itself as a tried and tested instrument for winning converts and ensuring their perseverance. Local in membership, with missionary leaders initially as Spiritual Director, it will instruct, form and move new converts to evangelise continually and systematically. Unlike the missionary, its members do not penetrate society from the outside. They are already there, able, with due formation, to act as light, salt and leaven in the community, in the manner of the first Christians.

Legion expansion
As the number and quality of legionaries grow, it will be necessary, in order to ensure proper training, to increase the number of praesidia. Perhaps the Directors may be able to assume control of more than one praesidium each. Perhaps too, it may be possible to utilise catechists and other experienced persons in the capacity of Presidents for the training and inspiring of praesidia. Each new praesidium means ten to twenty soldiers of the faith in action.
Success in the policy of multiplying praesidia would mean then in the course of time each priest would be organising the efforts of a great number of apostolic workers. The result would be that he would veritably play in all but the supreme functions a part analogous to that of a diocesan bishop. As for the bishop, he would find himself in possession of an innumerable and irresistible hierarchy of workers for the faith, through whom he would be able to preach the gospel to every person in his territory.
What is here proposed is not an untried plan but the fruit of many years of successful experience of evangelisation on the mission fields under varied conditions.

A definite duty for each legionary
In the plan proposed, a well defined sphere of action would be assigned to each legionary. Each area of work would be surveyed and reduced to terms of individual duties for assignment to the legionaries, each one of whom would be held strictly responsible for their proper performance. Legionaries must be made to realise that in the discharge of their duties they freely place themselves at the disposal of the priest. Through him they are in communion with the Church's mission. One of the main objects of the Legion system will be the bringing home of this responsibility to each legionary, and the fitting of each one to bear it creditably.
Among the duties found suitable for legionaries in the mission situation are:
(a) preparing the missionary's periodic visits to isolated stations;
(b) instructing catechumens and seeking new ones and encouraging their regular attendance;
(c) encouraging careless and lapsed Catholics to return to the full practice of the faith;
(d) conducting para-liturgical services;
(e) acting as Extraordinary Ministers;
(f) caring for the spiritual needs of the dying and for their Christian burial. Local needs will suggest other examples of spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Must legionaries be advanced in religious knowledge?
The degree of knowledge depends on the kind of work required. Certainly for winning converts and encouraging their perseverance a basic knowledge of the faith suffices. This is amply illustrated by the rapid spread of the Church in its early days. In many cases conversions were brought about by the little, feeble and oppressed members of that powerful, rich and enlightened society in which they lived. Here we do not speak of formal instruction, which is always necessary, but of the effort of one heart to pour its supreme possession into another heart. It is accomplished most effectively when like deals with like, but experience shows that social barriers can be readily crossed. Each convinced Catholic, however imperfect his knowledge has a certain mental picture of his faith and possesses the capacity to convey this impression to the mind of another whom he seeks to influence. But he will not exercise that capacity unless moved to do so by force of organisation or other strong impulse. The Legion system provides that driving force through motivation and apostolic assignments. As a result of his formation, a member on his own initiative is likely to be on the lookout for opportunities to communicate his faith.

The Legion means Mary at work
The introduction of the Legion means the application to the work of the mission of two great forces: (a) the principle of methodical organisation, which is always attended by increase in interest and power; and (b) that most potent element, the mother-influence of Mary, which is attracted in fulness by the Marian system of the Legion, and is lavished on souls through the medium of its intensive apostolate. In very fact, the spreading of the light of faith cannot be accomplished other than in concert with her. Efforts over which she does not preside are like the oil without the lamp. Perhaps it is an insufficient appreciation of this fact that accounts for the rarity of magnificent conquests for the faith today. In earlier ages whole peoples were rapidly converted. St. Cyril of Alexandria did not hesitate to declare at the Council of Ephesus in 431 that it was by Mary that they were all won to Christ. Moreover, the great patron of the missions, St. Francis Xavier, gave it as his own experience that wherever he omitted to place at the foot of the Saviour's Cross the figure of the Divine Mother, those countries revolted against the gospel which he had brought to them.
If, through the legionary apostolate, this most fruitful action of Mary can be enabled to exert itself in the mission fields, why should not those days, referred to by St. Cyril, come once again on earth, so that whole territories and nations will put aside their errors and joyfully embrace the Christian faith?
"How foolish the presumption, or how sublime and heavenly the inspiration, which has now taken possession of those fishermen? Consider for a moment their enterprise. Never has prince, or empire, or republic conceived so lofty a plan. Without any apparent chance of human aid, these Galileans partitioned out the whole world for future conquest. They formed a determined plan to change the religion established all over the world, whether false or in part true - whether Jewish or Gentile. They desired to establish a new worship, a new sacrifice, a new law, because said they, a certain Man whom men crucified at Jerusalem so ordained it." (Boussuet)


The ambition to get in touch with every soul must begin with those near at hand. It must not stop there but should proceed to symbolic steps far beyond the sphere of normal life. That purpose is facilitated by the legionary movement known as the Peregrinatio Pro Christo. This name is adopted from the missionary epic of the Monks of the West, immortalised in Montalembert's classic. "That invincible multitude went forth from their own country and from their kindred and out of their father's house." (Gen 12:1) and traversed Europe in the sixth and seventh centuries, rebuilding the faith which the fall of the Roman Empire had brought down with it.
In the same idealism the Peregrinatio Pro Christo sends teams of legionaries, who have the time and means to spend limited periods in distant places where the religious conditions are bad, on "the delicate, difficult, unpopular mission of revealing that Christ is the Saviour of the world. It must be undertaken by the people." (Pope Paul VI) Nearby places do not qualify for the Peregrinatio Pro Christo. If possible it should be to a different country.
This assertion, even for as little as a week or two, of the principle of travelling and venturing for the faith can transform legionary thinking and strike the imagination of all.


Indeed generous hearts in many instances will not be content with giving just a week or two but will wish to offer a more substantial term of service away from home. Such legionaries who can secure for themselves a means of livelihood in the place in view and who can stay away for as much as six months, a year or even more without detriment to family or other commitments, may be appointed by the Concilium or a Senatus or Regia to such a missionary assignment for an appropriate period. The concurrence of the authorities of the place in view is, of course, necessary. These volunteers are known as Incolae Mariae, a word expressive of their temporary sojourn in a distant place, in a spirit of immolation through Mary.


Exploratio Dominicalis is the term by which is known what might be called a mini-Peregrinatio and which might be translated as the Sunday search for souls.
Every praesidium in the world is urged, if possible as a body, to devote at least one Sunday in the year to an expedition
to some place - possibly a problem area - at a little distance away, but at the same time not so far as to absorb undue time in travelling. The Exploratio need not be limited to one day; two or three days might be found possible. Exploratio Dominicalis enables the majority (in many cases all) of the members of a praesidium to undertake such a venture. It is recognised that even with the best of will, the Peregrinatio Pro Christo itself is not a possibility for the majority of legionaries.Experience shows that it is necessary to stress, what the Concilium has repeatedly emphasised, that is, that Exploratio Dominicalis is essentially a praesidium project. Councils and praesidia are asked to keep this point in mind when Exploratio Dominicalis is being organised.