Spiritual fruit: Humility
Through her humble submission to God’s will at the Annunciation, the Blessed Mother was granted the most exalted role of any creature in salvation history. God willed to save humanity through the cooperation of a young girl — it was only after Mary said “Yes” to the Angel Gabriel that Jesus was conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit. Through this act of humility, Mary accepted the Incarnation on mankind’s behalf and became the Mother of God.
In meditating on the Annunciation, we recognize the power that God can bestow on our actions when we act in humble submission to Him. Through Mary’s simple “Yes,” Jesus was born fully God and fully man in order to take away our sins and adopt us as sons of God. And, because of that same “Yes,” Jesus gave us his mother Mary as our own mother as well.
As members of the Legion of Mary, we always seek to imitate Mary’s “Yes” to God and to likewise do His will by the Holy Spirit. Like Mary, we strive to live a balanced life of prayer and action. By seeking to imitate Mary, we hope to embody the humility that allowed her to do the greatest things for the glory of God.
Spiritual fruit: Love of Neighbor
Imagine the depth of love necessary to convince you to walk fifty miles through the dangerous countryside, alone, to assist an elderly family member who had miraculously found herself with child. Now imagine doing so when you are, yourself, a young woman bearing a child in your own womb.
Mary’s cousin, St. Elizabeth, was very old and had believed herself barren until she conceived St. John the Baptist. When she learned of this, Mary went out in haste both to assist her cousin with her physical needs and to share the presence of Jesus the Lord with her and the son she bore in her womb. Through this double visitation, St. John the Baptist was cleansed of his sin; later, St. John would himself prepare the way for Jesus.
As members of the Legion of Mary, we seek to imitate Mary by sharing the presence of Jesus with others. We visit the elderly in nursing homes, pray the Rosary with others, arrange Days of Evangelization, and participate in Home Enthronements of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Visiting from home to home, face to face, we bring the love of Jesus to those in our parishes and in our communities.
Spiritual fruit: Detachment
Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was the first time God became visible to mankind. The shepherds and the wise men, representative of all mankind, were led to adore Him by a host of angels and by the sign of a star. Herod, believing Jesus to be an earthly king, sought to kill him.
And yet, the child adored by the shepherds and the wise men was born not as a prince in a palace but as a peasant in a stable. Through his humble beginnings, our Lord teaches us the value of detachment from the things of this world for the sake of heavenly things.
As members of the Legion of Mary, we seek to advance the Kingdom of God and to build an army for the Lord. In doing so, we have no interest in making an earthly kingdom or army to impose its will on others. Rather, we promote a heavenly kingdom and army commanded by a heavenly King and Queen who willingly chose detachment while on Earth for our sake. All mankind is meant to adore Jesus not out of fear but out of love.
Spiritual fruit: Obedience
In the Judaism of Jesus’ day, the fortieth day of a firstborn male child’s life served as an act of reintegration into society for both the child and his mother. Under the law of Moses, a firstborn child, much like the firstfruits of one’s crops and one’s herds, was considered to be holy to the Lord and would be presented before the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem for either consecration or redemption. At the same time, his mother would present herself at the Temple for purification, as the act of giving birth would have rendered her ritually unclean.
Neither of these rituals were, strictly speaking, necessary for either Jesus or Mary. Jesus remained consecrated to the Father throughout his life; in fact, the Gospel of Luke does not make it clear that the price for his redemption was even paid. Mary, likewise, did not require purification, as she was free from sin from the moment of her conception.
And yet, unnecessary as they may have been, both Jesus and Mary submitted to the requirements of the law out of obedience. Jesus was presented to the Father as a sign of his consecration, and Mary offered two doves as a sacrifice for an impurity she never bore.
As members of the Legion, we seek to live out the sort of obedience to God demonstrated by Jesus and Mary at the Presentation. We work to help others accept with obedience the sacrifices they are called to make and to obey God’s call to offer our own sacrifices, regardless of how “unnecessary” they may seem, in union with the Cross of Christ.
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
Spiritual fruit: Perseverance
When Jesus was twelve years old, the Holy Family once again visited the Temple in Jerusalem. Even at such a young age, Jesus could not pass up an opportunity to be about his Father’s business, and he discussed God with the priests and learned men in the Temple even as his family began to make their way out of the city.
Imagine the fear that must have gripped the hearts of Mary and Joseph as they realized that their only son had gone missing! In spite of their desperate search, it took three long days before they finally found Him in the Temple — an early mirror to the three day period between His death and resurrection years later.
As members of the Legion, we seek to demonstrate the sort of perseverance that Mary and Joseph demonstrated in their tireless search for their Son. And, like Mary and Joseph, our search must always lead us to the Temple, the earthly image of heaven and the sign of Christ’s body, the Church. We must never tire of calling those around us into the Church, little by little, and from the Church further on towards holiness and heaven.