Mobile Book Racks

“[Mary,] the world can find no helper more powerful than thee. It has its apostles, prophets, martyrs, confessors, virgins, good helpers to whom I pray. But thou my Queen, art higher than all these intercessors. That which they can all do with thee, thou alone canst do without them. And why? Because thou art the Mother of Our Saviour. If thou art silent, no one will pray, no one will come to help us. If thou prayest, all will pray, all will help.”

St. Anselm: Oratio Eccl.

One of the Legion’s premiere forms of evangelization takes the form of mobile book racks known as “book barrows.”

Book barrows can be set up either in the parish or on the street. The books and pamphlets included in the book barrows can be given away free or sold at cost. What’s important is the unique opportunity that book barrows offer to draw people closer to the faith.

From the Handbook:


Legionaries might conduct a book-barrow or a portable bookstall in a public place, preferably in or near some busy street. Experience has shown the immense value of this as a legionary work. There is no more efficacious way of carrying on a comprehensive apostolate directed to the good, the mediocre, and the bad, or of bringing the Church to the notice of the unthinking many. Therefore the Legion earnestly desires that in every large centre there should be at least one of these. 

It should be made so as to afford the greatest possible display of titles. It should be stocked with an abundant supply of inexpensive religious publications. Legionaries would form the staff. 

Besides those whose primary purpose is to look through the stock with a view to purchase, almost every type of person will be drawn towards this. Catholics desirous to talk with their co-religionists; the thoughtless and the indifferent, killing time or led by curiosity; the mildly-interested who are not of the Church, and who would be reluctant to place themselves more directly in touch with it. All these will enter into conversation with the gentle and sympathetic legionaries in charge, who should be trained to look upon the enquiries and purchases as so many openings for the establishment of friendly contact. The latter will be utilised to lead on all of those encountered to a higher plane of thought and action. Catholics would be induced to join “something Catholic.” Non-Catholics would be helped towards an understanding of the Church. One person will leave determined to undertake daily Mass and Holy Communion; another to become a legionary, active – or auxiliary, or a Patrician; a third to make his peace with God; another bearing in his heart the seeds of conversion to the Church. Visitors to town will be interested in the Legion (which otherwise they might not see), and may be induced to start it in their own places. 

Legionaries are encouraged, however, not to wait passively for people to come to them at the Barrow. They should not hesitate to approach people in the vicinity, not necessarily for the purpose of selling more literature, but in order to establish a contact, which can be used as described in the preceding paragraph. 

It should be unnecessary to remind legionaries that the persevering following up of the introductions and friendships initiated is a necessary part of the whole work. 

The proposal to start such a work will always elicit the objection that exceptionally well-versed Catholics would be required to do it, and are not available. It is true that special knowledge of Catholic Doctrine would be most useful. But the lack of this need not deter legionaries from starting. For the personal appeal will be the great consideration. As Ven. John Henry Newman says: “Persons influence us, voices melt us, deeds inflame us. We are not converted by syllogisms.” In a word, earnestness and sweetness are more important than deep knowledge. The latter is inclined to lure those who possess it into deep water and tortuous channels which lead nowhere, whereas a candid confession of one’s weakness: ‘I do not know, but I can find out’, will keep a discussion on bedrock. 

It will be found that the vast bulk of the difficulties which are voiced spring from a great ignorance, and that the ordinary legionary is well able to deal with them. Less simple points will be brought to the praesidium or to the Spiritual Director. 

Attacks on the Church on the score of evil-doing, persecution, and lack of zeal could be argued indefinitely, and hopelessly confuse the issue. An element of truth may underlie some charges, and thus add complication to confusion. To satisfy the hostile critic on these and all other minor points of dispute is completely impossible, even if great erudition is enlisted in the task. The course to be taken by the legionary must be that of persistently reducing the discussion to its very simplest elements: that of insisting that God must have left to the world a message — what men call a religion: that such religion, being God’s voice, absolutely must be one, clear, consistent, unerring, and must claim divine authority. 

These characteristics are to be found only in the Catholic Church. There is no other body or system which even claims to possess them. Outside the Church, there is only contradiction and confusion, so that, as Ven. John Henry Newman crushingly puts it: “Either the Catholic religion is verily the coming of the unseen world into this, or that there is nothing positive, nothing dogmatic whither we are going.” 

There must be a true Church. There can be only one true Church. Where is it, if it is not the Catholic Church?

Like blows, ever directed to one spot, this simple line of approach to the Truth has over-whelming effect. Its force is manifest to the simple. It is unanswerable in the heart of the more learned, though he may continue to talk of the sins of the Church. Remind such a one briefly but gently that he proves too much. His objections tell at least as much against any other religious system as they do against the Church. If he proves the Church to be false by proving that Churchmen did wrong, then he has only succeeded in proving that there is no true religion in the world. 

The day has gone when a Protestant would claim that his own particular sect had a monopoly of the truth. Nowadays he would more modestly contend that all Churches possess a portion or facet of the truth. But a portion is not enough. That claim is equivalent to an assertion that there is no known truth and no way of finding it. For if a Church has certain doctrines that are true and therefore others that are untrue, what means are there of recognising which is which; when we pick, we may take the ones that are untrue! Therefore the church which says of its doctrines: “Some of these are true”, is no help, no guide for the way. It has left you exactly where you were without it. 

So, let it be repeated until the logic penetrates: There can be but one true Church; which must not contradict itself, which must possess the whole truth; and which must be able to tell the difference between what is true and what is false.