What Makes the Legion Unique and Precious?
Someone might say, “Why bother to join the Legion at all? Isn’t it just a collection of prayers and actions that anyone can do? The Rosary is wonderful, but we can do it by ourselves. Visiting people in the parish who are sick or homebound is great, but we can do that with our without the pastor’s oversight. All the other works of the Legion can be handled in the parish.”
The reason the Legion is unique is that we are explicitly giving our prayers, our actions, our will and our lives to Mary. No other active lay group in the church does that. We are assigned work by the president and report on it in the spirit of obedience. There is no other lay group that does the spiritual works of mercy in Mary’s name in explicit obedience.*
The Legion of Mary is the largest lay group in the church. Perhaps it is the largest because people know in their gut that we should give our lives to Mary, since the life of Jesus came through Mary. Jesus was conceived in her, and God is not a miserly giver. He does not give a role to someone and then take it back. He did not discard her after she gave birth to Jesus.
In the Legion, by consecration everything to Mary, we do explicitly what everyone should do. Perhaps they do not know or understand Mary’s role in giving us grace. Many people love Mary, so they implicitly do what we do in the Legion explicitly. We spell it out. Giving ourselves to Mary is not so much an obligation as a joy, because Mary helps us conquer our pride. By giving ourselves, our prayers and our activities to Mary we take our name and our ego out of the work. When we do an assigned work out of obedience, we are not using our own will, but Mary’s will through the higher Councils of the Legion down to every member of the smallest Praesidium (group).
As we said,
There is no other lay group that does the spiritual works of mercy in Mary’s name in explicit obedience.
That explicit obedience makes all the difference. Pride is directly opposed to the virtue of humility. There is no other way for a lay person to get rid of spiritual pride unless they give over their obedience to to Mary. Obedience to Mary is more humble than obedience to Jesus, because she is only human. The secret of Mary is that she has a sinless human nature only, not a divine nature like Jesus. If they only give their works over to Jesus, they still can be proud of themselves for being obedient to God, which is spiritual pride.
Someone once asked, what are the three greatest virtues? And answered, “humility, humility, humility.” We can also say what are the three greatest sins? And we answer, “Pride, Pride, and Pride.”**
More on the unique role of the Legion:
“The most profound justification for promoting the Legion is because it can make saints. No other justification is really needed.”Fr. Bede
The underlying reason for our need for Mary and Jesus is sin and mercy.
- *Determined by a review of the current international associations of the faithful, on the Vatican website. Foculare, Totus Tuus, and the Claretian and Marist lay groups are also explicitly Marian in character, but have no explicit assignments in public documents available.
- See: International Public Associations of the Faithful
- **“St Augustine wrote, ‘If you ask me what is the most essential element in the teaching and morality of Jesus Christ, I would answer you: the first is humility, the second is humility, and the third is humility.’”