The Legion of Mary was founded in Dublin, Ireland on 7 September 1921. It is a lay catholic organization whose members are giving service to the Church on a voluntary basis in almost every country.

The object of the Legion of Mary is the glory of God through the holiness of its members developed by prayer and active co-operation in Mary’s and the Church’s work.

The unit of the Legion of Mary is called a praesidium, which holds a weekly meeting, where prayer is intermingled with reports and discussion. Persons who wish to join the Legion must apply for membership in a Praesidium.

The Legion sees as its priority the spiritual and social welfare of each individual. The members participate in the life of the parish through visitation of families, the sick, both in their homes and in hospitals and through collaboration in every apostolic and missionary undertaking sponsored by the parish.

Every legionary is required to carry out a weekly apostolic work in the spirit of faith and in union with Mary.

WHAT DOES IT DO?

Members become instruments of the Holy Spirit through a balanced program of prayer and service. Works include door-to-door evangelization, parishioner visitation, prison ministry, visitation of the sick or aged, crowd contact, religious education, visiting the newly baptized, Pilgrim Virgin Statue rotations, and meeting the other spiritual needs of the parish community. Legionaries are under the guidance of a spiritual director named by the pastor. The Legion is, in essence, an extension of the heart and hands of the pastor.

WHAT WOULD BE EXPECTED OF ME?

 

ACTIVE members meet weekly (about 1 1/2 hrs.) with their Spiritual Director usually in a parish to pray, to report on and to receive a work assignment. A minimum of two hours work is assigned by the President and approved by the Spiritual Director or pastor. Legionaries are required to preserve absolute secrecy in regard to sensitive matters discussed or learned at the meeting or in their work. Active members recite daily the Catena (the Magnificat, prayers of the Legion). The work of a praesidium varies from place to place but members always go out in pairs to meet people. Newer members are instructed by the master-apprentice method. Ideally, the praesidium will hold evangelization/conversion contacts as its highest priority with conservation of the Faith and consoling works following. A partial list of works includes:

  1. Instructing and preparing others to receive the Sacraments
  2. Teaching the Catholic faith to children or adults
  3. Assisting the pastor with conducting a census of his area
  4. Visiting jail inmates, the hospitalized, the homebound sick or elderly, or residents of nursing homes
  5. Distributing rosaries, medals, Catholic literature in a crowd contact area

AUXILIARY members, the praying wing of the Legion of Mary, are lay faithful, priests, or religious unable to assume the duties of active membership. They recite daily the prayers of the Tessera, namely: the Invocation and prayers of the Holy Spirit, 5 decades of the Rosary, the Catena, and the prayers described as ‘concluding prayers’. Auxiliary members are contacted at least once a year by active members of their attached praesidium. An invitation is extended to Acies, the annual ceremony of re-consecration to Mary, Queen of the Legion, held around March 25th, the Annunciation. Auxiliaries are honored with a special function around September 8th, the birth of Our Blessed Mother.

Praetorians: This is a higher grade of active membership. In addition to their duties as active members, Pretorians pray the Rosary, the Divine Office and go to Holy Mass daily.

Adjutorians: A higher grade of auxiliary membership.  Adjutorians additionally pray the Divine Office and go to Holy Mass daily.

Praetorians and Adjutors do not have higher status or higher rank inside the Legion system.  The meaning of these grades is only a desire for a more devotional life, not for higher status.  Entering the grade is done by registering with a list of Praetorians/Adjutors and by subsequently observing their duties.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Members meet once a week for prayer, planning and discussion in a family setting. Then they do two hours of definite work each week in pairs and under the guidance of their spiritual director.

WHO CAN BELONG?

To be in the Legion of Mary, one must be a practicing Catholic. Active members serve God under the banner of Mary by practicing the Spiritual Works of Mercy. The main apostolate of the Legion consists in activities directed towards all men and women, young and old, rich and poor as well as people from the margins of society (homeless, prostitutes, prisoners etc.) and towards non-Catholics. The members of the Legion are primarily engaged in the performance of the Spiritual Works of Mercy rather than works of material aid.

Membership is open to all baptized Catholics. After visiting a praesidium a few times, one can join the legion as a probationary member. This probationary membership lasts for three months, after which he or she has to decide whether to join the Legion as an active member permanently. During the probationary period, probationary members learn about the legion system by reading the Handbook of the Legion of Mary and its active works by listening to reports of active works undertaken by fellow legionaries. At the end of probationary period, members say an oath of “Legion promise”, a pledge of allegiance to the Holy Spirit and to Mary, in order to become a permanent active member. Membership in the Legion of Mary is essentially based on discipline and commitment. Members devote their time and prayer for the intentions of Mary, Mother of God. Members can withdraw from the Legion by informing the president of his or her praesidium.

The Legion of Mary is open to all Catholics who:

  1. Faithfully practice their religion;
  2. Are animated by the desire to participate in the Church’s apostolate through membership in the Legion;
  3. Are prepared to fulfill each and every duty which active membership in the Legion involves

HOW DO I START?

The first step is to be a guest at a meeting of the Legion of Mary. Guests are always welcome and can go on one of the work assignments with an experienced member if they choose. If there is no Legion of Mary in your parish, you can participate in a group in another parish until you can start one of your own with the assistance of other Legionaries and in cooperation with the pastor.

The Structure

One could loosely explain that the reason as to why it is described as a “Legion” is due to the fact that it is structured after the Roman Army. The smallest unit comprises of 3-20 members and is called a Praesidium which generally holds weekly meetings at your local parish. The Curia is the next level up and its job is to oversee several Praesidia. Next comes the Comitium which supervises several Curiae which can cover either a city or part of a province. The Regia comes after that and is in charge of an entire state or province. Next comes the Senatus which controls the Regiae which can span an entire country. The highest level would be the Concilium which has reign over the whole Legion and is located in Dublin, Ireland.

Personally, what I favor the most about the Legion Of Mary is the mandatory reporting of your good deeds at the weekly meetings. It holds all of us accountable for what the Legion Of Mary stands for – to love and serve God under the standard of Mary.

Meetings generally consist of recitation of introductory prayers to the Holy Spirit and Mary including the 5 decades of the Rosary, all prayers of the Tessera and a spiritual reading. Next order of business are the announcements of the administration and member reports alongside study and discussion of the Legion handbook. Afterwards the Catena Legionis is prayed and the Spiritual Director following up with a short sermon. In the end, new tasks for the legionaries are appointed and each meeting ends with the concluding prayers of the Tessera and a prayer for Frank Duff’s beatification.

If you are looking to become more spiritual, this is definitely the way to do it. The Legion Of Mary provides a means of living out God’s Will in a structured, well organized and accountable way.

WHAT IS A PRAESIDIUM?

The basic unit of the Legion of Mary is called a praesidium. This Latin word was used to designate a detachment of the Roman Legion performing special duty such as a section of a military line, a fortified post, or a garrison. Each praesidium is named after a title of Our Blessed Lady, for example, Our Lady of Mercy, or from one of her privileges, for example, The Immaculate Conception, or from an event in her life, for example, The Visitation. No praesidium should be established in any parish without the consent of the parish priest or of the Ordinary (Bishop). The members hold a meeting every week under the guidance of a Spiritual Director and each member is assigned a work to be performed during the week.

“Legionary duty requires from each legionary:

  1. First, the punctual and regular attendance at the weekly meetings of the praesidium, and the furnishing there of an adequate and audible report on the work done;
  2. Second, the daily recitation of the Catena;
  3. Third, the performance of a substantial active legionary work, in the spirit of faith, and in union with Mary, in such fashion that in those worked for and in one’s fellow-members, the Person of our Lord is once again seen and served by Mary, his Mother;
  4. Fourth, absolute respect for the confidential nature of many matters discussed at the meeting or learned in connection with the legionary work.”

Ten Reasons to Join the Legion of Mary

  1. Joining the Legion of Mary can help grow hair

    A true story concerns the late Father Francis Ripley of Liverpool, England.

    Father wanted to start the Legion in the hospital and was recruiting members.  One German patient had been in an explosion in a tank and had lost all his hair which had never grown back.  Fr. Ripley asked him to join the Legion of Mary.

    The solider asked Father whether the Blessed Mother would help his hair grow back if he joined and Fr. Ripley said that he would not be surprised if that happened.  Three months later this German Legionary had the most beautiful head of blond hair!

    The principle is that Our Lord and Our Lady are never outdone in generosity.  If we sacrifice some time, effort or energy doing their work, they always give something in return.

  2. The Legion of Mary is a School for Saints

    Frank Duff, the founder of the Legion of Mary, once said that “the Legion makes saints and makes them by the bushel.”  When we consider that an organization only 85 years old already has five lay members whose cause for canonization has been introduced, is truly amazing.

    If we want to become good at something, we have to practice it every week, such as a sport, a hobby, a musical instrument.  If we want to “get good” at holiness, we must practice it every week as well.  And the Legion gives us that opportunity; it provides an ideal expression of the Catholic vocation.  It is a unique privilege and great blessing to be counted in its membership.

  3. Join the Legion of Mary and Fulfill Canon Law

    Canon Law is the rulebook of the Catholic Church.  Canon 225 obliges us to be apostolic: “Since all lay people are assigned to the apostolate by baptism and confirmation, they are bound by the general obligation and they have the right, whether as individuals or organizations or in associations, to strive so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all people throughout the world.”

    Legion of Mary membership makes it actually easy to follow the rules and be a good Catholic, but it does more: the Legion offers a proven method and motivation for sanctity, thus fulfilling Canon 210 which states: “All Christian faithful must make an effort, in accord with their own condition, to live a holy life and to promote the growth of the Church and its sanctification.

  4. The Legion of Mary Keeps Its Members Young

    This can’t be found in Canon Law but it can be shown nonetheless.  For example, Fr. Aedan McGrath, official Legion visitor to the Far East, is 92 years old, still active and looks to be about 75.

    Frank Duff, founder of the Legion, was still riding his bicycle at age 91.  (In fact, he never drove a car after his first ride, when the engine exploded!)  The Legion kept him young in spirit and in body.

    There are some little old ladies in Philadelphia who, in their nineties, are still doing their Legion work of going door to door.  The Legion continues to keep them young.

  5. The Legion of Mary Teaches the Catholic Faith

    During the weekly Legion meeting spiritual formation is found in the rosary, in the Legion prayers, in the spiritual reading and discussion, and in the talk by the spiritual director.  Additional help comes from the wisdom and apostolic techniques learned from the reports which are presented and discussed.

    Every time legionaries come together for a meeting it is as if they are gathered at the cenacle with Our Lady, as in the days of the first apostles.  Every Legion meeting becomes the Upper Room where modern-day apostles gather together in a cenacle of prayer with Mary, asking the Holy Spirit to come upon them so that they can do great things for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

  6. Join the Legion of Mary and Make Friends

    The Legion’s main purpose is the holiness of the members.  It improves our “vertical” relationship we have with God and the Blessed Mother, but it also enriches the “horizontal” relationship of friends we gain as we live the Legion way of life.

    The Legion can help develop wonderful life-long friendships with like minded Catholics. It is also a great place to meet a future spouse. One Legion council in Cork, Ireland reported five marriages from one Legion group alone. It soon became the most popular group in all of Ireland. Another, Legion group in Virginia (USA) reported 6 marriages in two years –equal to over half its average membership over those two years.

  7. Join the Legion of Mary as a Means of Tithing

    In Scripture, tithing generally refers to the gift of ten percent of our finances to God.  This principle should be applied to our time and effort as well.  The Legion provides a good jump-start on this by requiring that about four hours each week be set aside, which is only two percent of our time.  Scripture says that when you tithe, God’s blessing to you will be far greater than your generosity to Him.

    Therefore, as we give time to our Lord and His Mother, they bless us in many ways and we find even more time and more blessings in life.  So we are encouraged to consider the tithing principle not only for finances but also for time. The aim is to spend time serving God through Catholic living and the active apostolate.

  8. Joining the Legion of Mary Will Help You Face Judgment Day

    What a great blessing it would be to hear Jesus say to us “Come, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for when I was sick in the nursing home, you Legionaries visited Me.  When I was in prison, you came to see Me.  When I was hungry for the Truth, you brought Me back to the Church.  When I was thirsty for love, you came and comforted Me.”

    The spiritual works of mercy – the Legion of Mary’s primary program of works, such as encouraging people to come back to the sacraments, helping to get children baptized, making the Catholic Church known to others – will be even more important than the corporal works of mercy (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked) because the soul, unlike the body, is eternal and will last forever in either heaven or hell.

  9. Join the Legion of Mary and Save Souls

    This is what life on earth is all about and it  has its basis in the Letter of James, chapter 5, verse 19:  “Brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that who ever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

    Therefore, if you help to bring back a fallen away Catholic, or bring a convert into the Catholic religion – if you are God’s instrument to do that – the Bible says that you will cover a multitude of sins and save your own soul from death as well.  The Legion, with its program of works which includes the friendly encouraging of the lapsed to live again their Catholic Faith ensures its members of this future blessing.

  10. Join the Legion of Mary and Masses will be Said For Your Soul

    At present, throughout the world, there are approximately 600,000 Legion groups and by rule, each group has a Mass said for all deceased Legionaries in the month of November.

    So, you as a Legion of Mary member, after your death can be sure of having six hundred thousand Masses celebrated for you.  Imagine sitting in Purgatory and along comes November 1st, with six hundred thousand Masses, being said for you.  If you are not out of there soon, it’s through no fault of the Legion of Mary!

 

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