Legion of Mary
The Legion of Mary was founded by Frank Duff on September 7, 1921 in Dublin. His idea was to help Catholic laypeople fulfill their baptismal promises and be able to live their dedication to the Church in an organised structure, supported by fraternity and prayer. The Legion was first only open to women; the first men apart from Duff himself joined it in 1929. The legionaries first started out by visiting hospitals, but they were soon active among the most destitute, notably among Dublin prostitutes. Frank Duff subsequently laid down the system of the Legion in the Handbook of the Legion of Mary in 1928. The Legion of Mary soon spread from Ireland to other countries and continents. At first, the Legion often met with mistrust due to its dedication to lay apostolate which was unusual for the time. Only after Pope Pius XI expressed praise for the Legion in 1931, could such mistrust be quelled.
THE SYSTEM OF THE LEGION
The organization of the Legion is modeled on the Roman Army, starting with the praesidium as its smallest unit, and going up from there. The praesidium, usually a group of 4-20 members, meets weekly in its parish. The Curia is the next level up, and one Curia supervises several Praesidia. The next level is the Comitium, which is in charge of several Curiae, usually over an area like a big city or a part of a province. The following level is the Regia, in charge of larger territories like a province or state (in the U.S.). The Senatus is the next highest level, and it generally has control over the Regiae in a very large area, usually a country or very large territory. The Concilium is the highest level. It has its seat in Dublin, Ireland, and has control over all of the Legion. Each level of the Legion of Mary has the same officers: The President, the Vice President, the Secretary, the Treasurer, and the Spiritual director. The latter must be a priest or a religious. All other offices are held by laymen or -women.
Entering and leaving the Legion
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.
TYPES OF MEMBERSHIP
· Active members
They regularly attend the weekly sessions of their praesidium and pray daily the prayer of the Legion, the Catena Legionis, which consists essentially of the Magnificat and some shorter prayers. Their main role lies in active apostolate for the Legion and the Church. Active members under the age of 18 are not allowed to give the "Legion promise" until they turn 18. Members 18 and under are considered Juniors, and are able to hold any office except President in their praesidium.
· Auxiliary members
They support the Legion through their prayer. They pray the whole booklet of Legion prayers, the Tessera, every day. The Tessera consists of the Invocation, prayers to the Holy Spirit, the Rosary, the Catena, and the concluding prayers of the Tessera.
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. Legion meetings
· Altar of the Legion of Mary
The praesidia of the Legion normally meet weekly, larger entities normally monthly or at even rarer occasions. For all sessions, the Altar of the Legion is set up. This consists of a statue of the Virgin Mary (represented as a modestly dressed, humble, pure, and holy woman standing on a globe, her arms extended, crushing the serpent with her foot) that is placed on a white tablecloth that has "Legio Mariae" written on it. On the two sides of the statue are placed two vases with flowers, often roses (the flower connected with Mary). On the front ends of the cloth stand two candlesticks with burning candles. On the right side of Mary, the vexillium Legionis (standard of the Legion) is placed. It is made out of metal and onyx and shows the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, as well as the Miraculous Medal. During the meetings, all prayers of the Tessera are said. The sessions start out with the introductory prayers to the Holy Spirit and Mary. These include five decades of the Rosary. The following part of the session includes a spiritual reading and administrative matters. Each member tells in short words how he or she has fulfilled their tasks assigned to them at the previous session. They also discuss and/or read a chapter from the Handbook of the Legion. Then the Catena Legionis is prayed, afterwards the Spiritual director or (if he is absent) the President holds a short sermon about spiritual matters (allocutio). Finally, the new tasks for the legionaries are distributed. Each meeting ends with the concluding prayers of the Tessera and a prayer for Frank Duff's beatification.
The spirituality of the Legion of Mary is essentially based on the approach of St. Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort as put forward in his book True Devotion to Mary. Grignion de Montfort promoted a "total dedication" to Christ through devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which later also influenced popes such as John Paul II, as mentioned in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. Another important element that shaped Legion spirituality was Frank Duff's devotion to the Holy Spirit. He promoted the (in popular devotion often neglected) adoration of the Third Person of the Trinity through the Virgin Mary, whom he saw as the "visible image" of the Spirit. This is why the introductory prayers and the Legion promise are directed to the Holy Spirit and the vexillium Legionis bears its image in the form of a dove.
The essential aim of the Legion of Mary is the sanctification of its members through prayer, the sacraments and devotion to Mary and the Trinity, and of the whole world through the apostolate of the Legion. The idea of an organization where ordinary laypeople in all situations of life would work for their own sanctification and for the conversion of the world was groundbreaking for its time. Only when the Second Vatican Council (1962: 65) promoted such ideas in its documents did such an approach gain wider acceptance in the Catholic Church.
THE LEGION OF MARY AT OUR LADY OF LOURDES CHURCH
The legion of Mary has always been a integral part of our Parish and over the years has grown in strength and numbers. At present we have 1 junior Legion praesidium and 2 adult praesidium beside one praesidium that conducts its meetings in Konkani. The junior group meets once a week on Thursday at 6: 00 p.m. The adult groups meet on Tuesday at 7: 00 p.m. and the second adult praesidium meets on Saturday at 8: 00 p.m. The Konkani group meets on Monday at 6: 00 p.m. The spiritual Director is FR. SUNIL D’SOUZA OP
· Konkani Legionary meets every Monday at 6: 00 p.m.
· English Legionary meets every Tuesday at 7: 00 p.m.
· Senior Legionary meets every Saturday at 8: 00 p.m.
· Junior Legionary meets every Thursday at 6: 00 p.m.
LEGION OF MARY (ENGLISH)
Priest-in-Charge : Fr. Sunil D'souza OP
· Legion of Mary (Senior - English)
President : Alphonsia Fernandez
Vice President : Clara Alvares
· Legion of Mary (Senior - English)
President : Timothy Pereira
Vice President : Allen Almeida
· Legion of Mary (Youth - English)
President : Darrel D'Souza
Vice President : Faustina Paul
· Legion of Mary (Junior - English)
President : Loel Rodrigues
LEGION OF MARY (KONKANI)
Priest-in-Charge : Fr. Sunil D'souza OP
Lay Co-ordinator : Timothy Pereira