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The great cannot exist without the small; nor the small without the great. A certain organic unity binds all parts, so that each helps and is helped by all. Let us take the analogy of our body. The head is nothing without the feet; likewise the feet are nothing without the head. Even the smallest organs of our body are necessary and valuable to the entire body. In fact all the parts work together in an interdependence and yield a common obedience for the benefit of the whole body.
Clement, Pope and Martyr: Epistle to the Corinthians Many legionaries have thus triumphantly passed through the gates of glory. Generally, however, legionary devotedness will have a humbler stage, but still one giving ample opportunity for the practice of a quiet but true heroism.
The Legion apostolate will involve the approaching of many who would prefer to remain remote from good influences, and who will manifest their distaste for receiving a visit from those whose mission is good, not evil. These may all be won over, but not without the exercise of a patient and brave spirit.
Sour looks, the sting of insult and rebuff, ridicule and adverse criticism, weariness of body and spirit, pangs from failure and from base ingratitude, the bitter cold and the blinding rain, dirt and vermin and evil smells, dark passages and sordid surroundings, the laying aside of pleasures, the taking on of the anxieties which come in plenty with the work, the anguish which the contemplation of irreligion and depravity brings to the sensitive soul, sorrow from sorrows wholeheartedly shared-there is little glamour about these things, but if sweetly borne, counted even a joy, and persevered in unto the end, they will come, in the weighing-up, very near to that love, greater than which no man has, that he lay down his life for his friend.
This love must be more than an appearance. It must be able to stand up to the tests that real friendships can bear. This will frequently involve little mortifications. To greet, in fashionable surroundings, one who a little while before was the subject of one's visitation in a jail, to be seen walking with bedraggled persons, to grasp warmly the hand which is coated with grime, to partake of a proffered meal in a very poor or dirty home, may to some be difficult; but if avoided, the attitude of friendship is shown to have been a pretence, the contact breaks, and the soul that was being lifted sinks back in disillusion.
At the bottom of all really fruitful work must be the readiness to give oneself entirely. Without this readiness, one's service has no substance. The legionary who somewhere sets up the barrier: On the other hand, if that readiness exist, even though it may never, or but in small measure, be called upon, it will be fruitful of immense things.
This is not entirely a counsel of perfection, but of necessity as well, for if excellence is not aimed at, a persevering membership will not be achieved. A lifelong perseverance in the work of the apostolate is in itself heroic, and will only be found as the culmination of a continuous series of heroic acts, as indeed it is their reward. But not alone to the individual membership must the note of permanence attach. Each and every item of the Legion's round of duty must be stamped with this selfsame seal of persevering effort.
Change, of course, there must necessarily be. Different places and persons are visited; works are completed, and new works are taken on. But all this is the steady alteration of life, not the fitful operation of instability and novelty-seeking, which ends by breaking down the finest discipline.
Apprehensive of this spirit of change, the Legion appeals unceasingly for a sterner temper, and from each succeeding meeting sends its members to their tasks with the unchanging watchword, as it were, ringing in their ears: Essential to the perseverance of such a will is that it bend not often nor at all. Therefore, the Legion enjoins on its branches and its members a universal attitude of refusal to accept defeat, or to court it by a tendency to grade items of work in terms of the "promising," the "unpromising," the "hopeless," etc.
A readiness to brand as "hopeless" proclaims that, so far as the Legion is concerned, a priceless soul is free to pursue unchecked its reckless course to hell. In addition, it indicates that an unthinking desire for variety and signs of progress tends to replace higher considerations as the motive of the work. Then, unless the harvest springs up at the heels of the sower, there is discouragement, and sooner or later the work is abandoned.
Again, it is declared and insisted that the act of labelling any one case as hopeless automatically weakens attitude towards every other case. Consciously or unconsciously, approach to all work will be in a spirit of doubt as to whether it is justifying effort, and even a grain of doubt paralyses action.
And worst of all, faith would have ceased to play its due part in Legion affairs, being allowed only a modest entrance when deemed approvable to reason. With its faith so fettered and its determination sapped, at once rush in the natural timidities, the pettinesses, and the worldly prudence, which had been kept at bay, and the Legion is found presenting a casual or half-hearted service which forms a shameful offering to heaven. Hence it is that the Legion is concerned only in a secondary way about a programme of works, but much about intensity of purpose.
It does not require from its members wealth or influence, but faith unwavering; not famous deeds but only unrelaxed effort; not genius but unquenchable love; not giant strength but steady discipline. A legionary service must be one of holding on, of absolute and obstinate refusal to lose heart. A rock in the crisis; but constant at all times. Hoping for success; humble in success; but independent of it; fighting failure; undismayed by it; fighting on, and wearing it down; thriving upon difficulties and monotony, because they give scope for the faith and effort of an enduring siege.
Ready and resolute when summoned; on the alert though not called upon; and even when there is no conflict and no enemy in sight, maintaining a tireless precautionary patrol for God; with a heart for the impossible; yet content to play the part of stop-gap; nothing too big; no duty too mean; for each the same minute attention, the same inexhaustible patience, the same inflexible courage; every task marked with the same golden tenacity; always on duty for souls; ever at hand to carry the weak through their many weak moments; vigilantly watching to surprise the hardened at their rare moments of softness; unremitting in search for those that have strayed; unmindful of self; all the time standing by the cross of others, and standing there until the work is consummated.
Unfailing must be the service of the organisation consecrated to the Virgo Fidelis, and bearing, either for honour or dishonour, her name. The Legion is built in the first place upon a profound faith in God and in the love he bears his children. He wills to draw great glory from our efforts, and he will purify them and render them fruitful and persevering. We swing between the opposite extremes of apathy and feverish anxiety because we regard him as detached from our work.
Instead, let us realise that we only have the good purpose because he has implanted it, and that we shall only bring it to fruition if he sustains us all the time. The success of the enterprise in hand is more by far to him than it is to us. Infinitely more than we, does he desire that conversion we are seeking. We wish to be saints. He yearns for it a million times more than we. The legionaries' essential mainstay must be this knowledge of the companionship of God, their good Father, in their two-fold work of sanctifying themselves and serving their neighbour.
Nothing can stand in the way of success except want of trust. If there be but faith enough, God will utilise us to conquer the world for him. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Mary, who by the eternal will of the Most High stands, one may say, at the very centre of those 'inscrutable ways' and 'unsearchable judgments' of God, conforms herself to them in the dim light of faith, accepting fully and with a ready heart everything that is decreed in the divine plan" R Mat It is that he brought her, as he did all the other children of earth, out of nothing; and though he has since then exalted her to a point of grace immense and inconceivable, nevertheless, in comparison to her Maker, she still remains as nothing.
Indeed, she is - far more than any other - his creature, because he has wrought more in her than in any other of his creatures. The greater the things he does to her, the more she becomes the work of his hands.
Very great things he has done to her. From all eternity, the idea of her was present to his mind along with that of the Redeemer. He associated her to the intimacies of his plans of grace, making her the true mother of his Son and of those united to that Son. He did all these things because, in the first place, he would gain from Mary herself a return greater than he would from all other pure creatures together. In the second place, he thereby intended, in a way which our minds cannot adequately grasp, to enhance the glory which he would receive from ourselves also.
Thus, the prayer and loving service, with which we recompense Mary, our mother and the helper of our salvation, can represent no loss to him who made her so. What is given to her goes none the less surely and fully to him. But there is question of more than undiminished transmission; there is question of increase.
And Mary is more than a faithful messenger. She has been set by God to be a vital element in his gracious scheme, in such sort that both his glory and our grace are the greater by reason of her presence there.
As it is the pleasure of the Eternal Father so to receive through Mary the homages intended for him, so too he has been graciously pleased to appoint her to be the way by which shall pass to men the various outpourings of his munificent goodness and omnipotence, beginning with the cause of them all-the Second Divine Person made man, our true life, our only salvation.
If I will to make myself dependent on the Mother, it is in order to become the slave of the Son. If I aspire to become her possession, it is in order to render more surely to God the homage of my subjection. All that he could give to Mary, he has given to her. All that she was capable of receiving she has received in plenitude.
For us God has constituted her a special means of grace. Operating in union with her we approach him more effectively, and hence win grace more freely. Indeed we place ourselves in the very flood-tide of grace, for she is the spouse of the Holy Spirit: We receive nothing which we do not owe to a positive intervention on her part. She does not content herself with transmitting all: Penetrated with belief in this office of Mary, the Legion enjoins it as a special devotion for all its members.
Sermo de Aquaeductu 3. At the very first meeting, the members prayed and deliberated round a little altar of the Immaculate Conception identical with that which now forms the centre of every Legion meeting.
Moreover, the very first breath of the Legion may be said to have been drawn in an ejaculation in honour of this privilege of Our Lady, which formed the preparation for all the dignities and all the privileges afterwards accorded to her. The Immaculate Conception is referred to by God in the same sentence in which Mary herself is first promised to us.
The privilege is part of Mary: Mary is the Immaculate Conception; and, together with the privilege, prophecy is made of its heavenly sequel: It aims with all its heart to become in fullness the seed, the children of Mary, for there is the pledge of victory. In the measure that it makes her more and more its mother, is the Legion's enmity with the powers of evil intensified and victory made more complete.
The books of the Old Testament describe the history of salvation, by which the coming of Christ into the world was slowly prepared. The earliest documents, as they are read in the Church and are understood in the light of a further and full revelation, bring the figure of a woman, Mother of the Redeemer, into a gradually clearer light.
Considered in this light, she is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise of victory over the serpent which was given to our first parents after their fall into sin.
A third aspect of Legion devotion to Mary is the special honouring of her as our real mother, which in very fact she is. Mary became the Mother of Christ and our mother when to the Angel's salutation she pronounced her meek assent, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word. Amid the sorrows of Calvary Jesus said to her from the cross: John "Here is your mother. John, these words were addressed to all the elect. Fully co-operating by her consent and sorrows in this spiritual birth of mankind, Mary became in the fullest and most perfect sense our mother.
Truly her children, we must behave as such, and indeed as very little children dependent utterly upon her. We must look to her to feed us, to guide us, to teach us, to cure our ailments, to console us in our griefs, to counsel us in our doubts, to recall us when we wander, so that wholly confided to her care, we may grow to the resemblance of our elder brother, Jesus, and share his mission of combating sin and conquering it.
She must extend it to the function of nourishing and educating her offspring. Just so the Blessed Virgin Mary, after participating in the redeeming sacrifice of the Son, and in such an intimate way as to deserve to be proclaimed by him the mother not only of his disciple John but - may we be allowed to affirm it - of mankind which he in some way represents, now continues to fulfil from heaven her maternal function as the cooperator in the birth and development of divine life in the individual souls of redeemed men.
This is a most consoling truth which, by the free consent of God the All-Wise, is an integrating part of the mystery of human salvation, therefore it must be held as faith by all Christians. It can only do so through its members, so that each one of these is asked to associate himself with it by serious meditation and zealous practice. If the devotion is to be in real truth a legionary tribute, it must be an essential part of the Legion - as much an obligation of membership as the weekly meeting or active work: This is a point of view with which members cannot be too deeply impressed.
But this unity is something most delicate, for each member in a measure controls it, and can mar it. So on each one devolves a solemn trusteeship in the matter. If there is default; if the legionaries are not "living stones. In measure as the living stones are found in this way wanting, will the Legion system tend more and more to become a ruin, which will not shelter, and hence with difficulty will retain, its children.
Still less will it be the home of high and holy qualities, or a starting-point for heroic endeavour. But with everyone adequately discharging this item of legionary service the Legion will be found possessed of a marvellous unity of mind and purpose and action.
This unity is so precious in the sight of God that he has vested it with an irresistible power; so that, if for the individual a true devotion to Mary is a special channel of grace, what shall it bring to an organisation which is persevering with one mind in prayer with her Acts 1: Shall not such an organisation be filled with the Holy Spirit Acts 2: To the priest struggling almost despairingly in a sea of religious neglect, the following words of Father Faber - taken from his preface to St.
Louis-Marie de Montfort's "True Devotion to Mary" an abounding source of inspiration to the Legion - are commended as a preliminary to his consideration of the possible value to him of the Legion.
The argument of Father Faber is that Mary is not half enough known or loved, with sad results for souls: It has no faith in itself. Hence it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are not converted, that the Church is not exalted; that souls, which might be saints, wither and dwindle; that the sacraments are not rightly frequented, or souls enthusiastically evangelised.
Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them.
It is the miserable unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin, that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. Yet, if we are to believe the revelations of the saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to his blessed mother.
Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings with it, and the transformations it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its otherwise almost incredible efficacy as a means for the salvation of men, and for the coming of the Kingdom of Christ. In this we must believe with an unshaking faith, with a firm hope.
God is willing to give us all. All now depends on us, and on thee by whom all is received and treasured up, by whom all is transmitted, O Mother of God! All depends on the union of men with her who receives all from God. And how more effectively can this be done than through an apostolic organisation; lay-hence unlimited as to numbers; active-hence penetrating everywhere; loving Mary with all its might, and binding itself to involve the hearts of all others in that love; utilising all its avenues of action to fulfil this purpose.
And so, bearing her name with an inexpressible pride; built as an organisation upon an unbounded and childlike trust in her, to which it gives solidity by planting it in the heart of each individual one of its members: To what a height of glory Jesus elevates us!
The women proclaim as most happy her who brought him into the world; but what prevents them from participating in that same maternity? For here the Gospel speaks of a new mode of generation, a new parenthood. The honouring of the Legion devotion to Mary by serious meditation and zealous practice is placed on each member as a solemn trusteeship to the Legion.
It is to be regarded as an essential part of legionary duty, ranking before any other obligation of membership. Manifestly, the legionary without Mary in his heart can play no part in this. He is divorced from the legionary purpose. He is an unarmed soldier, a broken link, or rather as a paralysed arm - attached to the body, it is true - but of what use for work!
The study of every army and no less that of the Legion must be to bind the individual soldier to the leader, so that the latter's plan passes smoothly into concerted action. The army acts as one. To this end is all the elaborate machinery of drill and discipline directed.
In addition, there is found in the soldiers of all the great armies of history a devotion of a passionate sort for their leader, intensifying their union with him, and rendering easy the sacrifices which the execution of his plan called for.
Of this leader it could be said that he was the inspiration and soul of his soldiers, in their hearts, one with them, and so forth. These phrases describe the operation of his influence and in a measure express a truth. But at best such unity is only an emotional or mechanical one. Not so the relation between the christian soul and Mary its Mother.
To say that Mary is in the soul of the faithful legionary would be to picture a union infinitely less effective than that which actually exists, the nature of which is summed up by the Church in such titles of Our Lady as: Other natural processes can help to make real to the mind this place of Mary in the operations of grace.
The blood is not distributed except by the heart, the eyes are the necessary link with the world of vision, and the bird-despite the beating of its wings - cannot lift itself without the support of the air. So the soul, according to the divinely established order, cannot without Mary lift itself to God or do God's work. Not being a creation either of the reason or of the emotions but a Divine arrangement, this dependence on Mary exists even though it is not adverted to.
But it can be, and should be, immeasurably strengthened by a deliberate participation in it. In intensity of union with her, who is as St. Bonaventure says the dispenser of our Lord's Blood, lie marvels of sanctification and an incredible source of power over the souls of others. Those whom the plain gold of the apostolate could not ransom from the captivity of sin are freed - everyone - when Mary studs that gold with the jewels of the Precious Blood which she has in her gift.
So, beginning with a fervent Consecration, frequently renewed in some phrase embodying it for instance: Louis-Marie de Montfort In the Holy Mass, Holy Communion, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, and other Devotions, the legionary soul must seek, as it were, to identify itself with Mary, and to meditate on the mysteries of the Redemption through that supremely faithful soul which lived them with the Saviour, and in them played an indispensable part.
And so, imitating her, thanking her tenderly, rejoicing and sorrowing with her, giving her what Dante calls 'the long study and the great love,' bringing some thought of her into every prayer and work and act of the spiritual life, forgetting itself and its own resources to depend on her; the soul of the legionary becomes so filled with the image and thought of her that the two souls are but one soul.
The legionary, lost in the depth of Mary's soul, shares her faith, her humility, her Immaculate Heart and hence the potency of her prayer , and swiftly is transformed into Christ, which is the object of all life. While on the other hand, in and through her legionary, Mary participates in every duty and mothers souls, so that in each of those worked for and of one's fellow-workers, not only is the person of our Lord seen and served, but seen and served by Mary, with the same exquisite love and nurturing care which she gave to the actual body of her Divine Son.
Its members thus grown into living copies of Mary, the Legion sees itself in truth a Legion of Mary, united to her mission and guaranteed her victory. It will bring Mary to the world, and she will give light to the world and presently set it all ablaze.
Sermon to Novices 2. This is fitting, for the Legion is the instrument and visible operation of her who is like an army in battle array and who wages an intense warfare for the soul of every man. Moreover, the martial idea is one with great appeal to mankind. Legionaries, knowing themselves to be soldiers, are stimulated to impart a soldierly seriousness to their work.
But the warfare of legionaries is not of this world, and must be waged according to the tactics of Heaven. The fire which burns in true legionary hearts springs only from the ashes of lowly and unworldly qualities. Particular among these is the virtue of humility, so misunderstood and despised by the world. Yet, it is noble and strong, and confers a strange nobility and strength on those who seek it and practise it.
In the Legion system, humility plays a unique part. In the first place, it is an essential instrument of the legionary apostolate. For, the effecting and developing of the personal contact, on which the Legion relies so largely in its work, calls for workers with gentle, unassuming manners such as are derived only from true humility of heart.
But humility is more to the Legion than a mere instrument of its external action. It is the very cradle of that action. Without humility there can be no effective legionary action. Thomas Aquinas, recommended to us humility above all things, for thereby is removed the chief impediment to the salvation of men.
All the other virtues derive their value from it. Only when humility exists will God bestow his favours. When it fades, those gifts will be withdrawn. The Incarnation, the source of all graces, depended on it. Mary says, in the "Magnificat," that in her God has shown might in his arm, that is, he has exerted in her his very omnipotence.
And she proclaims the reason. It was her lowliness which had won his regard and brought him down to terminate the old world and begin the new. But how could Mary be a model of humility, considering that her treasury of perfections was altogether immeasurable - touching in fact the very borders of infinity, and that she knew it? She was humble because she was likewise aware that she was more perfectly redeemed than any other of the children of men. She owed every gleam of her inconceivable sanctity to the merits of her Son, and that thought was ever vivid in her mind.
Her peerless intellect was full of the realisation that as she had received more, so no other creature stood as much in God's debt as she. Hence her attitude of exquisite and graceful humility was effortless and constant. Studying her, therefore, the legionary will learn that the essence of true humility is the recognition and unaffected acknowledgement of what one really is before God; the understanding that one's worthlessness alone is one's own.
Everything else is God's free gift to the soul: A sense of one's subjection will show itself in a marked preference for humble and little-sought tasks, in a readiness to bear contempt and rebuffs, and generally in an attitude towards the manifestations of God's Will which will reflect Mary's own declaration: A person may determine to be a good soldier, but yet may never possess the qualities which will make him an efficient cog in the military machine.
In consequence that man's union with his general is an ineffective one, so that he impedes the working out of the military plan. Similarly, the legionary may aspire to play a great part in the plan of his Queen; yet he may be incapable of receiving what Mary so ardently longs to give. In the case of the ordinary soldier this incapacity would proceed from defects of courage, intelligence, physical fitness, and the like. In the case of the legionary, that incapacity would be caused by the absence of the virtue of humility.
The purpose of the Legion is the sanctification of its members and the radiation of that holiness in the world of souls. But there can be no holiness without humility. Moreover, the Legion apostolate operates through Mary. But there can be no union with Mary without some likeness to her, and there can be little likeness to her in default of her special virtue of humility. If union with Mary is the indispensable condition - the root, so to speak, of all legionary action, then the soil on which these roots depend is humility.
If that soil is deficient, the legionary life will wither. It follows that the Legion's battle for souls must begin in the heart of the individual legionary. Each one must wage the battle with himself, determinedly conquering in his heart the spirit of pride and self. This terrible struggle with the root of evil within one, this constant striving after purity of intention, how exhausting it is. It is the battle of a lifetime.
Reliance upon one's own efforts will make it the failure of a lifetime; for self winds itself even into the attack on self. Of what use are his own muscles to one struggling in a quicksand? A firm support is necessary. Legionary, your firm support is Mary. Lean upon her with complete trust. She will not fail you, for she is deeply rooted in that humility which is vital to you. In the faithful practice of the spirit of dependence upon her will be found a supreme, simple, comprehensive way of humility - what St.
Louis-Marie de Montfort terms "a little-known secret of grace, enabling us quickly and with but little effort to empty ourselves of self, fill ourselves with God, and become perfect. The legionary, in turning towards Mary, must necessarily turn away from self. Mary takes hold of this movement and elevates it; makes of it the supernatural dying to self which fulfils the stern but fruitful law of the Christian life.
In the legionary, who is truly forgetful of self, there will be no impediment to the maternal influences of Mary.
She will develop in him energies and sacrifices beyond nature, and make of him a good soldier of Christ 2 Tim 2: We should be full of zeal for God's glory, and at the same time convinced of our incapacity to promote it.
Let us sink into the abyss of our worthlessness; let us take shelter under the deep shade of our lowliness; let us tranquilly wait until the Almighty shall see fit to render our active exertions instrumental to his glory. For this purpose he will make use of means quite opposed to those we might naturally expect. Next to Jesus Christ no one ever contributed to the glory of God in the same degree as the Blessed Virgin Mary, and yet the sole object to which her thoughts deliberately tended was her own annihilation.
Her humility seemed to set up an obstacle to the designs of God. But it was, on the contrary, that humility precisely which facilitated the accomplishment of his all-merciful views.
Interior of Jesus and Mary 3. We have to take him as he is. If we go to him seeking peace and happiness, we may find that we have nailed ourselves to the cross. The opposites are mixed up and cannot be separated; no pain, no palm; no thorn, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.
We reach out for the one and find that we have got the other with it. And, of course, the same law applies to Our Blessed Lady. Neither can she be divided up into compartments as between which we may pick and choose what seems to suit us. We cannot join her in her joys without finding that presently our hearts are riven with her sufferings. If we want, like St. John the beloved disciple, to take her to our own Jn If we are willing to accept only a phase of her being, we may hardly receive her at all.
Obviously devotion to her must attend to and try to reproduce every aspect of her personality and mission. It must not chiefly concern itself with what is not the most important. For instance, it is valuable to regard her as our exquisite model whose virtues we must draw into ourselves. But to do that and to do no more would be a partial and indeed a petty devotion to her. Neither is it enough to pray to her, even though it be in considerable quantity.
Nor is it enough to know and rejoice at the innumerable and startling ways in which the Three Divine Persons have encompassed her, and built upon her, and caused her to reflect their own attributes. All these tributes of respect are due to her and must be given to her, but they are no more than parts of the whole. Adequate devotion to her is only achieved by union with her. Union necessarily means community of life with her; and her life does not consist mainly in the claiming of admiration but in the communicating of grace.
Her whole life and destiny have been motherhood, first of Christ and then of men. For that she was prepared and brought into existence by the Holy Trinity after an eternal deliberation as St.
On the day of the Annunciation she entered on her wondrous work and ever since she has been the busy mother attending to her household duties. For a while these were contained in Nazareth, but soon the little house became the whole wide world, and her Son expanded into mankind. And so it has continued; all the time her domestic work goes on and nothing in that Nazareth-grown-big can be performed without her. Any caring of the Lord's body is only supplemental to her care; the apostle only adds himself to her maternal occupations; and in that sense Our Lady might declare: Therefore, let the position be stated once again: Mary without motherhood and the christian without apostleship, would be analogous ideas.
Both the one and the other would be incomplete, unreal, unsubstantial, false to the Divine intention. Accordingly, the Legion is not built, as some suppose, upon two principles, that is, Mary and apostleship, but upon the single principle of Mary, which principle embraces apostleship and rightly understood the entire Christian life.
Wishful thinking is proverbially an empty process. A mere verbal offering of our services to Mary can be as empty. It is not to be thought that apostolic duties will descend from Heaven on those who content themselves with waiting passively for that to happen. It is rather to be feared that those idle ones will continue in their state of unemployment. The only effective method of offering ourselves as apostles is to undertake apostleship.
That step taken, at once Mary embraces our activity and incorporates it in her motherhood. Moreover, Mary cannot do without that help.
But surely this suggestion goes too far? How could the Virgin so powerful be dependent on the aid of persons so weak? But, indeed, such is the case.
It is a part of the divine arrangement which requires human co-operation and which does not save man otherwise than through man. It is true that Mary's treasury of grace is superabundant, but she cannot spend from it without our help.
If she could use her power according to her heart alone, the world would be converted in the twinkling of an eye. But she has to wait till the human agencies are available to her. Deprived of them, she cannot fulfil her motherhood, and souls starve and die. So she welcomes eagerly any who will really place themselves at her disposal, and she will utilise them, one and all; not only the holy and the fit, but likewise the infirm and the unfit.
So needed are they all that none will be rejected. Even the least can transmit much of the power of Mary; while through those that are better she can put forth her might.
Bear in mind how the sunlight streams dazzlingly through a clean window and struggles through a dirty one. Jesus is the source and Mary the channel of the graces which give us spiritual rebirth and aid us to win back our heavenly home.
The Son of God makes his mother radiant with the glory, the majesty and the might of his own Kingship. Because she was united to the King of Martyrs, as his mother and his assistant, in the stupendous work of redeeming the human race, she remains for ever united to him, vested with a practically unlimited power in the distributing of the graces which flow from the Redemption. Her empire is vast like that of her Son; such indeed that nothing is outside her sway.
Discourses of 21 April, , and 13 May, 4. Indeed the exact contrary must obtain. Because one works with Mary and for her so completely it follows that one's gift to her must be the choicest that can be offered. One must always work with energy and skill and fineness.
Now and then, fault has had to be found with branches or members who did not appear to be making sufficient effort in connection with the ordinary Legion work or with extension or recruiting. Sometimes this kind of answer is forthcoming: I rely altogether on Our Blessed Lady to bring about the right result in her own way.
There may be, too, a certain danger of applying human ideas to these things and of reasoning that if one is the instrument of a simply immense power, the exact degree of one's own effort does not so greatly matter. Why, it may be argued, should a poor man who is in partnership with a millionaire, exhaust himself to contribute an extra penny to the already overflowing common purse? It is necessary, therefore, to emphasise a principle which must govern the attitude of the legionary towards his work.
It is that legionaries are no mere instruments of Mary's action. There is question of a true co-operation with her for the purpose of enriching and ransoming the souls of men. In that co-operation each supplies what the other cannot give. The legionary gives his action and his faculties: Each is bound to contribute without reserve. If the spirit of this partnership is honoured by the legionary, Mary will never be found wanting. Therefore, the fate of the enterprise may be said to depend entirely on the legionary, so that he must bring to it all his intelligence and all his strength, perfected by careful method and by perseverance.
Even if it were known that Mary were going to give a desired result independent of the legionary effort, nevertheless that effort must be exerted in its fulness, with just the same intensity as if all depended on it. While placing a limitless confidence in the aid of Mary, the legionary's effort must always be pitched at its maximum. His generosity must always rise as high as his trust.
This principle of the necessary inter-action of boundless faith with intense and methodical effort is expressed in another way by the saints, when they say that one must pray as if all depended on that prayer and nothing on one's own efforts; and then one must strive as if absolutely everything depended on that striving.
There must be no such thing as proportioning the output of effort to one's estimate of the difficulty of the task, or of thinking in terms of "just how little can I give to gain the object in view? In supernatural things it will always fail, for it forfeits the grace on which the issue really hangs.
Moreover, human judgments cannot be depended on. The apparent impossibility often collapses at a touch; while, on the other hand, the fruit which hangs almost within reach, may persistently elude the hand, and at long last be harvested by someone else. In the spiritual order the calculating soul will sink to smaller and smaller things and finally end in barrenness.
The only certain way lies in unrestricted effort. Into each task, trivial or great, the legionary will throw supreme effort. Perhaps that degree of effort is not needed. It may be that a touch would be sufficient to bring the work to completion; and were the completion of the task the only objective, it would be legitimate to put forth that slight effort and no more. One would not, as Byron says, uplift the club of Hercules to crush a butterfly or brain a gnat. But legionaries must be brought to realise that they do not work directly for results.
They work for Mary quite irrespectively of the simplicity or the difficulty of the task; and in every employment the legionary must give the best that is in him, be it little or be it great. Thereby is merited the full co-operation of Mary, so that even miracles are wrought where they are needed.
If one can do but little, and yet does it with all one's heart, Mary will come in with power and will give that feeble movement the effect of a giant's strength. If, having done all that he can, the legionary is still a million miles from success, Mary will bridge that distance to carry their joint work to an ideal conclusion.
And even if the legionary puts into a work ten times the intensity which is needed to perfect it, nevertheless not a particle of what he does is wasted. For is not all his work for Mary and at the service of her vast design and purpose? Mary will receive with joy that surplus effort, will multiply it exceedingly, and with it supply grave needs of the household of the Lord.
There is nothing lost of anything which is committed to the hands of the careful housewife of Nazareth. But if, on the other hand, the legionary's contribution falls meanly short of what might reasonably be required from him, then Mary's hands are held from giving munificently. The compact of common goods with Mary, so full of unique possibilities, is set aside by legionary negligence.
O what sad loss to souls and to the legionary himself thus to be left on his own resources! It is useless, therefore, for the legionary to justify insufficient effort or slovenly methods by alleging that he relies on Mary altogether. Surely that sort of reliance, which enabled him to shrink from reasonable endeavour on his own part, would be a weak, ignoble thing.
He seeks to transfer to Mary's shoulders a burden which his own are adequate to bear. Would any common knight of chivalry serve his fair lady so strangely! So just as if nothing had been said on this subject, let this root principle of the legionary alliance with Mary be stated once again. The legionary must give to the utmost of his capacity. Mary's part is not that of supplying what the legionary refuses to give. It would not be proper for her to relieve her legionary from the effort, method, patience, thought, which he can provide, and which is due by him to the treasury of God.
Mary desires to give profusely, but she cannot do so except to the generous soul. Therefore, desirous that her legionary children will draw deeply from her immensity, she anxiously appeals to them, in her Son's own words, for a service "with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
But these are mighty things. They can mean that mountains will be torn from their roots and hurled into the sea, and the land be made plain, and the paths straightened to lead on to the Kingdom of God. I know not what fate awaits this book; whether I shall finish it; or whether I shall reach even the end of the page that lies beneath my pen. But I know enough to cause me to throw into it the remnant, be it great or small, of my strength and of my days. In a word, the giver places himself in a condition equivalent to that of a slave possessing nothing of his own, and wholly dependent on, and utterly at the disposal of Mary.
But the earthly slave is far freer than the slave of Mary. The former remains master of his thoughts and inner life, and thus may be free in everything that matters to him. But the surrender to Mary bears with it everything: All - on to the final breath - is committed to her that she may expend it all for God. It is a sort of martyrdom, the sacrifice of self to God, with Mary as the altar of that sacrifice. How conformed, indeed, to the sacrifice of Christ himself, which likewise began in Mary's bosom, was publicly confirmed in the arms of Mary uplifted in the presentation, embraced every moment of his life, and was consummated on Calvary on the cross of Mary's heart.
The True Devotion is inaugurated by a formal Act of Consecration, but it consists principally in the subsequent living of that Consecration. The True Devotion must represent not an act but a state. Unless Mary takes possession of all the life, and not merely of minutes and hours of that life, the Act of Consecration-even though frequently repeated-has but the value of a passing prayer. It is like a tree which has been planted, but which has never taken root.
But this does not mean that the mind has to remain ever fixed upon the Consecration. Just as one's physical life is governed by one's breathing or by the beating of one's heart, even though these operations are not consciously viewed, so it is with the True Devotion.
Even though not adverted to, it works incessantly on the life of the soul. It suffices if the idea of Mary's ownership is now and then made vivid by deliberate thought, by acts and ejaculations; provided that the fact of one's dependence on her remains permanently acknowledged, always at least vaguely present to the mind, and put into force in a general way in all the circumstances of one's life.
If there is a warmth in all this, it can be a help. But if not, it does not affect the value of the Devotion. Oftentimes, in fact, warmth makes things soft and not dependable. Like every lofty edifice, it may at times burn in sunshine, while its deep foundations are cold like the rock they rest on. Reason is commonly cold. The best resolve may be icy. Faith itself can be chill as a diamond.
Yet these are the foundations of the True Devotion. Set in them, the latter will abide; and the frost and the storm, which cause mountains to crumble, will only leave it the stronger. The graces which have attended the practice of the True Devotion, and the position it has attained in the devotional life of the Church, would reasonably appear to indicate that it represents an authentic message from Heaven, and this is precisely what St.
Louis-Marie de Montfort claimed it to be. He attached to it immense promises, and he asserted most positively that those promises would be fulfilled if the conditions which govern them are fulfilled. And as to the everyday experience: Ask them if they may not be the victims of their feelings or imagination.
Always they will declare that there is no question of it; the fruits have been too evident to admit of their being deceived. If the sum of the experiences of those who teach, and understand, and practise the True Devotion is of value, it seems unquestionable that it deepens the interior life, sealing it with the special character of unselfishness and purity of intention. There is a sense of guidance and protection: There is a supernatural outlook, a definite courage, a firmer faith, which make one a mainstay of any enterprise.
There is a tenderness and a wisdom which keep strength in its proper place. There is, too, the protectress of them all, a sweet humility. Graces come which one cannot but realise are out of the common. Frequently, there is a call to a great work, which is patently beyond one's merits and natural capacity. Yet with it come such helps as enable that glorious but heavy burden to be borne without faltering. In a word, in exchange for the splendid sacrifice which is made in the True Devotion by selling oneself into this species of slavery, there is gained the hundredfold which is promised to those who despoil themselves for the greater glory of God.
When we serve, we rule; when we give, we have; when we surrender ourselves we are victors. Some persons appear to reduce their spiritual life very simply to a matter of selfish gain or loss. These are disconcerted by the suggestion that they should abandon their treasures even to the Mother of our souls. Such as the following is heard: But the objection to making the Consecration is usually due less to a purely selfish outlook than to perplexity.
There is difficulty in understanding how those things for which one is bound in duty to pray, such as one's family, one's friends, one's country, the Pope, etc. Let all these misgivings be put aside, and let the Consecration be boldly made. Everything is safe with Our Lady. She is the guardian of the treasures of God himself.
She is capable of being the guardian of the concerns of those who place their trust in her. So together with the assets of your life, cast all its liabilities - its obligations and duties - into that great sublime heart of hers. In her relations with you, she acts in a manner as if she had no other child but you. Your salvation, your sanctification, your multiple needs are peremptorily present to her. When you pray for her intentions, you yourself are her first intention.
But here, where one is being urged to make sacrifice, is not the place to seek to prove that there is no loss whatever in the transaction. For to prove this would sap the very foundations of the offering and deprive it of the character of sacrifice on which its value depends.
It will suffice to recall that once upon a time a multitude of ten or twelve thousand were in a desert, and were hungry. What he possessed amounted to five loaves and two fishes and he was asked to give them up for the common good; and he did so with willingness. Then those few loaves and fishes were blessed and broken and distributed to the multitude.
And in the end all that immense throng did eat, until they could eat no more; and among them he who had given the original seven items of food. And yet what remained over filled twelve baskets, full and to overflowing! Now supposing that individual had said: Besides, I require them for the members of my family here with me and oppressed by hunger. He gave and he and his people received far more from the miraculous repast than they had contributed to it. And no doubt they had a form of claim to the twelve basketfuls, if they desired to assert it.
Such is always the way of Jesus and Mary with the princely soul which gives its possessions without reserve or stipulation. The gift avails to satisfy the wants of a vast throng. Yet, one's own needs and intentions, which had appeared to suffer, are filled to overflowing and still the Divine bounty lies scattered about. Let us, then, hasten to Mary with our poor loaves and fishes, and press them into her arms, so that Jesus and she may multiply them to feed the souls of the millions hungering in the arid desert of this world.
The form of one's ordinary prayers and actions need not be changed as a result of the making of the Consecration. The customary paths of life may be pursued, and one may continue to pray for one's usual intentions and for all special purposes, but subject in future to Mary's good pleasure. The water is changed into a delicious wine, that is to say, into choicest graces for ourselves and for others. Similarly significant is the fact that when the vexillum was designed some years later, the same note was unexpectedly struck.
The Holy Spirit proved to be the predominant feature of that emblem. This was strange, for that design was the product of artistic and not of theological thinking. A non-religious emblem, that is, the Standard of the Roman Legion, had been taken and adapted to the purposes of the Marian Legion. The Dove entered in by mode of substitution for the Eagle; and Our Lady's image was in substitution for the image of the Emperor or Consul.
Yet the final result portrayed the Holy Spirit as using Mary as the channel to the world of his life-giving influences, and as having taken possession of the Legion.
And later, when the tessera picture was painted, it illustrated the same devotional position: For prices and reviews see my adult work profile. No experience necessary and all sizes catered for.
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