The Origin and Goals of the Legion:
The Legion of Mary was formed on September 7, 1921 in Dublin, Ireland by Frank Duff, who envisioned an apostolic lay organization that would empower ordinary Catholics to live out their baptismal promise in structured forms of prayer, service, and fraternity. Primarily, the goal of the Legion of Mary is the personal sanctification of each of its members. To that end, the Legionaries follow a Marian form of spirituality, most distinctly influenced by St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary. Furthermore, each church’s unit, called a praesidium, boasts its own spiritual director to the great benefit of the Legionaries. Yet overall, the cornerstone of Legionary spirituality is a profoundly personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit.
Secondarily, the goal of the Legion of Mary is to embody the ideals of Christianity through the spiritual works of mercy. Originally in Ireland, the Legionaries served the destitute, those in hospitals, and even prostitutes. Here in Tennessee, the Legion visits nursing homes, prays outside abortion clinics, participates in the spiritual education of children, and some Legionaries even do door to door evangelization.
What is being an active member of the Legion like?
Being a member of the Legion is a continuous blessing, yet one that comes with a few responsibilities. Once per week the Legionary must meet with his or her praesidium group for prayer, study, to make reports, and to receive the week’s assigned Legionary work. This work generally entails simple things that are not too time consuming like visiting nursing homes and taking Communion to those who are unable to attend Mass. Additionally, members must pray the Legionary Catena each day and are strongly encouraged to also pray five decades of the Rosary. Through this system of meetings, prayers, and works, Legionaries receive spiritual fortification, practical experience, a sense of fulfillment, and the heavenly merit obtained through living faithfully to the Gospel.
What does the Legion of Mary need now?
The Legion of Mary is in need of both active and auxiliary members. Unlike the active members, the auxiliary members are not required to attend meetings or do weekly works. Rather, they’re only asked to pray five decades of the Rosary daily accompanied by the Tessera prayers. Nonetheless, their prayers for the Legion are absolutely necessary for its success. Frank Duff writes in the Legionary Handbook, “This twofold auxiliary membership is to the Legion what its wings are to a bird” (pg. 95 “Auxiliary Membership”). In other words, the auxiliaries enable the Legion to soar into the heights of its own lofty ideals.
Currently, the Legion of Mary is in particular need of young people. With the aging Catholic populace, it is of paramount importance to have young people who can keep pace with the ever-changing world and infuse the Legion with novel ideas and a fresh breath of zeal. Likewise, the Legion is in constant need of people possessing every sort of talent. Every member brings his or her own perspectives, experiences, and skills, which all contribute to an ultimately stronger Legion of Mary.