The Legion of Mary turns 100 on September 7, 2021. It was founded in Dublin, Ireland, by Frank Duff, a layman. Such a beautiful milestone. The Legion of Mary is an apostolic organisation of lay people in the Catholic Church that has more than 3 million active members. The Legion is represented all over the world. The Legion received an apostolic blessing from Pope John Paul II on October 30, 1982, and this Pope said in his address to them “you intend to render your service to every person, who is the image of Christ, with the spirit and solicitude of Mary”.
The work of the active members of the Legion includes door-to-door evangelisation, parishioner visitation, prison ministry, visitation to the sick and aged, crowd contact, religious education and visiting the newly baptised. They are an extension of the hands of the parish priest. During Covid, the works continued through zoom and phoning parishioners, providing a friendly social contact to them in the times of isolation in lockdown.
Prayer — and specifically the rosary — is a core component of the works of the Legion. There are roles for active members and auxiliary members. As a Church and a faith, we know how important prayer is. Being an auxiliary member complements being an active member. An auxiliary recites the prayers on the Tessera (the Legion’s prayer card) every day, as well as five decades of the Rosary offered for the intentions of Our Blessed Lady. This is a blessed way to actively support the Legion.
Marian spirituality has always been a strong part of my faith. I do marvel at how many struggles Mary went through as a young, unmarried woman, as she had a rocky start to motherhood. Then, as Jesus grew, it seems to me that she would have slowly had an awakening to the divinity of her son, and to the glorious mission for which he was here on earth. Having to watch your son be crucified would have to be one of the most painful and heart-breakingly desolate moments that any mother could possibly imagine. Mary was present at Pentecost, showing the special bond she had with the disciples. She was a woman of incredible strength and fortitude.
I do feel like my life, in many ways, is very different from Mary’s — we have four children, different challenges in this modern world, and I have a vocational job outside the home. My inspiration about Mary comes from many corners. I spent a memorable four weeks with the Missionaries of Charity in my early 20s in Manila, Philippines. We joined them saying the rosary while kneeling on a hard wood floor in the oppressive heat. The multiple sacrifices were raw, and led to a much deeper sense of prayer and heavenly connection. I remember the introduction of the Luminous mysteries as recommended by St John Paul II, in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (October, 2002). These made perfect sense to me, as the public ministry of Jesus was missing between the original three sets of mysteries. “Through you, O Mary, we have a most sure pledge of our resurrection”: St Ephraem.
St Michael’s, Remuera, is hosting the centenary celebrations on Saturday September 11, from 8.30am to 4.30pm. The Centenary mass will be celebrated at 11am. The day will include inspirational talks. This will be preceded by a Novena starting Thursday September 2, with novena and Mass at 7.15pm, concluding Friday September 10 with novena and Mass at 7:15pm. For more
information go to www.legionofmary.org.nz
John 19:25-27: “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son’, and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother’. From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
Helen Luxford is a physician, working part-time. She is a parishioner of St Michael’s, Remuera. Together with her husband Michael, they are raising their children in the Catholic Faith and reflecting on the challenges and joys that brings.