Allocutio – December 2020

How Legionaries “Extend and Recruit?”

One of the items in the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Legion of Mary of Hong Kong is “Extension and Recruitment”. We hope to extend to every parish in Hong Kong; but, what should be our attitude in carrying out our goal?

First, we should find the basis of extension and recruitment in the Handbook which says, “The duty of extension is not for the higher councils alone, nor for Curia officers alone. It is the duty of each member of the Curia. Nay, more, it is the duty of each individual legionary” [Handbook Ch. 31.1]; “An efficient branch of the Legion will be the source of immense good. As one may suppose that this good will be doubled by the establishment of a second branch, every member (and not merely the officers) should endeavour to bring about this desirable thing.” [Handbook Ch. 31.2]. From the above two points, we can experience that our mission as a legionary, is to let more Catholics ‘understand’, ‘long for’, and ‘join’ the Legion of Mary. If, for whatever reason, we don’t want to extend or recruit, or don’t want to set up any new Praesidium, then we are disobeying the teachings of the Handbook.

Moreover, in the Handbook, all legionaries are expected to aspire after Mary’s profound humility because “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.” [Handbook Ch. 6.2] In fact, in the system of the Legion of Mary, the direction for obedience to the higher council is an indication of ‘humility’; however, the higher council is not the source of power, but a model of “humility”. They have the responsibility as a higher council, and have to ‘listen’ to the needs of members; through ‘prayers’, they distinguish the Will of God. Through Mary, God bestow his favours to those who are humble, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your Word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38).

The Handbook also reminds us not to fall into the temptation of the devil, “the humble Virgin’s heel crushed the serpent of self, with its many heads:-

  1. Of self-exaltation: for if Mary, so rich in perfections as to be called by the Church the Mirror of Justice, endowed with unbounded power in the realm of grace, is nevertheless found on her knees – the humblest handmaid of the Lord! – What must be the legionary place and attitude.
  2. Of self-seeking: for having given himself and all his goods, spiritual and temporal, to Mary to use as she thinks fit, the legionary continues to serve her in the same spirit of complete generosity.
  3. Of self-sufficiency: for the habit of leaning on Mary inevitably produces distrust of one’s own unaided powers.
  4. Of self-conceit: for the sense of partnership with Mary brings realisation of one’s own inadequacy. What has the legionary contributed to that partnership but painful weaknesses?
  5. Of self-love: for what is there to love? The legionary absorbed in love and admiration of his Queen, is little inclined to turn from her to contemplate himself.
  6. Of self-satisfaction: for in this alliance higher standard must prevail. The legionary models himself upon Mary and aspires to her perfect purity of intention.
  7. Of self-advancement: thinking with Mary’s thoughts, one studies God alone. There is no room for plans of self or reward.
  8. Of self-will: completely submitted to Mary, the legionary distrusts the promptings of his own inclinations and in all things listens intently for the whisperings of grace.

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 2:3), fit for the arduous service to which that profession calls him.” [Handbook Ch 6.2]

I use this opportunity to encourage all legionaries, at this centennial celebration of the Legion of Mary, to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary, practise “humility” as a virtue of daily life, lead by example and invite more Catholics to join the Legion of Mary so as to make “extension and recruitment” effective.

Spiritual Director
Fr. Francis Tam
Feast of the Immaculate Conception