About Legion of Mary
The Legion of Mary is the largest apostolic organization of lay people in the Catholic Church, with well over 3 million active members in almost every country of the world. It has been active in the United States since 1931, has been approved by the last 6 Popes, and was endorsed by the Second Vatican Council. The main purpose of the Legion of Mary is to give glory to God through the sanctification of its members.
Members become instruments of the Holy Spirit through a balanced program of prayer and service. Works include door-to-door evangelization, parishioner visitation, prison ministry, visitation of the sick or aged, crowd contact, religious education, visiting the newly baptized, Pilgrim Virgin Statue rotations, and meeting the other spiritual needs of the parish community. Legionaries are under the guidance of a spiritual director named by the parish priest.
Each praesidium must, either directly or through an approved council, be affiliated to the Concilium Legionis. Permission to start a new praesidium must first be formally obtained from a Curia or the next-highest council, or in the ultimate resort, from the Concilium Legionis. Otherwise there is no Legion membership. No praesidium shall be established in any parish without the consent of the parish priest.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Members meet once a week for prayer, planning and discussion in a family setting. Then they do two hours of definite work each week in pairs and under the guidance of their spiritual director.
The Legion of Mary is open to all Catholics who:
– Faithfully practice their religion;
– Are animated by the desire to participate in the Church’s apostolate
through membership in the Legion;
– Are prepared to fulfill each and every duty which active membership in the Legion involves
HOW DO I START?
The first step is to be a guest at a meeting of the Legion of Mary. Guests are always welcome and can go on one of the work assignments with an experienced member if they choose. If there is no Legion of Mary in your parish, you can participate in a group in another parish until you can start one of your own with the assistance of other Legionaries and in cooperation with the pastor.
WHO CAN JOIN LEGION OF MARY
Membership in the Legion is open to all Catholic men and women who lead edifying lives and are animated by the Legion spirit or at least desire to foster that spirit in themselves and are willing to fulfill the required duties. Let’s listen to the founder himself describe the members of the Legion: “Not special souls or unusual types, but ordinary Catholics living the everyday life of the world. Its membership comprises the learned and the unlearned, laborers and leisured, the unemployed, widely differing classes, colors, races, including not a few whom the world would consider as primitive or depressed. In a word, it represents typical Catholicism.”
Persons desiring to join must apply for membership in a praesidium. A praesidium numbers from six to twenty members. Praesidia are organized with the approval of the local curia. The praesidium may be for men only, for women only, or mixed, according to circumstances and needs. Candidates have a three months’ probation in which they perform all the prescribed duties. Then they become full-fledged members by making the Legionary Promise to the Holy Spirit during the weekly meeting in the presence of the praesidium. Any member may be chosen as an officer and full obedience is given to the authority of the president approved by the spiritual director.
The Legion is a lay apostolic group and the spiritual director remains behind the scenes as advisor and director, representing the clerical guidance required by Catholic Action, which is a sharing by the laity in the apostolate of the hierarchy. A member must be at least eighteen years old. However, there are junior praesidia for those between ten and eighteen, with duties befitting their abilities, under the direction of a senior Legionary.
Auxiliary membership in the Legion of Mary is open to priests, religious and the laity. Auxiliary members do not undertake the active apostolate of weekly meetings and weekly two hour assignment.
Auxiliary membership is subdivided into two degrees:
a) the primary, whose members shall be simply styled auxiliaries; and
b) the higher, whose members shall be more particularly designated Adjutores Legionis or Adjutorians.
Auxiliary service consists in the daily recitation of the prayers comprised in the tessera, namely; the invocation and prayer of the Holy Spirit; five decades of the rosary and the invocations which follow them; the Catena; and the prayers described as “concluding prayers”. Persons who are already saying a daily rosary for any intention whatsoever may become auxiliaries without obligation to say an additional rosary.
Adjutorian membership comprises those who will (a) recite daily all the prayers of the tessera and in addition (b) agree to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion daily, and to recite daily an Office approved by the Church. Annually, as close as possible to March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, active and auxiliary Legionaries assemble in a sacred and solemn religious ceremony, called the Acies, to renew individually and collectively their consecration to the Blessed Virgin. This assembly recalls Mary’s complete dedication to the Holy Spirit during that momentous visit of the Archangel Gabriel when the fate of mankind hung in the balance and awaited Mary’s free acceptance. This impressive rite reminds every Legionary of his duty of surrendering to continue her mission of crushing the serpent’s head.
The Legion limits its activities to the spiritual sphere. It has no intentions of interfering with any other Catholic organization. There are no dues and no drives or collections of any kind, not even for charitable causes. Others do that kind of work. The secret bag collection is the only mention of finances and this voluntary contribution supports the highly organized, far-flung Legion.