Legion Apostolic Works
Matthew 28: 18-19 "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. GO THEREFORE AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The year was 1921 when the founding members of the Legion headed by Frank Duff, along with members of the first Legion praesidium, visited sick patients in a hospital and soon followed by its work in encouraging Dublin's 'street girls' to a weekend retreat. Early on the history of the Legion, the Legion was meant as an apostolic lay organization, following the words of Jesus Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit, and under the protection and mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In a speech in New York City addressed to members of the Legion of Mary, Venerable Servant of God Fulton Sheen, stated that the Legion 'anticipated the Second Vatican Council' referring to this undaunting spirit of evangelization. One hundred years after its first official "Legion work assignment" the San Francisco Senatus, along the thousands of other praesidia and councils of the Legion of Mary worldwide, continue to sustain the apostolic works of the Church evangelizing, seeking conversions, teaching and praying with the people of God.
Works of Conversion
The Apostolic works of the Legion of Mary are categorized into what it calls as the 3 C’s – Conversion, Conservation and Consolation. Conversion works of the Legion are apostolic works motivated towards bringing a soul a step closer to Jesus Christ, through His Church and by the means of its sacraments. Conversion works are therefore meant for the unity of all Christians for they are still separated from the one true Church and are also for unbelievers unto becoming members of the Mystical Body of Christ.
The works of conversion begin by taking ‘baby steps’ very gradually introducing the Catholic faith to others (with the hope of seeking one’s conversion). There are many means to bringing this into fruition among which is the Legion’s favorite means of evangelization - door to door visitation. Like the Mormons and the Jehovah’s, the Legion similarly go from house to house establishing friendships and engaging people into conversation and dialogue about almost anything that interests them, and then somehow end with talking about their faith. During the home visits, a prayer in front of the home is also said for the family. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, countless of conversions had been wrought through the efforts of the Legion of Mary. Protestants, unbelievers and people of other faith and religions had found their way into the Catholic Faith. Thousands of lapsed Catholics have returned to the Church and have begun once again to receive the sacraments. There are on record a great number of infants baptized and young teen agers receiving the sacrament of confirmation - thanks to the Legion members who took the initiative to encourage and remind parents of their Christian duties. The Legion’s signature work, home visitation, has proven an invaluable asset to the continuing growth of the Church.
Included in the works of conversion are Peregrinatio Pro Christo, Incolae Mariae and Exploratio Dominicalis - these are missionary activities where a team of Legionaries over an extended period of time, in a distant place, would evangelize an area deemed to have a great need of God and the Church. Over the past hundred years, the Legion in many parts of the world, has done these missionary works to complement the work of our missionary priests throughout the world. In addition to home visitations, the Legion of Mary is also engaged in apostolic works in the public square or ‘apostolate to the crowd’ street evangelization and what has been established by Frank Duff in 1935, called the Book Barrow. There have been thousands of miracles and life changing moments that have happened through these ministries. From the very beginning of our history to today, through the miracles and power of personal contact, people’s lives have been touched by God’s grace. The hopeless and the ‘most wretched’ of the population have been transformed and given new beginnings, new hope in Christ. The Legion of Mary never gives up on a poor soul in need of God. On the streets of any city, the Legion fights for the salvation of a soul. We pray for them and we pray with them. We are on the streets to inspire and to teach them about God’s love and mercy.
The Book Barrow consists of a team of Legionaries setting up a table in the public square (such as a street corner, a mall, a park or a train station) made up of Catholic religious books and materials. Its purpose is not only to disseminate books and literatures or information about the Catholic faith but more importantly, to find a means of engaging people in dialogue or conversation about religion. Hearts open when there is someone willing to listen. And from the listening, many miracles happen.
Apostolate to the Crowd/Tourist work is where members of the Legion, in pairs, talk to the people on the streets, establish friendship and engage them in conversation about God and their faith. At these apostolates, the Legionary might hand them some religious articles such as the rosary or a prayer card.
Apostolate to the Tourist serves to welcome people in a show of Christian hospitality opening to them the doors of one’s city. Here we provide information about Catholic church services, particularly Mass schedules to tourists from all over the world.
Evangelization near Abortion Clinics is an apostolic work intended to enlighten those contemplating abortion as well as those who are passing by. Following city ordinances and the law, members of the Legion give literature about the sanctity and dignity of life and information where the women can obtain help to care for themselves and their child. They also give sacramentals such as the Miraculous Medal, the Brown Scapular and the Rosary in order that those contemplating abortion may be graced through these sacramentals. These efforts have led to the saving of thousands of babies.
Works of Conservation
The works of Conservation pertain to efforts of strengthening the Catholic faith among the baptized Catholics. Examples of these works would include teaching Catechism or Faith Formation classes, organizing faith study groups such as Bible study and other forms of seminars or workshops. Since the Legion is an extension of the priest, under works of ‘conservation’ are parish-based ministries such as the Holy Hour or adoration program, devotions such as First Friday and First Saturday, Enthronement of the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Family Rosary (or the Pilgrim Virgin).
Works of Consolation
Works of Consolation are those apostolic activities that bring comfort, solace and inner peace to God’s people. These are visitation of institutions such as the prison, hospital, convalescent, nursing or retirement homes. In these apostolates, the main focus is to bring forth the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to the suffering. Holy Communion is given to ‘shut in’ Catholics. During hospital visitations, the Legion also seek out those in need of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. As needed, they make the necessary arrangements for the priest to administer the sacrament. In the prison cell, the Legionaries bring comfort and hope to those who have been incarcerated, far away from their friends and away from society. Legionaries build friendships through God’s word. As new needs arise, the Legion finds itself engaged in new apostolates.