Legion of Mary System and Government
The Legion of Mary Handbook outlines and explains the Legion of Mary system, its rules, regulations, structure and government. Frank Duff envisioned the Legion of Mary to be an organization bounded by its obedience and fealty to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the Catholic Church. Thus, the object of the Legion system is to ensure that the organization carries and performs the most effective and efficient mode of operations above and beyond all other organizations for the very fact that the Legion deals with a cunning enemy in Satan. Thus, every member rendering service to the Legion (as contained in the Legion Promise) is asked to submit themselves to a faithful service of obedience and discipline: "Confident that Thou will so receive me - and use me - and turn my weakness into strength this day, I take my place in the ranks of the Legion, and I venture to promise a faithful service. I will submit fully to its discipline, which binds me to my comrades..."
Devotional System of the Legion of Mary
The orderliness of the Legion of Mary lies on its strict adherence to what Frank Duff describes as "an intensely ordered system." Duff's organizational principles reflects his natural intelligence as a writer, visionary and professional training in the field of finance and government. Therefore, no one should be surprised on the systematic aspect of the Legion rules and government. Without a strict adherence to a system, talents and efforts would easily dissipate rendering of no value to anyone. "Unharnessed the great natural resources of power run to waste. Likewise zeal unsystematized, enthusiasm undirected, never bring large results, interior or exterior and seldom are durable." (HB p. 69). Therefore, the Legion of Mary provides a system of perfecting our apostolic efforts and most importantly our love and devotion to God and Mary, allowing us and others to grow in our Christian lives. First among this is the Legion of Mary's devotion to Mary, the Mother of God.
"Under God, the Legion is built upon devotion to Mary, the "ineffable miracle of the Most High." (Pope Pius IX - HB p. 18). For the Legion of Mary, the cause of its existence is to bring Christ to the world through its unyielding love of Mary, the mother of God. Therefore, it is not enough that this devotion is expressed in prayer (Marian Novenas, Marian Pilgrimages and the Holy Rosary) or the wearing of sacramentals in particular, the Brown Scapular. Yes, these are all part of our Marian devotion, and yet NOT ENOUGH - for the Legion of Mary, real devotion to Mary obliges each one to do his or her duty towards apostleship of sanctifying the world as witnesses to God's word. "One of the dearest duties of the Legion shall be to show whole hearted devotion to the Mother of God...If the devotion is to ne in real truth a legionary devotion, it must be an essential part of the Legion..." (HB p. 32).
"Therefore, let the position be stated once again, true devotion to Mary must comprise the service of souls." (HB p. 32)
Prayer System of the Legion of Mary
The prayer system of the Legion of Mary is one and the same with the universal Church, that is through prayer, we develop a relationship with God so that our sanctity gradually evolves during our life journey... with the hope in becoming a saint. Foremost in its prayer system is the Holy Rosary, recited not only on a constant basis by its members, but said at every meeting or function of the Legion of Mary ("What the breathing is to the human body, the rosary is to the Legion meetings." (HB p. 121). The Legion prayers are invariable: " The prayers of the Legion are to be regarded as invariable. Even in the invocations, no alteration or addition is to be made, either in respect of national, local, or particular saints, or where such alteration or addition would be debatable manner." (HB p.135). THE CATENA LEGIONIS is the only prayer required for every active member to recite daily, as it is a prayer of unity that chains all the Legion members together as a family. At the heart of the Catena Legionis, is Mary's Canticle upon her visitation of her cousin Elizabeth. The antiphon has been borrowed from the Song of Songs (Chapter 6) of the Old Testament. Finally, the prayer system of the Legion is the impetus that provides the energy and the spirit to its apostolic works. The Legionary must pray as well as work. (HB p. 204).
Apostolic System of the Legion of Mary
The Legion of Mary's apostolic system has been predicated on the same mandate given to all baptized (clergy and laity) - i.e. spreading the Gospel of Christ and the salvation of souls. Essential therefore to the Legionary mandate is promoting spiritual growth in the community it serves (the parish and to a certain degree the society as a whole), "There is no justification for setting up the system at all unless such work is being undertaken. An army which refuses to engage in battle - what a misnomer." The Handbook exhorts EVERYONE who is in the active ranks of the Legion of Mary to do some form of apostolic work (that is considered heroic often requiring some form of personal contact). "Similarly, members of a Praesidium which is not engaged in some form of active work, have no right to the name of legionaries of Mary. It is reiterated that spiritual exercises do not satisfy the legionary obligation to do active work." (HB p.287).