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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Candles offered up in devotion

It's been a long time since I blogged, but while thinking of how exactly I was to share what I wanted to share, I was stunned for awhile, not quite knowing how to start...being in the legion demands a strong devotion to Mother Mary, but to me devotion to our Lord and to our Lady has always been an extremely personal thing...something that I don't quite feel comfortable talking about to friends unless the subject comes up, spreading the gospel message and all is also part of the work of the legion, and yet sometimes I am tongue-tied...but deep down inside I know how essential it is for the legionary to never "give up" and continue trying anyway, and how better than to begin first through developing a love for our Lady. I guess when one is in love, then one cannot help but talk about all things good about one's lover, and I guess to me it is only when one is truly deeply in love with Christ and our Mother Mary that then the spirit can work within us and inspire our work as legionaries as well.

According to Chapter 5 of the legionary handbook, it encourages legionaries to have a "Devotional Outlook" - I always thought that it was important during cellgroup sessions in CSS to start and end with a prayer, and in the Legion the beginning and ending of the meetings with prayer that reminds us that Mary is mediatrix of all graces, and with the rosary, the catena etc. is something that I think slowly develops a stronger sense of devotion in each and every legionary...and also one of the reasons why I was drawn to get to know more about the Legion of Mary at first, being known as the "Rosary group" might be a misconception, but it's not necessarily a bad thing! I also thought that it was sweet to acknowledge the presence of Mother Mary in the room during the meetings, always starting the reports of the week with "Good evening Mother Mary," then "and brothers and sisters", and how important it is to remember that she is always there watching over us as we go about our daily work. Alone, I don't think I could manage anything at all! But the thought of our Lady being there with us through everything gives the confidence, like how a child learning to take one's first steps is gently guided by the hand of a loving and gentle mother.

Being away in France and visiting so many churches that are named after Our Lady, every other church in France in every little countryside town is a "Notre-Dame", reminds one that devotion towards our Lady is still very much alive! But exactly how active anymore, I wasn't sure...throughout my journey in France I was constantly reminded by my other 3 Catholic companions that France is becoming an increasingly secular country that is PROUD to be secular...
but during the Sunday masses, the churches are still filled with people. I'd like to be optimistic and think that the need to know that Jesus is still our savior and to feel the love of Christ through the Eucharistic celebration is still what is pulling Catholics back to church. At every church, even the tiniest village ones, there are still many many blazing candles that are offered up to our Lord and to Mother Mary as well, prayers of many believers who are seeking miracles, or seeking to know God better, or praying for their loved ones...that is most inspiring, that devotion towards Christ and Mother Mary will never flicker out, candles are being continuously lit, especially in this present age of increasing secularism, of wars, of divorce and a milion and one other things that causes people to hurt, one NEEDS hope.

In the legion handbook, on page 23, point 6, is the subtitle "If Mary were but Known!", "The argument of Father Faber is that Mary is not half enough known or loved, with sad results for souls", followed by point 7, "If devotion to Mary will work such wonders, then the great purpose must be to bring that instrument to bear, to bring Mary to the world." Indeed, I think that through Mother Mary people get to grow closer to God, I think that the number of converts that first came to know more about the faith through attending Novena at Novena church is testament to that...there's also that strange syndrome that sometimes where inviting friends to attend a half hour Novena on Saturdays is less daunting that asking for a non/lapsed-Catholic to try participating in a full Sunday mass...
But anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I like how the handbook emphasises in point 7 that devotion to Mary will work such wonders, and that it is through a lay apostolic organisation, like the legion, that such is possible, because it is through loving Mary, that we get to know our Mother better, that we get to know how to love better, and also learn to "involve the hearts of all others in that love; utilising all its avenus of action to fulfil this purpose" - of learning how to love, with the heart of Mary.

Hundreds of people at the evening procession at Lourdes

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