Jesus answered: ‘Will you lay down your life for me?’ - John 13:38

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-Pope Benedict XVI

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Leaven in the Community - a creative minority

"Believing Christians should look upon themselves as such a creative minority and help Europe espouse once again the best of its heritage, thereby being at the service of humankind at large." --Joseph Ratzinger

Important, however, as may be the work in hand, the Legion does not regard it as the ultimate or even as the chief object of its members' apostolate. Such work may employ two, three, or many hours of the legionary's week, whereas the Legion looks beyond this to every hour of that week as radiant from the apostolic fire which has been kindled at its hearth. The system that imparts this quality of fire to souls has put abroad a mighty force. The apostolic spirit enters in only as master, dominates every thought, word, and action; and in its external manifestations is not confined to set times and places. The most diffident and otherwise least equipped person becomes invested with a peculiar capacity to influence others, so that whatever the surroundings, and even without the pursuing of a conscious apostolate, sin and indifference will end by bowing to a power greater than themselves. Universal experience teaches this. Therefore, with the satisfaction with which a general contemplates important posts adequately held, does the Legion think of each home, shop, factory, school, office, and every other place devoted to purposes of work or recreation, in which a true legionary may be set by circumstances. Even where scandal and irreligion are at their worst, entrenched so to speak, the presence of this other Tower of David will bar the way to further advance and menace the evil. The corruption will never be acquiesced in; efforts at remedy will be essayed; it will be a subject of sorrow, of prayer; will be contended against determinedly, unremittingly, and probably successfully in the end.

Thus the Legion begins by bringing its members together to persevere with one mind in prayer with their Queen. Then it sends them into the sinful and sorrowful places, there to do a good work, and by catching fire in the doing to do a greater. Finally it looks out over the highways and byways of the everyday life as the object of a still more glorious mission. Knowing what has been done by limited numbers, reflecting that the potential material for its ranks is almost beyond number, believing that its system, if vigorously utilised by the Church, affords a strangely efficacious way of purifying a sinful world, the Legion yearns exceedingly for the multiplication of its members, that it may be legion in number as in name.

Between those working actively, those giving auxiliary service and those being worked for, the whole population can be embraced, and raised from the level of neglect or routine to that of enthusiastic membership of the Church. Consider what this can mean to village or town; no longer merely in the Church, but a driving force in it, sending directly or through the Communion of Saints its impulses to the ends of the earth, and into the dark places thereof. What an ideal - a whole population organised for God! And yet this is no mere ideal. It is the most practical and possible thing in the world to-day - if eyes are but uplifted and arms unfolded.

"Yes, the laity are a 'chosen race, a holy priesthood', also called to be 'the salt of the earth' and 'the light of the world'. It is their specific vocation and mission to express the Gospel in their lives and thereby to insert the Gospel as a leaven into the reality of the world in which they live and work. The great forces which shape the world - politics, the mass media, science, technology, culture, education, industry and work - are precisely the areas where lay people are especially competent to exercise their mission. If these forces are guided by people who are true disciples of Christ, and who are, at the same time, fully competent in the relevant secular knowledge and skill, then indeed will the world be transformed from within by Christ's redeeming power." (Pope John Paul II's address in Limerick, Ireland, October 1979)

- Handbook of the Legion of Mary, Chapter 12, point 2

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