"THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE"
(1 Cor 13:13)
Mary was so utterly full of charity that she was found worthy to conceive and bring into the world him who is Charity itself. The Legion of Mary, depending for its very life on devotedness to her and imitation of her, must necessarily be distinguished by this selfsame quality of intense charity. It must be full of charity: then only will it bring charity into the world. It is important, therefore, that the following directives be carefully observed.
1. For entry to the ranks of the Legion, there shall be no social, racial, national or colour discrimination. Fitness for membership is to be the only test. The legionary apostolate will accomplish even more by indirect action, that is, as the leaven in the community, than directly by the works in hand. If the entire community is to be brought fully under the influence of legionary action, it follows that the Legion's ranks must contain representatives of every section of the community.
2. Within its own ranks there should be an unaffected simplicity and sincere mutual charity among the members, all distinctions being non-existent. If love is due to those whom the legionary serves, it is no less due to one's fellow-members. The spirit of distinction is evidence of the absence of the first qualification for membership, which is the spirit of love. The whole idea and spirit of the Legion is one of intense charity and sympathy, which before radiating its warmth outside must first of all burn brightly and strongly on the domestic hearth of the Legion itself. "By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (Jn 13:35)
Charity practised in its ranks will soon be practised at large. Divisions removed by membership are on the way to being removed from people outside.
3. Towards other organisations, whose aims are compatible with the Church's mission, there should be a spirit of readiness to give cooperation and assistance whenever possible. Not all Catholics can be brought into the Legion's own ranks for its requirements are far from easy, however, all should be encouraged to participate in some way in the work of the Church. Legionaries can further this through their apostolate and personal contacts. It should be noted, however, that whatever cooperation is given should not place additional burdens on legionaries to the detriment of their own apostolate. It is important, also, that there be discernment in regard to the degree and type of assistance which is given and to whom it is given. In this connection, reference should also be made to the sections 'Control of the work by the Praesidium' (ch 39, no. 6) and 'The intimate nature of the legionary work must be safeguarded' (ch. 39, no. 8).
4. Towards the Pastors of the Church there should be shown the filial love due to them as spiritual fathers and shepherds. Legionaries should share their anxieties and help them by prayer and, as far as possible, by active work so that they may be better able to overcome difficulties and carry out their duties with greater success.
Since pastors of the Church have the God-given role of communicating divine truth and graces of the sacraments, it should be the legionaries' concern to keep people in
touch with these bearers of divine gifts and to repair the link where it has been broken.
This is especially necessary in the case of those who are in anyway alienated from the clergy for reasons, justified or unjustified.
People who are seriously ill can be very reluctant to consult a doctor. Often it takes one's marriage partner, family or friend to supply the necessary encouragement.
When spiritual health is at stake, much depends on the quality of charity in those who are close to the one needing help.
The formation of legionaries helps them to take the initiative in mediating between priests and souls, and to do so with gentle refinement. This is an exquisite form of charity. They act as agents of the Good Shepherd who calls them, through their baptism to enter into his work.
"If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end." (1 Cor 13:1-8)