It's a defining moment in a parent's life: Seeing their unborn child's image on an ultrasound for the first time. Now pregnant women could have the chance to hold a life-size model of their unborn baby.
The startling new medical technology is the result of a Royal College of Art design student's PhD.
Support the Holy Father and pray with him!
-Pope Benedict XVI
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
O blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, I, N.N., take you this day for my special protectors and advocates with God. In all humility I rejoice with thee, blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, because thou art the rock whereon God built His Church; and I rejoice with thee, too, blessed Paul, because thou wast chosen of God for a vessel of election, and preacher of the truth throughout the world. Ask for me, I pray you both, a lively faith, firm hope, and perfect charity, entire detachment from myself, contempt of the world, patience in adversity, humility in prosperity, attention in prayer, purity of heart, right intention in my works, diligence in the fulfilment of all duties of my state of life, constancy in my good resolutions, resignation to the holy will of God, perseverance in His grace even unto death; that by your joint intercession and your glorious merits, I may overcome the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and be made worthy to stand before the face of the chief and eternal Bishop of Souls, Jesus Christ our Lord, to enjoy Him and to love Him for all eternity, Who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth ever, world without end, Amen.
Pater. Ave. Gloria.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
"Enter through the narrow gate;for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,and those who enter through it are many.How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.And those who find it are few."
Obedience- the antidote to Relativism
These days, you will frequently hear people say that everything is relative. In some cases, this may be true, such as when a person falls in love with another person. He or she may find qualities in the other person that nobody else can see, and that is for him to cherish. But modern man would extend this even further as to say that “There is no objective right or objective wrong.” After all, if there is no absolute truth, no absolute morality, anything goes. This is exactly the antithesis of what the Catholic Church teaches. As the Holy Father once said, “Truth cannot be decided by a majority vote.” Morality is not decided by numbers.
This is why the Church is consistently mocked and derided today. For her steadfastness to the truth, the Church is showered with ridicule. When the Holy Father affirmed that condoms can never the solve the AIDS problem in Africa, he was pronouncing the truth that the Church has always maintained, and the truth which science can verify. But relativists do not believe this. For them, the Church is just a backward institution that is behind the times. However, the fruits of relativism clearly show that it is gravely flawed. Because of it, we have mothers legally killing their children, and children legally killing their parents. The line that draws what is morally right from what is morally wrong is always being shifted around, for the convenience of personal opinion.
This week, we celebrate the lives of great saints who firmly believed that truth is not up for a vote. St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, two great English Martyrs, refused to budge as so many of their fellow countrymen did, when King Henry VIII of England sought to divorce his wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon. You see, he was besotted with the Queen’s maid, Anne Boleyn. Anne, who refused to be just another one of the King’s mistresses, refused the King until he offers her a betrothal ring. Moreover, Queen Catherine, while she bore him a daughter, had still not given Henry a boy to be the heir to the throne. So the King wanted to divorce his wife. But Rome spoke, and Rome said no. Jesus had said, “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” Failing to acquire a divorce or an annulment, King Henry VIII finally broke away from Rome, divorced Queen Catherine, married Anne Boleyn, and declared himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. But St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More would have none of it. When they refused to acknowledge the King’s authority over spiritual matters, they were accused of high treason and were sentenced to die by beheading. They remained steadfast to the Faith and they paid dearly for it. Those who were one of the few men to keep their heads were the first ones to lose it.
These two men, faithful to the Church, show us Legionaries the way to fight back against relativism. That is with perfect obedience to the Church, perfect obedience to the One God. For obedience implies that there is an ideal that we all aspire to. We know that there is Him and only Him. Obedience presupposes that we are obeying Someone, and that this Someone has set firmly the line that marks what is right and what is wrong. There is an absolute standard. Our standard is Jesus Christ—The Way, The Truth, and The Life. The Legion handbook says that the Legionary is measured not by the greatness of his works or by the vastness of his knowledge, but by his obedience to the Legion system—nothing more and nothing less. We are called to this heroic docility, to die to our own pride.
Let us go back to the Story of the Fall. What was the original sin? Disobedience. Adam and Eve, seduced by Satan, disobeyed God’s command. By that, they were taken out of God’s presence, and would pass on this original sin to us all. But when Jesus came, he reversed everything that Adam did and became the New Adam. As Adam was born of the virgin earth, Jesus was born of a Virgin mother. Jesus also went through all stages of life, so that whatever was fallen in our natures because of Adam’s sin, was made new in Christ. Mary also reversed what Eve did—while Eve was seduced by the serpent, Mary was seduced by the Words of the Angel. Eve’s No to God was countered with Mary’s Yes. There’s a tradition in the Church that the tree from which the cross of Jesus was made, came from the seed of the Tree of Life in the Garden Eden. When Adam lay dying, he begged his son Seth to go to the Archangel Michael and beg for a seed from the Tree of Life. As he died, the seed was placed in Adam's mouth and was buried with him. The seed grew into a tree and emerged from his mouth. Tradition also holds that the place where Jesus was crucified, Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, was the burial place of Adam and Eve. Out of disobedience, Adam and Eve plucked the apple from the tree and Man fell. But out of obedience, perfect and complete obedience, Jesus hung himself onto a cross, and Man was redeemed.
Let us be reminded of this when our courage seems to fail us and we find it hard to do our allocated works and duties. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Obedience unites us so closely to God that in a way transforms us into Him, so that we have no other will but His. If obedience is lacking, even prayer cannot be pleasing to God.”
Let us pray then that we may always model our lives according to Our Lord and Our Lady, that we may always be obedient to God, to the promptings of His Holy Spirit, so that we may have all the courage we need to resist the temptations from the devil.
“The Devil doesn’t fear austerity but holy obedience.” – St. Francis de Sales
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
“Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.”
“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
14 O Sacred Heart, O Love Divine.mp3 -
O Sacred Heart! O Love Divine!
Do keep us near to Thee;
And make our love so like to Thine
That we may holy be.
Heart of Jesus hear!
O heart of Love Divine!
Listen to our Prayer;
Make us alway Thine.
O Temple pure! O House of gold!
Our heaven here below
What sweet delight, what wealth untold,
From Thee do ever flow.
Heart of Jesus hear!
O heart of Love Divine!
Listen to our Prayer;
Make us alway Thine.
O Wounded Heart, O Font of tears!
O Throne of grief and pain!
Whereon for the eternal years,
Thy love for man does reign.
Heart of Jesus hear!
O heart of Love Divine!
Listen to our Prayer;
Make us alway Thine.
Ungrateful hearts, forgetful hearts,
The hearts of man have been,
To wound Thy side with cruel darts
Which they have made by sin.
Heart of Jesus hear!
O heart of Love Divine!
Listen to our Prayer;
Make us alway Thine.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Mention the word Buddhist and what most people draw up is an image of the stereotypic liberal: hippie, junkie, vegan, possibly homosexual, and now, even pro-abortion. Drugs and vegetarianism aside, let me clear any confusion there is about abortion.
This is from a Buddhist’s point of view.
Alright, first off, let us examine as to why certain people hold such a view. It’s not that it’s entirely wrong to say that some ‘modern’ Buddhists today actually uphold this image, but it is wrong to say that all Buddhists in general conform to this image. In fact, only a handful so called Buddhists do, and, according to Buddhist terms, this handful does not qualify as Buddhists.
One must understand that Buddhism is a very free religion, with no commandments or god to obey. It is not at all as strict as Christianity, Islam, or even Judaism. Unfortunately, it is this freedom that is abused by the naive and dim-witted.
Many people who want to follow in their frivolous lifestyles assume that they will be free from judgment by a god or any other all-powerful deity if they embrace Buddhism. Buddhism is their ‘way out’ of a ‘system’ that bars them from their activities. They use – or should I say misuse – this freedom and take it as a shield while they engage in their frivolous and irresponsible activities. They use Buddhism as an excuse.
So what is the Buddhist view on this subject of abortion? Before we get into the details, let us first come up with a definition for the term.
“An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo, resulting in or caused by its death. An abortion can occur spontaneously due to complications during pregnancy or can be induced, in humans and other species. In the context of human pregnancies, an abortion induced to preserve the health of the pregnant female is termed a therapeutic abortion, while an abortion induced for any other reason is termed an elective abortion. The term abortion most commonly refers to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy, while spontaneous abortions are usually termed miscarriages.”
Okay, so abortion = termination of a pregnancy resulting in the death of the fetus.
Now let’s look at why abortions are carried out.
1. Medical complications – Either both mother and child, or mother alone, may have fatal or serious complications if the pregnancy is allowed to be carried to term.
2. Rape victims – Rape victims who have become pregnant do not wish to carry the child of their rapist. This decision is usually carried out as a result of emotional trauma, including hatred, and shame. Sometimes it is the family of the victim that persuades her to go through with an abortion, for the sake of saving the family reputation. The victim is left with the decision to bring the baby to the world and lose support from her family, give the baby up for adoption, or to abort the pregnancy. Usually, the family does not opt for adoption because society will get to know about the mother’s pregnancy. After all, it is pretty hard to hide a progressively developing belly (unless you tell people you’ve got a massive tumor growing in there...). Therefore abortion is usually the most common choice.
3. ‘Accidents’ happen. A wild night out, or a one night stand (without the pills, or condoms) sometimes ends up with the female party getting knocked up. Neither parents are ready to take up responsibility for their actions and therefore decide to just easily abort the pregnancy.
Why is abortion viewed merely as something scientific, or medical, rather than something closely related to ethics? Or morals? When you break something down so much into establishing it as a scientific procedure that is exactly what it becomes: just another scientific procedure. And when we think scientific, we don’t exactly think religion, or morals, do we? No, because we are taught – especially at the beginning of a semester of genetics – that science and religion don’t mix. So abortion suddenly becomes just another surgery. A quick fix to a ‘problem’.
Can there really be a scientific religion in actual existence? Science and religion are supposed to be two different things. Science attempts to explain and find answers to questions that deal with the natural world, the mundane everyday world and universe that is perceived by the senses. Religion, on the other hand, tries to explain things that cannot be otherwise explained in the mundane world. Religion deals with the supernatural and the spiritual.
However, it is interesting to note that Buddhism is neither a science nor a religion. It is not a science because it does not deal only with the world perceived by our senses, and it is not a religion because it does not require ‘belief’ in anything. That is why, if you ask a Buddhist, they’d say ‘I know’ instead of ’I believe’. Neither is it a philosophy, as most commonly refer to it.
However, what Buddhism really is has been greatly misunderstood by those new to the subject. Most blatantly assume that, because Buddhism agrees with a lot of things in modern science, everything scientific is accepted in Buddhism. This is not true. Science is science, and its existence does not rely on morals. Buddhism, on the other hand, is not at all devoid of morals. After all, the very first precept in the Buddhist disciplinary code is “I shall abstain from taking life.”
This is part of the karaniya metta sutta (discourse on loving kindness):Let one contemplate and wish:May all beings be well and safe.May all beings be happy.Whatever living beings there may be—whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,the great or the mighty, medium size, short, small, or large,those seen and those unseen, those dwelling near and far away,those born as well as those yet to be born—may all beings be happy at heart.From a Buddhist’s point of view, I don’t think we can accept only the scientific definition of what a life is, or more precisely, when a fertilized egg can be considered a human life. We cannot judge whether something is a life or not just because it doesn’t look human or animal.
Most people who’re anti-abortion go to great lengths to carry their cause either by trying to prove that a fetus’ heart starts to beat after so long, or by holding nauseating posters of aborted fetuses. I think this is a simple point and doesn’t need to be carried so far. Simply: if a woman is pregnant, that means she is carrying life, be it one cell or a mass of cells without any discernible features.
Re-read the passage from the karaniya metta sutta. Pay special attention to the line before the last: “those born as well as those yet to be born”. It is obvious that, according to Buddhism, one must respect all life, even those that are yet to be born. If you call yourself a Buddhist and yet say that you are in favor of abortion, then you’re throwing away the meaning of the very first precept of abstaining from taking life. You cannot contemplate and wish for the well-being, safety, and happiness of all beings if you are in favor of taking away an unborn life.
Fortunately, I have no illegitimate children born out of wed lock or as a result of rape. Heaven forbid that ever happens, and I do not wish it to happen to anybody else either! I am not denying that rape is a heinous crime and that it is an extremely painful ordeal that even a lifetime may not be able to erase. But there cannot be any justification in taking away the life of the unborn child that has come into existence as a result of it. After all, what has the child done to deserve such a fate? It may not be an easy thing to do, but to let go of the attachment to the memory of it is possibly the best way to heal: letting go and moving on just like everything else that arises, comes to be, and passes away.
Also, society should be more understanding of victims of rape and should stop stigmatizing them. There are some idiots who blame the victim for what happened! Yeah, I have no clue where they get their logic from...
The worst kind, however, are the people who casually have sex – irresponsibly – whenever they want to and then just very easily throw away the life of an unborn child just because they are not ready to take up responsibility.
What about the case where an abortion needs to be carried out for medical reasons (therapeutic abortion)? What’s the Buddhist view on that? Is it okay to perform a therapeutic abortion? Once again, life is more important than anything else. If you can save at least one life, then it is better than letting two die. Therefore yes, it is okay.
The bottom line is that elective abortion does not sit anywhere on the list of ‘Okays’ in Buddhism, so please do not assume that Buddhism sits in favor of abortion. Buddhism is not a ‘get-away’ ticket or a ‘quick fix’. It is an education and a way of life.
To find out why Buddhism is neither a philosophy nor a doctrine, read the excerpt from a conversation between Dighanaka the ascetic and the Gautama Buddha which I’ve included at the bottom of this post. Link: http://thebuddhistblog.blogspot.com/2006/01/buddhism-is-not-philosophy-or-doctrine.html
 The concept of ‘letting go’ comes from the Buddhist teaching that all things are Anicca (impermanent), Dukkha (unsatisfactory), and Anatma (lacking self). Link: http://www.beyondthenet.net/dhamma/trilogy.htm
Buddhism: Neither a Philosophy nor a Doctrine
Dighanakha asked the Buddha, "Gautama, what is your teaching? What are your doctrines? For my part, I dislike all doctrines and theories. I don't subscribe to any at all."
The Buddha smiled and asked, "Do you subscribe to your doctrine of not following any doctrines? Do you believe in your doctrine of not-believing?"
Somewhat taken aback, Dighanakha replied, "Gautama whether I believe or don't believe is no importance."
The Buddha spoke gently, "Once a person is caught by belief in a doctrine, he loses all his freedom. When one becomes dogmatic, he believes his doctrine is the only truth and that all other doctrines are heresy. Disputes and conflicts all arise from narrow views. They can extend endlessly, wasting precious time and sometimes even leading to war. Attachment to views is the greatest impediment to the spiritual path. Bound to narrow views, one becomes so entangled that it is no longer possible to let the door of truth open."
Dighanakha asked, "But what of your own teaching? If someone follows your teaching will he become caught in narrow views?"
"My teaching is not a doctrine nor a philosophy. It is not the result of discursive thought or mental conjecture like various philosophies which contend that the fundamental essence of the universe is fire, water, earth, wind, or spirit, or that the universe is either finite or infinite, temporal, or eternal. Mental conjecture and discursive thought about truth are like ants crawling around the rim of the bowl -- they never get anywhere. The things I say come from my own experience. You can confirm them all by your own experience.
My goal is not to explain the universe, but to help guide others to have a direct experience of reality. Words cannot describe reality. Only direct experience enables us to see the true face of reality."Dighanakha exclaimed, "Wonderful, wonderful Gautama! But what would happen if a person did perceive your teaching as a dogma?"
I must state clearly that my teaching is method to experience reality and not reality itself, just as a finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself. An intelligent person makes use of the finger to see the moon."
Monday, June 8, 2009
Frank Duff had less than two weeks to live when he issued a simple challenge to every legionary. It was this: "Can we induce ever legionary in the world to indulge in dreaming with Mary about souls, praying with her for a minute a day over a map of the world?" If we could do that it would afford an opening for the motherly operations of Mary. It is part of her office as mother to seize on any such opportunity. Nothing is more certain than that something would happen. Dreaming with Mary is the most solid of actions, for she adds in the substance. The one mistake which we can make is to dream on too low a level where faith is low and thin and poor and feeble.
So, the last challenge from Frank Duff to every member of the Legion he founded was that they should think in terms of the apparently impossible, the conquest of the world for souls. He fervently believed that Mary would make the dream come true.
After all, had he not every right to believe that? He thought of that day in 1921 when some simple people came together to discuss Mary's place in God's plan for the salvation of the world. It never occurred to them to doubt. They asked questions, seeking for information and at the end of the meeting they were satisfied: They were glad to know that Our Lady was so great; so much more than they had thought. They wanted to establish a new relationship with her. Seventeen days later those same people came together in another room in the same building. They asked, how does One put into an apostolic society the suppliant omnipotence of Mary? There was no talk of constituting Mary the patron of what they wanted to do. They knew she was too big for that. In their previous meeting they had discussed her as the Arbiter of the salvation of the world, the Mother of God and of men, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Mediatrix of graces. So they said to her ever so simply, "Lead us". She did. The Legion of Mary was born. Frank Duff had seen its amazing growth: It was evangelization at its best, the Church at work on that for which Christ founded it.
Fifty years or so after those momentous beginnings, Pope Paul declared that that which had been born on September 7th, 1921 was the most important development in, the Church since the uprise of the great Religious Orders. He added that what he liked best about it was that it knew how to utilize the little people of the world ..
Just before that, Pope John said something which was one of the most precious of all Frank Duffs memories; namely that the Legion of Mary presents the true face of the Catholic Church. Frank said that that phrase touches final heights and no more need be said, except to insist that Mary is the reason for all that has been achieved.
"Conquest comes through Mary", says the present Holy Father. Every Legionary should try to dream every day of the conquest for souls. As the whole Legion looks out over the whole world, wondering how it is going to set the mother influence of Mary flowing over every continent, so, each individual Legionary looks over his or her field of apostolate and wonders the same thing: How is it to be brought beneath the mother influence of Mary?
In that last talk of his, Frank Duff asked those present to imagine a meeting of Our Lady, St. Peter and the Apostles, as they planned the conversion of the world Their task was to give Christ to every Soul. Their vision of the world was far more limited than ours. The places they knew something about would have to come first. But as the world opened up, the new would be attended to.
The Legion today must do what Our lady and the Apostles did in the first days of the life of the infant Church; Now we are faced with immense questions. Frank Duff stated them in that last address of his. How is the Catholic faith to be given to five thousand million people who have not got it; while at the same time stirring up the nine hundred million who have it but should have it better? A sceptic would think it madness even to think about such a problem. What can anybody do about it? Frank said the scoffer would be wrong," Much can be done about it: because the divine infinitude can be arrayed against that apparently unsolvable problem. Ideas germinate, are discussed, referred to Jesus and Mary, and then put into operation. Souls are touched and begin to expand. The evangelization of more places begins; Catholic life is on its way in. Those places would be playing valuable parts in future days in giving the faith to others; Here are Frank Duff's own words,
"If we make our fervent act of faith in Jesus and Mary and then, consign the problem to the Legion system, it is almost like putting it on a conveyor belt. It is on its way. On its way to where? Inevitably to an, immensity not to be measured by our poor contribution but by the might and love Of heaven; The perspectives are unending if we are hand-in hand with Mary. There will be no notice standing in our path: 'Thus far and no farther shall you go:'"
So that, is, why his last wish was that every Legionary should dream dreams, dreams about the conquest of souls for Christ through Mary. Should we not have another dream too? It would be of the whole Church with priests in every parish in every diocese in every country becoming enthused by the ideals of Frank Duff and trying to put them into action in all their undiluted fullness. Surely, if that were to happen, it would be the best possible response to the appeal of the Vicar of Christ for a decade of true evangelization.
Read more articles here
Monday, June 1, 2009
I think these holidays are the perfect time to pause and examine our praesidium. The coming matriculation fair will be a crucial one, and so will the new semester. It would be good if we could spend these few months, in preparation, trying to find specific areas to improve. Hopefully we can devise concrete steps on how we can better live out Legionary duties as a Praesidium.
In today’s allocutio I’ll touch very briefly on a few broad ideas of Legionary service which might be useful to ponder upon with regard to our own Praesidium.
Some weeks ago, Ferdinand talked about Marian devotion, I’ll touch on the topic a bit too.
Our Praesidium is like Her body. Our duty is to provide Her with a foothold to act in the world, a channel through which She can distribute the graces the Lord has entrusted to Her.
We know that we must never approach any work or any person except through and with Our Blessed Mother. How do we live that in reality? It must be something conscious, at the forefront of our thoughts when we carry out our apostolic work. It’s not just a theory at the back of our mind, something to feel good about. She must be at the top of our minds, always on our lips, and never leave our hearts, because it is through Her that we bring Jesus Christ to the world and the world to Jesus Christ.
Our priorities must be in line with our Queens. “She was consumed with love for Her Son in Himself, in His Church, in His earthly Vicar, in His priests, in all His members. The centre of Her life after His ascension was surely in the Blessed Sacrament.” (Jubilee Talks, 61). This must the the case for each of us too.
This brings us to a second theme: that of our interior life.
Our apostolate, and indeed our entire lives must revolve around Holy Mass. Do we go regularly for weekday Mass, and invite other Catholics to join us too? We can offer our apostolic efforts to God during Mass and ask Him to make them fruitful.
We must also never forget the Holy Spirit, Whose Spouse Mary is. Fr Marin told us at our retreat to be open to the Holy Spirit, to be generous – do whatever He prompts us to do.
It is to the Holy Spirit that our Legion is dedicated and it is to Him that we promise our faithful service. He’s also the Giver of Life, the dynamic power of God. He gets things done!
At yesterday’s Legion meeting, Daniel reminded us of the theme chosen for last year’s WYD: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses ” (Acts 1:8).
Prayer and the apostolate are extremely interconnected. Each depends on the other and each makes the other more fruitful. A healthy prayer life is the vital energy behind our apostolate. It is through prayer that we realise how to improve on our apostolic efforts. Likewise, a vigorous apostolate provides much material to take to our prayer – our contacts, our methods of reaching out, our own demeanour and actions all can be taken to our Lord in prayer.
Related to this, I think we should be very concerned about our auxiliaries. They are like the interior life of our praesidium.
We must also pray earnestly and seriously for out Praesidium and the Legion worldwide.
In addition to a strong interior life, we also must be filled with zeal for the Legion apostolate. Do we realise that the cause we are fighting for is worth our efforts; that we are on a mission that is greater than our own whims and feelings? Or is the Legion just a way to do a bit of good work, so that we can feel satisfied with ourselves? Is it one of many projects? Or is it something more? Are we on Legionary duty all the time?
We must be on fire! Look how enthusiastic the forces of the world are! See how active the devil is in today’s world! Can we afford to be lukewarm?
A zealous spirit encourages our fellow Legionaries and attracts Catholics to the Legion. A zeal for the Legion perhaps especially includes a zeal for doing work through the Legion. The purpose of the Legion is to weld its members together into one body (Handbook, 74). This should be reflected in our reports. Are we too often involved only in our own personal contacts? Do we do enough work as a praesidium? This is another feature that could affect our ability to recruit. If all we do is of a personal nature, a non-Legionary might come to the conclusion that he can do similar work on his own. He would see no need to join the Legion and attend its meetings. The idea of doing heroic work as a group – work that an individual cannot do on his own – is attractive.
One sure way to keep our zeal high is to read the Handbook. Read the Maria Legionis. The Maria Legionis is not meant as a piece of leisure reading. Francis Canon Ripley (Jubilee Talks) says it should be a source of inspiration, a source of ideas for work done and the subject of our allocutios.
Officers: keep us informed about what’s going on in Curia, in other Praesidia in Singapore and in the Legion worldwide. That way we can realise that we’re fighting a worldwide battle. It also should help us keep in mind something Ferdinand mentioned last week: that our efforts might bear fruit, not in our own praesidium, but in some other praesidium, in another part of the world, at some other time.
Also conversely, when we are lukewarm, lacking zeal, the entire Legion suffers.
“The Legion will be what the sum total of the efforts of the individual members make it. Each individual has an irreplaceable part to play. At the Praesidium level this means that the ordinary members should be treated as precious people, as other Marys, other Christs. Everybody should be courageous enough to initiate frank discussion in all charity to promote zeal, enterprise, enthusiasm and a true Marian spirit.” (Jubilee Talks, 38)
This zeal requires a spirit of sacrifice from the Legionaries. You don’t lose anything when you work for Christ and His kingdom: “Just as the Paschal Candle suffers no loss when the other lights are taken from it, so our Christ-likeness gives itself to the world without suffering any loss in the process.” (Jubilee Talks, 33).
It’s worth remembering here the words of our Holy Father during his Inauguration Mass:
“And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return.”
Last Thursday I attended a meditation at Opus Dei. Fr Lebano mentioned the need to cultivate of human perfections and human virtues. He said that the current Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarria, is very keen on increasing the number of vocations to Opus Dei. When someone asked him what more they should do to achieve this , he replied that one thing they must do is to be more attractive. Each of us Legionaries, and the Praesidium as a whole too, must strive to be more attractive. To be Christ-like is to be cheerful, caring, peaceful, loving. Sometimes we tend to underestimate the power of a simple “how are you?” or a message of encouragement. It is this love that draws members to the Praesidium.
Of course “charity begins at home.” “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35). We shouldn’t only be cheerful and polite to contacts. Let this praesidium be a true family brimming with love and friendship.
Fr Lebano gave our dear Pope as an example of being Christ-like through little gestures. Upon being elected to the See of Peter as he was leaving his former residences in Rome, he took the time to go to each of his neighours to bid them farewell (and tell them that they could now find him a short distance away, at the Apostolic Palace :))
I find this passage from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans (12: 9-12) very beautiful:
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Finally I’ll touch a bit on the perils of routine and the idea of renewal. I quote a passage from Canon Ripley’s allocutios. I think it’s useful that we think about this especially when we plan our work for next semester:
Has your Council of Praesidium settled down into a happy routine, doing the same works,, visiting the same people in the same way, reporting always in the identical, matter-of-fact fashion? Have you, personally, tried to infuse new ideas, stimulate the Praesidium to tackle new works, vary its approach or really face up to the problems which confront it?
If the Legion in its Councils, Praesidia or members is not working to the maximum capacity, the mother-love of Mary is being frustrated. She wants to reach out to multitudes of souls through Her Legion, but Her Legionaries are too set in their ways, fail to recruit new members, refuse to widen their horizons or shy at the prospect of heroic work.
We must realise that the aim of the Legion of Mary is to mobilize the whole community to apostleship. At the moment I doubt if the Legion is working to one tenth of its capacity in some of the places where it exists.
We have a duty to try to bring everybody into the ranks of active membership. Do not object that we cannot include non-practicing Catholics or those outside the Church. We cannot include them in their present state: BUT WE MUST TRY TO CHANGE THAT STATE. We are not even making enough effort to recruit Mass-going Catholics into the Legion. The death knell of the Legion has sounded in any place in which the Legionaries are regarded as super-Catholics, an exclusive company of selected souls amongst whom more ordinary people are not welcome. Such an idea is contrary to the spirit and the constitution of the Legion of Mary. Read your Handbook: THE LEGION OF MARY IS OPEN TO ALL CATHOLICS WHO, LEAD EDIFYING LIVES, ARE ANIMATED BY THE SPIRIT OF THE LEGION (OR AT LEASR DESIRE TO FOSTER THAT SPIRIT IN THEMSELVES) AND ARE PREPARED TO FULFULL EACH AND EVERY DUTY WHICH MEMBERSHIP IN THE LEGION INVOLVES. If people think they are being excluded from the Legion, they will develop antagonism to it...
Recruiting is a first Legionary principle. Perhaps one of the reasons why our recruiting figure is so low or why certain admittedly weak Praesidia fail to grow, is that the work has settled down to routine...
The important thing about our work is to be quite definite about the end-product. What are we aiming at? Are we taking all possible means to that end? Can we not enlarge our productive capacity?...There is no limit to what could be done – and it is easy to see that if it were being done, all dominated by the spirit of Mary, new members would come to the Legion, new interest would be created by the varied reports and immense good would result in the Church.”
(Jubilee Talks, 48-50)
Finally, let us be hopeful, and let us expect miracles. Since we trust that we are fighting God’s battle, with Mary as our General, we should be confident – because God does not lose battles.
Let us ask our dear Mother to always protect our Praesidium and make it fruitful.
May the love you bore your Son teach us to love God with all our heart, strength and soul. May the Almighty show us his mercy, strengthen us with his power, and fill us with every good thing (cf. Lk 1:46-56). Amen
(Pope Benedict XVI, Address at Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem, May 13, 2009.)