Acies Ceremony of the Bethlehem Curia, 2009

One possible way of describing the Legion of Mary is to say that it consists of ordinary people, leading their everyday lives in a very extraordinary way. Frank Duff is an interesting character. He was fascinated by the virtue of humbleness yet he was enthusiastic about a life of holiness. Humbleness is about the lowest, and holiness about the highest. How is it possible to connect them or have them both? The answer came in the form of a person, both humblest and holiest, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the Lord’s maidservant and she is the Mother of God. She lives in the forgotten town of Nazareth, whose name does not even appear in the whole Old testament; yet she dwells in the presence of God Almighty. She is the Queen of the Universe and is Our Lady of Sorrows. Duff was absolutely right: in no other creature can we behold humbleness shining forth with such an intensity, and also holiness in such a magnificent display.

Two particular episodes in the life of the Blessed Virgin have grabbed the attention and devotion of true Christians along the centuries: the Annunciation and the Crucifixion. In case we wonder what they have in common, a possible answer is: motherhood. Quite obviously, the Virgin of Nazareth received a kindest invitation to become the mother of the Son of God; in a less obvious manner, she received, at the foot of the Cross, the rather difficult call to give up that very Son, so as to bestow the gift of life on each and every human being. In the Annunciation she accepted to become the Mother of Christ; at the Crucifixion she accepted to become Mother of the Christian People.

Today we can contemplate Mary as the Virgin who pronounced the decisive “Yes,” and was faithful to that “Yes” down to the very end. “Yes” to Christ, and “Yes” to every Christian, past, present or to become. Mary’s acceptance of God’s will is, objectively speaking, the first fruit of the gospel, and the first means to transmit the gospel. She is “full of grace,” as the Angel beautifully addressed her, and she is “throne of grace” and “tabernacle of the Holy Spirit,” as the Church has called and invoked her for centuries. It is important to realise that whenever a person utters that “Yes” to Christ, their utterance cannot be but united with the very acceptance that brought Christ to human history, in the first place. We cannot be Christians leaving aside the way Christ came to dwell on this Earth!

In that sense, the Acies of the Legion of Mary is, above all, an open—even candid—proclamation of what we are as a people redeemed by Christ and called to lead a true Christian life. If the baptism is the essential “Yes” we give to God’s love as displayed on the Cross, the Acies is the public renovation of that “Yes” beneath the maternal protection and after the sublime example of the Most Blessed Virgin. Along with her, and following her, we wish to proclaim that our lives were incomplete without Christ, and they will be tragically incomplete without Him. We wish to stand by the Cross, as Mary did, to renovate our love, our faith and our hope from the streams flowing from Christ’s heart.

The fact that this noble celebration takes place every year is also a reminder. Years past we have come to present our allegiance to this same Humble, Holy, Heavenly Queen. The majority of us have said already many times that we want to be hers. Isn’t the present ceremony a good occasion to check how good or bad we have delivered what we voluntarily promised and professed? If our conscience remains without blemish, let us thank God, giver of all graces; if on the contrary something burdens our hearts, we can always remember that Lent is time for repentance and we can always claim the stream of mercy that flows from the Cross, and the rays of help that shine out from the hands of the Virgin.

Our Lady of Hope

I guess we must see the current emphasis on hope as a true blessing. It was first pope Benedict with his Letter Encyclical “Spe Salvi” (In Hope We Were Saved) of November 30th, 2007. More recently the election of Barack Obama as president of the USA has become like a huge message of hope for millions of Americans and people of all trends of life around the globe.

As Christians we are not keen on fantasy. So often excessive illusion leads to utter delusion! Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, is clearly a messenger of and a witness to hope but he is not a preacher of unreal expectancies or impossible dreams. On the contrary, his language can be very hard to the ear, for example when he says that every disciple has to take up his or her cross and follow him (Mt 16:24).

Continúa leyendo Our Lady of Hope

The Fecundity of Our Lady’s Sorrow

Virgen Buen FinOne of the most suggestive approaches to the mystery of the Blessed Virgin’s sorrow at the foot of the cross is the one that sees her in the very process of giving birth to the Whole Christ, that is, the very Body in which each one of us partakes. Let us see more closely what this could entail for it clearly gives a new and most profound meaning to the plea, “Pray for us, sinners,” that we say in every Hail Mary.

Sin is the very cause of Christ’s suffering; sin is at the root of all the pain inflicted to his innocent body and his spotless soul. As we recognise that we are sinners, we humbly admit that the conjoined effect of our faults has overburdened Christ’s shoulders and has caused the scandalous shedding of his blood. The gruesome spectacle of so much blood is like a dead-end; it is the confirmation of the hideous nature of our deeds.

Continúa leyendo The Fecundity of Our Lady’s Sorrow

Acies of the Legion of Mary

Vexillum LegionisIn every meeting of the Legion of Mary we make the words of the Blessed Virgin our own. Each one of us in some way take her place in praising God’s power, wisdom and mercy, for each one says: “My soul glorifies the Lord…” It is good therefore to pause for a moment and to reflect a little upon the sense of Mary’s Canticle, especially when we gather on the solemn occasion of the Acies.

The Magnificat, as it is known for its first word in the Latin version, is firstly a hymn of victory. Fittingly enough, the Legion anticipates victory as we all join to the One who best knew the power of the Almighty. Have we considered that the Incarnation is a victory in itself? Pride is conquered, Satan flees away, the darkness comes to and end: behold Christ, “Light from Light,” whose day has no sunset. We simply cannot imagine the profundity of Mary’s experience of God’s power. St. Thomas Aquinas says that every act of God’s grace exceeds the visible universe. Mary, duly addressed as “Full of Grace,” came to know the action of God’s love beyond every boundary. It was nothing less as though God was creating a new and far better universe in her womb. She had every reason to say “My soul glorifies the Lord.”

Continúa leyendo Acies of the Legion of Mary