Deciding on Legion Works: Think Should, not Could

What is the difference between “could” and “should?” Grammarians tell us that “could” expresses what is possible, while “should” relates what, among the many possibilities, is the right thing to do. Legion of Mary members must sort out “could” from “should” as they ponder which active works to pursue in their praesidia. After all, there is so much one “could” do in a parish, but, given Legion priorities (for works of conversion) and the limited number of members, the bigger question is what we “should” do in that parish.

As we face making that decision, we would do well to scrutinize the work itself against the following points raised in today’s Handbook reading. There we read that the Legion works which “should” be done involve:  1. acting for the sake of the “particular needs” of a parish, not merely what serves one’s own preferences;   2. honoring the primacy of performing the “difficult work”;    3. seeking “progressive pioneering” or that willingness to do more, give more, and emerge from a group’s “comfort zones” for the sake of the glory God;    4. never acting out of that “prudence” which would have members select the least risky or least demanding option, preferring the heroic to the trivial;    5. and opting for works which are “necessary to souls” and, in the process, edify others.

With regularly, the question arises, “Is a certain task brought before us an authentic Legion work?” We must know that the real question which we should be asking in its regard is not whether it could be done, but whether it should be done. If it “measures up” to much of the criteria listed above, it is certainly worthy of performance. If it does not, then it might be best to do it on one’s own, outside the Legion, or to seek someone else in the parish to do it, leaving the Legion free to pursue the more pressing work for souls.

The Servant of God, Frank Duff, once made the following statement: “Mary, the Queen of the Legion, has the office of mothering mankind. We have the privilege of helping her, and she depends on that cooperation. It is woeful if in such wonderful circumstances we only take in hand the things of lesser consequence, leaving the multitudes in real deprivation” (ML, 13). Friends, that is what really is at stake in the debate about what “could” be done in the Legion: making sure that our works bring our Mother closer to her children most in need of her love and help. For her sake and their sake, let us be sure we decide rightly … and then do what “should” be done for the sanctification and salvation of her sons and daughters.

October 15, 2017/Allocutio to the Philadelphia Senatus/Rev. Frank Giuffre Reading: Handbook: Chapter 37, Introduction (p. 231 – paragraphs before no. 1)

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Emergency! The Priority of the Works of Conversion in the Legion of Mary

Allocutio to the Philadelphia Senatus

Emergency centers enlist a “triage” approach to crisis care. What does it involve? “Triage” is the practice of assigning degrees of urgency to cases of medical need in order to assure that attention is given first to the most critical and time-sensitive situations (like a stroke) while less-life-threatening ones (like a muscle strain) are treated afterward. It is all about using limited resources efficiently for the sake of saving the greatest number of lives.

What works in the medical realm also applies in the spiritual. Although any instance of evil infecting a soul is worthy of the utmost apostolic concern, cases of more serious need merit first place when it comes to pastoral care. Our present Holy Father, Pope Francis, has in fact affirmed this approach. He regularly refers to the Church in our times “as a field hospital after battle,” and he has said that workers providing “emergency care” within it should enlist apostolic triage when caring for the spiritually wounded, giving priority to the most critical cases and needs. Just as a medical technician would lay aside concern for a man’s cholesterol imbalance in order to surgically care for a life-threatening injury, so Catholics should not be exclusively concerned (or even more concerned), for example, about spreading a popular devotion among some the faithful while neglecting those outside the Faith who have never heard about Jesus and who are on the verge of dying without knowing His life and love. It makes no sense to put all – or even most – of our Christian resources into bettering the condition of an already saved soul when another stands in danger of eternal loss.

Legion praesidia and members must take this apostolic-triage-logic to heart in discerning which spiritual works to pursue in a parish and how legionaries are to be allocated for assignments. Specifically, Legion officers must guard against putting all or most of a praesidium’s resources into works of consolation and of conservation (which deal with those already evangelized) and make sure that those of conversion (which deal with those never evangelized) receive the priority they deserve. Yes, the sick need visiting, the Pilgrim Virgin Statue needs circulating, the Patrician meeting needs coordinating, and the RCIA needs teaching. But souls in our parish boundaries need saving, too. And putting the largest percentage of our attention and energy into works of consolation and conservation over those of conversion makes as much sense as a doctor putting the entirety of his time into treating patients with broken arms while ignoring those in the same room who are having serious heart attacks. Matters of life-or-death must come first – for the soul, as well as for the body!

The Servant of God, Frank Duff, embraced and practiced this logic in his apostolic service, and he codified it throughout the Legion Handbook. We had evidence of it in our reading for today which calls making home visitations the “preferred work of the Legion” (H, p. 232). Mr. Duff did not want the Legion’s precious energies to be focused almost entirely on “giving aspirins to the healthy” while walking by neighbors dying for lack of someone to take them to the emergency room. He instead wanted legionaries, when discerning active works, to make sure that those linked to conversion take priority. Anyone who contests this should take the time to read the lead article in the August-September-October 2017 edition of Maria Legionis entitled “Upgrading Legion Work,” and that individual will see out how wrong he or she is. (Incidentally, I think that the article should be required reading for every legionary in this Senatus!) Here is a one sentence “taste” of the proof in Mr. Duff’s own words: “The Legion should be found confronting its problems in identically the same spirit as the early Church, namely, that the prime work of converting must be properly attended to, and after that the other works [that is, conservation and consolation], always provided that there is enough manpower left-over for the main work [that is, conversion]” (ML, p. 4).

Jesus once said that he “did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt 9:13/NAB). Even Jesus triaged his emergency care for souls! Even Jesus gave priority, not to “saving the saved,” but to saving the sinner. We in the Legion would do well to remind ourselves of our Lord’s words and, following the wishes of our founder, the Servant of God, Frank Duff, give works of conversion the priority they deserve.

September 17, 2017/Allocutio to the Philadelphia Senatus/Rev. Frank Giuffre Reading: Handbook: Chapter 37, Number 2 (p. 232)

Click here for “Upgrading Legion Work” article

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