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)