St. Paul relates the following in his letter to the Galatians: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal 4:4 NAB, with emphasis added). This verse certainly attests to the fact of the Incarnation. But does it not also witness to God’s punctuality? Does it not show how disciplined and “on time” God is? He in fact writes these traits on the page of creation which operates, not haphazardly, but with organization and precision. Even the Sacred Scriptures regularly reveal God’s orderliness and timeliness. Genesis 1, for example, affirms that God made the whole world and that He did so systematically – according to a plan in which certain creatures appear on certain days and in a definite progression. This is how it is, then, when it comes to God. There is no chaos or lateness. There is only order and punctuality.
Drawing, I’m sure, inspiration from the Lord God’s own ways, the Legion of Mary in its “Standing Instructions” makes the first duty of each member the “punctual attendance at the weekly meeting” (H, 109). And it presents in the Handbook the strongest of cases as to why this should be – why legionaries should be on time for meetings.
Firstly, punctuality sets the right tempo for the meeting and works to prevent “disorder” in its approach (H, 120). The Legion knows that rushed and chaotic starts lead to rushed and chaotic proceedings. It knows that efficiency and exactness in arriving on time and starting on time lead to sessions where prayers are said calmly, the spiritual reading and discussion are conducted meditatively, reports are presented thoughtfully, and members listen and participate undistractedly.
Secondly, punctuality demonstrates respect, charity, and humility for the other brothers and sisters present at the meeting. Respect and charity are communicated in the member’s desire not to disrupt the focus of others by a noisy entrance which only draws attention away from the business at hand and onto the tardy individual. Humility is conveyed in a legionary’s awareness of being no more special than others and of needing to obey the same rules like others – rules which require punctuality for every member without exception.
Lastly, punctuality trains the member in habits beneficial in doing Legion work. Specifically, it fosters the practice of being present at the assignment for the entirety of the time expected, thereby making the member fully available to assist all the souls brought there by the Lord and preventing the tragedy of missing any who were present when the legionary should have been!
In making my remarks today, I remind us that there are certainly good reasons for being late and that we must not judge members who are. At the same time, we must also be honest to admit reform may be needed in this area, especially when an officer raises concerns over a member’s repeated tardiness (and keeping the meeting timely is a prime responsibility of the officer).
There is a famous turn of phrase: “Better late than never.” The Legion, seeking higher standards in the Lord’s service, would instead say something different: “Better never late!” So let us strive to be God-like in our approach to the weekly meeting: let us come fully in time.
January 21, 2018/Allocutio to the Philadelphia Senatus/Rev. Frank Giuffre Reading: Handbook: Chapter 19, Number 12 (“Punctuality Paramount”): pp. 120-121