President John F. Kennedy made immortal a line from his inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
We active members in the Legion can think similarly about auxiliary members, regarding them more in terms of what they can do for us instead of what we can do for them. That is, we tend to give more attention to assuring their prayers on behalf of our work for the souls of others when we should also be seeking to assure and provide support for their souls, too.
It is precisely to correct this errant tendency that the Legion requires the regular visitation of auxiliaries and makes their “after care” one of its suggested works. (See H, Chapter 37, Number 14.) It values the sacrifices they are making for others so much that it counsels that like sacrifices be made for them. In this way, the Legion system conveys its wish that auxiliaries be treated not merely as individuals to be “used,” but instead as souls to be helped toward a goal shared with active members: holiness unto salvation. In that spirit, the Handbook counsels active members to “look out for” auxiliaries just as members of a family do for each other – with the elder brothers and sisters, the active members, seeking to do everything in their capacity to preserve the spiritual health of their younger siblings, the auxiliary members, and thereby fostering the realization of Christian “perfection” in all within the Legion “household” (H, 256).
Understanding this, praesidia should see to it that auxiliary visits be made and made with quality. They should assure that each is fulfilled by a personal contact (H, 89) and never only by phone call or mailing. They should include discussion of more than contact information and whether a Tessera needs replacement; instead it should involve ample time for prayer followed by a conversation which gives the auxiliary a chance to discuss the status of his or her life of faith. On the basis of what is said in that conversation, the active-member-visitor should be prepared to provide needed spiritual support to the auxiliary and be ready to “prescribe” to him or her practices that will help the auxiliary find healing and pursue growth in sanctity (H, 256).
What types of practices could active-member-visitors suggest? They might
– discuss the value of and encourage attendance at daily Mass;
– speak of the benefits of taking part in Eucharistic Adoration;
– talk over the graces of regular Confession;
– suggest and arrange the Anointing of the Sick for those of fragile age or health;
– explain how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours;
– specify how each might benefit from adjutorian membership;
– recommend solid Catholic and Legion reading material (even in the form of audio books), including the Bible, The Catechism, and the True Devotion … and then talking over with them what was read during a follow up visit;
– pass along editions of Maria Legionis;
– ask if they have considered attending a local Patrician Meeting;
– give them sacramentals, but first teaching them what they mean and how they are to be used;
– loan them DVD’s on the lives of the saints … and (again) talk over the story in a follow-up visit.
The Handbook calls the aftercare of auxiliaries “full of possibilities” (H, 256). In saying this, the Legion is challenging active members to be creative and zealous in finding ways to benefit the souls of auxiliaries who do so much to benefit its mission for souls. So let us be sure to visit our auxiliaries. And as we do, let us also be sure to think not only about what they do for the Legion, but what the Legion must do for them.
August 20, 2017: Allocutio to the Philadelphia Senatus by Rev. Frank Giuffre
Reading: Handbook: Chapter 37, Number 14
Finance experts say that one of the best things we can do for ourselves in life is to set money aside and invest it for retirement. Although it might limit the amount of funds available to us in the present, it will only serve to set the stage for our well-being in the future.
Our Handbook selection today relates the truth that one of the best things we can do for our Legion praesidium is to make another sacrifice in the present as an investment for the future: that of boosting the number of our auxiliary members. In fact, the text says boldly that it should be the goal of each praesidium to “bring every Catholic in its area into auxiliary membership” (H, 99, emphasis added).
At first, such a remark might seem to be wildly “overstated” and grossly impractical. “After all,” the legionary thinks, “Why ‘waste’ limited time and energy on the securing of praying members when they would be better spent on active works.” “In addition,” he or she asserts, “Don’t we have enough of them already?” Yet, seemingly conscious of such a sentiment, the Handbook goes on to insist that the welcoming of many as auxiliaries will become “… favorable soil … for the working of other aspects of the Legion apostolate” (H, 99). In other words, the strenuous effort invested into the gaining of auxiliary members will only add to – rather than subtract from – Legion aims and effectiveness. Like a financial investment, a present sacrifice will “pay off” with future benefits. How so?
Firstly, soliciting auxiliary members fulfills the Legion’s aspirations toward evangelization. By inviting a lukewarm or even fallen away Catholic to be an auxiliary, the grace of conversion is fostered in an individual’s soul. By teaching him or her to say the Rosary with the prayers of the Tessera, a more solid routine of sustaining prayer is engendered within each. By asking that a commitment be kept for the sake of Jesus and Mary, the keeping of other commitments attached to living one’s faith, such as regular attendance at Mass and at Confession, is also fostered.
Secondly, soliciting auxiliary members honors the legionary’s duty with regard to extension. Not only does educating the unfamiliar in the nature of the Legion add another soul to its circle of influence, it also increases the possibility that these same individuals will tell others – their friends and neighbors – about “the great group” they discovered! And some of those so reached might just get involved as active or auxiliary members.
Thirdly, soliciting auxiliary members secures help from heaven “essential” (H, 100) for the flourishing of the interior lives and the exterior works of active members. Just as armies often rely on “air support” in advance of a ground assault, so we in the Legion rely upon “prayer support” in advance of our battle for souls. Therefore the more prayers behind us, the greater the strength for the fight within us … and the better the chances of success for us, as well.
Fourthly, soliciting auxiliary members gets the Legion into more homes and places members in closer proximity with those, the family and friends of the auxiliary, who may be feeling attracted to the Faith, struggling with the Faith, or having questions about the Faith. Auxiliary visits then become occasions to interact with them in the hopes of influencing each for good.
Finally, soliciting auxiliary members stokes Legionary zeal. The courage and love demonstrated in reaching out to welcome a newcomer trains us to be equally courageous and loving in the field when the salvation of souls is at stake.
It is said that “God helps those who help themselves.” Well, God also helps the Legion when it helps itself by seeking praying-helpers in the form of auxiliaries. It gives more power in the present. It sets the stage for more effective apostolates in the future. Therefore, we can be certain that one of the best things we can do for the Legion is to invest time and energy into recruiting auxiliaries into our ranks.
July 16, 2017/Allocutio to the Philadelphia Senatus/Rev. Frank Giuffre Reading: Handbook, p. 99/Chapter 16 (f)