The Millennial Legionary by LORNA CIFRA SHIMOJO
A faithful catholic will remember the year 2016 as the ‘Year of Mercy’ the “Extraordinary Jubilee” which was the third since the tradition began 700 years ago. Called for by the Argentine pontiff, Pope Francis, he spent the year with the downtrodden, holding special masses and passing one Friday every month with refugees, victims of sex trafficking and drug addiction, the sick, the elderly, and vulnerable children.
The watchword of mercy meant helping the unfortunate, welcoming sinners and outcasts back into the fold. The pope hoped that compassion and mercy would not only counter prejudice but also draw more people to the church.
In an article released by Inquirer.net, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and members of some laity organizations are now in coordination and cooperation with representatives from different government agencies and are set to meet at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. The main agenda mainly focuses that parishes should and will help raise the money to support the community-based rehabilitation centers, in addition to the government budget that was allotted for the barangay anti-drug abuse councils. Parishes will provide personnel to run the center while the government will provide supplemental needs like skills training care of Tesda, classification of drug surrenderers by the DOH, after-care program from the DSWD whereas the DILG and local government units will provide additional support.
The Legion of Mary is not exempted from lending a helping hand to the many issues beleaguering the country at present. Let us first identify how busy a legionary is as far as being an active member is concerned. Taken from the Legion of Mary HB, the works are as follows:
1. Apostolate in the Parish
2. Visitation of the Homes of the People
3. Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the Homes
4. The Making of the Parish Census
5. Visitation of Hospitals, Including Pyschiatric Hospitals
6. Work for the Most Wretched and Dejected of the Population
7. Works for the Young
8. The Book-Barrow
9. Crowd Contact
10. Misson to the Catholic Domestic Worker
11. Work for the Armed Services Personnel and People on the Move
12. The Dissemination of Catholic Literature
13. Promoting the Practice of Daily Mass and Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament
14. The Recruiting and After-Care of Auxiliaries
15. Work for the Missions
16. Promoting Retreats
17. Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart
18. Other Duties Assigned by Pastor
In other words, the LOM has a humongous responsibility towards the Catholic Church, its members and fellow legionaries as well.
Demands for updates and radical changes for a new look in the Legion is called for by no other than ‘SANGGUNIANG LAYKO ng PILIPINAS’ or otherwise known as Council of the Laity of the Philippines. A big organization such as the Legion of Mary is expected to take an active role in current issues of this day and age such as (1) the move to help in drug rehabilitation, (2) to question extrajudicial killings, (3) to debate on death penalty, (4) to say no to abortion, (5) contribute to ecological issues like climate change and (6) to promote awareness of the lifestyle of this generation that is wholly and unbelievably dependent on social media.
Aside from the many works that were enumerated above, legionaries should also be more aware of what is troubling our nation in the present while continuously be interested in the convert apostolate. We should become more involved in the social apostolate and in the human rights of our fellowmen. As legionaries of Mary, we can provide mental, emotional, social and above all, spiritual nourishment to the lost souls who are merely victims of inevitable circumstances. Our opinion or judgement is not welcome but rather we must seek for strength and sustenance from the Holy Spirit through the Blessed Virgin Mary, to raise again and uplift the human dignity of these poor souls.
The Legion is criticized for being passive or rather quiet in relation to their works for the laity. The Handbook teaches the legionary to be simple and to practice humility in all his endeavors. Yet, the authority of the Church cries for assistance, let us be more privileged and humbled to give a helping hand on the Apostolate of the Laity specially with moral and spiritual concerns.
Pope Paul VI, in his letter to Frank Duff, singles out for special praise the Legion of Mary’s discipline and “unflinching loyalty to the Church.”
True Legionaries of Mary are engaged in a warfare for souls against Satan and sin, they wage that war in a peaceful way, they hate and fight sin, but love and care for the sinner. Walking an extra mile to contribute to the call of our bishop and not be antagonistic in its contact with lost souls is simply extra service to the Lord. Legionaries are taught to show in their apostolic work the patience, love and understanding of Our Lord and Our Lady,
Let us examine the Laity’s documents and let us see just what the Council Fathers have in mind when they tell us what the Lay Apostolate should be.
“The lay apostolate is a participation in the saivific mission of the Church itself. Through their baptism and confirmation all are commissioned to that apostolate by the Lord Himself.” (IV, 33) In the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity the Council Fathers tell us that “the Christian vocation by its very nature is also avocation to the apostolate.” (I, 2)
The Legion Handbook (first drafted in the 1920’s) stresses the right and duty of every Catholic, by reason of his baptism and confirmation, to share in the Church’s mission of spreading the teachings and graces of Christ to every human being.
This extra works or walking an extra mile would mean progress in holiness which requires an exercise of the virtues of faith, hope, charity, patience and humility. The ultimate goal in this progress in holiness is a closer union with Christ. Through this union, which is nourished by a frequent reception of the sacraments, the Legionary will see Christ in every person and will thereby work for the good of that person specially the people who are affected with the issues we read day in and day out from the newspapers, mainstream and social media.
As millennial legionaries of Mary, let these issues be a part of our advocacy, to spread awareness of the current issues and to assist the church wholeheartedly in its evangelization and sanctification duties.