Pope Benedict XVI
The Holy Father wishes me to assure you of his appreciation for the generous service to the Church offered throughout the world by so many members of the Legion who, under the heavenly patronage of Mary, the Mother of God, seek to draw all persons to Christ, the Redeemer of mankind….
Commending you and all the members of the Legion to the loving intercession of Mary, the Queen of Apostles, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing.
– Archbishop Fernando Filoni
St. Pope John Paul II
Vocation to be a leaven
You are a movement of lay people who propose to make faith the aspiration of your life up to the achievement of personal sanctity. It is without doubt a lofty and difficult ideal. But today the Church, through the Council, calls all Christians of the Catholic laity to this ideal, inviting them to share in the kingly priesthood of Christ with the witness of a holy life, with mortification and charitable works; to be in the world, with the splendor of faith, hope and charity, what the soul is in the body (Lumen Gentium 10,38).
Your proper vocation as lay people, that is the vocation to be a leaven in the People of God, a Christian inspiration in the modern world, and to bring the priest to the people, is eminently ecclesial. The same Second Vatican Council exhorts all the laity to accept with ready generosity the call to be united ever more intimately to the Lord and, considering as one’s own everything that is his, to share in the same salvific mission of the Church, to be its living instruments, above all where, because of particular conditions of modern society – a constant increase in population, a reduction in the numbers of priests, the appearance of new problems, the autonomy of many sectors of human life – it could be more difficult for the Church to be present and active (ibid. 33).
The area of the lay apostolate today is extraordinarily enlarged. And so the commitment of your typical vocation becomes more impelling, stimulating, live and relevant. The vitality of the Christian is the sign of the vitality of the Church. And the commitment of you legionaries becomes more urgent, considering on the one hand the needs of the Italian society and of the nations of ancient Christian tradition, and on the other hand the shining examples which have gone before you in your own movement. To give just some names: Edel Quinn, with her activity in Africa; Alfonso Lambe in the most emarginated areas of Latin America; and then the thousands of legionaries killed in Asia or ending up in work camps.
With the spirit and solicitude of Mary
Yours is an eminently Marian spirituality, not only because the Legion glories in carrying Mary’s name as its unfurled banner, but above all because it bases its method of spirituality and apostolate on the dynamic principle of union with Mary, on the truth of the intimate participation of the Virgin Mary in the plan of salvation.
In other words, you intend to render your service to every person, who is the image of Christ, with the spirit and the solicitude of Mary.
If our one and only Mediator is the man Jesus Christ, as the Council states, “Mary’s motherly role towards men in no way dims or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ: on the contrary, it demonstrates it efficacy” (Lumen Gentium 60). So the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Perpetual Help, Mediatrix, Mother of the Church.
For its birth and growth, apostolic work looks to her who gave birth to Christ, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Where the Mother is, there too is the Son. When one moves away from the Mother, sooner or later he ends up keeping distant from the Son as well. It is no wonder that today, in various sectors of secularized society, we note a widespread crisis of faith in God, preceded by a drop in devotion to the Virgin Mother.
Your Legion forms a part of those movements that feel personally committed to the spread or the birth of that faith through the spread or the revival of devotion to Mary. It therefore will always be able to do its utmost that, through love for the Mother, the Son, Who is the way, the truth and the life of every person, will be more known and loved.
In this perspective of faith and love I impart the Apostolic Blessing to you from my heart.
Pope Paul VI
Indeed, the spirit of the Legion of Mary, while properly drawing fruitful nourishment from the strong interior life of its members, from their discipline, their dedication to the salvation of their neighbor, their unflinching loyalty to the Church, nevertheless is distinguished and characterized by an adamant confidence in the action of the Blessed Virgin. Recognizing in her the model, the guide, the joy and the support of all its members, the Legion of Mary, by its eloquent activities, helps us to understand how much the apostolate must draw its inspiration from Her, who gave Christ to the world, and was so closely associated to Him in the work of redemption.
His Holiness, therefore, is happy to rely on this spirit of the Legion, which has already trained in every part of the world great numbers of ardent apostles and heroic witnesses to Christ especially in those places where the Faith is attacked and persecuted.
In the conviction that the results already achieved will not decelerate but rather constantly increase the energies and the apostolic efforts of all the Legionaries, the Holy Father expresses to you and to all your collaborators His deep gratitude; and He exhorts you all to continue with the same love of the Church, ever in closest dependence from the Bishops in the works of the apostolate and in a spirit of active collaboration with all other Catholic associations.
St. Pope John XXIII
The Legion of Mary presents the true face of the Catholic Church.
The system of the Legion of Mary is a most excellent one.”
Pope Pius XII
His Holiness has followed with paternal interest over the years the progress of the Legion as it swelled the army of those devoted and stalwart clients of Mary who are combating the forces of evil in the world to-day; and he rejoices with you in now beholding the Legion’s standard set up in the four corners of the globe.
It is thus most appropriate that the Legionaries of Mary should receive at this time a word of grateful appreciation for the good accomplished, and as well, of exhortation to persevere with increasing zeal in their generous cooperation given to the Church in her divinely committed mission to bring all men under the headship of Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
The effectiveness of their contribution to this apostolate will be measured in great part by their sound spiritual formation which, under the prudent guidance of their spiritual directors, will conspicuously develop in them a truly apostolic spirit and cause all their activities to be characterized by a ready obedience to the directives of the Holy See and a loyal submission to the local Ordinaries, whose direction they will seek and faithfully carry out. Imbued with this supernatural character of the genuine lay apostle, they will go forward with holy courage and continue to be a powerful auxiliary to the Church in her spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness.
Pope Pius XI
We give a very special blessing to this beautiful and holy work – the Legion of Mary. Its name speaks for itself. The image of Mary Immaculate on its Standard portrays high and holy things. The Blessed Virgin is mother of the Redeemer and of us all. She co-operates in our Redemption, for it was under the Cross that she became our mother.
Bishop Fulton Sheen
“You are the only organization in the world today that ever anticipated the Vatican Council. The only one! You just go through your works and see how far ahead you are of the Council and with the Church. You are Pre-Council, Pro-Council, and Post-Council.
First you are a lay organization devoted to the apostolate, though the apostolate was reserved for the clergy. So you swept back about 20 centuries. Read over the list at the close of the Epistle to the Romans, members of the Legion of Mary, so that you will see that you have brought up to date the apostolate of the early Church. Also, in the Acts of the Apostles, it is in the third Act whereby the Church becomes established in a certain house; first a catechist works among the group and finally the Church itself. That is the first way you anticipated the Vatican Council.
The second and more important still is that you belong to the out-ministry. We priests belong to the in-ministry. That’s not what God intended, but that’s what happened. We wait for people to come to us and we build bigger rectories. We are failing because we are an in-ministry, waiting. You were from the beginning an out-ministry, commissioned to do the same sort of thing as Our Blessed Lord did -walking up and down alleys.
Third, you anticipated it even in relation to the Blessed Mother. This may seem strange but it’s true. Your service is dedicated to building up the Church. It’s not just merely the devotion to Our Lady, it’s a devotion to Our Lady as the Mother of the Church. At the Council, we voted on the question of whether or not to give a new title to Our Lady. Our Lady has many as you know. It was decided not to give her another title. Two weeks later Pope Paul read his Encyclical Letter on the Blessed Mother as the “Mother of the Church”. We gave her a new title. That’s the Mother you love and who is your patroness.
You are a small group — you have to be. Remember this! The Holy Spirit never works with the majority, only with minorities. You are the only present effective apostolate that we have in the world.
My good legionaries, this is what you are. From what I have told you, you know how much esteem and affection I have for you. I say you have anticipated the Vatican Council — the future apostolate of the Church, and you are only at the beginning, just the beginning. Pray often to the Holy Spirit that your zeal will spread and that others will have the courage to do it. I consider it an honor, really an honor, to be in the midst of you. Just as sometimes oil gets outside of a bottle by osmosis, so too, by being near you, I hope to get some of your spirit”.