One hundred years ago, on the 7th of September 1921, at a meeting in Myra House, Francis Street in Dublin, Frank Duff founded the Legion of Mary. Frank Duff guided the worldwide extension of the Legion with heroic dedication and the Legion is now one of the largest lay-catholic organisations in the world. It is in every continent in over 170 countries and has over 3 million active members. The Legion looks to Our Blessed mother Mary and seeks to serve her in this world of ours which is much in need of our Blessed Mothers help and guidance. Each week in parishes all over the world, small groups of likeminded people come together to pray and to do apostolic work for Our Lady. The prayer includes the Rosary and also the Magnificat, that great prayer spoken by Our Lady when she was pregnant with baby Jesus and had gone to visit her cousin Elizabeth.
One of the works of the Legion of Mary is to visit people in their own homes to encourage people to have devotion to Our Lady, to pray the Rosary and to go to Mass and confession. Another important work of the Legion is to visit people who live in nursing homes and also people who are lonely or isolated in their own homes. Many people will recall the Legion visiting their home and distributing the Miraculous Medal. Now, in Covid times, is a good time to take out that Miraculous medal that challenges us to look at life again and accept the protection and encouragement offered by the Mother of God. Each day pray the prayer that is on the medal – “O Mary conceived without sin prayer for us who have recourse to thee”.
The spirit of the Legion of Mary is that of Mary herself. Legionaries are called to serve under the guidance of and in total dependence on Mother Mary. In all whom they serve they are to see the person of Jesus Christ himself. “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (MT 25:40). The legion is open to all practising Catholics and is a beautiful way to thank Jesus and his mother for all they have done for us. As one legionary put it – “The Legion has changed my life. It has helped me to live my faith and to put God first in my life. It has helped me to enjoy life, it has given me purpose in life.”
Ordinary Irish people have always honoured Mary. It is in our genes, our DNA. Look at Ireland today, we need Gods help. Many of our own families have drifted from the Church and from the Sacraments. In former times St Patrick brought the faith to Ireland but now it is our turn. Pope Francis has spoken many times on the role of each person in evangelisation. Each one of us can make a difference. We have an opportunity in the Legion of Mary to share our faith through the work of the Legion. The Legion reaches out to individuals on a one to one bases and aims to spread the Gospel by example.
The Legion encourages people to open the door to Jesus and our Lady does the rest. Mother Mary continues to bring Christ to people just like she brought Christ into this world at Bethlehem.
The Cause for Beatification has been introduced for three legionaries: The Servant of God, Frank Duff (1889-1980), Founder of the Legion, who attended the Second Vatican Council as a Lay Observer; Venerable Edel Quinn (1907-1944), Legion Envoy to East Africa; and the Servant of God, Alfie Lambe (1932-1959), Legion Envoy to South America.
Prayer for the Beatification of the Servant of God Frank Duff
God our Father,
You inspired your servant Frank Duff with a profound insight into the mystery of your Church, the Body of Christ, and of the place of Mary the Mother of Jesus in this mystery. In his immense desire to share this insight with others and in filial dependence on Mary he formed her Legion to be a sign of her maternal love for the world and a means of enlisting all her children in the Church’s evangelizing work. We thank you Father for the graces conferred on him and for the benefits accruing to the Church from his courageous and shining faith. With confidence we beg you that through his intercession you grant the petition we lay before you. We ask too that if it be in accordance with your will, the holiness of his life may be acknowledged by the Church for the glory of your Name, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.