What has the Legion of Mary to Offer to Young People ?
The question is often asked "what has the Legion to offer to young people?" The simple answer which could be given is -a great start in life - a great basis for a happy and fulfilled existence. Most people who have been in the Legion of Mary even for a short time in their youth, tend not to forget the happy experience, even when other events or distractions have crowded membership out of their lives. However, I would tend to pin-point the following special advantages.
Increase in their own Faith with an apostolic attitude to the needs of others
The whole Legion system is based on the main doctrines of the Church, which is the Mass, the Eucharist, the love of God and our neighbour, the special place of Our Lady and a practical knowledge of the Mystical Body of Christ. At each successive meeting the members are taught through the Spiritual Reading, the Allocutio and the reports, to learn to live the practice of these doctrines. Moreover, conviction of the value of their own Faith is very much strengthened by their being taught to be ready to defend the Faith and to stand up and be counted where necessary, and to be anxious about the spiritual welfare of those around them, especially their own age group.
As Father Aedan McGrath frequently stated when he worked with the Irish in Britain, "the surest way to keep one's own Faith is to be actively interested in the Faith of others." True, it can be argued that such an interest can exist without membership of the Legion or any organisation. However, a weekly meeting with a weekly work obligation for which we will be asked to render an account is for most of us the easier way. In fact, most of us could say that we did little for the Church on any regular basis before we joined the Legion and it is likely we would return to this state were we to leave it.
The devotional aspect of the Legion is very important for young legionaries as otherwise they will inevitably drift towards purely social work. A working knowledge of De Montfort's True Devotion is perfectly within the capabilities of young people.
In the Legion we make real friends and are influenced by them
The second benefit may at first seem a strange one, but long experience has shown this to be a fact and well worth mentioning. Anyone of any age who has been in the organisation for any length of time will tell that one of the greatest benefits of membership is that one makes not just friends but sincere friend- ships. Strangely enough, even where membership does not continue, people who have met in the Legion tend to remain friends after leaving. Young people are no different. Healthy friendships develop and anyone who has dealings with the youth of today will have no doubt about the importance of making the right type of friends at an early age. Friendships formed by meeting weekly will be strong ones, but friendships made by people who are being formed in the same kind of mould cannot but provide the support necessary for the great adverse pressures put on the young in modem times.
Something will be tackled by some brave young person and will be readily copied by others, for this is the way in reverse that harm is done to the weaker ones of our society.
Training in Discipline and Relating well to others
There are many who would subscribe to the view that young people today are hungry for discipline which is not too often found in their lives. The Legion of Mary offers in its system a firm, but gentle discipline which, although stringent enough seems to pose no problem in membership. On the other hand, the system does give great training in courage and relating well to others. Time and time again, very ordinary young people will be found to compile and give a report on some meeting or happening, with an expertise far beyond what would normally be expected of them. The Legion values and encourages all contributions according to the members capabilities and experience. Countless legionaries have testified that their Legion training helped them considerably to face interviews, to cope well with their job or profession and in many ways helped them a lot in their day-to-day life. Many have gone on to enter Seminaries and the Religious life. The net result seems to be that in return for their generous commitment of some of their free time working for the Church on a regular basis, young legionaries receive a great help in character building and an opportunity to base their Faith on a solid and apostolic foundation.