Allocutio for September 2021

Allocutio delivered by Rev. Fr. Lawrence Mandela, Spiritual Director from Muhorro Comitium, Hoima Diocese

Remember, renew, rejoice and Recruit

Allow me Brothers and Sisters to use this time to congratulate us all upon reaching a hundred years mark of the Legion of Mary. As on 7th Sep 2021. It was on 7th Sep 1921 when Frank Duff started the Legion of Mary, this we find in the Official Hand Book of the Legion, the very first chapter under the title Name and Origin. It is this chapter we are reflecting on for our allocutio for this month of September. However, September is a special month, rich with the feasts, especially the two feasts of the Exaltation of the Cross on 14th Sep. and of Our Lady of Sorrows on 15th Sep. I will therefore try to blend all these together and also integrate them with this Sundays mass readings (25th Sun. Ordinary Time Year B.)

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 100 years is not yesterday. It is worth celebrating and it is a blessing for us who are present to witness this celebration. So as we try to reflect on this reality, we transport our minds back in time of guided by different writing, especially the Handbook and being driven by the Holy Spirit, we shall find ourselves at the Myra, Francis Street, Dublin Ireland. This was the place for the Legions humble beginnings. It was 8:00 PM 7th Sep. 1921, that beautiful evening which was the vigil of the feast of Our Lady’s Nativity saw the humble beginnings of our Legion. It saw those beautiful souls, a little group we are told came together, little did they know that they were to be the instruments of the most loving Divine providence. Their being unaware of this, points to the humble beings of the Legion. We are told it was not a thought-out organization. It only sprang up spontaneously. Which force brought it forth if not the Holy Spirit who keeps inspiring His Faithful. Again, what does this phrase ring in our minds? “There was no premeditation in regard to rules and practices, a suggestion was simply thrown out.” This to me shows that the Legion is not a human concoction, but a Divine Working. The Holy Spirit controlled everything. It is why we start the legionary meetings with the invocation of the Holy Spirit. And surely who looking at the whole Legionary System will doubt the Divine hand at work? It is always very absurd for Catholics who fail to enroll as legionaries because of the rules and practices.  You will agree with me that orderliness is a sign of Holiness, and smartness is a twin sister to Sanctity. Likewise a disordered life; a life of confusion is the working on the evil one. Is St. James not asking us in our second reading today? (James 3, 16-4,3). “where do all wars among you come from?” He answers this with another rhetorical question, “is it not your passions that make war within your members?” so, sisters and brothers, a life of passions, a life without discipline, without rules and practices will lead only to wars and confusion. The legionary system is invariable because the rules and practices of the legion are by divine inspiration; all rules and laws of course are of God. And since God is love, they are laws of love, and are to be applied and adhered to in love, short of this it is the devils hand. For us legionaries we are an army; The Legion of Mary, modeled on the army of Ancient Rome-well organised and disciplined. But unlike the Roman Army, we are for the service of a spiritual warfare. Ready to render ourselves worthy to our powerful leader Mary Immaculate the Mediatrix of all graces. And this total rendering is through our loyalty, our virtues and courage. Therefore, dear legionaries, if we are to crush the head of that ancient serpent, we have to crush all the disordered passions and lead orderly lives. In the Hand Book we have read that, “the whole life of men, both individual and social shows itself to be a struggle, and a dramatic one, between good and evil, light and darkness.” And surely looking back at the ahundred years since the humble inception of the legion we can testify that the legion has passed through a lot, good and bad, the wars and natural calamities so many to mention. 100 years has not been a walkover.

Here in Uganda as we mark 100 years we are invited to meditate on the lovely theme: Remember, Renew, Rejoice and Recruit. Remember: memory is very important and so sweet to cherish. It helps us to reflect on our lives. So let us use it to see what we have gone through both in our individual lives and socially. Seeing how many milestones we have crossed together; we shall come to know that it has been God and only God who has brought us this far. And we shall also gain confidence to keep moving to the finishing line, irrespective of the hardships provided we are with our Lord. All we are called to do is to surrender all to Jesus, surrender all to Him through Mary. Remembering will help us to appreciate the value of our lives even in hard moments. For if you want to pick Roses get prepared to be hurt by thorns.

Dear legionaries, let us embrace the Cross of our Lord. And as we come to adore, venerate and exalt this Holy Cross; let us approach it with Faith and Courage. Because, the Cross of Jesus is the ‘Tree of Life.’ It brought back life, which we had lost in the garden of Eden through sin. We read in the first Book of the Bible Gen. 2,9 God put in the Garden of Eden, trees good for food. But there He also put the Tree of Life and also the ‘tree of knowledge of good and evil’. God told man never to eat of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil. But that ancient serpent deceived man to eat it, man disobeyed and ate, he sinned. We read in Gen.3,24, God banished man from the garden lest he eats of the tree of life in a state of sin and there remain eternally in a state of sin. God however, out of His great love started a mission of saving humanity. And this was accomplished with the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, who saved us all by His death on the Cross planted at Calvary. The Cross of Jesus is the Tree of Life as we read in the last book of the Bible, Rev.2,7 “…those who prove Victorious I will allow to eat of the tree of life planted in the garden of God.” we legionaries we have to prove victorious, we have a role to play; to carry our crosses daily and follow Him. We prove victorious when we attain our object, the object of the Legion. “The Glory of God through holiness of its individual members, developed by prayer and active cooperation, under the ecclesiastical guidance, in Mary’s and the Church’s work of crushing the head of the serpent and advancing the reign of Christ”. For us life is a battle, a battle we must win. Sin is that fiery serpent that kills; it is only overcome by looking at the poison-less bronze serpent on the tree. Our Lord Jesus who was sinless but put on the Cross to heal those who get poisoned by sin. So let us embrace that cross. Jesus had the most positive attitude of the cross. He took all our sins, upon Himself. In the state of sin and pain we must rush to Him to be healed. Let us have that childlike confidence in him. If we unite our crosses, the sufferings, the pains in life, we get to know that for us Christians all these are moments to rejoice. St. Peter will tell us Rejoice, rejoice when suffering. Do not be upset and angry when suffering. (1 pet. 4,12-19). And st. James will say count it all joy when suffering. (James, 1,2). And St. Paul; ‘I rejoice in my suffering…’ (Col.1,24). So suffering for us Christians is a moment of Joy not being angry. For when there is a cross on our shoulders Jesus is closest to us not far away from us. So, every pain, every suffering we unite it to the Cross of our lord and the sorrows of our Lady. Our Lady of Seven Sorrows. Arch Bp. Fulton J Sheen, in his book, Worlds First Love, Mary Mother of God tells us in Chap. 10 entitled Love and Sorrow that “Our Lord allowed Mary to suffer trials… In order to convince mothers with sorrows that trials can be overcome and that the final issues of life are not solved here on earth. For if the father gave His Son a Cross and the Mother a Sword, then somehow sorrow does fit into the Divine plan of Life.” Therefore, any pain, any suffering, any cross, any sorrow when united with our Lord’s Cross and Our Lady’s sorrows will yield for us life. The head of that ancient serpent will be crashed by our Lady’s Immaculate feet and the reign of Christ advanced by ever raising His Cross in Victory. The Cross of Christ is for us not a shame, not a destruction, nor a rejection, not a punishment or defeat, but a victory. “Christians are the only people in history who know that the story of the universe has a happy ending” (Fulton j. Sheen). For us legionaries we are fully aware of this fact the reason we pray, ‘…the battle of life over our legion may reassemble without the loss of anyone.’ Our mother Mary knew it too and she sang of it in the Magnificant. We are to imitate her, we are to remember God’s Mercy and rejoice. This will help us to renew. What we fail to understand in life, we keep in our hearts and offer to Mary. We keep meditating and praying over it until God fulfils His hidden plans in our lives. Unfortunately, human tendency is to complain about every pain, to tell our sorrows to everyone else except God.

Our life as Christians is of self-sacrificing love. A life without self-sacrifice, without love is the source of Life’s greatest tragedies. Check what happened in Rwanda Genocide, and the World wars. Let us at 100years get our Rosaries and pray and pray to Our Lady for healing of the World, for Renewal. This is a moment to remember and renew and rejoice. True renewal is to remember and forgive all. Our Lady remembered all in her heart and kept praying over everything. She is calling us to pray for the healing of humanity. To unite all sorrows and pains in the world to her seven sorrows by praying the chaplet of seven sorrows. This is not the time to put our weapons down. No retreat no surrender. Even @100years the battle is actually starting afresh. Thus, this whole year of the centenary celebration up to 7th Sep. 2022 is of intensifying the battle. It is of identifying the enemy.  Just identify the enemy, do the divine positioning and shoot. The Rosary is a powerful weapon; a lot has been accomplished in the annals of history through this powerful prayer. It is a summary of the Gospel. It makes us remember divine mysteries, it renews us, it makes us rejoice, and it recruits. Therefore, it is our way to go @100years.

Rejoice: rejoicing is got from true happiness as opposed to worldly pleasures (passions). The ancient serpent pretending to be good, offers only worldly pleasure and takes away our true happiness. The devil is a liar and father of all lies. He lied to innocent Eve but cannot try it on Mary, lest he puts his head in danger of getting crushed. To rejoice let us avoid sin. We must ask the intercession of St. Joseph to keep us chaste and pure in heart, mind and soul. Then shall fully rejoice when we attain our absolute good; God himself. Otherwise, here on earth we still confess with St. Augustine, “my heart is restless until it rests in Him.” To succeed in all this we must travel with Jesus in this life’s journey. As we have heard in the Gospel text today (Mk. 9,30-37). ‘Jesus was journeying with His disciples in Galilee’. It is good to be in the company of Jesus always because He keeps teaching us and telling us secrets. We know that it is in Galilee where Jesus starts His mission and many times he went back there, even after His resurrection sent His disciples there. Going back to our roots, remembering is very important for us. The humble roots of the school of Jesus, and of the School of Mary.  The root of Humility. The same humble roots of the Legion of Mary. A simple starting with a very big ending. Because of humility, in the Gospel today ‘Jesus did not want anyone to know that He was around’. Jesus is teaching us Legionaries to always be humble. ‘The Spirit of the Legion is of Mary herself; her Profound Humility…’.  And more so to our officers Jesus is telling us today ‘If anyone wishes to be first, he/she shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” And let us receive this child Jesus which Jesus is placing in our midst today.

Lastly as we celebrate these 100years of this international Roman Catholic Lay Apostolic Movement. It is a sweet knowledge to learn that there is over 10million Legionaries Worldwide. And in Uganda as we clock 83years of the Legion on 24th Sep. since 1938, we are over 400,000 legionaries. But what could have happened if there was no recruiting? So, to keep the legion alive and strong we must recruit, recruit and recruit. We need to enlarge the territory in South Sudan, enlarge the territory in Eastern and Northern Uganda and indeed enlarge the territory everywhere. Not forgetting the young ones. It is a beautiful thing to introduce our children to Mother Mary. Let us recruit them before the devil snatches them.

Remember, Renew, Rejoice, and Recruit.
Our Lady of Sorrows: Pray for us!