Homily of Bishop Paul Ssemogerere at the Thanksgiving and Inauguration Mass for the Centenary of the Legion of Mary

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

1.0 INTRODUCTION

I welcome all of your present today, and those participating in this Holy Sacrifice of Mass through the various media platforms. Today, in a special way, we are celebrating 100 years of the existence of the Legion of Mary. On 7th September 1921, in Dublin (Ireland), the Founder of the Legion of Mary, Frank Duff founded the very first praesidium of the Legion of Mary. It is now 100 years, and the Legion of Mary is still flourishing and growing as a Lay Apostolic Movement in the Catholic Church.

The intention of our gathering here is to celebrate and thank God for the gift of 100 years of the existence of the Legion of Mary. In particular:

  • We thank God for the gift of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is our model as believers, and our powerful patroness and intercessor as the Legion of Mary.
  • We thank God for the gift of the Servant of God Frank Duff, our Founder, who under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, founded the Legion of Mary and guided the Legion’s worldwide extension.
  • We thank God for the gift of St. Louis Marie de Montfort. It is this saint’s Book “True Devotion to Mary” that inspired Frank Duff to establish the Legion of Mary.
  • We thank God for the many believers whose faith has been strengthened through their involvement in the Legion of Mary.
  • We thank God for the many fruits of sanctity and virtue in the lives of believers as a result of their participation in the mission and activities of the Legion of Mary. As we celebrate 100 years, we cannot forget that 3 of our members are on the way to canonization: the Servant of God Frank Duff who is also our Founder, Venerable Edel Quinn who was a Legionary and the Servant of God Alfie Lamb, who was also a Legionary. Indeed, the Legion of Mary is an outstanding school of sanctity.

2.0 THE WORD OF GOD

As we celebrate 100 years of the existence of our Movement, the Word of the Lord today invites us to reflect on our lives as Legionaries, especially as far as doing the will of God is concerned.

As Legionaries, we stand under the banner of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as we march towards God. The Blessed Virgin Mary is both our model and patroness. She teaches us to dedicate ourselves faithfully and wholeheartedly to doing the will of God, which is our vocation as Christians. It is doing the will of God in all circumstances of life that will help us to attain sanctity.

In the First Reading, we have heard God calling Abraham with these words, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you”. This instruction is an invitation to Abraham to abandon all other attachments and cling to God – and trust in God. As a reward for his obedience, God promises Abraham blessings and land. Abraham places complete trust in God and obeys and in his obedience, he becomes a model for us as believers, and as Legionaries.  As we celebrate 100 years, let us listen to God’s call to each one of us anew. God calls us too to shake off all earthly attachments and behaviors that do not conform to His will. He invites us to go from where we are in life, to where he wants us to be, to be obedient to His voice and to follow his instructions and commandments. The reward for obedience for us, is not just land like it was for Abraham – it is eternal life. Let us renew our commitment to God and to our Movement. All activities of the Legion of Mary are aimed at helping us to live lives that give glory to God and lead us to sanctity.

The Gospel Reading has presented to us the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary in being obedient and trusting God. The dialogue between the Blessed Virgin Mary and Angel Gabriel reveals to us that despite her initial questioning, the Blessed Virgin Mary places complete trust in God and is obedient to the Lord’s Will. She says, “I am the the Lord’s servant, may it be done to me according to your Word”.  This ‘Fiat Voluntas tua’ is what makes the Blessed Virgin Mary our model as believers. She places the will of God above all else – above even her own will and plans and in obedience and faithfulness, she accepts the responsibility of bringing forth the Savior of the World, Our Lord’s Jesus Christ.

3.0. WE ARE CALLED TO FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

As we celebrate 100 Years of the existence of the Legion of Mary, we are called to follow in the footsteps of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That was the intention of our Founder – and that is why we are called ‘The Legion of Mary’. ‘Legion’ means ‘an army’, and in military discipline, where the commander points is where the army goes. The Blessed Virgin Mary has today pointed out that putting the will of God above all else in life is what makes our lives meaningful, and leads us to God. As Legionaries, let us be servants of God and let His will be done in our lives.

4.0. GOD’S WILL FOR US IS ‘THE LOVE OF GOD AND NEIGHBOUR’

All the activities of the Legion of Mary can be summarized in one sentence ‘The Love of God and Neighbor’. As Legionaries, as we celebrate 100 years of the existence of our Movement, we need to reflect on how far we have grown in the love of God and the love of neighbor. The love of God is reflected in an active prayer life – in having a personal relationship with God, in being an active and devout legionary and always seeking to obey the commandments of God. The Love of neighbor on the other hand is manifested in going out to meet the needs of others especially those experiencing difficulties, offering material, emotional and spiritual support to those in difficulties and engaging in apostolic work aimed at bringing other people close to God.

We live in a society where cruelty is the order of the day. The violation of life, brutality, murder – all these indicate that there is a crisis of love in society. We need to reclaim back the humane soul of society. And as legionaries, we do this by being agents of love in a loveless world, by being agents of kindness and charity in a world that is full of cruelty and selfishness.

5.0 CONCLUSION

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Legion of Mary is not just a Movement for us – it is a way of life. It is a way of living in communion with Christ, in communion with fellow believers and following in the footsteps of the Blessed Virgin Mary as we journey towards God. As we thank God for the gift of our Prayer Movement, and for the 100 years of its existence, let us pray that He May grant each one of us the grace to seek and follow His will at all times in our lives, and to grow in love of God and neighbor.

The Lord be with you!