Monday, 14 April 2008

Vocations continued

Following on from yesterday's post in connection with Vocations Sunday, I offer below the notes for my Legion of Mary allocutio this evening. I suspect that many other organisations or movements in the Church will find a similar vocation-mission dialogue within their charisms. This is a Marian-ecclesial character of all vocation in the Church.

Spiritual Reading: from the Handbook of the Legion of Mary pp.307-308

A solemnity attaches to last words even though they are uttered in turmoil or weakness. What then is to be thought of our Lord's final injunction to the apostles: what has been called his last will and testament, delivered at a moment more awesome than that of Sinai - that is as the completion of all his earthly lawgiving and immediately before his Ascension? As he speaks, he is already clothed with the very majesty of the Trinity: "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation." (Mk 16:15)
Those words supply the Christian keynote. Faith must strain after people with inextinguishable ardour. Sometimes that essential note is missing. People are not sought after, neither those in the fold nor those outside it. But if that Ascension commandment be disregarded, it will be at a price - the price of loss of grace, of diminution and decay, even to the extinction of faith. Look around and see how many places have already paid that awful price…..

The Legion must be, so to speak, obsessed by that final commandment. It must, as a first principle, set out to establish a contact of some sort with every soul everywhere. If this be done - and it can be done - then the Lord's command will be moving towards fulfilment.
Our Lord, it will be noted, does not order that every person be converted, but only that approach be made to every one. The former may be beyond human possibility. But it is not impossible to make the approach.

1. Pope Benedict XVI, Regina Caeli Sunday 13th April 2008 (World Day of Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life)

Vocation and mission are inseparable:

This missionary service is carried out, in the first place, by priests …
… by those who decide to radically live the Gospel through the vows of chastity,
poverty and obedience
Christian marriage is also a missionary vocation

“Let us invoke the maternal protection of Mary for the many vocations that exist in the Church so that they are developed with an intense missionary character. To her, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace, I also commend the special missionary experience that I will live in the next few days with the apostolic trip to the United States and the visit to the United Nations, as I ask all of you to accompany me with your prayers.”

2. The Second Vatican Council on the Blessed Virgin and vocations in the Church

“In her life the Virgin has been a model of that motherly love with which all who join in the Church’s apostolic mission for the regeneration of mankind should be animated.”[1]

“(Priests) always find a wonderful example of such docility in the Blessed Virgin Mary who under the guidance of the Holy Spirit made a total dedication of herself for the mystery of the redemption of men. Priests should always venerate and love her, with a filial devotion and worship, as the Mother of the supreme and eternal Priest, as Queen of Apostles, and as protectress of their ministry.”[2] [my emphasis - to show response to vocation as being at the service of mission]

“(Members of religious institutes) have dedicated their whole lives to his service. This constitutes a special consecration, which is deeply rooted in their baptismal consecration and is a fuller expression of it.”[3]

“Spouses, therefore, are fortified and, as it were, consecrated for their duties and dignity of their state by a special sacrament…”[4]

3. The Marian character of vocation and mission in the Legion of Mary

The vocation of the Legionary is expressed in a consecration to the Virgin Mary; this consecration is renewed each year in the Acies ceremony. This Marian consecration is a specification of the consecration received in baptism, and so we can understand it in the same context as the consecrations of the priesthood, religious life and marriage. In this way our Legion membership is a response to a vocation.

The Legion is profoundly missionary. This is expressed in the obligation for members of a praesidium to undertake a substantial apostolic work each week, and by such Legion activities as the Peregrinatio Pro Christo.

The devotional outlook of the Legion sees its devotion to Mary as the root of its missionary work.[5] As Pope Benedict XVI suggested, Legion membership seen as a vocation and Legion membership seen as a mission are inseparable.

[1] Vatican II Lumen Gentium n.65.
[2] Vatican II Presbyterorum Ordinis n.18. This paragraph has a footnote referring to Vatican II Lumen Gentium n.65.
[3] Vatican II Perfectae Caritatis n.5
[4] Vatican II Gaudium et Spes n.48.
[5] cf Official Handbook of the Legion of Mary pp.22-23.

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