Tuesday, 07 September 2021 17:34

Mass for the Centenary of the Legion of Mary, 1921-2021

The Legion of Mary celebrated 100 years on 7 September 2021. It was a time of joy, of celebration and of thanksgiving.

Fr Justin Ford will celebrated Mass from St Mary's Church, Ascot Vale on Tuesday 7 September at 10am (AEST). Click here to view on YouTube.

Archbishop Dermot Farrell celebrated Mass on Saturday 4th September at 4.30am (AEST) in St. Nicholas of Myra Church, Dublin, Ireland. Click here to view.

frjustinford homily01 250Homily – Fr Justin Ford

Church of Saint Mary of The Immaculate Conception, Ascot Vale
7th September 2021

As we look back at these first hundred years of the Legion of Mary we can see so many signs of God’s graces and blessings, and of his providential plan for these times. I think of the words of St Louis de Montfort from True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin:

‘The salvation of the world began through Mary and through her it must be accomplished. Mary scarcely appeared in the first coming of Jesus Christ so that men, as yet insufficiently instructed and enlightened concerning the person of her Son, might not wander from the truth by becoming too strongly attached to her… But in the second coming of Jesus Christ, Mary must be known and openly revealed by the Holy Spirit so that Jesus may be known, loved and served through her… God wishes therefore to reveal Mary, his masterpiece, and make her more known in these latter times.’ (nn. 49-50)

So, the ‘latter times’. We don’t know when Our Lord’s second coming will be – it could be in thousands of years. And yet, what St Louis calls ‘these latter times’ are these times of ours in which Jesus does want his Mother to be more and more known and loved. We can see so many signs of that in these recent centuries.

We see it in St Louis de Montfort himself, the great apostle of devotion to our Blessed Mother. We see it in the great teachings of the Church about Mary in modern times – very especially, the definitions of the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, and of the Assumption in 1950; and so many teachings of the Popes about Mary, about the Rosary; the teachings of the Second Vatican Council – the most extensive teachings about Mary from any of the Councils.

We see it in the famous apparitions of Our Lady approved by the Church, especially Lourdes and Fatima, but others as well. We see it in the spread of the Rosary; the Miraculous Medal revealed to St Catherine Labouré; devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in union with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And in a special way, we see signs that this is the ‘Age of Mary’ in Mary’s Legion.

It was by a special inspiration of God that on this day, exactly one hundred years ago, Frank Duff held the first meeting in Dublin of what would become this great spiritual army of millions of legionaries around the world. A throng delighting to honour Mary as their Mother and Queen; responding to the universal call to holiness by coming to Jesus through Mary; and in their apostolic activities – under Mary’s guidance and in the grace of the Holy Spirit – leading so many other souls on that sure and wonderful path ‘to Jesus through Mary’.

We do have so much to praise and thank God for, so many reasons to be grateful to our Heavenly Mother. The Legion came to Australia and Oceania in 1932 after Fr Henry Bakker, Parish Priest of Ascot Vale, met Frank Duff at the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin. And from that beginning, the Legion spread swiftly in this part of the world. When we think of the thousands of legionaries in this region, and the millions around the world, we can hardly comprehend how many prayers, rosaries, acts of holiness, acts of service, have been carried out in that time by legionaries and others – as a direct result of the Legion and of that inspiration of Frank Duff. And how many people have been helped spiritually by the work of legionaries – indeed, how many souls have legionaries been instrumental in saving, under the grace of God, flowing to the Legion through the hands of Mary?

In so many ways, legionaries try to imitate their Mother and Queen. We heard in our readings today two of the central moments of Mary’s role, first with Jesus her Son, and then in the beginning of the Church at the time of Pentecost.

In our Gospel, we saw Mary at the foot of the Cross, all most certainly by God’s plan. The Second Vatican Council tells us, ‘The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her.’ (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium (1964) 58)

What a great inspiration that is for us to stand by the Cross of Jesus, and to unite our own sufferings and penances with the sufferings of Mary and of her Heart – all united with the sufferings of her Divine Son.

And in our First Reading we’re inspired by Mary joining in prayer with the disciples as they await the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We’re given the great confidence – as Catholics, as legionaries – to unite our own prayers with those of Mary. We know from the Saints and from the Church that God wishes all graces to flow from him to Christ, then from Christ to Mary, and so to the whole world. (cf. Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Iucunda Semper Expectatione (1894) 5, quoting St Bernardine of Siena)

So we’re heirs to this great tradition, this great blessing of God that is the Legion. We’re recipients of so many graces flowing to us, gained by the prayers and good works of those who have gone before. And this gives us the courage and the determination that we will keep journeying under Our Lady’s mantle. In our Mass of celebration today, we pray with great confidence to Our Lady for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit: that we may be renewed in this great calling of coming to Jesus through Mary, and leading others to Jesus through Mary – for the salvation of souls and the glory of God.

More in this category: « Legion of Mary Annual Mass 2021