The Legion of Mary, the Gospel of Life, and the Spiritual Works of Mercy

By Maureen Ward

In the area of Catholic Pastoral Care, the Legion of Mary is second to none. How can it not be since Frank Duff “invented” Pastoral Care so to speak. When Frank Duff, who was a Civil Servant by trade and a St. Vincent de Paul member in his free time, initially started the Legion of Mary which began as a little association to do spiritual works of mercy, the first assignment was to visit the sick in the wards of a large Dublin Hospital .

In pro life issues, I am afraid the Legion of Mary is lagging behind what I believe Frank Duff would have expected of this association that he founded.

When it comes to unborn children who unquestionably are the weakest of the weak, the most downtrodden of the downtrodden, the Legion of Mary, in many places, seems to me to be sadly lacking in mercy if we do not include them in the Legion’s ministry.  We are abandoning pre-born children and their mothers in our outreach. Some in the organization consider these pro-life works of mercy, such as instructing, counseling and praying as being political. I disagree.  It is not political to counsel and it is not political to instruct.  It is certainly not political to pray.

Unfortunately I have even had some members tell me that praying cannot count as a suitable legion work. Prayer is probably the most important legion of Mary work there is.  Here is a quotation from Pope John Paul II “Pray for the many spiritual and material needs of your families, your communities, the whole Church, and all of humanity. Indeed, prayer is the first and greatest work of charity that we must do for our brothers and sisters.” I couldn’t agree more,

There are so many ways that the legion of Mary can answer the Church’s Call to defend and promote Life.  Praying silently or counseling women at abortion sites seems like a good way to me. We could and probably should be promoting Holy Hours with prayers for unborn children and their mothers and all others who are affected by abortion. Also, there is the Spiritual Adoption Program for the unborn which I think would be an ideal project for a Praesidium to take on.  If the Legion of Mary really presents the “True Face of the Catholic Church” (Pope John XXIII) then we must visibly and with conviction, defend all of her Teachings.

Shawn Carney the National representative from 40 days for Life says:

“When you pray at the abortion facility you represent the last hope for the baby scheduled to be aborted …

… but you are also represent the first sign of mercy as the woman leaves the facility after the abortion.”