The big challenge ahead for the Legion of Mary-A A +A
By Luci Lizares
Saturday, January 18, 2014
IT WAS July 16, 1946 when the first Preasidium of the Legion of Mary was organized in the City of Bacolod, the Preasidium Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The response to be Mary’s legionaries was infectious most especially with the support of Bishop Casimiro Lladoc and their Spiritual Director, Fr. Antonio T. Fortich.
As the numbers grew and more preasidia were established, the Bacolod Curia was born with Joaquin Loarca as president; Imelda Gonzaga Tanpinco, as vice president; Celina Ledesma, secretary; and Conchita Cuenca, treasurer.
Not confined merely to Bacolod City, more preasidia mushroomed to the north and south of Bacolod City.
The seed that was planted in 1946 has grown far beyond expectations and 67 years hence, in the Year of Faith, the Concilium in Ireland has declared the elevation of the Bacolod Comitium to the Regia of Negros Occidental.
No less than the Most Rev. Vicente M. Navarra, bishop of Bacolod, celebrated the Thanksgiving Mass held at the Sacred Heart Shrine. Officers of the Senatus of Iloilo, the officers of the newly created Regia of Negros Occidental, the officers of the Preasidia, Comitia and the Curiae of Negros Occidental, the spiritual directors, and the members of the Legion of Mary Foundation of Negros Occidental came to grace the momentous occasion.
Allow me to share excerpts of the good Bishop’s homily which embodies the story and the task of legionaries particularly but looking more closely, it is a guideline generally of all leaders and a people as well.
“I find the Readings of today’s Mass (December 21, 2013) very helpful to make us capture the spirit of urgency and joy this occasion brings. On the part of Mary, she wasted no time. She immediately embarked on a long and perilous journey (travelling on foot or by donkey and was on her first trimester of pregnancy) in order to minister to her aging cousin, who was on her sixth month of pregnancy. Nonetheless Mary was filled with joy knowing that by her visit, she was not bringing to Elizabeth, her person and her help but most of all, she was bringing the very source of all joys – the God of the Universe, the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ Himself.
That urgency was worth pondering upon and emulating, and the element of joy.”
“Elizabeth upon hearing the greetings of Mary exclaimed in great jubilation: “What have I done to deserve such a visit from the Mother of my Lord! For the moment your greetings fell on my ears, the baby leapt for joy inside my womb”. What brought great joy to Elizabeth and the baby inside her womb? The answer is: the Lord and only the Lord! Because wherever the Lord is present, real joy comes and is experienced.”
“For John, the Lord’s presence is particularly strong because his life’s mission is to prepare the way for the Messiah and point Him out when He comes.”
“The Visitation at the Second Joyful Mysteries identifies that every visitation done in the name of the Lord and for the Lord, is always characterized by a sense of urgency and likewise a great exuberance of joy, beyond all telling. More than anything else, I see the pastoral implication of the occasion, the elevation of the Negros Occidental Comitium into the status of a Regia, as a re-enactment of that apostolic missionary visit of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. I take this opportunity to exhort the officers and members of the newly created Regia of Negros Occidental:
1. Like Mary, you should be humble. You are only the servants of the Lord. That your Comitium has been elevated to a status of a Regia, and you happen to be its first officers and members do not mean a special privileged position or honor, as the world understands it. Rather, yours is a deputation and commission to a humble, loving service.
2. Your tasks and responsibilities are clearly defined as Marian, and should not be anything else. It means, as you supervise the different Comitia and Curiae under your jurisdiction, like Mary, you should bring with you, Jesus and only Jesus. Yes, it means your commitment motivated by your faith and love to bring the Lord to people you visit, whoever they are and wherever they are.
3. Like Mary, ask for the grace to always feel the urgency of your mission and responsibility. Remember if you are faithful and true, your visit always brings with it, joy to those you visit and likewise an awareness in them, that the Lord is with them and urges them to bring Christ to others, starting from their own families.
4. As Legionaries of Mary, your apostolate urges you to visit not on the Elizabeths, but you have to visit people who are walking in the darkness of sin and apathy in their spiritual life; and precisely these are the people you have to visit not only once but as often as possible, because it is for them that your apostolate, as Legionaries, was conceived – to bring back sinners to God, to inspire hope where there is despair, to lead them who have gone astray to return to the path of righteousness and holiness.
5. Be joyful in your service to the Lord. It should be a genuine joy, one that flows from a heart that is united to God, through thick and thin, through sunny as well as rainy days. When God is in your heart, then like Mary, come what may, you feel happy and secure-and that joy cannot be contained in yourself alone. It is contaminating, it has to spread and impel others to feel the same and to get involved!
The work of legionaries is to do house to house visitations and bringing with them in each visit the joy of Christ. In hindsight, shouldn’t this be the task of every leader or every human being?
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 18, 2014.