The Roman Legion, from which the Legion takes its name, has come down through the centuries illustrious for loyalty, courage, discipline, endurance and success, and this for ends that were often base and never more than worldly. Manifestly, Mary’s Legion cannot offer to her the name (like a setting stripped of the jewels which adorned it) accompanied by qualities less notable, so that in these qualities is indicated the very minimum of legionary service. St. Clement, who was converted by St. Peter and was a fellow-worker of St. Paul, proposes the Roman army as a model to be imitated by the Church.
“Who are the enemy? They are the wicked who resist the will of God. Therefore, let us throw ourselves determinedly into the warfare of Christ and submit ourselves to his glorious commands. Let us scrutinise those who serve in the Roman Legion under the military authorities, and note their discipline, their readiness, their obedience in executing orders. Not all are prefects or tribune or centurions or commanders of fifty or in the minor grades of authority. But each man in his own rank carries out the commands of the emperor and of his superior officers. The great cannot exist without the small; nor the small without the great. A certain organic unity binds all parts, so that each helps and is helped by all. Let us take the analogy of our body. The head is nothing without the feet; likewise the feet are nothing without the head. Even the smallest organs of our body are necessary and valuable to the entire body. In fact all the parts work together to an interdependence and yield a common obedience for the benefit of the whole body.” (St. Clement, Pope and Martyr: Epistle to the Corinthians (96 .A.D.), chapters 36 and 37)
(Legio Mariae, pg. 13-14)
I personally think one of the neatest and thought-provoking aspects of the Legion of Mary is that we are, in a very real sense, an army. This theme is one that is found throughout the handbook and in our very structure.
As our title indicates, we legionaries are all soldiers, and as soldiers – Frank Duff points out – it would benefit us to emulate some of the greatest warriors known from history: the Roman Legion. It is even possible for us today to not only imitate but to surpass their loyalty and discipline, their courage and endurance, as well as bring about the ultimate success: that which is far greater than any success that their earthly army may have achieved. In order to do so though, one must strive to practice each of these virtues in their daily lives.
Loyalty to the Legion is the base upon which all the other virtues are built. If the legionary is not faithful to his Queen, how can he expect to be formed in the other areas of this rule? Rather he must completely surrender his heart to the Queen of Heaven so that she may mold her soldier into a man fit to bring souls to her Son and King.
She begins the molding process first through the order of discipline. Without this virtue, the life and mission of the legionary would be – to put it bluntly – chaotic and fruitless. He needs the structure that is found in the handbook, the meeting, the obedience of performing his weekly assignments, in order to produce the fruit that will last.
Next the legionary must have courage as he goes forth to serve his Queen. This is truly a war that he is marching into, and the Enemy is both seductive and cunning. The legionary is asked to bravely step forward, to take a leap of faith, and to even courageously offer his life for the souls he seeks to rescue, trusting that his Queen and her Son will bring about the ultimate success.
Lastly, the legionary must be perseverant. There will be times that are discouraging for the legionary: souls won’t immediately respond to his witness, the graces might not seem that they are there when he needs them. Yet he must endure, remembering that his effort is bringing about a change, and that, if he were to let up even a tiny bit, it would give the Enemy the chance to push his villainous troops in.
As Frank Duff put, the Roman Legion was successful in areas that were strictly worldly. How much more successful would our legionary be with the Queen of Heaven and her Divine Lord on his side? For the cross has already won the war; all that is left is to offer our full participation in attaining the victory.