Her whole life and destiny have been motherhood, first of Christ and then of men. For that she was prepared and brought into existence by the Holy Trinity after an eternal deliberation (as St. Augustine remarks). On the day of the Annunciation she entered on her wondrous work and ever since she has been the busy mother attending to her household duties. For a while these were contained in Nazareth, but soon the little house became the whole wide world, and her Son expanded into mankind. And so it has continued; all the time her domestic work goes on and nothing in that Nazareth-grown-big can be performed without her. Any caring of the Lord’s body is supplemental to her care; the apostle only adds himself to her maternal occupations; and in that sense Our Lady might declare: “I am Apostleship,” almost as she said: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
That motherhood of souls being her essential function and her very life, it follows that without participation in it there can be no real union with her. Therefore, let the position be stated once again: true devotion to Mary must comprise the service of souls. Mary without motherhood and the Christian without apostleship, would be analogous ideas. Both the one and the other would be incomplete, unreal, unsubstantial, false to the Divine intention.
Accordingly, the Legion is not built, as some suppose, upon two principles, that is , Mary and apostleship, but upon the since principle of Mary, which principle embraces apostleship and (rightly understood) the entire Christian life.
(Legio Mariae, pg. 32-33)
Parenthood is mission, or – if we were to use the terminology of Frank Duff – parenthood is apostleship. The primary role of the parent is to give life to their child, starting with the child’s conception, then continuing through providing for their physical needs by giving them food, shelter, clothing, love, etc. as well as for their spiritual needs by giving them the life-producing education of the Faith. This is the first and most basic form of apostleship that parents are called to, to develop their children’s spiritual life through the teaching about Life Himself.
But wait. Why am I discussing the role of parents when we are a group of college students (who – at least to my knowledge – do not have children of our own)? It is this: if parenthood is mission, then the reverse must also be true – mission is parenthood. Every Christian, out of love, is called to mission, and thus to parenthood. We see this truth clearly in the life of Mary after the Resurrection of Christ. Her motherhood did not cease when her Son was no longer on earth. Rather she recognized that her mission continued and she further responded to her universal call to apostleship. Her motherhood extended through her mission, and she continues to intercede and teach as our very own spiritual mother to this day.
We, along with the Blessed Mother, make up the Body of Christ. If Christ is the head of this Body, then Mary is the heart, and – as members extending from that heart – we are called to share in the mission of she who has provided us with lifeblood. Her mission is the mission of the Church, and so it is the very same mission that we are called to as members of the Church: we are called to be, in some way or another, parents.
The ways that parenthood manifests itself is as diverse as the many parts of the human body. Natural parenthood looks different than the spiritual parenthood to which the religious are called, which also looks different than that of the pastoral parenthood of priests. Teachers are called to a different form of parenthood than their students; the list is endless – we will each experience it differently. As Legionaries, our parenthood is uniquely united to Mary’s universal motherhood, for – when we encounter souls in our day to day lives – it is Mary who is ministering to them as mother through us. The life-giving teaching we give to them by preaching the Gospel is distributed by none other than the Blessed Mother: her mission continues through us and our willing cooperation to “adopt” these souls as our own spiritual children in order to bring them to He who gave us our parental mission.