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The Praesidium is Mary's Local Presence

Legion of Mary, Westcliff

The Official Handbook of the Legion of Mary states that the praesidium is a "Presence" of Mary. It is a group of loving souls eager to help Mary in her role of giving life to the world and renewing all things. The praesidium is seen as Mary's local presence, through which she displays her unique gifts and reproduces her motherhood. A praesidium that is true to its ideals is expected to bestow life, renewal, healing, and solutions around itself.

"Therefore, a praesidium may be imagined as a sort of local presence of Mary through which she will display her unique gifts and reproduce her motherhood. So it can be expected that a praesidium which is true to its ideals will bestow around itself life and renewal and healing and solutions." (Handbook, p.126)

A praesidium that faithfully manifests the presence of Mary will have several practical outcomes, both for its members and for the wider parish community.

For the members of the praesidium:

1. Spiritual Growth: Members will experience spiritual growth and renewal as they participate in the praesidium's activities. Mary's mothering will enrich them and inspire them to help her in her role.

2. Unity and Cooperation: The praesidium will foster a sense of unity and cooperation among its members. They will be consolidated into a body for comprehensive use in the official, pastoral apostolate of the Church.

3. Discipline and Commitment: Members must be punctual, regularly attend, and be committed to their duties. They will be trained to be reliable and responsible, reflecting the virtues of Mary.

For the parish community:

1. Life and Renewal: The praesidium will bestow life and renewal around itself. It will bring about spiritual rejuvenation in the parish community.

2. Healing and Solutions: The praesidium will heal and solve problems. It will serve as a source of comfort and guidance for those in need.

3. Presence of Mary: The praesidium will serve as a local presence of Mary, displaying her unique gifts and reproducing her motherhood. This will bring about a sense of peace and spiritual enrichment in the parish community.

4. Promotion of Devotion: The praesidium will promote devotion to Mary and the Church's sacraments in the parish community. It will encourage the faithful to have crucifixes, statues, religious prints and pictures, holy water, and blessed beads in their homes.

It is equally important to know the barriers that can hinder the realization of the presence of Mary in a praesidium:

1. Neglect of Details and Order: The praesidium should reflect the characteristics of the Holy Home of Nazareth. If the praesidium pays attention to details and order, the spirit of Nazareth likely abides in it.

2. Inadequate Leadership: The shortcomings of praesidia can often be traced back to the officers. Suppose members are unpunctual, irregular in attendance, do insufficient work, and fail in their attitude at the meeting. In that case, it is often because they are not being taught any better by their officers.

3. Lack of Discipline and Commitment: Members must be punctual, regularly attend, and commit to their duties. If these qualities are lacking, it can hinder the manifestation of Mary's presence.

4. Variation from Legion System: Members cannot vary rules and practices. Each variation, however slight, makes others inevitable till a body exists which indeed bears the name but possesses little else of the Legion.

5. Lack of Faith and Trust: The legionaries' essential mainstay must be the knowledge of the companionship of God, their good Father, in their work of sanctifying themselves and serving their neighbor. Lack of faith and trust can stand in the way of success.

6. Lack of Devotion to Mary: Under God, the Legion is built upon devotion to Mary. Suppose this devotion is lacking or is not strong enough. In that case, it can be a barrier to the realization of Mary's presence in a praesidium.

As we reflect on our roles and responsibilities within our praesidium, let us remember that we are not just a group of individuals, but a local presence of Mary herself. Our praesidium is a manifestation of Mary's love, her motherhood, and her unique gifts. Through our collective efforts, we bring life, renewal, healing, and solutions to our community.

Our weekly meetings are not just gatherings but sacred duties that we perform in the spirit of religious discipline. They are the heart of our Legion, the source of our light and energy, and the treasury we provide for our particular needs. We regard attending these meetings as our first and most sacred duty.

We must remember that our work is about more than just following rules and practices. It is about embodying the spirit of the Holy Home of Nazareth, reflecting the virtues of Jesus and Mary, and being true to our ideals. Let us strive to be punctual, regularly attend, and be committed to our duties. Let us keep the Legion system the same, for each variation can lead us away from the true spirit of the Legion.

Let us also remember that our apostolate draws its inspiration from Mary, who gave Christ to the world and was so closely associated with Him in the work of redemption. As we serve our community, let us do so with the spirit and solicitude of Mary. Let us strive to render our service to every person who is the image of Christ with the same love and care that Mary would.

As we move forward, let us remember the words from the Book of Sirach: "Bend your shoulders and carry her, and do not fret under her bonds. Come to her with all your soul, and keep her ways with all your might. Search out and seek, and she will become known to you, and when you get hold of her, do not let her go."

May we continue to grow in our devotion to Mary, and through our work, may we bring her presence to our community. May our praesidium continue to be a beacon of light, a source of healing, and a symbol of renewal.

God bless you all.

Fr. V

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