Last week we had the handbook reading on ‘Material Relief Prohibited’. To summarize the reading talks about why the Legion does not give material relief in the form of money, clothes, food to those whom they visit. There are many reasons but I’m not going to talk about it. Today I am going to talk about our identity as legionaries.
The following passage from the handbook reading gave me food for thought.
Individual legionaries may plead the duty of giving charity according to one’s means, and may urge that they do not desire to give relief as legionaries, but in their private capacities. Analysis of this contention will indicate what complications must inevitably arise. Take the case – and it is the usual one – of someone who did not indulge in such personal relief-giving prior to joining the Legion. In his rounds, he comes across persons whom he deems to be in need in some way or another. He refrains from giving anything on the day of the official Legion visit, but goes some other day “as a private individual” and gives. Surely he is breaking the Legion rule as to the giving of material relief, and surely the double visitation only covers a quibble? He visited in the first instance as a legionary. The cases came to his knowledge as a legionary. The recipients know him as a legionary; and certainly they do not enter into the quibble. To them, the transaction is simply one of Legion relief-giving, and the Legion agrees that they judge rightly.
From this reading we can infer that a Legionary cannot divorce his personal capacity from his capacity as a legionary. Once we are identified by the world as Legionaries, that label will be stuck to us forever. All eyes are watching on us. Eyes are watching on good Catholics, more so for Legionaries. The chapter ‘To be in a sense always on duty’ is very good reading for all of us.
Duty means discipline. Being always on duty means unrelaxed discipline. Therefore, one’s speech, and dress, and manner, and conduct, however simple they may be, must never be such as to disedify. Persons will look for fault in those whom they observe to be active in the cause of religion. Failings, which in others would hardly attract notice, will in a legionary be considered disgraceful, and will largely spoil his efforts to do good to others. Nor is this unreasonable. Is it not just to require a goodly standard from those who are urging others on to higher things?
– Chapter 33, Basic Duties of Legionaries, To be in a sense always on duty.
Indeed, there are no off days for us. We are always at work. We must always be ready to perform our duty, regardless of the cost. All of us must inculcate the sense of duty in ourselves. In modern times, ‘duty’ is often scorned as a terrible burden that must be gotten rid of as soon as possible. As Christians we do not run away from duty, but embrace it. By doing so, we make the world a better place. The sense of duty is integral to the identity of the Legion.
Many times we are challenged to performed our duties, but we rather be else doing something more interesting. Our founder Frank Duff recognized this in his tract, ‘Can we be Saints?’
We are to do what it is our duty to do — and at the right time. Duty is not something which is to be thrown off with our working clothes, as so many people imagine. It is as strictly our duty to keep an appointment or a secret as it is to do our work. A duty goes before even “Devotions.” It is your duty to wash the dishes, do not run off to Benediction instead.
We must not be afraid to make sacrifices, whether it is an hour of entertainment, a date with our lover, or a few dollars from our wallet. But let us be realistic. Sacrifice cannot be forced upon us. Devotion cannot be forced upon us. As the love of God is made avail to us freely, so we also choose freely whether to make sacrifices or not. We should ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to make us ready for such a commitment. Since we have freely chosen to be Legionaries, let us freely choose to be bonded to our duty.