A helpful book for "Apologetics" and much more (Merged)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Sometimes we can overlook an obvious “gift” from God. He sends people into our lives and we fail to recognize Who sent them and what His purpose may be. In a similar way God can introduce us to a book, or another form of literature which can carry Him into our lives, as surely as persons can bring us closer to Him. The author of any work comes to us through his words. Scripture reminds us “Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.” God Himself speaks to us through His Word.

So this morning I would like to begin a series of threads to discuss a book which can easily be overlooked as a gift “limited” to a certain group, and thus read only by that group. However, as you begin to read the opening chapters, you may discover as I have, this book was written for not just a few but for many. Venerable J. Fulton Sheen said this author anticipated Vatican II (1962-65) and its renewed call for “universal holiness” and evangelization. The author was a lay observer at Vatican II (and when introduced to the assembly, the entire body of Bishops present rose to give him a standing ovation for the unique work he had been doing in and for the Church since 1921.

The author of this book, Servant of God Frank Duff died Nov. 7, 1980 and his cause for canonization was introduced in 1996. Interestingly, the first page of the revised edition is an Address given by Pope St. John Paul II to the Legion of Mary in 1982. I hope many on CCF will begin to discover this gift God has given to His Church. See HERE

I will close this post with a quote from St. John Paul II’s address:

…Your proper vocation as lay people, that is the vocation to be a leaven in the People of God, a Christian inspiration in the modern world, and to bring the priest to the people, is eminently ecclesial. The same Second Vatican Council exhorts all the laity to accept with ready generosity the call to be united ever more intimately to the Lord and, considering as one’s own everything that is his, to share in the same salvific mission of the Church, to be its living instruments, above all where, because of particular conditions of modern society – a constant increase in population, a reduction in the numbers of priests, the appearance of new problems, the autonomy of many sectors of human life – it could be more difficult for the Church to be present and active (ibid. 33).

The area of the lay apostolate today is extraordinarily enlarged. And so the commitment of your typical vocation becomes more impelling, stimulating, live and relevant. The vitality of the Christian is the sign of the vitality of the Church…

I’d be grateful for your thoughts, but even if you are not ready to share your thoughts, I hope you will read from this book and receive all God intends to give you. Eventually, perhaps you will share what God is working in your own heart for the good of His Church. Thanks.

PS For any readers unfamiliar with “Apologetics”: for this thread, the word refers to a reasoned defense in regard to religious beliefs. The thread is not intended as a debate format, however. It is intended to present truths of Catholic faith in the words of one who earnestly lived them and offer opportunities for questions and comments on his book. :slight_smile:

The handbook of the Legion of Mary can certainly be used to aid in our sanctification as well as to inspire evangelization.

The directives that promote consecrating ourselves to our Blessed Mother; and the information about Our Lady’s privileges are a great help in making us aware of what a gift Our Lord Jesus Christ gave us while He was on the cross.

In Jesus and Mary,

Dorothy

Dear Dorothy,

Thanks so much for your reply. Yes, I believe Pope St. John Paul II was well aware of the value in what God did in and through His servant Frank Duff. Both those holy men wrote that reading St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary was a turning point in their lives.

When I read the Legion Handbook, I hear many echoes of De Montfort’s writings. I agree with you that there is much to be learned from the Handbook about growing in holiness and how Mary is both our Mother and Model. I hope many (clergy, religious, and lay persons) will begin to read about these gifts we have received and the gifts God is offering us each day through Mary. We can learn so much from those who wrote so well of her, and who lived holy lives under her guidance, by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

Chapters 7,8 & 9 which focus on the Blessed Mother’s relation to the Holy Trinity, The Mass and the Church are wonderful. Very much so ‘apologetics’ as it references both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

The Eucharist is the infinite good. For in that sacrament is Jesus himself, as much present as he was in his home at Nazareth or in the Upper Room at Jerusalem. The holy
Eucharist is no mere symbol of him, or instrument of his power, but is Jesus Christ himself substantially. So that she, who had conceived him and nurtured him, “found again in the adorable host the blessed fruit of her womb, and renewed in her life of union with his Sacramental presence the happy days of Bethlehem and Nazareth.” (St. Peter Julian Eymard)

Reading that brings to mind something Saint John Paul II wrote in his Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia…

What must Mary have felt as she heard from the mouth of Peter, John, James and the other Apostles the words spoken at the Last Supper: “This is my body which is given for you” (Lk 22:19)? The body given up for us and made present under sacramental signs was the same body which she had conceived in her womb! For Mary, receiving the Eucharist must have somehow meant welcoming once more into her womb that heart which had beat in unison with hers and reliving what she had experienced at the foot of the Cross.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday I began a new thread, introducing the Handbook of the Legion of Mary as a “helpful book for apologetics and more”. Today, I begin with Chapter 1 and while the book title for the Chapter is “Name and Origin” and refers to the Legion itself, the title for this thread is “Who am I?”

Jesus asked a similar question of the twelve, in the Gospel. Jesus knew the answer before He asked but He wanted them to probe their own hearts. If we are to give a reasoned defense of our Catholic Faith, we need by God’s Grace to gain “self-knowledge” in order to have ongoing conversion. Our call to holiness requires us to become “like Christ” and to discern what needs conversion in our lives. We cannot give what we ourselves do not have. Our witness is intended to show the world Christ’s Light.

This is part of the “more” beyond a knowledge of our faith, the Handbook can reveal to us. For instance, Servant of Frank Duff, wrote this description of the first group who came together seeking the Lord’s Will and became the first Legion members:

…What a wonder! Who, contemplating those inconspicuous persons — so simply engaged — could in his wildest moments imagine what a destiny waited just a little along the road? Who among them could think that they were inaugurating a system which was to be a new world-force, possessing — if faithfully and forcefully administered — the power, in Mary, of imparting life and sweetness and hope to the nations? Yet so it was to be.(Handbook, p. 10)

The disciples who first gathered around Jesus, seeking to know God’s Will were certainly “inconspicuous persons”. Did they imagine what lay before them? Did they have any idea of how their little group would grow into the Church? They had even less idea of how Mary was already "imparting life and sweetness and hope to the nations “Yet so it was to be.”

In pondering just this short paragraph, I hope you begin to consider with me, what is the Holy Spirit saying to the disciples of Christ today? Who am I and who are you and how close are we to Christ ? How close to Christ is the Church today as we look around us – our families, our parish, our universal Church? What is God saying to you and to me? What is our personal witness? Are we bringing Christ as Mary first brought Him into the world? Do we personally and corporately shine with His Light?

I’d be grateful for your thoughts on this.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Handbook of the Legion of Mary, Chapter One, ends with this most beautiful quote:

The Legion of Mary presents the true face of the Catholic Church. (Pope St. John XXIII)

It is not surprising to me that the Pope who opened the Second Vatican Council would say those words. He opened the Council on Oct. 11 - then celebrated as the Feast of the Maternity of Mary, in 1962. This Pope know of the wonderful work the Lord had accomplished through the Legion founded in 1921, and saw the truth in the founder’s words written in the Handbook: “this lay organization has as its first and constant aim to reproduce in itself the likeness of Mary, thus best to magnify the Lord and bring Him to men.” ( underlining is mine; page 11 of the Handbook). How can it be a surprise, then, to see Mary shining through the Legion? She is the true face of the Church. Mary is the Mother and Model for all of us.

Another quote on this same page of the Handbook is from St. Augustine and shows how beautifully the Handbook “breathes” Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church. All generations shall call Mary blessed:

“Mary is the Mother of all the members of the Saviour, because by her charity she has co-operated in the birth of the faithful in the Church. Mary is the living mould of God, that is to say, it is in her alone that the God Man was naturally formed without losing a feature, so to speak, of His Godhead; and it is in her alone that man can be properly and in a life-like way formed into God, so far as human nature is capable of this by the grace of Jesus Christ.” (St. Augustine)

I hope you will find time, perhaps this weekend to read even just this Chapter One to see how anyone in the Church who wants to grow in grace as Mary did, will be blessed by it. Today, Nov. 21, is the Memorial of Mary’s Presentation in the Temple – a good day to look into our own hearts to see how closely we resemble Mary and thus resemble Him to whom she was so configured.

I really would appreciate more thoughts on the original post or on this and the other post I’ve written. Thanks. :slight_smile:

Hi MariaChristi!

I just wanted to read through your thread as you requested, and it makes a very good point on Pope Saint John Paul II’s section that we all have a duty to take part in Christ’s mission and do our very best, even as lay people, to spread the Good News of His Gospel to all. In this way, we can help to spread the peace and love of God to those who are in the most need of it and always be working to build up His Church.

May God bless you this Thanksgiving season and always! :slight_smile:

Dear Richard,

Thanks so much for taking time to read through this thread. Yes, Saint John Paul II like all the saints, heard deeply and lived Jesus’ words: “Go, …make disciples…teaching them to observe all I have commanded you…” (cf Mt 28) and he as other Popes before him, encouraged all of us, clergy, religious and laity, to realize we are all called to carry on the mission of Jesus.

Servant of God Frank Duff the author of the Handbook was given, by God, a profound understanding of the Mystery of the Body of Christ and the place of Mary in this mystery. Each time I read this Handbook I am blessed.

May the Lord continue to bless you as you seek to carry on the mission of Christ, Richard. Please let us pray for one another and all those in most need of God’s Mercy. Special Blessings during this Thanksgiving season, and always.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Continuing this “helpful book” for apologetics and much more, the title of Chapter 2 is: “Object” and the first sentence is:

The object of the Legion of Mary is the glory of God through the holiness of its members developed by prayer and active co-operation, under ecclesiastical guidance, in Mary’s and the Church’s work of crushing the head of the serpent and advancing the reign of Christ.

The Handbook of the Legion of Mary is in many ways a Handbook for all Catholic Christians, explaining many truths of our Faith, and encouraging true disciples. This chapter ends with quotes from the Vatican II document: Apostolicam Actuositaten (Decree on the apostolate of lay people).

This thread is entitled “What is your objective?” It is appropriate to ask this question on a Catholic Forum, and I ask it not to begin any debate but merely to probe our consciences as members of the Body of Christ. Are we not called to holiness? Yet is that the basic objective toward which we are striving? I wonder sometimes how great is the “mixture in us” – both as individual members and as Church Universal. Is the spirit of Christ (which is also the spirit of Mary) mixed with the spirit of the world? How great is the degree of each “spirit” within us individually and corporately. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

“Apologetics” is a reasoned argument or justification for what we believe. So, as Catholics, it is very important to have a clear understanding of our faith and to have a clear objective as to why and how to advance the reign of Christ in this world. Jesus commissioned His Church to “Go…make disciples…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded…”

I’ve said elsewhere: we cannot give what we do not have ourselves. What is within us that we give others? What are we teaching by our example, and/or by our words? I’d be grateful for your thoughts on this question of personal objective?

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