Monday, June 10, 2013

Korean Legion of Mary

After the Korean War, 60 years ago, the Legion of Mary came to Korea, and in a short period of time its influence was felt throughout the country. Today, one out of every ten Korean Catholics is a full-time or auxiliary member, and they number one out  ten among the Legion members in the world. It is by far the largest apostolic group in our parishes.

In the 1950s, the country had been ruined by the effects of war; both society and the Church were making efforts to rebuild.  Lack of material and spiritual goods were a constant impediment, and a search for security and well-being was present everywhere.  Precisely at this time the Legion entered Korea, and stressing prayer was the cord that united us to God in those difficult times, reminisced the archbishop at the Mass celebrating 60 years of Legion growth.

The structure of the Legion follows the organization of the Roman Legion. At the parish level there is the praesidium, with representatives of the different parish praesidia meeting as Curia. Representatives of the different Curia would meet in a larger area and called  Comitium. Those selected to represent a diocese would be known as Regia. And in the country, or divided into  populous areas of the country, we have the  Senatus. The world headquarters in Ireland is known as the Concilium.

The Legion has done much to give our Christians an understanding of the spiritual life and how it is to relate with our love for neighbor. The Catholic papers gave space to the legion and the influence it has had on Korean Catholicism. The celebration in the diocese of Kwangju was attended by over 10,000 legion members thanking God for the blessings received and resolving to continue to say 'Yes' to God.

The accomplishments of members are impressive, owing perhaps to the fact that few groups within the parish ask as much from their members as does the Legion. The sermon given by the Ordinary of the Kwangju diocese mentioned the fiat of Mary as being the distinguishing characteristic of a Legion member. The importance of obedience to the Legion's mission can be seen by the way they conduct their meetings and in their apostolic activity.

The editorial in the Peace Weekly mentioned that few would deny the  influence the legion had on the growth of the Church of Korea. There is no other group, says the editorial, that expresses its obedience quite like the Legion. It has been like a tractor pulling along the rest of the Church in service and evangelizing.  The world can be a complicated place to live in, but our faith life should be simple, and the first step toward this simplicity, according to the editorial, should be the 'yes' of obedience.

In conclusion, the editorial mentioned that with a strong Legion, the Church also is likely to be strong. In the growth of the Legion, we will also have the growth of the Church. The basic foundation of obedience, as exemplified by the Legion, is central to our faith, and the editorial prayerfully hopes this journey together will continue.  

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