The Spiritual Works of Mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in spiritual necessities (CCC #2447), those being focused on getting a soul to Heaven. The seven Spiritual Works of Mercy are:
- Admonish the sinner
- Instruct the ignorant
- Counsel the doubtful
- Comfort the sorrowful
- Bear wrongs patiently
- Forgive all injuries
- Pray for the living and the dead
It must not be forgotten that the works of mercy demand more than a humanitarian basis if they are to serve as instruments in bringing about our eternal salvation. The proper motive is indispensable and this must be one drawn from the supernatural order.
The Concilium Legionis Mariae revised its list of approved works in September of 2000, and these are just a few examples, not meant to be all-inclusive. This one-page document is being made available here for easy viewing, printing and/or saving: Approved Works Revised
Our devotion to Mary will easily become mere lip service if there is little real zeal for the work of the salvation of souls. So the praesidium must ask at least once every month: are we really doing substantial work for the salvation of souls? Could we be doing more for this most worthy of objectives?
The work should be substantial, that is, a couple of hours a week and done in a supernatural spirit of faith and it must be done in the closest union with Mary. Our Legion work is a profound and practical way of living true devotion to Mary. Its essential aim should be to instill knowledge and love of Mary in others that will lead them to seek to share in Mary’s maternal care of souls.
The words of St. Pius X come to mind at this point: ‘As soon as devotion to the august Mary has driven deep its roots into souls, then – and not till then – will he who labours for those souls see proceed from them the fruits of virtue and sanctity corresponding to his toils on their behalf.’
Then we have one of the unforgettable lines describing the spirit of the Legion: ‘working… in union with Mary in such fashion that in those worked for and in one’s fellow members, the Person of Our Lord is once again seen and served by Mary, his Mother’.
This means giving our whole lives to Mary so that she can love Jesus through us and serve Him in our fellow legionaries and in those whom we meet and work with in our apostolate.
By way of conclusion let me suggest that a legionary who does not perform some substantial active legionary work every week will soon cease to be worthy of the name of legionary. This is particularly true of legionaries who are members of higher councils and must lead by example. Certainly if any legionary should habitually fail to do this substantial apostolic weekly work, they should seriously consider leaving the Legion or better still praying for the grace to rediscover the essential spirit of the Legion.
The Handbook seems to me to be equivalently saying the same thing in several passages. For example: ‘a main consideration is the allocation of active work to each member. Without substantial work there is no praesidium.’
Or, ‘Similarly, members of a praesidium, which is not engaged in some form of active work, have no right to the name of legionaries of Mary. It is reiterated that spiritual exercises do not satisfy the legionary obligation to do active work. The inactive praesidium is not only untrue to the Legion purpose of showing a virile apostolate in action, but it does a further grave injustice to the Legion. It creates the impression that the Legion is not suited to the doing of certain work, whereas the real fact is that the Legion, though perfectly capable, is not even being employed on that work.’
It is a prudent act to acknowledge Mary in prayer, the Most Blessed Virgin, before conducting Legion works: Prayer Before Doing Legion Work
Spare a few minutes to view this beautiful video clip, as it provides several examples of Apostolic Works that the Legion of Mary promotes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4t6jOXxd_TE&feature=fvst