The Legion's Abuse of Language
“You’re Leaving Your Vocation?”
Everyone has heard testimonies on how the discovery of one simple truth of the Catholic faith propelled someone on the road of conversion. Ironically, my story is the inverse in that my journey out of Regnum Christi towards true Catholicism began with the discovery of a lie. It was an arduous journey for a lay person, to try and navigate through the labyrinth of lies and misconceptions that I had accepted on faith during the many hours I spent in “formation.” These misconceptions or subtle manipulations of reality were like hurdles on the path to the realization that the true Catholic faith was being distorted and really diminished by the Legion and Regnum Christi.
To write an all encompassing testimony of our awakening to the idea that something was specious in Regnum Christi and the Legion would require a book. However, a brief synopsis is helpful.
My husband and I joined Regnum Christi immediately after I came into the Church and were members for twelve years. Both of us held leadership positions throughout our involvement. The Movement shaped who we were to completion. It defined our family life as well as our friendships. We were imbued with the spirituality of the Movement and convinced many others of its goodness.
At a certain crossroads when our involvement peaked we began to realize that the Legion and the Movement felt that the truth could be adjusted if it served the greater good, which was the Mission. We witnessed these methods employed in a variety of situations. For instance, we saw it used to flatter a potential benefactor, to exaggerate the effectiveness of an apostolate, to exaggerate the support the Legion was receiving from others, used as a denial to escape an accusation or simply a reforming of the truth to make it more palatable.
These observations caused my husband and I to begin questioning the methodologies of the Legion and Regnum Christi. Ultimately we had to ask ourselves, “Could we believe everything they have told us about the Catholic faith”? We really had been catechized by the Legion and Regnum Christi, since I incorporated two months after coming into the Church.
So we began the quest with one of the terms we thought that the Legion treated with some duplicity, which was “vocation” as it applies to the lay person. On the one hand we saw the Legionaries recruiting like they were striving to meet a quota, and encouraging lay members to do the same. We were always requesting an account from the Regnum Christi members of their recruitment efforts and would even ask for lists with names. We saw people with little to no knowledge of Regnum Christi incorporate after a silent retreat or a convention. Children were incorporated into ECYD without the parents knowing.
On the flip side, we heard very solemn proclamations like this is a “call from God,” “a gift from God,” “your vocation is irrevocable,” and “it defines who you are,” “Regnum Christi is like a big umbrella and all of your other vocations are under it.” The worst one (which I unfortunately repeated to others) was, “you were given this vocation at baptism.” All things were subordinate to this “vocation.”
Additionally, my ability to reason these things out was thwarted by the idea that was constantly presented by the Legion—to distrust yourself. To question is always labeled pride and vanity raising their ugly heads. It was the perfect set up for the unquestioning obedience and docility that the Legion so highly values. In no uncertain terms, my salvation was tied to this vocation. My freedom was frustrated and spoiled by these very subtle but grave errors.
As we began to wrestle with the Legion’s definition of vocation, a dear friend gave us a number of books authored by Josef Pieper, one of which was titled, Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power. (I would recommend it to anyone that is seeking some enlightenment on the power of the spoken word and the responsibility one has to use it only in the service of truth.) An apt quote that I recall is, “…such sophisticated language, disconnected from the roots of truth, in fact pursues some ulterior motives that it invariably turns into an instrument of power.”
This little treatise was not only useful as a personal examination, but most helpful in awakening our minds to the possibility that we had been manipulated by the misuse of the language of God or the language of piety. This is something that the average Catholic would find very difficult to detect or discern, especially after going through the rigors of Regnum Christi’s erroneous formation. It becomes a crafty trap and subterfuge that requires enormous effort to confront and then pursue.
When I announced to a very close friend that I was leaving Regnum Christi, she asked me, “You are leaving your vocation?” Who wants to turn their back on God and their vocation? Undoubtedly, God calls us to many things and I suppose we could use the word vocation, but to place it before my sacramental vocation of marriage is seriously flawed at the least. It was a means to holiness, and when the means was no longer useful I should have been able to leave without it being a major life event.
This distortion has many members trapped in their fear that they will their lose salvation. The inner conflict that this produced was almost insurmountable, and at any point in the process I could have lapsed. As I read testimonies, I feel very sad for those who come through the conflict having lost their bearings and leave their faith. I thank God for all of the good diocesan priests, priests from other orders and honest friends that have assisted us in finding the real Catholic faith in all of its beauty and wonder. We are still engaged in the process of leaving this stilted and diminished program behind and replacing it with a balanced, solid, religious practice—first and foremost in freedom.
So no, my dear friend, I am not leaving my vocation, I am returning to it. I am a Catholic wife and mother, and fortunately I still have time to live my life in the fullest sense as God intended.
Corrupta optima pessima (“the best, corrupted, becomes the worst”)
From Abuse of Power, Abuse of Language, by Josef Pieper
Disclaimer: ReGAIN and this site are neither endorsed by, nor sponsored by, nor affiliated with the Catholic congregation of priests and religious with the names Legion of Christ, and Legionaries of Christ, nor with the group called Regnum Christi.