I wanted to follow up on the idea in my previous post that it is essential for a legionary to manipulate others. The fact is, twenty four years in the congregation gives you a chance to know a lot of people and a lot of legionaries. It was a real Noah's ark.
We were all thrown into the same boat. Some made it to the deck, some navigated, some took the helm, and the great majority swabbed the deck. I swabbed.
But what was it that got you to the deck? What was it made you stand out and make it to the top? Everyone that entered had talents. Some more than others. That was no guarantee that you were going to be called to the deck. There had to be another quality that was sought after, something that made you stand out.
Leadership qualities were a must. But it was in the definition of a leader that we find so many answers. A leader in the Legion (in practice, not in theory) is anyone who is able to manipulate other to the desired end.
I mentioned a priest I knew who had many personal problems, but was given a pass on these and honored because he was so successful in getting rich people onto the boat. The quality that dictates success is to win people over to the cause, get inside their minds, convince them, no matter what the cost to you or them.
It is a very calculating way of doing things. You need to plan, get to know the person, play on his or her weaknesses, and promise rewards. It is very much akin to the Prosperity Gospel so common in Brazil where evangelical churches preach prosperity under the guise of God's blessing. It's more subtle in the legion, but it's there. Maybe it's not material blessings in this life, but it is eternal salvation.
And those who are able to latch on to this way of doing things are the ones that survive, or persevere in legion lingo.
If you don't get it, you are marginalized or pushed out. It's as simple as that - manipulate or die.
The striking thing is the vision of personal holiness preached in the legion is not rewarded.
I knew another priest who was a real example of authentic priestly zeal. People loved him for this. There were no limits to his generosity. He would dedicate hours to confession, visit the sick, council anyone who asked, and spend quality time in prayer. But he was marginalized, because he wasn't getting the required fruits. He was ridiculed by other legionaries as being a new St John Vianney. And that was sad: a man who was truly on fire for the Lord and for souls was treated as second rate, or lower.
The number of superiors and other honored legionaries I knew who had very visible faults but were given great prestige was countless. Sometimes I would hear mid-morning snoring coming from their rooms. Others would waste time on unholy practices on the computer; nothing immoral - just not measuring up to the standard they preached of using time well.
I don't know if you can call it a double standard. In a way it was. But it didn't matter how many vices or defects you had, as long as you were bearing the right fruits: money and vocations.
Just a final word on marginalizing. The Legion is good at creating place to send unwanted priests. The Mission Territory of Quintana Roo in Mexico is the best of all. But there are administrative positions created, auxiliary posts, and so many other places to send non-productive priests or religious. I held a lot of these posts. But I could never be satisfied with that. I wanted to be more productive. I wanted to feel more fulfilled.
I do feel more fulfilled now than ever. Parish life is very rewarding. I try very hard not to manipulate people. I listen to them and offer solutions, and respect their freedom. After all, that is what God does.