By TricksterB in the Phatmass Phorum, Home of the Vatican Stairs Fan Club.
I would like to tell you about my experience with the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi. It is long, but, humbly, I think it is worth reading.
I joined Regnum Christi in 1999 shortly after my older brother entered the Legion to study for the priesthood. I can honestly say that I didn't know much about the Legion or Regnum Christi at the time, but with prayer (NOT pressure), I knew it was the right thing to do. Since that time, I have always had a Legionary spiritual director, and I have always loved them. Even though I went to a Catholic school, I can attribute the fact that I learned the truth of my faith from the Legionaries. Unfortunately, I know many people who went to my highschool who have since fallen away from the church, and I don't see any reason why the same thing would not have happened to me but that the Legion was present in my life. Through good and bad, they have been there for me, always compassionate, understanding and charitable but never afraid to point me toward the straight and narrow.
During my sophomore year of college at the United States Military Academy, I decided to leave for a year to be a coworker. I wanted to give a year of my life to Christ and only him. Embarking on this journey, I quickly learned that if one gives God an inch, He will ask for a mile. Also, I realized that my plans, which seemed so perfect, are not necessarily God's plans. Within weeks of leaving West Point, I heard, very literally, loud and clear, God calling me to join the Legion. Much to my dismay because I did not want to be a priest, I went to the candidacy program two weeks later. After two months in the candidacy (also known as postulancy as noted by some others in this forum), I received my cassock and entered the novitiate.
There seems to be some concern about this short period of candidacy, but there should not be. It is a discernment program after which no one is ordained and no vows are professed. Also, please be careful with the use of the word "licit". This candidacy, short as it may be, is not illicit by any means. The Legion of Christ is a fully approved congregation of priests within the Church, so this short period of candidacy has the Church's blessing and seal of approval. After the candidacy, the candidates who are accepted simply enter the novitiate which lasts for a period of two years. The novitiate period is spent acquiring habits of prayer and the spiritual life, general habits of religious life, and more specific habits of Legionary religious life. It is also worth noting that the two years of novitiate in the Legion is longer than in most other congregations. Therefore, this extended period before the first profession should more than make up for the short candidacy program.
After 18 months in the novitiate, through much prayer and with the help of my superiors and spiritual director, I discerned that God is not calling me to be a priest. There are several reasons that I came to this conclusion, after which received full support from everyone who knew about my situation. Additionally, as soon as I returned home (9 months ago) I was welcomed by the Legionaries who live and work near my home. I was given a new spiritual director, and we speak regularly. I also have a girlfriend and am in college. I am a normal young man. I have not been brainwashed or desocialized, and I have never been pressured into anything.
I have also had some experience with Opus Dei, and I love them. The priests of this prelature are holy men who love the Church and Christ. The lay members are also very zealous for their faith. I have also heard only good things from Legionaries about Opus Dei. In fact, I know that the founder of the Legion, Fr Maciel, received much help from St Josemaria Escriva during the foundation. There is no enmity between these two groups. They are simply two separate organizations in the Church striving to build Christ's kingdom on Earth.
If you have read this far, God bless you. I want to make one final remark: I am eterally grateful and indebted to the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi for the man I am today. Without them, I would be lost. Through them I have established a deep, personal, passionate love for Christ and the Church. I only ask one thing: out of charity, if you do not have personal experience with the Legion or Regnum Christi, please keep what you have heard to yourself to prevent false stereotypes. "Repeat all the good that you hear and only the evil that you see with your own eyes."
Response to this post by Morostheos: I was also a coworker in Regnum Christi and have never heard anything but positive things about the relationship between the Legion of Christ and Opus Dei. Actually, I was told that in Chicago, the leaders of Opus Dei there were instructed to do all they could to help the Legion and Regnum Christi get started there, and it has been my experience that they have done so. The missions of The Legion/Regnum Christi and Opus Dei are very similar, so it makes sense that in charity they would help each other out.