Words of Life from Edel Quinn




Edel Quinn has for Legionaries of Mary the character of a symbol. Nobody questions that. And, because she is a symbol, she exercises over us a power of active sympathy; of attraction and of imitation. This little pamphlet is animated by her personality, and that in a unique way.

Yes, unique. A word is like the incarnation of the person. And this little book is made up entirely of words of Edel, nothing but her own words. Reading the biography by Cardinal Suenens, one notices how the book is bejewelled, here and there, with sentences from this heroic soul. I thought that to collect them and publish them in the form of a little pocket book would provide something useful and practical for all Legionaries and for others as well They are her "words of life" and could be ours too, because in pithy form they contain the apostolic ideal which we all desire to incarnate and live. It is certain that she wrote other notes as well but those here are all I have within my reach.

I started copying them and dividing them into themes, putting them into some order under each heading. I found there were a hundred, a hundred "words of life" of Edel Quinn. To be strictly accurate, there were a hundred and one, but, keeping to the nice round number, I took one out, one that because of its mystical character, seemed to be less suitable for the ordinary lay apostle: "The spouse delights to be with the beloved, she makes his wishes her own"

And, nevertheless, in that sentence there breathes the authentic Edel. Edel wished to be a contemplative - a Poor Clare in Belfast - but her tuberculosis prevented it and she was launched into a marvellous apostolic life. In the depth of her being, the nostalgia for the contemplative life remained with her always, accompanying her in her prodigious activity. Edel remained a lover of the Lord, consecrated to him in union with Mary, the perfectly consecrated One. To her we can apply the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi by an author of his own time, "My cell is my heart and the entire world is my cloister".

May the Spirit of the Lord - with Our Lady the Virgin Mother - make this little book bear fruit.

Daniel Elcid, ofm.


1 To desire Our Lord frequently, and with love.

2 Offer Him through Mary to the Trinity in thanksgiving, love and adoration.

3 Delight to give oneself more and more in everything to Him through her.

4 Beg the grace to make the Divine Life a continuous reality in us, our union with God.

5 When we think of Jesus as a baby in His Mother's care, how much we feel compelled to kneel, to adore the Word made Flesh, to reverence God in His wonderful abasement. Can we ever fathom the incomprehensible depths of God's love? What could we refuse to that love? No humiliation is too great in face of His.

6 If we want to be more full of God's life, it can only be got -- apart from the Sacraments -- through prayer. Let us put ourselves in union with Him by faith, prayer -- for long fixed times, morning and evening apart from visiting the Blessed Sacrament. Let us do our part to win His grace; the Holy Spirit and Our Lady will help.

7 It is so difficult to know the Will of God and life is too short for mistakes.

8 Of ourselves we know not what we desire, but the Paraclete will teach us.

9 Let us take up the position of a child with Mary and God the Father. Try and realise what this attitude implies, how we should depend at each moment, and never get very far away from our Mother. "To be, like Him, in her care... taught everything by her".

10 Mary in me will love her Son.

11 Imitate Our Lady in her silent adoration of the Word made Flesh in her womb.

12 Adore the Word in our souls.

13 In Him we adore the Trinity. Holy, Holy, Holy. Try and adore the Trinity in our soul, even in the midst of trouble or external duties.

14 To be with Him in union with Mary -- just loving Him in my soul during the day, during travelling, uniting my actions with the similar actions clone by Him whilst on earth.

15 If Our Lord spent thirty years in obedience and dependence on Mary, doing His Father's Will, what better example have we? Unite ourselves to Him, and ask Mary to teach us how to love perfectly, how to fulfil daily God's Will in all things. "As the Father hath loved Me, abide in My love". "I am the Vine". With Him and helped by Mary, let us adore the Trinity.

16 Everything is His, through Mary.

17 All that He permits is good. In all things know what God wants us to do. Do His Will.

18 I do not like to act on my own initiative.

19 The spiritual life is a constant fight. It seems to me to be an unending struggle to rise; one gets no rest.

20 We must have charity towards ourselves. We must prove our love by fidelity to prayer.

21 Meditation each morning for an hour if I have the strength for it.

22 Do all you can when things are easier, but do not feel tied down when work presses or when you do not feel well. From what one reads, it would seem that meditation is the important thing. So meditate if possible, even if you cannot manage anything else. Do it even for a quarter of an hour. Do not think I always practise what I preach -- there are days when I let everything go by the board. I am not what you think, you know! One must only start again. I think the great thing is not to get discouraged, no matter how much we will fail, but always be ready to begin again. In that way only, will we be sure to persevere. Sometimes it is really hard to struggle on; everything seems against us. Even if we have the time for it, meditation is very difficult. Therefore, we must only pray for grace to persevere in spite of ourselves.

23 Daily review, to see how far I have lived the day for Jesus and the Father with Mary.


24 I could assist at Mass the whole day long.

25 Mary loves Jesus in me, caresses and compassionates Him for all His wounds. But, above all, she speaks her gratitude for the Eucharist, and gives thanks to the Eternal Father for that Gift. Without the Eucharist, what a desolation life would be!

26 At Mass I united myself to the victim Christ, through Mary's hands, for the glory of the Trinity, in thanksgiving for everything, and on behalf of souls. At Mass always to have special intention of offering and hearing it on behalf of those souls who cannot hear it themselves by reason of sickness, distance, work or war. Place this intention in Mary's hands.

27 The weakness which He leaves in us must not hold us back from our desires. It is our share in His sufferings. What a grace to be let bear a little for Him! Each morning at Holy Mass, the Bread of Life will help the body as well as the soul, if we have faith. If we but touch the hem of His garment... and how much more have we than that!

28 We can find Him, at every free moment, on the Altar. Be with Him there. Better than all books!

29 Thank the Trinity over and over again for this Gift.

30 Rest in His presence, and my Guardian Angel will adore Him for me. Silence.

31 We want to be united with Him, to give ourselves to Him utterly. Our faith tells us He is in the Eucharist; let us seek Him there. If we knew we could find Him anywhere on earth we would do our utmost to go there.

32 The disciples ask Him: "Master, where dwellest Thou? And they abode with Him." My privilege is the same.

33 In dryness be satisfied just to be with Him; Mary will love and adore. "It is good for us to be here," even if attention wanders. Like a child with his Mother: our very presence tells Jesus that we love Him, even if we are too stupid and too earthly-minded to appreciate and behave properly in His presence.

34 Resolve to be in chapel at least 10-15 minutes before Mass.

35 Keep Our Lord company in the Blessed Sacrament.

36 How pale is our love of Christ, how little we are ready to do and sacrifice for Him even in little things, when it costs an effort. Try and overcome this by the practice of little sacrifices. How few hearts give Him full entry! He would pour Himself into souls but they will not receive. Even His priests have so many other interests; how few are wholly His! Can we not aim at emptying our hearts of everything, so that He may fill them completely, pour His love, His "merciful" love into them. Let us be in the mind of Christ, taught by Mary, working for the Father, led by the Spirit of Love. Cut out all else. To cut out all, how difficult! But can we give Him less, for really how little it is as reparation and gratitude?

37 I am almost afraid of this enjoyment and sweetness in Our Lord these days. Ask to be equally faithful when all is black. Now rejoice the Bridegroom is there.


37 Our Lady, dwelling-place of the Trinity.

38 The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a symbol of God's love.

39 Mary our Mother: this title means more than 'Our Lady'. Often remember Christ's words: "Son, behold thy Mother."

40 Mary, Mother of the life of our souls. Turn to her in all circumstances so that she may teach us to love Jesus, to serve the Father, to become like a child in our attitude -- trusting utterly, never doubting, showing loving tenderness in the little things.

41 No one knows better than our Mother to whom we belong what is best for others. Pray to her that God's Will be done in them. Souls in sin, souls dear to us but not in grace, Legionary souls who have served Mary and gone astray-- for all these we can importune Mary to intercede with her Son. It is surely His Will that they come back. Therefore, there is no lack of submission to God's Will in pleading -- it is a duty. Ask and you shall receive. Mary our Mother cannot be refused.

42 In regard to Mary, I must preserve the attitude of a child to its mother. Total confidence!
Since God gave us His Son through her, let us go to Him through her.

43 As Jesus and with Him, to love Mary -- Mary in me will love her Son.

44 Often remember Christ's words: "Son, behold thy Mother." Like St. John, I must take her to my own. Pray that the full efficacy which Christ put in that word 'Mother' be developed by my acceptance of it.

45 Realise that Mary loves us because we are Christ's legacy to her.

46 Let Our Lady do the work.

47 The Blessed Virgin wishes to continue giving Jesus to the world. We are not Christians if we do not go to our brother and give him Jesus also.

48 With Mary, I must be a channel of grace to every soul -- or rather, Mary through me.

49 Let us renounce our own human views to take on Mary's, and so be led by her Spirit in all things. Let us adopt her outlook, her thoughts in everything. Let us not allow our natural inclinations to creep in.

50 When I make mistakes, ask Mary to settle matters. She knows how stupid I am, how little I can do right by myself; but she is my Mother. She knows how to make all things work together in balanced harmony. I have the sense of her help and her possessive care.

51 Why could we not trust Our Lady?

52 We give our acts to Mary, then she takes such of them as have spiritual value and uses them to build up Christ in us.

53 Let us give ourselves completely to her, to be made all His, to be consumed unceasingly.

54 Be hers, in order to be all the more His.

55 I could never refuse anything to Our Lady that I thought she wanted.


57 Our Mother's most precious gift to her children is the Cross.

58 Let us offer to the Eternal Father those sufferings endured for our sins. What great confidence we can have in spite of our failures in the past.

59 We should realise that those things which run counter to our own plans and likings are graces one and all. The Will of God permits them for us; they represent His persistent following of us. We should embrace them, make the most of them, pay the little price that they entail. His Will must always over-ride ours. Little sacrifices are all we are able to bear; let us be faithful in accepting them gladly with our Mother's help. We have only this life, and perhaps only a short one, in which to prove our love. If we make the effort, Jesus and Mary will help us to carry it through. If one saw things truly, how one should be grateful and rejoice at every physical weakness, tiredness... These are our slight share of Christ's sufferings and graces.

60 Rejoice to imitate Our Lord in joyful acceptance of suffering: Difficulties of health, daily upsets, are His choicest gifts.

61 Christ "sanctified Himself" for us. How rich we are! His excessive sufferings are all for us, a repairing of our sins, a meriting of graces for us.

62 By His grace and the merits of His sufferings, resolve never to sin again.

63 Let us pray for grace to accept the cross gladly and willingly "in the likeness of Christ."

64 I have realised the meaning of "Christ delivered Himself." He put Himself completely in their hands, and let them work their will on Him. His infinite submission in this. His silence. Mocked and spat upon -- and He is God. That is why the saints valued harsh treatment-- and they regarded themselves as justly ill-treated.

65 When we unite our sufferings with His and offer them up for His Glory, those sufferings become sweet and bring us very close to Him, and will be a source of real happiness.

66 We who have sinned should be glad when we are put aside and treated as we deserve. If people knew us as we really are, how astonished they would be! How differently they would behave towards us!
Sufferings are precious.

67 To suffer for love of Our Lord Is my very greatest joy.


69 An idealist who does not try to put his ideals into practice, is not worth much.

70 Let us try to give utterly, in every possible way, without counting the cost, to be spent for Christ.

71 What boundless trust we should have in God's Love. We can never love too much; let us give utterly, and not count the cost. He will respond to our faith in Him. We must do what we can for Him, and rely on Him to give us each day the strength for the work He expects from us.

72 Let us clothe ourselves with Christ. Ask Mary Mediatrix to pour His Divine Life into our souls, so that it may be He Who lives and no longer we. Ask Mary each day to obtain for us strength for that day, to carry on His work and hers.

73 Charity. A new commandment: "See You and serve You in our neighbour." I must be prompt in the service of Legionaries in replying to letters, reports, etc.

74 Not to let myself be overcome by fatigue, be careful not to show want of interest or fatigue before others. Patience in all things, detachment in small things.

75 It is no part of our duty to judge others, so let us not torment ourselves about their doings. We will love our neighbour--and we will be unable to speak ill or criticise -- if in each one we see Christ. Restrain the tongue; employ it as you think Mary would have used her speech. Noli judicare.

76 It's just what one would expect, when one works for the Blessed Virgin, one need never worry about anything.

77 Always remember you are Legionaries of Our Lady. You should be proud to be known as Legionaries, members of 0ur Lady's army. It is a privilege to be allowed to work for our Queen and her Son, and we must try to give of our best, for nothing less is good enough in her service.

78 For me the Legion comes before everything.

79 It will be one of the most powerful forces for the reconstruction of society.

80 Mary calls upon us: what an honour! She offers us her instrument, the Legion. Are we going to refuse her our indispensable cooperation?

81 Let us start the Legion, the rest will come; Our Lady will make plain to us what she wants.

82 The Legion will be the answer to all your problems.

83 I must enlist all my powers in the service of the Legion.

84 My vocation is a legionary one. Envoy and Praetorian -- consecrated to work for the Father by the Holy Spirit of Jesus and by Mary.

85 Try to live as Envoy and Praetorian to the fullest. Leave the rest to others.

86 Ask Mary to secure these graces for us. Expect great things, a burning love. It is the Holy Spirit Who breathes these desires into us.

87 I promised to be there, and I explained to them that on no account does a Legionary miss a meeting.

88 I keep rubbing it in that the Legion is for everyone and that by starting with the upper classes, one might cut out the ordinary run of people.

89 Above all, be very faithful to your daily prayer, the Catena. Every Legionary, whether priest, religious, active or auxiliary member, says this prayer every day. The word Catena means chain, and every Legionary is a link in that chain, which can now be said to encircle the world. Do not be the one to break this union of prayer by neglecting that daily duty.

90 Act as Jesus and Mary would act towards other people. Remember that these others are the temples of God, and that we cannot know the motives of their acts. Try and act as Mary would. Adopt the point of view of Mary, her patience, her understanding love which accepts our least effort, however imperfect it may be. Let me remember my own failings.

91 When inclined to criticise others for lack of interest in the Legion or understanding of it, consider what efforts I have made or could make to help or change them. I must not take their attitude for granted. Ask Mary to do all the good she can to them through me, to rectify my mistakes.

92 For graces for others, how confidently we may pray, especially for the grace of conversion. I asked Mary today to pour down graces on the Legion, to obtain graces of repentance for those who have gone away, to sanctify and enlighten all officers.

93 One's duty is not only to work, but to pray and sanctify oneself for those worked for. May Mary this day give fresh fervour to those who are growing slack. May she sanctify those who have been good to me for her sake. May she turn to good all my errors and failures.

94 The harder the fight, the more one appreciates and values the victory.

95 One must be prepared for the difficulties which arise on the way. Even for the average person, to keep a good disposition under the daily preoccupations requires a constant battle. It is, of course, natural that a soul which is specially gifted will encounter trials and difficulties which are unknown to mediocre souls. The greatest saints were always subject to the greatest trials.

96 Our duty to work when we would sometimes rather be with Him. His Will alone counts. If at times work is our duty, then rejoice in His Will while doing it. Obedience to God's Will for me. Things to be eventually given up: the privacy of one's soul, one's power over one's actions, freedom to decide. Rejoice that God demands this through His representatives. Nothing of our own.

97 Work for the day. The saints never lost time. Live for the day. Life is made up of days. Why lose a moment on the way during a brief journey? Our eternity is built on time. Never waste time. If one has given all to Jesus and Mary, one has no right to waste time.

98 It is the will, the will, the will that matters.

99 Ask to be equally faithful when all is black.

100 What is impossible for us is possible for Him; take Him at His word.

Published by LEGION OF MARY
De Montfort House Morning Star Avenue, Brunswick Street, Dublin 7
with ecclesiastical approval