Servant of God Alphie Lambe
Prayer for the Beatification of Servant of God Alphie Lambe
God, who by your infinite mercy inflamed the heart of your servant, Alphonsus Lambe with an ardent love for you and for Mary, our Mother; a love which revealed itself in a life of intense labour, prayer and sacrifice for the salvation of souls, grant, if it be your will, that we may obtain, by his intercession, what we cannot obtain by our own merits. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen (with ecclesiastical approval)
Taken from Maria Legionis North American Edition No. 4 of 2007
Presentata House, Dublin Ireland, January 20, 2007, Eamonn Devlin C.M Celebrating his 24th birthday on June 1956, Alfie Lambe remarqued in a letter to his mother "This year was a special event: 24 years of age on the 24th of the month. At 24 I can say that I have led a full life, although that may seem a strange statement. In 24 years I have had the experience that most people have during 50 years. I travel not as a tourist but as one having intimate friendship with all: rich and poor saint and sinner." It is, I think, a statement that goes to the heart of the life of Alfie Lambe and all that he did and stood for. Certainly to read Hilde Firtel's account of his life is to be left dizzy at the energy and zeal that consumed Alfie, bringing him to cities, towns, villages and the vast expanses of so many countries: Columbia, Equador, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina. "I feel at home under every sky", Afie would later say to his friend Timothy Horton, the Irish Ambassador to Argentina and how true those words were for one whose zeal as envoy to extend the Legion knew no bounds. It would be to underestimate Alfie to overlook the truth of that last part of his self description on his 24th birthday, as someone having intimate friendship with all, rich and poor, saint and sinner. How true this was, is reflected in the many different praesidia he helped to establish, not just among the majority cultures of those countries, but within the minorities, and among those another might overlook:
In Columbia bringing together well-to-do girls to visit street girls. In Equador seeing to it that the legion prayers were translated into Quechua, the dialect of the Indians, so that Praesidia could be established among them in the city of Quito. Among the lepers and in the state Penitentiary among the prisoners. In Poland among Polish and German immigrants. In Bolivia among communists.
In Our Lady's " let it be done unto me according to God's Word". What then was the secret of Alfie's success? How do we understand the effect of this young Irishman on Prelates, Priests the powerful and the poor? "Living the Legion" was a favourite phrase of Alfie's, by which he meant allowing the spirit of the Legion to touch and influence every aspect of his life. And the spirit of the Legion is the spirit of Mary- a spirituality rooted. A spirit like that of Our Lady, whose instinct is apostolic so that the Annunciation prompts the Visitation. A spirit that moulds the mind and heart and body to be and do all for God and God alone. And yet a spirit that like Our Lady's own has an eye to detail to see and respond to the plight of those in trouble or overlooked, "They have no wine." In Alfie Lambe converged the apostolic spirit of Our Lady that led to much being done with her spirit of discipleship that attends to minorities and those who are overlooked - quantity and quality born of the spirit of Mary that simply says "Be it done" and inspires others to do likewise, "Do whatever He tells you." Once when asked about living the Legion Alfie summed it up as follows, " I believe one has simply to go on doing what one is doing at the moment. I just do it." It is a sentiment very close to that of our Lady who wanted what God wanted to be done at each moment and who asked others to do what her Son asks of us at each moment. To a Legionary who regretted not receiving the Sacraments as often as she should, Alfie simply counselled: "Begin now." His faith enabled him to believe that nothing was impossible, that all could be achieved if only we do our best now in the situation and circumstances we find ourselves. His approach was not to see the problem , rather to bring to bear the solution. And that hopeful outlook born of faith transformed people and places that were hitherto closed to the Legion. Of the situation in Equador Alfie commented:
"In Equador there is no Communist problem, there is only a Catholic problem"
In other words have faith, do your best and God will do the rest. Alfie Lambe would have us believe the Legion of Mary is to become a legion of Marys; that living the Legion we too can begin to look at things through the eyes of Mary and respond to all situations with her spirit of trust and hope in simple discipleship. And so should we say of our country today:
"In Ireland this is no problem of unbelief or apathy there is only a Catholic problem. "
His life inspires us still to live by faith and the energy of faith that opens hearts and doors, that looks to each as to all, that goes in search of all and any to whom the Spirit of Jesus and Mary would bring good new through us in the spirit that captivated Alfie Lambe, el corderito, the little lamb whose Legionary spirit, the spirit of Mary enabled him to live that spirit until the end, until he would say his last words: " I can do no more" and others could carry on and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.