I received the following email from a former Legionary who had been ordained with the order. I’ve removed the names of individual Legionaries to protect confidentiality:
Hey Pete, hope you are well.
I want to comment personally with you on your comment [over at Ladon Cody’s ExLC blog] that “Holiness comes from the inside. God alone knows who is holy and who is not. Externals can be deceiving. For instance, how many of us thought at one time that Maciel was holy?”
When I was still in the Legion, I commented with [John Doe], who was still in, and he told me that he commented with [another Legionary] back then and they agreed. The point is that Legion formation essentially was set up to work from the outside in. It made use of externals to build what they called the charitable or priestly heart. The idea was to practice external things: kneeling for meditation, opening doors for others, making little sacrifices at meals and tons and tons of other things, with the aim of internalizing them. The idea was not that those things would come from the heart, but that they would change the heart through simply doing them.
So many actions of every day and every moment were like magic formulas to be recited or practiced and, voila, a charitable heart! A holy priest! It is a huge internal flaw of formation in the Legion of Christ. A fatal flaw.
There is no recovering from something like this. There is nothing to save in LC formation because it is backwards.
Unfortunately, there is a whole sector of people in the Church who fixate on this type of externalization and are caught up in it, and call it holiness. It is only worth something if it does come from the heart, and then, if it produces no real fruit, it is still just a noisy gong, a clashing cymbal.