At last Thursday’s Confraternity meeting at the Cathedral of St. Paul, our president Lori Donellan shared an inspiring talk on the history and importance of the Confraternity of Christian Mothers. We are sharing it here for those who would like to read it over again!
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The History of the Confraternity of Christian Mothers ~
The French Revolution (1789-1799) had taken a major toll.
Priest, Religious and Many Faithful Christians were put to death.
Men left the faith in great numbers.
The government was doing all it could to exclude the church from public life. (sound familiar?)
Pious Women – became known as fanatics.
The government was trying its hardest to secularize women.
But there were women who were fighting for their faith and the faith of their families. They started coming together to pray for their families and to discuss their problems.
They prayed for their sons, husbands, fathers or other male relatives who had turned from the Church to the side of It’s enemies.
It’s interesting to note, that in this time of state mandated secularism, their leader was actually a court officials wife.
Over time these mothers sought and received recognition from their bishop.
The Pope at that time, Blessed Pius IX, said:
“ We have already Confraternities for all ages, all needs and all conditions in life, except for mothers. Now in our age it is precisely the family that is attacked by modern impiety.” (19th century)
These women in France met once a month on days to which the Holy Father had attached indulgences.
Holy Mass was offered for their intentions.
Instruction was given during or after Mass.
They would close with an Our Father and a Hail Mary.
The organization grew rapidly throughout France and neighboring countries and within 50 years over a million women were enrolled as members.
When Capuchin Franciscans came to the United States to minister to German immigrants, they brought along this popular organization for mothers.
On January 16, 1881, Pope Leo XIII founded the American Arch-Confraternity at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to which he granted special indulgences. (Father Bill will share more about these indulgences at our October meeting )
Since the beginning of the US Arch-Confraternity over 2000 confraternities have been affiliated with it.
There are 6 Arch-Confraternities in the world. They are located in France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, and the US.
Fr. Angelus Shaughnessy is the current National Executive Director of the Arch confraternity. He is the editor of our “Mother Love Newsletter” and he visits the various confraternities in the United States.
If you’d like to know more about the history of the confraternity, I’d encourage you to visit our YouTube channel and watch Dr. David Anders talk “The Child of These Tears Shall Not Perish.
Ok – so you may be wondering . . .
What exactly is a confraternity?
A confraternity is a voluntary association of the clergy or laity established under Church Authority for the promotion of special works of Christian charity or piety.
What is the Goal of this Confraternity?
(taken from the 2nd edition of the ML book 1860)
The goal of the Arch-Confraternity is “To multiply the graces for which the Christian Mothers pray.
To this end the hearts of these mothers, united to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, place their vows, cares and prayers together, so as to bring down the blessings from on high upon their children and families.”
Why would I want to be a member?
The world around us is falling apart. Families are falling apart. We are constantly bombarded with ads, billboards, media that encourage us to do just about anything -but- be a holy wife and mother. There are so many things vying for our time. So many distractions. We need an abundance of Grace to keep up the good fight to run the good race.
What’s required of members?
Why should we make coming to the monthly meetings a priority?
These monthly meetings are meant to be a “monthly retreat” and oasis in the desert where we first come to spend quiet time with Jesus in Adoration, where He can speak to us in the silence of our hearts.
We have an opportunity to reconcile ourselves with Him in Confession, to be forgiven of our sins and receive strength to begin again to fight against our weaknesses with His Abundant Grace.
We are able to pray together the greatest prayer on Earth, The Holy Mass, and receive Our Lord in Holy Communion.
Once we have been refreshed by the gifts of the Sacraments, we come together to talk and learn from one another – from speakers that inspire and help us in our journey.
Just as those first members, we all have crosses to carry. Problems we are trying to figure out. And we need help. We need to share our struggles and encourage one another. We need to have spritiual direction from our Father Director and to be inspired and educated through others.
Every meeting there are blank index cards out on the Committees table. Please use these to write down any topics you’d like to have instruction on. Anything that will help you in your vocation as a Christian wife and mother. Don’t be shy! This is why we are here!!
You may be thinking, OK I agree but, it’s so hard to get here!
It’s hard to leave our families to come. Our husbands are just getting home from work. They are tired and don’t want us to leave. The kids are tired and don’t want us to leave. Or maybe you are just getting off of work and haven’t been with your families. You are tired and the thought of sitting on the couch with our feet up is so appealing!!
This is when it is most important to remember we are doing this for our families! For our children and husbands. We must grow in holiness if we are to lead our families to heaven.
We only meet once a month let’s do our best to make this meeting a priority!
Sometimes we can’t make it for legitimate reasons and that’s ok. Know that we are praying for you when you can’t be here.
Just think – Whenever a member prays for herself and her children, all the other members and their children benefit from her efforts. All members of a Confraternity form a pool of spiritual reinforcement.
What else is required of members?
Pray the daily prayer for the children, have a willingness to strive for holiness and educate our children in the faith.
In order to do these things we must do our best to live our faith.
I’d like to offer a few ways to do so:
- Begin each day with a morning offering. Offer your every thought, word and act of the day to Our Lord. Offer all of your joys and sufferings. Ask God to give you the grace you need for the day. Maybe your toddler or teenager is wearing you out or you and your spouse aren’t seeing eye to eye. God will give us the grace we need if we ask and are willing to die to ourselves.
- Be an optimist – Look at challenges that come your way as opportunities to console the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This won’t change the fact that we have to clean up the pickle juice that was just spilled all over the floor, but we can offer it up and make it fruitful.
- Set your watch alarm for 12:00 noon to pray the Angelus together or better yet have your child set theirs. Children are often better at sticking to the plan than we are 🙂
- Pray the family rosary after supper. As you know, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima this year. She asked us to pray the rosary every day for Peace in the World and the Conversion of Sinners. If a whole rosary is too much for your little ones, begin with a decade. Before you know it they will be asking to pray more!
- Have a holy water font by the door and bless your children and your spouse with holy water before you leave the house and before you go to bed.
- Have some kind of religious art in every room. A Crucifix, pictures of Our Lady, Our Lord, the saints. These are our “Holy Reminders” as Mother Angelica called them.
- From time to time, we need to evaluate the movies and TV shows we are watching, the music we are listening to, the sites we are visiting on the internet. Satan has a way of slipping little snares in that are not pleasing to Our Lord. Before we realize it we are being tempted to escape our crosses through things that are not holy. Our children are always watching and learning from us. We must be careful!!
As I was preparing for this talk, I came across the following scripture verses from Romans Chapter 12. They spoke to me and I felt they were very fitting.
“Brethren: I beseech you by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy pleasing unto God, your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable and the perfect will of God.”
Our annual Solemn Reception is next month. If you are visiting us tonight and would like to join us in this fight to lead ourselves and our families to Heaven, please see me or one of the other officers and we’d be happy to get you set up.
I’d like to encourage all members to come with your families. It will be a wonderful time for us to come together, renew our commitments to God and our families, and to thank God for the blessing of this chapter, our father director, and all of the graces He continually showers upon us.
Blessed Pope Pius IX said, “Give me truly Christian Mothers and I will renew the face of the earth!” This should encourage and inspire us all!