Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Angelic Warfare Confraternity



I recently received my packet in the mail from the Angelic Warfare Confraternity.  The mission of this confraternity is stated on their website:  "The Angelic Warfare Confraternity is a supernatural fellowship of men and women bound to one another in love and dedicated to pursuing and promoting chastity together under the powerful patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Blessed Virgin Mary."

Check it out here:  http://www.angelicwarfareconfraternity.org/.

I recently found out about this Confraternity through Dr. Marshall's site which I visit frequently.

One of the things that drew me to this Confraternity is that it was founded based on one of my favorite saints, St. Thomas Aquinas.  You might ask yourself, "Why is St. Thomas Aquinas considered a powerful intercessor when it comes to chastity?  I thought he was the real smart theologian that was esteemed more for his intelligence than his chastity?"  However, the Angelic Warfare Confraternity mentions this story about St. Thomas Aquinas:

St. Thomas Aquinas is powerful because in his own life he received a special grace of chastity and purity and is ready now in heaven to share it with others. St. Thomas Aquinas was born in 1226 as the youngest son of a noble family in Italy. His parents wanted him to become a Benedictine so that he might one day secure the prestigious title of abbot. But at the age of eighteen he instead joined the Dominicans – a group that at the time was new and had no social prestige. His parents so vehemently opposed his decision to become a Dominican that they had him arrested and jailed in one of the family castles. They would not release him until he relented, and many times attempted to persuade him to change his mind. For a full year he refused to relent, and instead quietly studied the bible. Finally, after becoming tired of waiting, the brothers of St. Thomas conceived one last plan. They were certain that physical temptation would drive him to break his vow of chastity, after which he would surely abandon his religious vocation. 
So one night, the brothers introduced a scantily clad prostitute into the room where St. Thomas was being held. The plan did not work as intended. Immediately, St. Thomas snatched a burning brand from the hearth, drove the woman out of the room, slammed the door behind her, and emblazoned the sign of the cross on the door with the red-hot brand. He then fell to his knees with tears of thanksgiving and prayed to be preserved in his chastity, purity, and intention to live the religious life. 
According to the records of his canonization, Thomas at once fell into a mystical sleep and had a vision. Two angels came to him from heaven and bound a cord around his waist, saying, “On God’s behalf, we gird you with the girdle of chastity, a girdle which no attack will ever destroy.” In the records of his canonization, many different witnesses who knew St. Thomas at different points in his life remarked about his evidently high degree of purity and chastity. The angels’ gift preserved St. Thomas from sexual temptation and bestowed upon him an enduring purity that ennobled all his thoughts and actions. Pope Pius XI wrote: “If St. Thomas had not been victorious when his chastity was in peril, it is very probable that the Church would never have had her Angelic Doctor.” 
Over his lifetime, St. Thomas’s conduct revealed that he had indeed received a special grace of chastity and purity – a grace that he is now ready to share with others through the communion of saints.
The Confraternity began to grow in different parts of Europe in the 1400′s, and was officially founded for the whole Church in 1727 by Pope Benedict XII.  It is one of the ancient Confraternities of the Dominican Order (remember that St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican). 

Various Saints and Blesseds, such as St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Columba Rieti and Blessed Stephana Quinzan (who actively promoted the Confraternity among women), have belonged to this Confraternity.

There are three essential things that you must do to be enrolled in the Confraternity and to reap the spiritual benefits of it. 
1)  Enrollment and Registration. In the enrollment ceremony, a Dominican priest confers the blessing upon the cord and medal of St. Thomas Aquinas and the person who will wear it. The name of the person enrolled and place of the enrollment ceremony goes into the official Register.
2)  Wearing either the blessed cord of St. Thomas or blessed medal of St. Thomas (or both) as continuously as one reasonably can for the rest of one’s life.
3)  Daily prayers for purity for oneself and all the members of the Confraternity. The daily prayers consist of two special prayers for chastity and fifteen Hail Mary’s.

The cord of St. Thomas is a thin cord with fifteen knots in it and blessed by a Dominican priest. It is worn around the waist underneath one’s clothing.  This is included in the packet that they send in the mail to you.  I have not worn it yet, but it looks to be pretty easy to wear and it is not very bulky.  The fifteen knots on the cord represent the fifteen traditional mysteries of the Rosary (the Luminous Mysteries were not around when this Confraternity was founded).  Each of the fifteen knots has three wraps representing the Holy Trinity and the virtues of faith, hope, and charity.  There are two strings that come off the end of the cord, which represents the natural life and supernatural life joining together. 

The medal has on one side the image of St. Thomas being girded by the angels, and on the other side it has the image of Our Lady of the Rosary. It is worn like any other medal.

The Church has reserved the blessing of the cord and medal of St. Thomas to the Dominican Order. Therefore, only Dominican priests, or priests with authorization from the Director of the Confraternity, can give this blessing.  There are some Dominicans around the Chicago-land area that should be able to enroll you, or you can contact the Confraternity to get authorization for your local parish priest to perform the ceremony.

All Confraternity members wear the blessed cord or medal as continuously as reasonably possible for the rest of their lives, but this does not bind under pain of sin.  You simply lose out on the spiritual benefits if you stop wearing either the cord or medal, but you regain those spiritual benefits when you start wearing them again.  Of course, you can take them off for obvious reasons, but should try to continue wearing them as soon as reasonably possible.

The Popes have heaped many indulgences upon the Confraternity as a sign that they want people to join. All the members are eligible to receive a plenary indulgence:
1)  Once on the day of enrollment
2)  Every year on the feasts of Christmas, Easter, St. Thomas (Jan. 28), the Annunciation (March 25), the Assumption of the B.V.M. (Aug. 15), and All Saints Day (Nov. 1).

Members gain a plenary indulgence on these days given the following four conditions:
1)  Receive Holy Communion on that day with the intention of gaining the indulgence
2)  Go to the Sacrament of Penance within eight days before or after that day
3)  Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Apostle’s Creed for the intentions of the Holy Father
4)  Renew privately the intention to live according to the practices and Statute of the Confraternity.

If you want to learn more, read the Catechesis on the Confraternity here:  http://www.angelicwarfareconfraternity.org/about/

If you want to see what the daily prayers are, you can find them here:
http://www.angelicwarfareconfraternity.org/resources/prayers/

If you decide that you want to enroll, follow the instructions here:
http://www.angelicwarfareconfraternity.org/enrollment/

After deciding that you want to enroll, you will need to obtain the packet for enrollment which contains everything you need including the cord, medal, ceremony instructions that you give to your priest, and a certificate which you fill out and send back to the Confraternity.  This packet can be ordered here by scrolling down to the very bottom of the page:
http://newhope-ky.org/angelicwarfare.html

I found The Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Albert the Great in Chicago:  http://domcentral.org/contact-us/

I've sent them an email to see if they could enroll me in the Confraternity.  Otherwise, you could always have another non-Dominican priest obtain permission from the Contraternity to do the enrollment.  I figure I would try to get the Dominicans to do it first.  I'll let you know if they ever get back to me.