Last month, the Dominican Nuns in Marbury, Alabama, welcomed seven young women to their monastery for a weekend Vocation Retreat. These high school and college-age women came seeking answers to these questions: What is the vocation of a cloistered Dominican nun? Is it God’s will for me? The girls chanted the Liturgy, engaged in talks and recreation, and kept prayerful silence all day on Saturday so that everyone could have a chance to listen to God without getting distracted.
One of the most moving events of the weekend was the enrollment of six of the girls into the Angelic Warfare Confraternity (one had enrolled the previous year). What is a confraternity you may ask? They were very popular before Vatican II but unfortunately seem to have fallen out of favor since then.
A Confraternity is a supernatural brotherhood or fellowship of men and women who make a sacred pact to pursue some good together in the Church. The Angelic Warfare Confraternity is a confraternity run by the Dominican Order and dedicated to the pursuit of purity and chastity under the patronage of St. Thomas and the Blessed Virgin. Who wouldn’t want such supporters!!!
St. Thomas Aquinas is the perfect patron for this Confraternity. His family was vehemently opposed to his Dominican vocation and his brothers even sent a prostitute to his room to lure him from his vow of chastity. Thomas drove the woman out, slammed the door behind her, and emblazoned the sign of the cross on the door with a red-hot brand. According to testimony at his canonization, Thomas experienced a vision of two angels who bound a cord around his waist and said, “On God’s behalf, we gird you with the girdle of chastity, a girdle which no attack will ever destroy.”
In the enrollment ceremony, which can only be conducted by a Dominican priest (though another priest can do it with permission), the priest confers the blessing upon a cord and a medal of St. Thomas Aquinas. One or both of these items are to be worn at all times, with practical exceptions (surgery, etc.). The name of the person enrolled and place of the enrollment ceremony goes into an official Register. You too can join the ranks in company with St. Aloysius Gonzaga and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati who were also members!
This Confraternity is not just for the young. Anyone serious about living a chaste life may become a member. In honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, members say fifteen Hail Mary’s for chastity for themselves and all the members of the Confraternity.
Many people who go through ceremony and wear the blessed cord or medal testify to experiencing great relief from temptations and greater strength in resisting temptations. As St. Paul says, “The Kingdom of God does not consist in talk, but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20).