There is no doubt that sexual immorality is prevalent in our society. The sheer number of sexual images that the modern person is exposed to each day makes the chaste and pure life appear unattainable. So, what is a Catholic to do? Some have made promises to remain chaste through programs such as the Silver Ring Thing. While a good step, these promises are sometimes broken later on in life by many young people because of cultural pressure. It is clear that a stronger commitment to purity is needed in the 21st century. Enter, the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, inspired by the life of St. Thomas Aquinas.
The story goes that while St. Thomas was locked in his family’s dungeon for his desire to become a Dominican, his brothers brought in a prostitute to temp him to break his vow of chastity. Through the grace of God, Aquinas grabbed a burning stick from the hearth and chased the prostitute out of his room before committing a grave sin. He then burned an image of cross into the wall and knelt down to give thanks to God for the grace he had received to overcome temptation.Then he had a mystical experience where two angels girded him with a cord of chastity. From then on, he was free from sexual temptation and given the gift of purity.
Inspired by his great purity, people began to imitate St. Thomas and wear cords blessed in his honor, so as to grow in the virtues of purity and chastity. Eventually, the Dominicans organized these people into a group called the Angelic Warfare Confraternity. For those who do not know, a confraternity is a group of people who make a pledge to pursue some supernatural good together realizing that some virtues are easier to attain jointly than on one’s own. This specific confraternity’s aim is to purse the virtue of chastity under the patronage of both St. Thomas Aquinas and the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Blessed Colomba, Blessed Stephana and Blessed Pier Georgio Frassati are some of the Confraternity’s more famous members.
By joining the Confraternity, the person receives an official blessing on their human sexuality by a Dominican or another designated priest. Through this enrollment, one can receive tremendous grace to grow in chastity through the intercession of fellow members, St. Thomas Aquinas and the Blessed Virgin. Members are required to recite specific prayers each day and wear a cord or the medal of St. Thomas Aquinas when practical.
I learned about this awesome confraternity at a talk given by the Director of the Confraternity, who happens to be a Dominican Friar teaching at Catholic University of America in D.C. He said that the numbers of the Confraternity which had gradually declined until around the time of Vatican II, have spiked in recent years. He shared powerful stories of the many confraternity members who have been given great grace to resist sexual temptation in difficult situations. In addition, he said that many have received great healing from past sexual sins through membership in this group. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the Holy Spirit at work in the New Evangelization bestowing grace upon those who desire to lead a chaste life.
Although living a pure life is difficult in the modern world, we must remember that “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Romans 5:20). Joining the Angelic Warfare Confraternity is one direct way to tap into the grace God has for us to live holy, pure lives.
As always, I would be interested in your thoughts on the matter.
(For more information about how to join the Confraternity and its requirements, please see http://www.angelicwarfare.org/. Also, priests who wish to receive the faculty to confer the blessing and enroll people in the Confraternity should write to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the address at the Dominican House of Studies)