A visitor requested information on the Angelic Warfare.
Answer from the priest.
A while ago, you asked me for information on the Angelic Warfare Confraternity. In my answer I had been quite general. Now I have found interesting information, and above all in the northeast of the United States of America this association is particularly flourishing. I am happy to report the questions and answers I found on the Dominican province of Saint Joseph’s website (northeast of the USA) with some tweaks or additions. It would be nice if it flourished again here in Italy.
Entrusting everything to the patronage of St. Thomas, I remind you of the Lord and I bless you.
1. What is the Angelic Warfare Confraternity?
The Angelic Warfare is a supernatural brotherhood or fellowship of men and women linked to each other through charity and dedicated to pursuing and promoting chastity together under the powerful patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
2. Why a supernatural brotherhood or fellowship?
The Brotherhood is a supernatural brotherhood or fellowship of men and women who made a sacred pact to pursue good together in the Church. A Confraternity is a bond of love serving good and holy purposes and reflecting the communion of the Holy Trinity.
3. Why make such a pact?
Because it is easier to carry on good together rather than alone.
4. Does the Church recognize such a pact and brothehood?
Yes, a Confraternity is a body officially recognized by the Church. The Church has the authority to establish particular supernatural bonds between people on earth and Saints in heaven (traditionally known as “patronage”).
5. Is St. Thomas Aquinas a powerful patron for those who pursue chastity?
Yes. He is an extremely powerful patron for those seeking to live a chaste life.
6. Why is St. Thomas Aquinas so powerful when it comes to pursuing chastity?
St. Thomas Aquinas is powerful because in his life he received a special grace of chastity and purity and is now eager to share it with others from heaven.
St. Thomas Aquinas was born in 1226, the youngest son of the family of the Counts of Aquino, Italy. His parents would have liked him to become a Benedictine, so that they hoped he would become an abbot. But, at the age of eighteen, Thomas joined the Dominicans, an order that was new at the time and had no social prestige. His parents reacted very vehemently against his decision to become a Dominican. They arrested him and jailed him in one of the family’s castles. They would not release him until he relented. For a whole year they tried to get him to change his mind. Thomas refused to give in and, instead, quietly devoted himself to studying the Bible.
Finally, tired of waiting, the brothers of St. Thomas conceived a final 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 they introduced a beautiful and provocatively dressed young woman into the room where St. Thomas was being held to make him lose his purity. But, the plan didn’t work as planned. Immediately, St. Thomas grabbed a burning brand from the hearth, pushed the young woman out of the room, slamming the door behind her, and emblazoned the sign of the cross on the door with the red-hot brand. Then, he fell to his knees with tears of thankgivings and prayed to be preserved in his chastity, purity and to be able to live the religious life.
According to the records of his canonization, Thomas immediately fell into a mystical sleep and had a vision. Two angels came from heaven and bound a cord around his waist saying, “On God’s behalf, we girdle you with the girdle of chastity, a girdle that no attack will ever destroy.” In the records of his canonization, many witnesses who had known St. Thomas at different points in his life spoke of his evidently high degree of purity and chastity. This enduring purity 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 likely that the Church would never have had its Angelic Doctor”. Over his lifetime, St. Thomas’s conduct revealed that he actually received a special grace of chastity and purity, a grace that he is now ready to share with others through the communion of saints.
7. Why is this Confraternity called the “Angelic Warfare”?
It is called angelic in honor of the angels who surrounded St. Thomas. And, it is called warfare, a truly appropriate name, because the search for chastity is often an arduous struggle with the world, with the flesh, and with the devil. The world, the flesh, and the devil all work together to destroy chastity. The Holy Spirit, the good angels, and the Confraternity work together to build up chastity.
8. When was the Angelic Warfare founded?
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.
9. Have any saints or blessed belonged to the Confraternity of the Angelic Warfare?
Various saints and blessed, such as St. Aloysius Gonzaga, blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, blessed Colomba Rieti, and Blessed Stephana Quinzani (who actively promoted the Angelic Warfare among women) were part of this militia.
10. What are the fundamental practices of the Confraternity in this militia?
The three essential practices are:
1. Enrollment and registration. In the enrollment ceremony, a Dominican priest confers the blessing on the cord or medal of Saint Thomas Aquinas and on the person who will wear it. The name of the person emrolled and the place of the enrollment ceremony are noted in 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 his or her life.
3. Daily prayers for purity for oneself and for all the members of the Confraternity. The daily prayers consist of two special prayers for chastity and fifteen Hail Marys.
11. What is the cord of St. Thomas?
The cord of St. Thomas is a thin cord with fifteen knots in it and is blessed by a Dominican priest. It is worn around the waist underneath one’s clothing.
12. Is there also a St. Thomas medal?
Yes, the medal has on one side the image of St. Thomas being girded by angels and on the other side, it has the image of Our Lady of the Rosary. It too is blessed by a Dominican priest. It is worn like any other medal.
13. Can only a Dominican priest bless the cord or medal of St. Thomas?
The Church has reserved the blessing of the cord and medal of St. Thomas to the Dominican Order. Therefore, only Dominican priests or priests authorized by the Director of the Confraternity can give this blessing.
14. Do members wear the cord or blessed medal of St. Thomas continuously for the rest of their life?
Yes, all members of the Angelic Worfare wear the blessed cord or medal as long as is reasonably possible for the rest of their lives.
15. Can you ever remove the cord or the medal?
Membersof the Angelic warfare use their common sense and prudence. Sometimes, there are circumstances that require one to remove the cord or medal, for example, during surgery, during sporting events, and other special circumstances. When these circumstances have passed, the members put back on the cord or the medal again. Experience reveals the advantages of wearing the blessed cord or medal as continuosly as possible.
16. What is so special about the blessed cord and St. Thomas medal?
The blessing of a cord and the medal of St. Thomas is special because it is, in effect, a blessing of one’s human sexuality.
17. Can you explain how the Church can bless my sexuality?
One’s human sexuality is made up of natural and personal instincts, desires and emotions that tend towards love, relationships, marriage, and the procreation and education of children. This intimate structure within each of us is naturally a source of joy and new life for human beings. But, on account of the wounds of original sin, there is also a disturbance in our human sexuality. We are weak and vulnerable to temptation. Sometimes we are inclined to indulge sexual impulses outside of the right time and place rather than to act in accord with wisdom and seek the higher good.
When the priest blesses the cords and the medals of St. Thomas he says, “May all who wear these cords and medals be purified from all uncleanness of mind and body” and then, “May the Lord gird you with the cinture of purity and by the merits of St. Thomas extinguish within you every evil desire… ”.
Through the words of the priest’s blessing, the Spirit of Christ comes not only upon the cord and medal, but also on the person who will wear them. The Spirit comes to address the wounds of original sin as they afflict the man or woman’s human sexuality. And, it comes to move the whole person down the often long road of healing, liberation and growth in chastity.
18. What do you mean when it says by the long road to healing, liberation, and growth in chastity?
Chastity, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is a quality of one’s being. It is a abiding orderliness among all one’s sexual instincts, emotions, thoughts, and aims. The benefit of chastity lies in the fact that the person does not live subjugated by sexual impulses, but governs them with ease and joy. The chaste person is thus free to live out his or her sexuality in a way that leads to true happiness and avoids counterfeit happiness. Let us not forget that in the book of Sirach we read, “At first acquaintance with her (wisdom), I gained understanding”(Sir 51,20). And, that together with wisdom and purity all good comes to us, “All good things together come to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands” (Wis 7:11). It is a great fortune for man to be chaste. Chastity comes from grace and the practice of self-control. Without chastity, people tend to fall into sexual sin and contract still physical, psychological, and spiritual wounds. These wounds conspire to make self-control even more difficult. The Angelic Warfare Confraternity is a road to chastity. It can be a difficult road, with many falls and frequent repentance. But it is a road that gradually frees the person from the enslavement to sexual impulses and leads a man or a woman to a happy self-mastery.
19. Does joining the Angelic Warfare Confraternity heal the wounds of past sexual sins?
Yes, but not without one’s cooperation. The Holy Spirit gradually works a profound and deep and very personal process of inner renewal and renovation of the heart. There is such a thing as a new innocence.
20. What are the two special prayers for chastity that must be prayed by the members every day?
They are the following:
“Chosen lily of innocence, pure St. Thomas, who kept chast the robe of baptism and became an angel in the flesh after being girded by two angels, I implore you to commend me to Jesus, the Spotless Lamb, and to Mary, the Queen of Virgins.
Gentle protector of my purity, ask them that I, who wear the holy sign of your victory over the flesh, may also share your purity, and after imitating you on earth, may at last be crowned with you among the angels. Amen”.
“Dear Jesus, I know that every perfect gift, and especially that of chastity, depends on the power of Your providence. Without You, a mere creature can do nothing. Therefore, I beg You to defend by Your grace the chastity and purity of my body and soul. And if I have ever sensed or imagined anything that could stain my chastity and purity, blot it out, Supreme Lord of my powers, that I may advance with pure heart in Your love and service, offering myself on the most pure altar of Your divinity all the days of my life. Amen”.
21. What other prayers do members say every day?
In honor of Our Lady of the Rosary they say fifteen Hail Mary’s for chastity for themselves and for all the members of the Confraternity.
22. If someone already prayed the Holy Rosary every day, must he say another fifteen Hail Mary’s?
No, it is enough to dedicate fifteen Hail Mary’s of the Rosary to the Confraternity. However, to say fifteen additional Hail Mary’s with intention and fervor would be a great work of love for the other members of the Confraternity and would add to the graces that others receive.
23. Are there indulgences for those who join the Confraternity?
The Popes have given many indulgences upon the Confraternity as a sign that they want people to join.
All members are eligeble to receive a plenary indulgence:
– Once on the day of enrollement.
– Every year, on Christmas, Easter, St. Thomas (January 28), the Annunciation (March 25), the Assumption of the B.V.M. (August 15) and all Saints day(November 1).
Members gain a plenary indulgence on these days under the following four conditions:
– Receive Holy Communion on that day with the intention of obtaining the indulgence.
– Go to the Sacrament of Penance within eight days before or after that day.
– Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Apostle’s Creed for the intentions of the Holy Father.
– Privately renew the intention to live according to the practices and Statute of the Confraternity.
24. Is the enrollment ceremony a powerful blessing?
The blessing is supernatural dynamite. Many people who have done the ceremony and have worn the cord or blessed medal testify to experiencing great relief from temptation and greater strength in resisting temptation.
Saint Paul says, “The kingdom of God does not consist in talk, but in power” (1 Cor 4:20).
25. Are there any other supernatural effects from joining the Angelic Warforce Confraternity?
St. Thomas Aquinas becomes an official personal patron of every member of the angelic militia. Furthermore, the treasure chest of graces merited by the Dominican Order is opened up to all members of the Confraternity. They can tap into it as they want. Finally, the prayers of thousands of other members come to the aid of all other members every day. It is often said that one no longer feels isolated in the pursuit of chastity, but tied to others in the same pursuit. They often said that they feel stronger and better equipped for the struggle.
26. Have people’s lives been transformed by joining the Confraternity?
Yes. Many people testify to a noticeable difference in their life after joining.
27. Do some people still fall into sins against purity after joining?
Yes. Some people who join the Confraternity still fall into sexual sin. But even those who fall again feel better off for having joined. The Confraternity is not a magic wand. The point is not to find an immediate solution to sin, but to find help in growing in chastity over time. And a large number of people have found this help precisely in the Confraternity.
28. If I join the Confraternity and then fall into sexsual sins, is the sin then more grave?
No. There is no additional gravity added to sexsual sins because one is a member of the Confraternity. The members promise only to fight for chastity rather than to shame for their failures.
29. Are members required to tell the priest in confession that they belong to the Angelic Warforce?
No. Since membership adds not gravity to sins committed, it is irrelevant to confession.
30. Do the three fundamental practices of the Confraternity (enrollment, wearing the cord or medal, and daily prayers) bind together under pain of sin? Is it sinful if you fail to say the prayers provided?
No. The Church has decreed that in no Confraternity does a person commits sin for not respecting its practices. Members wear the cord or medal and say the daily prayers more out of love for one another than out of fear of sin.
31. Can people who have always led chaste lives join the Confraternity?
Yes. The Confraternity is not just for those who have fallen into sexsual sin or who struggle with it. Many people who have led a basically chaste lives join the Confraternity in order to keep chastity in the future and to help others through prayer.
32. If I am not fighting for impurity, can I join to help someone else with their struggle with purity?
One can join the Confraternity and petition our Lord to grant graces to someone else outside the Confraternity. Our Lord is known to hear these generous prayers when they are done with humility, trust, and perseverance. Through special petitions, another person might thus benefit from one’s membership, but not in the same way, as if he or she were a full member intentionally seeking chastity and wearing the blessed cord or medal.
33. Can Christians who are not Catholics join?
Since the Confraternity is an officially established Public Association of the Faithful, and members are deputed by the Church for the promotion of chastity, membership in the Confraternity is limited to those who are baptized, confirmed and in full communion with the Catholic Church. Acknowledging that we share a grat deal with our separated brothers and sisters in Christ, those christians who are not catholic are welcome to join us in receiving the blessing, wearing the blessed cord and medal, and saying their daily prayers. But their names cannot be entered in the Register as official members.
34. What is the minimum age for registration? Can a child be enrolled?
Membership in the Confraternity requires that one make a free and lifelong commitment to wear the blessed cord and medal of St. Thomas. Furthermore, membership assumes the grace of Confirmation and a certain maturity the person has to understand the Church’s teaching on sexuality and chastity. Therefore, it is generally preferred not to hire children who are not in high school. But if the kids are promising they can be enrolled.
35. If a child has the desire to join the Confraternity, what can be done?
It is good for the child to wear the blessed medal of St. Thomas, to learn the daily prayers and to look forward to a full membership in the Confraternity at a more mature age. Such a time of waiting can be considered as a period of formation and preparation to understand the meaning of human sexuality and chastity.