The Sodality of the Children of Mary, by Father B Rohner, OSB

detail of a stained glass rose window of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception; date unknown, artist unknown; Saint Nicholas Catholic Church, Zanesville, Ohio; photographed on 31 December 2014 by Nheyob; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsThe Sodality of the Children of Mary is set apart for the female sex and bears to them about the same relation as the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin does to the other sex, and especially to young men students.

This Society of Mary, so rich in blessings, is a fair plant of recent growth in the Church. It has accomplished untold wonders in strengthening faith and preserving virtue in the foremost ranks of female society. Its conception and establishment are due to Father Xavier Ravignan of the Society of Jesus, that illustrious missionary and pulpit orator of France, who died the 26th of February, 1858. The rules of this pious sisterhood, written by Father Ravignan’s own hand, are as follows: “We propose to ourselves the following Christian objects of our union in heart and in prayer: On the first Friday in every month we will unite in heart in making reparation for the outrages which Our Lord is Constantly suffering in the Blessed Sacrament. We will ask, on behalf of one another, [or advance in interior life and resolution, and that love of suffering on which it is to be built.

“On Saturday, the day set apart for devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we will ask, on behalf of one another, the grace of gaining some hearts to Jesus Christ.

“We will choose one day in each month to make the preparation for death. We will ask, on behalf of one another, the grace of a happy death, with a joyful trust in God’s mercy, and in the assistance of the Blessed Virgin and of all the saints, who will come to assist us at that hour like powerful and faithful friends.

“Our next communion shall be offered for our own deceased relatives, and those of our sisters in the Congregation.

“The next communion shall be offered for our own children, and for those of our sisters in the Congregation, and to obtain grace that we may rightly perform our duties to them and to our families.

“Another day shall be set apart for the holy Catholic Church, its missionaries and its priests. When the need they have for grace is considered, the duty of the faithful to aid their glorious ministry is plain.

“Another day for our own living relatives, and for those of our sisters in the Congregation, and for the persons who may be recommended to our prayers.

“Another day for the neglected parishes in the country, where there is so much spiritual destitution, so much help to be sought for these poor souls. We will ask, on behalf of one another, the grace of giving edification to these parishes, and of doing something for their good.

“We propose also the following easy and beneficial objects of our union in external work: What ought to give us the greatest assurance of being united forever in God’s presence is the care to unite ourselves closely with the intentions of the Church by adopting its appointed prayers, celebrating its feasts, and venerating the saints whom it honors. Love for God is a tie which binds together all the elect in heaven and on earth.

“A special bond of union among us will be the habitual use of holy meditation. We will devote half an hour each morning to this practice.

“We will each choose some one particular point on which to make an examination of ourselves once at least in the day, for example, in the evening. By thus giving ourselves up to recollection and the interior life, we shall gain the principal wish of our heart, self-conquest and mortification.

“It will be our duty to take care to prevent our piety being irksome to others or repulsive, and we will unhesitatingly renounce every kind of interior consolation to escape giving the smallest annoyance to any member of our family.”

The first meeting of the Children of Mary was held on the first of May, 1846, in the house of the Countess Sophia Swetchine, in Saint Dominic Street, Paris, in her private chapel. These devotional gatherings, which soon grew to very large proportions, became from that time one of the special cares of Father Ravignan’s life. Each month he delivered two discourses before them: one at the celebration of the monthly Mass, the second in the evening, before benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. He also preached every year a retreat founded on the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius. His zeal led him to admit strangers to these retreats of the Children of Mary, and ladies of worldly lives found themselves side by side with ladies of the greatest piety-there were even Protestants mixed with Catholics. The chapel, the galleries, and even the sanctuary, up to the very steps of the altar, were filled, and the assembly consisted of some six hundred ladies belonging to the most distinguished circles of Parisian society.

It is easy to conceive that a work of this magnitude must have created some interest even amid the countless subjects of conversation in Paris, and it could not fail to have a real and salutary influence. How many souls have secured peace and God’s grace in this sanctuary through the edifying example of the members, but, more than all, through the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin.

This admirable sisterhood soon began to make rapid progress, striking deep and lasting roots in other cities beside the capital of France. In the New World a very flourishing Association of the Children of Mary has been established in connection with the convent of the Sacred Heart in West Seventeenth Street, New York.

Beside the people in the world the young lady pupils of the higher academies have formed similar Associations of the Children of Mary. They take the Blessed Virgin for their sublime Virginal model, and join her Sodality in order the better to preserve the holy purity of their souls, and to prepare themselves for the difficulties and temptations that may beset them in their future lives.

When the young lady leaves her convent-school, and returns on the dangerous paths of life,she is accompanied by the pleasant recollections of the happy hours spent before the shrine of the blessed Mother. She remembers the kind admonitions of her spiritual directress. Better than all, she carries away with her the blessing, the protection, the love of that holy Mother of God who never tbandons one of her children.

– text taken from Veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Her Feasts, Prayers, Religious Orders, and Sodalities, by Father B Rohner, OSB, adapted by Father Richard Brennan, LLD, published in 1898 by Benziger Brothers; it has the Imprimatur of Archbishop Michael Augustine, Archdiocese of New York, New York, 22 June 1898