Origins of the Confraternity of Christian Mothers
In the northern part of France there lived, about the middle of the last century, a very respectable woman, named Louise Josson de Bilhem, the wife of a court official. Endowed with rare qualities both of mind and heart, she was the central figure around which the most learned and esteemed gentlemen and ladies were grouped. As a wife and mother, she was a model, admired and imitated by others; she was like the “Strong Woman” Holy Scripture speaks of, who pays attention to all, has watchful eyes overall, a helping hand for all, and who thus insures for her home prosperity, wealth, comfort and peace. Whenever a noble work was undertaken or in progress in the city, she was one of the most zealous promoters.
She heard of the pious wishes of a few Christian mothers who were solicitous about the welfare of their children and desirous of working together to attain the great end they had in view. Herself a mother, she could not but understand the reality of the fear with which, in our days, every truly Christian and conscientious mother’s heart is filled. She could not resist the strong, innate desire of uniting these pious mothers, who, by assisting one another, would mutually care for the welfare of their children. With wonted activity and thoughtfulness, she went to work. Her noble undertaking was blessed; her endeavors were richly rewarded. Within a short time, the mothers were united in a holy league, and assisted one another by words and deeds and mutual prayers.
The first day of the beautiful month of May, in 1850, the Christian Mothers of Lille, France, assembled for the first time to pray with and for one another and their children, to discuss their problems, and to advise one another regarding the Christian rearing of their children. This was the first union and the first public meeting of Christian mothers. The members of this incipient Confraternity of Christian Mothers were aware success would not crown their efforts unless they enjoyed the assistance and encouragement of those whom our Divine Savior has appointed as teachers and leaders of His faithful followers, and who alone were to administer His Sacraments and dispense His blessings. Accordingly, they entrusted their undertaking to their pastors.
The fact that the Societies of Christian Mothers originated with the mothers was a dispensation of Divine Providence. They are to be planted and nurtured by the mothers themselves; they are to be the fruit of their sincerest and heartiest wishes for the welfare of their little ones.
After the pastors were interested in the society and extended to it their protection, its propagation was astonishingly rapid. The society found its way into America at an early date, and on the 16th of January 1881, the Confraternity of Christian Mothers canonically erected in St. Augustine’s Church, 220 — 37th St., Pittsburgh 1, Pa., was raised to the rank of an Archconfraternity with the right of affiliating other Confraternities.
Who Can Join?
Any married or widowed Catholic woman may join provided she intends to promote the aims of the Confraternity. Unmarried or non-Catholic women may be admitted as Associate Members.
What Will Occur at Meetings?
The schedule of the meetings will be determined by the Officers and Father Director, and may include Confession or Mass before the meeting, a talk by Father Director or guest speaker, and opportunities for discussion.
How Can I Join?
Please provide us with your contact information phone number and email and you will be contacted with details about our formal opening meeting.
I. A practicing Catholic woman married or widow, though she has no children, can be admitted, provided she seriously intends to promote the aims of the Confraternity, especially that of the Christian Home Education of children, and to comply with its statutes.
II. Such as wish to be enrolled must be admitted by the Director, or his lawful representative, who will enter their Christian and family names in the register of the Confraternity. It is advisable also to enter their place of residence.
III. Members must be extremely solicitous to educate their children according to the principles of the Gospel.
IV. Every day they should recite the Daily Prayer to the Patrons of the Confraternity, to which others may be added, as the patron saint of the parish and the special patrons of the individual mother.
V. They should cherish a special love for one another; every month they should offer Holy Communion for the associates, or if this cannot conveniently be done, they should attend Holy Mass, receive Communion spiritually, and offer them up for the same intention. They should also in other ways, as opportunities present themselves, assist one another.
VI. Several times a year, and wherever feasible every month, the members should assemble on the day and at the hour appointed by the Director, to listen to a conference adapted to the end of the Confraternity, and to offer up prayers for their children and families. For such intentions of the associates as have been specially recommended, prayers are said in common.
VII. On the day of the meeting Holy Mass should be said for the intentions of the associates, at which all who can, should receive Holy Communion.
VIII. Twice a year, in addition to the regular monthly Communion, a general Communion should be held on the principal feast of the Confraternity, and on such other day as the Director will appoint.
IX. The Director of the whole Confraternity is the Director appointed by the bishop. The Director will appoint officers or conduct an election for a term designated by him.
X. The officials of the Confraternity shall give an edifying example to all the associates; they shall see that the members attend the meetings and conduct themselves in a manner becoming a Christian mother; they shall visit and comfort the sick and support them as much as lies in their power, being especially solicitous about a happy death. All matters of greater importance are to be referred to the Director.
XI. When an associate has departed this life, prayers and good works shall immediately be offered by the associates, and as soon as possible a Holy Mass shall be said. All who are able to do so should be present at the funeral services. Within the seven days following All Souls Day, a Holy Mass should be offered for all the departed members.
XII. The deceased members and their children are forever recommended to the hearts and prayers and merits of the associates.
Special Statutes and Remarks
I. The Confraternity of Christian Mothers has been established by the Most Rev. Bernard Fellay in St Margaret Mary Church of the 13th day of August 2008.
II. According to the regulations of the bishop, the actual pastor or any other priest chosen and authorized by the pastor shall be Director of the Confraternity.
III. The General Statutes of the Archconfraternity hold good also in this place.
IV. Admission to the Confraternity is free. Women not sufficiently known are to be recommended, at least, by a Prefect. Those who pay annual dues will share in the Masses offered for the members and will have a Mass offered for the repose of their soul shortly after death. Those not doing so regularly or not at all will have no Holy Mass and will have an equal share in the Holy Masses of those years only in which their contributions were received.
V. The Confraternity annually celebrates the feast of Our Mother of Sorrows as its principal feast. This feast is chosen by the members. Holy Mass, group Communion, and enrollment of new members take place that day.
VI. The medal of the Confraternity is to be worn for regular meetings, at processions, and at the funeral of members. The medal of a deceased member is pinned to her dress.
VII. The regular meetings will be held monthly on the third Sunday of each month. A member who has been absent from two consecutive meetings is obliged to present an excuse.
VIII. The Confraternity is divided into sections consisting of a Prefect, an Assistant Prefect, and 10-15 members.
IX. Members proving themselves careless and negligent must be reported to the Director. If his admonitions are disregarded, they must be expelled. Expulsion deprives them of every claim on the advantages of the Confraternity. They may be readmitted if they have given sufficient evidence of goodwill for three months.
X. After the principal object, this Confraternity has an important secondary object, the performance of works of charity and mercy towards members. For this purpose, the Prefects should be acquainted with the members of their section and should in their corporal and spiritual necessities assist them according to their ability.
XI. On the death of a member, the certificate of membership should be returned to the Director, who, at the next general meeting, will publish her death, so that prayers may be offered up for the repose of her soul. Members shall recite three “Our Fathers” and “Hail Mary’s” daily, for one week, and on the day of the funeral five decades of the Rosary. They should also see that the Holy Sacrifice is offered for the repose of her soul.
XII. To defray the small expenses arising from Masses, alms to the needy members, for Confraternity books, medals, certificates of membership, annual dues are collected. The treasurer must render an account of the receipts and expenditures as often as the Director requires. The fund is never to be touched to defray expenses not immediately affecting the Confraternity.
XIII. All the sacrifices of time, money, and work, all the Holy Masses and prayers said by the members have but this one intention: to obtain for the children the grace of a truly Christian education, of a virtuous life, and a happy death.
XIV. The general as well as the special statutes have been approved by the Most Rev. Fellay, and should therefore be conscientiously observed, although they do not impose an obligation binding under pain of sin.