What is the Confraternity of Christian Mothers?
The Confraternity of Christian Mothers appeals to the family, and especially to the mothers. These, above all, it desires to sanctify by frequent and regular prayers in common with thousands of their own condition and vocation, by talks and discussions, by the frequentation of the Sacraments, by the edifying example of the other members; they shall learn to walk in the sight of God; like the sanctuary lamps before the altars, they, in the hallowed precincts of the home, shall cast bright rays upon the families; they shall sacrifice and consume themselves, as it were, in holy flames in the service of God for the welfare and salvation of their families.
How did the Confraternity of Christian Mothers begin?
ORIGIN OF THE CONFRATERNITY OF CHRISTIAN MOTHERS
(Taken from the Book “Mother Love” 1951 Edition.)
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 over all, 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 well aware that 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.
The Aim of the Confraternity
The Confraternity will not attain its end by simply uniting the mothers in prayers; its scope is wider. It desires to instruct and educate the mothers in performing their duties, in practicing the virtues which should adorn their hearts; and by proper instructions at the regular meetings it strives to arouse them to renewed activity, to impress upon them the consciousness of their high vocation, and to inflame them with an ardent zeal. Its aim is to show them the way of attaining their own sanctification and that of their families, to imbue them with a thoroughly Christian spirit, to induce them to bring up their children in such a manner as to render them an ornament to the Church and useful members of society, and to insure their temporal, but especially their eternal welfare.
Need of the Confraternity Today
Mothers rule the world. They guide the destinies of homes which are little worlds. Mother’s influence is felt for all time and for eternity, and that influence is exercised from the very cradle. Others will never be better until mothers get closer to Christ at home. That is why God is relying on mothers to keep Christ in the world by keeping Him in their hearts and homes.
Church and school, priest and Sister, struggle to form the character of boys and girls. But each adult has far more vivid memories of what mother and dad did at home than of what Father and Sister said in school. A priest may work for forty-five minutes trying to convince boys and girls that they should always tell the truth, even when it hurts; that they should admit when they are wrong even though they may suffer for being wrong. The same children while eating lunch at home may detect mother telling a little white lie (they leave black marks on the soul), and in those few seconds the priest’s work of forty-five minutes is wiped out. Men and women are not the products so much of a school as of a home; and mothers set the pace at home. God has privileged married ladies with the dignity of motherhood and of mothering the world. Our spiritual mother, the Catholic Church, realizes the great responsibilities of mothers and wants to help them through the Confraternity of Christian Mothers. The destinies of the individual, of society, the Church and the State are in the hands of mothers more than of any one else. Neglect mothers, or permit them to neglect themselves, and all others who work for the good of God and society will not be successful.