END AND NATURE OF THE SODALITY OF CHARITY
"Obey with humility your superiors, for obedience is the backbone of faith." - St. Francis of Paola
The Sodality of Charity is made for the Catholic girls and ladies with the purpose of sanctifying its members through a Catholic life by fulfilling their vows made in Baptism. It follows the spirituality of St. Francis of Paola, to whom an angel showed a shield with the word CARITAS in gold letters. Charity to all was the major goal and distinction of the mission of St. Francis of Paola. Formerly there existed the Sodality of Charity for charitable purposes at the Holy Cross parish in La Salle, Illinois.
The heavenly patron of our Sodality is St. Joseph, the foster-father of Our Lord. The only “membership fee” of a Sodalist is to say some prayer or do some act of devotion or charity in his honor on the first Wednesday of a month. The Raccolta, in number 430, says: “The faithful who on the first Wednesday of any month, perform some devout exercise in honor of St. Joseph, may gain: An indulgence of 5 years; A plenary indulgence under the usual conditions.”
The secondary patrons of the Sodality are Ven. Mary of Agreda (the author of the Mystical City of God), St. Francis of Paola, and St. Francis de Sales, who is also patron of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. St. Francis de Sales joined to the Minim Tertiaries when he was in college after a crisis of faith; and before he became Bishop of Geneva, made a pilgrimage to pray at the shrine of St. Francis of Paola at the castle Plessis-lez-Tours in France.
The Sodality also follows the example of Marie Du Drac, French Minim tertiary in Paris in the 1500’s. Her spirituality was to empty oneself entirely of self-will so as to become a vehicle for the will of God. For her it was necessary to remove from the heart anything that might separate it from God. She had a deep hunger for Holy Eucharist and was a frequent communicant, going to Communion at least three times a week and daily during Advent and Lent. And she bravely confronted her Protestant friends and relatives, admonishing them for their lapse into heresy and persistently attempting to convince them of the error of their ways. She also recommended offering to God all the sorrows and pains that Christ endured in the world and to recite the little prayer of St. Gertrude:
I beseech Thee, O most merciful God, by the most tranquil sweetness with which Thou hast reposed from all eternity in the bosom of the Father, by Thy peaceful abode of nine months in the womb of a virgin, and by all the holy delights which Thou hast ever enjoyed in souls filled with Thy love, to grant me some rest – not for my own satisfaction, but for Thy eternal glory – in order that the strength of my wearied body may be restored, and that I may be able to fulfill my duties. (Chapter 44 of Revelations)
The principal foundation of the Sodality is lay apostolate of the parish (St. Gertrude the Great), namely the participation of the laity actively in parish life and according to each Sodalist’s possibilities, to help the pastor in the parish work.
Good Sodalists should be, first and foremost, exemplary Catholics, conforming their faith and life entirely to the faith and morals which the Catholic Church teaches, praising what she praises, disapproving what she disapproves of, having the same sentiments in everything with her, and never being ashamed to act in private and public life as faithful and obedient children of the Church.
The daily act of charity is the simplest and sweetest of the duties of the Sodalist, because it represents the Gospel in action. Courtesy and cheerfulness are a form of charity toward others always much needed in this life. A Sodalist should always make at least one act of charity in a day for the love of God, even if very small, like petting a cat.