"The Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary...has for its object to assemble its members at the feet of the Mother of God, to dedicate them in a very special manner to the veneration and service of the Blessed Virgin, and to place them under her particular patronage..."
- Fr. Lasance, The Catholic Girl's Guide, p. 614.
How can one truly be a Maiden for Mary?
That question requires a long and very detailed answer.
But I know of at least one shortcut - being involved in a Marian organization such as a Sodality.
Between the ages of 15-18, I was a member of the Sodality at my parish (which was known as The Junior Sodality of Our Lady of Good Success under the Patronage of St. Philomena...to be differentiated from the Woman's Sodality of The Mystical Rose). While it has since become dormant, I'm still finding fruit from those seeds sown all those years ago.
So what are some of the fruits from being involved in a Sodality?
1. Increasing prayer life, spirituality and Marian devotion.
One of the tenets of a good Sodality is instilling a strong prayer life into it's members. My Junior Sodality meetings always started with The Litany of Humility, and the Litany of Loretto was always a favorite. Each year, we would make a consecration to the Blessed Virgin, and we would be in charge of May Crowning.
Virtues such as modesty, purity, patience, obedience, etc. can also be explored and deepened via a Sodality. Acts of charity and good works may also (and should!) be done. Alms-giving may also fostered by fundraisers for organizations such as crisis pregnancy centers, etc.
I know that during those three years that I was an active member, my prayer life was immensely helped by the Sodality. It was through little talks on the saints and modesty that I got interested in spiritual works on the feminine vocation.
One additional benefit? A Sodality will help a girl to live in the world and not be part of it. How to be a good Catholic woman in a degenerate world. It seems a little off the wall for cradle Catholics, who have been learning this all their lives, but for a convert like myself, the good influence of the Catholic girls in my Sodality was indispensable beyond measure.
2. Fostering a discernment of a vocation.
Whether a girl's vocation is the religious life, marriage or the single life, a Sodality will help foster it. Religious vocations are often helped along by Marian devotions, retreats, and lectures about the saints. A Sodality is also a good place to pursue learning of the feminine arts and refinement. Because the Sodality is also under the guidance of the chaplain of the parish, spiritual direction may also be accessed more readily.
3. More involvement in the parish - and thus a tighter knit community.
The Sodality can also be involved in some liturgical forms, including processions and May Crowning. They also can be taught to assist in the care of the church linens.
But, have you ever notice that many of the parish social events (picnics, plays, dances, etc.) are coordinated by women, not the men?
Women are not just the heart of the family. They are the hearts of their community and their parish. The social part of humanity is very much the female strength, especially when it comes to bringing people together and having a good time. Without social events, there is no community in a parish - only a disjointed body of little groups of people that happen to be at the same building at the same time.
A Junior Sodality, especially, is a great fostering ground for young women to prepare themselves for this huge role.
Hosting social events such as teas are a wonderful way to bring the women and girls of the parish together - and can be an excellent recruiting tool!
Bake sales do more than just fill the coffers - it is also excellent practice for girls to coordinate other events and interacting with the rest of the parish. Learning how to settle the little details of coordinating shifts, how to supply it, and handling money - all those skills can be transferred elsewhere.
4. Making friends!
While friends are a necessary part of any stage of life, having friends is highly important in those girlhood years. Many deep friendships are made in Sodalities. I can say without reservation, that my friends from my Junior Sodality were the biggest help during my teen years, especially as I was making my conversion to the Faith.
A Sodality is not all prayers and teas. There is a lighter side - indeed, it is a most necessary part! After all, what girl would survive without a bit of fun every now and then? I certainly wouldn't.
I'm sure that there are other fruits that I'm forgetting...
Because there is such a need for strong Catholic girls in the world today, I would advocate putting a Sodality in every parish that I could. With good leadership, it can be an excellent vehicle for bolstering the ranks of soldiers for Christ for generations to come. Have you had any experiences with a Sodality, or even an Altar Rosary Society? Share in the comments!
In Cordis Mariae,