Angelic Warfare Confraternity Daily Prayers

logoIf you’re a member of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, you likely (well, you ought) to be praying a few prayers each day.  Those prayers include fifteen Hail Mary’s, the Prayer to St. Thomas for Purity, and the Prayer of St. Thomas for Purity.  However, this has not always been the case in the history of the Confraternity.  How’d I figure this out?  Well, most of the thanks can go to my friend Michael, who found a 1940s-era A Dominican Mission manual, written by A Dominican Missionary and printed by the National Headquarters of the Holy Name Society (with an imprimatur of 1942).  Seeing as the Manual was both Dominican and pre-conciliar, I could hardly help myself, and quickly found one on eBay.

While paging through this treasure trove of Catholicity, I found the entry for the Angelic Warfare.  The book gives a brief overview of the Confraternity, and then it only specifies one prayer, that of the Prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas for the Preservation of Innocence and Chastity (I reproduce the prayer below due to its lovely translation):

Prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas for the Preservation of Innocence and Chastity

Chosen lily of innocence, most chaste St. Thomas, thou who didst ever preserve thy baptismal robe unspotted, thou who wast by two angels girded, thou who wast thyself a true angel in the flesh, I entreat thee to recommend me to Jesus, the spotless Lamb, and to Mary, the Queen of virgins, that wearing around my loins thy holy girdle which was granted to thee as a pledge of thy purity, and imitating thy virtues upon earth, I may one day be crowned with thee, O thou powerful protector of my innocence!
Our Father.  Hail Mary.  Glory be.
℣. Pray for us, O St. Thomas
℟. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.  O God, who didst deign to arm us with the girdle of St. Thomas in the assaults made upon our innocence, grant to our earnest prayers that, under his heavenly protection, the impure enemy of our body and soul in this warfare may be happily overcome; and that adorned with the unfading lily of purity, in the midst of the angelic host, we may receive the palm of celestial bliss.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Did you notice it, though?  Yes, while this is simply one of the two “modern” prayers, it is a little bit longer!  This, naturally, piques my interest!  Had it been the case for the AWC to pray just one prayer per day?  How will I find out?

Well, searching through the stacks one day at that glorious Milwaukee treasure, I stumbled across a book entitled “Key to the Spiritual Treasures, an illustration of some of the most precious confraternities and practical instructions for the canonical erection of these confraternities at home and in foreign countries (A gratuitous offering to the poor missionary fathers for the spiritual welfare of the faithful in foreign mission),” compiled by Maria Cosmas Seeberger, C.PP.S, chaplain of St. Mary’s Home Convent, Padua P.O., Mercer Co. Ohio, USA, and printed in 1897.  Inside, it contains information on the “Cincture of St. Thomas Aquinas”, another name by which this Confraternity is known.  In this book’s description of the requirements of the Confraternity, the members are recommended to say the Prayer to St. Thomas for the Preservation of Innocence and Purity, along with the Prayer to Obtain the Preservation of Purity.  The prayers are printed as follows:

Prayer to St. Thomas for the Preservation of Innocence and Purity

Elect lily of purity, most chaste St. Thomas, who didst preserve the garment of baptism without stain of sin, who, being girded by two angels, hast ever been an angel in the flesh, I humbly pray that thou recommend me to Jesus, the Immaculate Lamb, and to Mary, the Queen of Virgins, that girded with the holy cincture, I may obtain the grace of purity bestowed upon thee, and that, imitating thy virtue on earth, I may be crowned with thee, O great protector of my innocence, among the angels in paradise.
Our Father.  Hail Mary.  Glory be to the Father.
℣. Pray for us, O St. Thomas
℟. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.  O God, who deignest to gird us with the cincture of St. Thomas in the difficult battle of purity, grant our fervent prayers, that under his heavenly protection we may always conquer the lustful enemy of our body, and being adorned with the lily of constant purity, we may in the midst of the pure choirs of angels receive from Thee the palm of everlasting glory, through Christ out Lord.  Amen.

Prayer to Obtain the Preservation of Purity

My dear Jesus, I well know that every perfect gift, and more so that of purity, comes from the powerful influence of Thy grace, and that without Thee the creature can do nothing.  Therefore I humbly ask Thee that Thou mayest defend with Thy grace the chastity and purity of my soul as well as of my body.  And should I ever conceive a lustful impression which could stain the virtue of purity and chastity, banish the same from me, Thou who art the Lord of all the powers of my soul, that I may advance with a pure heart in Thy love and service, whilst every day of my life I consecrate myself in purity upon the altars of Thy Godhead.  Amen.

So, the quick answer to my A Dominican Mission Manual question is “No, the Confraternity has traditionally prayed more than just ‘one’ prayer.”  Going through the booklet written by Fr. Mullady, I re-read the enrollment ceremony, and what do I find?  The long-form prayer preserved!  If you look in the enrollment ceremony, you’ll see that the Director asks the enrollees to recite the Prayer to St. Thomas.  It concludes as below (…with you among the angels.), but continues as follows:

Taken from the Enrollment Ceremony, The Angelic Warfare Confraternity, by Fr. Brian T. Mullady, OP (Fourth printing, 2006)

[Prayer to St. Thomas for Purity]

Our Father…, Hail Mary…, and Glory be to the Father…
℣. Pray for us St. Thomas,
℟. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.  O God, who mercifully helps those engaged in the fierce struggle for chastity, / by means of the sacred cord of St. Thomas, / grant to us who implore your help through his intercession / that we may successfully overcome the temptations of body and soul / and come to be crowned with perpetual purity and integrity among the choirs of angels, / where we will receive the reward of eternal happiness. / Through Christ Our Lord.  Amen.

How wonderful that the long-form is preserved, if even “only” in the enrollment ceremony!  However, I dare to propose one small change to our daily prayer life.  Considering that we Catholics love tradition, and given the traditional daily prayers, I propose the modern Confraternity member include the “long-form” prayer to his daily AWC prayers.  Since this was previously part of the prayers of our predecessors in the Confraternity, I think it would be fitting to pray those prayers not only for us, but also for those members of the Confraternity now in Purgatory, who so desperately long to see the face of God.

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

Current prayers of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity

The Prayer to St. Thomas for Purity
Chosen lily of innocence, pure St. Thomas,
who kept chaste the robe of baptism
and became an angel in the flesh after being girded by two angels,
I implore you to commend me to Jesus, the Spotless Lamb,
and to Mary, the Queen of Virgins.
Gentle protector of my purity, ask them that I,
who wear the holy sign of your victory over the flesh,
may also share your purity,
and after imitating you on earth
may at last come to be crowned with you among the angels. Amen.

The Prayer of St. Thomas for Purity
Dear Jesus,
I know that every perfect gift,
and especially that of chastity,
depends on the power of Your providence.
Without You a mere creature can do nothing.
Therefore, I beg You to defend by Your grace
the chastity and purity of my body and soul.
And if I have ever sensed or imagined anything
that could stain my chastity and purity,
blot it out, Supreme Lord of my powers,
that I may advance with a pure heart in Your love and service,
offering myself on the most pure altar of Your divinity
all the days of my life. Amen.

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