Sodality of St. Augustine – to pray for the conversion of loved ones

My friends of the Latin Mass Society in England have a new and worthy initiative.

The Sodality of St Augustine of Hippo

From the website:

The purpose of the Sodality is to unite the prayers of members for the conversion of those dear to them. There can be few Catholics today who do not have family members or close friends who have either lapsed from the practice of the Faith, or never had it; it is a particular source of grief when parents see children and grandchildren living without the support of the Sacraments. We take heart from the example of St Augustine, converted at last by the prayers and tears of his mother St Monica, and wish to demonstrate our fellowship with others in the same position, by praying not only for our own dear ones, but for those of others who will do the same for ours.

The Sodality takes advantage of three principles of Catholic prayer:

1. The Public Prayer of the Church is more pleasing to God than private prayer.

Not only are the Sodality’s prayers supported by regular Masses, but the Sodality’s own prayer is a Collect of the Roman Missal, linking our individual prayers further to the Church’s prayer and the Masses being said for the same intention.

2. The united prayer of a group of Catholics is more pleasing to God than the prayers of individuals alone.

The prayers of Sodality members are united for a single intention: the conversion or return of our friends and family to the Faith.

3. Prayers motivated by charity are more pleasing to God than prayers motivated by necessity.

By praying for each others’ friends, members of the Sodality show fraternal solidarity and charity, even towards those unknown to them.

St Thomas Aquinas wrote (quoting someone else):

“Necessity makes us pray for ourselves, fraternal charity urges us to pray for others. But sweeter before God is prayer which is not sent from necessity, but commended by fraternal charity.”
(“…pro se orare necessitas cogit, pro altero autem, caritas fraternitatis hortatur. Dulcior autem ante Deum est oratio, non quam necessitas transmittit, sed quam caritas fraternitatis commendat.”)
Summa Theologica II, Q88 a.7 c.

So please join the Sodality!
There is no fee, you just send us an email:

You can arrange your own Masses for the intentions of the Sodality, but the LMS is offering the service, which will be convenient for some people, of passing on Mass Offerings to priests for such Masses. We are also going to have at least one Mass a year said publicly, with more solemnity, for this intention, which we will advertise, towards which you can make a donation.

The Sodality prayer:

Deus, qui caritátis dona per grátiam Sancti Spíritus tuórum fidélium córdibus infudísti : da fámulis et famulábus tuis, pro quibus tuam deprecámur cleméntiam, salútem mentis et córporis ; ut te tota virtúte díligent, et quæ tibi plácita sunt, tota dilectióne perfíciant. Per Dóminum nostrum Iesum Christum Fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte eiúsdem Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sæculórum. Amen.
O God, who, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, hast poured the gifts of charity in the hearts of thy faithful, grant to thy servants and handmaids, for whom we entreat thy mercy, health of mind and body; that they may love thee with all their strength and, by perfect love, may do what is pleasing to thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son, who liveth and reigneth in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Fr. Z wholeheartedly endorses this good initiative.

Perhaps some priests could offer their services to take a Mass or two from the Sodality for intentions, if they wish to coordinate such an endeavor.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. momoften says:

    We have Sodality of St Monica in our Parish (St Augustine’s mother) The prayer is to be recited daily(and if possible with others) and goes:
    Eternal and merciful Father, I give You thanks for the gift of Your Divine Son who suffered, died and rose for all mankind. I thank You also for my Catholic Faith and ask Your help that I may grow in fidelity by prayer, by works of charity and penance, by reflection on Your Word, and by regular participation in the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist.
    You gave Saint Monica a spirit of selfless love manifested in her constant prayer for the conversion of her son Augustine. Inspired by boundless confidence in Your power to move hearts, and the the success of her prayer,Iask the grace to imitate her constancy in my prayer for (name-s-) who no longer share in the intimate life of Your Catholic family. Grant through my prayer and witness that (he/she/they) may be open to the promptings of Your Holy Sprit, and return to loving union with Your Church. Grant also that my prayer be ever hopeful and that I may never judge another, for You alone can read hearts. i ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

  2. mamajen says:


  3. MichaelJ says:

    Where can I find more information about the “three principles of Catholic prayer”? I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’d never heard of them before now.

  4. The Masked Chicken says:

    While I wholeheartedly support this, I don’t think the comment about three principles of Catholic prayer are thought out correctly as they apply to this.

    1. The Public Prayer of the Church is more pleasing to God than private prayer.

    Of course, that is true because of the perfection of the Public Prayer of the Church, but is this an instance of the public prayer of the Church? Having a Mass said in this case is certainly a Public Prayer brought by the intervention of more than one person, but that, in itself, does not make this endeavor part of the Public Prayer of the Church. At best, it is a public association of the Faithful dedicated to a specific charism, that incorporates a Public Prayer of the Church in its activities. One person making a Mass request is not necessarily more or less pleasing than ten people making the same request, however. The association with the Public Prayer of the Church has no direct connection to the organization, so this might mislead some into thinking that the Sodality, itself, is a part of the Public Prayer of the Church. It is not.

    2. The united prayer of a group of Catholics is more pleasing to God than the prayers of individuals alone.

    This is just wrong, otherwise, the thousands of Jews praying for rain during the drought brought about by Elijah’s prayer would have been more pleasing to God that Elijah’s. One person rightly asking for God’s will is more pleasing than a hundred who are asking for something else. Prayers can be misdirected. They can be wrong. I know of a person who had a medical condition and many people were praying that the person accept treatment from the doctors, but one person, with good reason, thought the doctors were wrong and prayed that the person be delivered from them. It turns out the one person was right and the doctors could have killed the person.

    Now, certeris paribus, the more people that engaged in a proper prayer, the better. It is just that the statement, as made in the post, is wrong.

    Michael J.,

    These are not three general principles of prayer. The first one is taken out of context. The second one is wrong as it is stated (not qualified enough). The third one is correct.

    The Chicken

  5. The Masked Chicken says:

    One more thing:

    I did not and do not want to shift the focus of the post to principles of prayer. The Sodality seems to be an excellent movement of grace and one I support. The goal is a worthy one and needs no apologetic for the prayers. If, however, they want to do so, they should tighten their logic a bit.

    The Chicken

  6. Stumbler but trying says:

    I may join but already do pray for my family members who have left the Church. I am do not know Latin and understand very little when I hear it. Is there an online course I can take so as to learn? I read they offer classes but since I am So. Calif., impossible to attend.
    I want to pray in unity with the universal Church and participate more fully especially when many are praying in Latin.
    Thanks for the encouraging article, Fr,. Z.

  7. Clinton R. says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Father. Praying for the conversion or the return to the Catholic Church is true ecumenism. Man needs the Catholic Church and the Sacraments. +JMJ+

  8. Cecily says:

    Stumbler…I am using Memoria Press’s “First Form Latin” and it is a perfect fit for me. Not too juvenile, not as intense as some of the college texts that have been recommended to me (those were frustrating and discouraging). Also, the teaching method is very sound (I have studied both linguistics and education at university). I ordered their books and CD’s to go with them, from their website. The great thing is, they teach the kind of Latin we use in church, and they assume the students are Christian. Other Latin courses teach classical Latin, which is not as useful to people with our goals (praying with the Church). The material is meant for homeschoolers, so it works very well for one person at home. A couple of friends could do it together with even more effect, but I don’t know anyone who wants to learn Latin! Too bad you live so far from me.

  9. Stumbler but trying says:

    @ Cecily:
    I thank you for the information provided. I have looked up Memoria Press and bookmarked the site so as to explore what they have to offer. What you describe is what I desire to learn. I am fluent in Spanish so I am hoping it will come in handy.

  10. Faith says:

    As your first commenter, “momoften,” posted, we in the USA, already have this, called the St. Monica Sodality. I’ve been praying for my lapsi for years.

  11. happyCatholic says:

    Can names of those who have never been Catholic be included in the St. Monica Sodality or only lapsed Catholics? I couldn’t tell for sure from the website.

  12. The Sicilian Woman says:

    This is awesome. I’ve been praying for my whole family to return, as well as some friends to do so as well.

    There are also some friends who are Christian non-Catholics for whom I’ve been praying. I’m thinking of saying the prayer that momoften supplied and altering it to read, “who no longer share, and (insert names) who have never shared, in the intimate life…” I hope that wouldn’t be inappropriate.

  13. alexandra88 says:

    This is a great initiative and should be encouraged in parishes. I come from an unchurched unbaptised family and I pray for them daily to one day enter into fellowship with the Lord.

  14. Mariana says:

    Thank you, Father! I’m joining!

  15. wmeyer says:

    I have just joined. I have brothers who long ago fell away from the Church. Two of them are now deeply involved with a local (cultish) mega-church, and one of these just over a week ago announced his desire to have no further contact with me.

    I shall pray for my brothers, and for all those who have gone astray.

  16. PA mom says:

    I have been praying for my husband’s conversion on and off ever since my return to the Church. It has seemed more urgent recently, however. Prayers for this cause would be greatly appreciated.

  17. ocleirbj says:

    I did join up, and make the commitment to this daily prayer. I will probably use both the prayer that the LMS gives and the one from the Sodality of St Monica – thank you, momoften.
    Regardless of whether or not the prayers of a group are more “pleasing to God” than those of individuals (which I don’t believe), praying with a group in this way is pleasing to me! – that sounds selfish, but I mean it encourages and motivates me to pray. It’s like when I’m praying the Pope’s Intention, and I have a deep sense of union with the mind and heart of the Holy Father and with so many other people around the world who are also offering this prayer today. In the same way, when I think that there are people I don’t even know who are praying for the wandering ones among my family and friends, it moves me to want to join them, and to pray for their loved ones too. More desire for prayer is always a good thing!

  18. Skeinster says:

    Am I reading Point # 3 correctly? Is it suggesting that if X stops praying for their people and prays for Y’s instead, and Y does the same for X, God is more likely to hear and grant their requests?
    Or is any prayer for anyone other than oneself a prayer of fraternal charity?
    This is not very clear.

  19. Cathy says:

    Skeinster, I take point 3 as a matter of one’s prayer for their own, even urgent necessity – finding a job, health, etc. Personal necessities really should be prayed for and hoped for, but, can also consume an individual. Prayers of fraternal charity help draw a soul from consuming personal necessity and could also unite the suffering of lack of such necessity to a fraternal intention – offering the suffering for the sake of the other. I guess that is why I love the Fatima prayer at the end of each decade of the Rosary and, honestly, really acknowledged the impact at the time of my own radical conversion. I can look back and honestly say, whoever was praying this prayer was praying for me. Thank God!

  20. MichaelJ says:

    Unfortunately, the chairman of the Latin Mass Societyapparently thinking that the efforts of the Sodality of St. Augustine needed some justification, has coined the term “three principles of Catholic prayer”. This is an unnecessary distraction. As The Masked Chicken stated above, “The goal is a worthy one and needs no apologetic for the prayers”.

  21. StWinefride says:

    MichaelJ: but fortunately, the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, in his memo to The Tablet, predicts correctly that in 2013…. Father Z will eat breakfast! ;)

  22. Faith says:

    happy Catholic,
    Please don’t stop praying for bringing your friends home to the Church. But the St. Monica sodality is specifically for family. Just tweek the words of the Sodality prayer to fit your needs:
    Eternal and merciful Father, I give You thanks for the gift of Your Divine Son, who suffered, died, and rose, for all mankind. I thank You also for my Catholic faith, and ask Your help that I may grow in fidelity by prayer, works of charity, penance, reflection on Your Word, and by regular participation in the sacrament of Penance and Holy Eucharist.
    Inspired, by Your mercy, and confidence in Your power, Lord, I ask that ______________ be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to come into union with Your Church. I also ask, that I myself, be given the grace to never judge another, for You alone, Lord, can read hearts.
    I ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

  23. happyCatholic says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to include that prayer. It is perfect and lovely — the second to last line especially.

  24. wow the comments illustrate misunderstanding of prayer and the need for the explanation of prayer! I can’t blame anybody – spiritual direction and understanding of prayer is not taught properly in the seminaries. How can anyone be expected to have heard anything useful today? People are easily misled about prayer, tragically.

    Thanks for this post Father. We all certainly know somebody who has stopped practicing the Faith and are in mortal danger.

    RE: the Masked Chicken’s comments
    1. No expert here, but you may be applying too strict an interpretation. I take the meaning here as a prayer in common with other Catholics. Public Prayer is any prayer said together with others, or known to others. Private Prayer can be in silence and in secret – in your room at home, in your heart/thoughts, the recollection after Holy Communion, and never expressed to others. Prayers expressed publicly, whether vocally in a group or on a web page, by members of the Church, is public prayer of members of the Church. Whether the ‘prayer’ is recognized officially as a “prayer of the Church’, such as the Mass or a text out of the Raccolta etc, is irrelevant to the example. [This is not to say that official recognized prayers of the Church don’t have an extra ‘umph’ due to their purity of formation and attached graces/indulgences.] Additionally, Sodalities are a Church-recognized type of community whose primary purpose is united public prayer of a group with the purpose that is stated by the very name of any Sodality.

    2. I haven’t researched these tenets precisely on ‘pleasing’ vs. ‘effective’ but maybe that’s how you understand the difference. As we know, “For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” We have taken this to mean that when united with others in prayer, God is more inclined to hear our prayer.
    But if God is more inclined to hear a prayer that is said together by more than one, if the prayer is more effective, isn’t that really the same as ‘more pleasing’?
    Additionally, your example of a bunch praying for a bad intention vs. the prayer of one praying for something good, is outside the argument. God ignores, or is even blasphemed by, unworthy prayers. The understanding is that one person praying for a good is less effective than a bunch praying for that same good. (Another detail, getting in the weeds here, is the acceptable prayer of a holy person [in the state of grace] and the less worthy prayers of the proud and evil-hearted [in mortal sin] ).
    Effective prayer starts with a worthy request, and next, being united with others in that worthy request ‘ups’ the chance that God will answer that prayer.

    With the modern loss of Sodalities, public novenas, processions, which used to be common in every parish, people have lost the sense of worthy public prayer. The human heart craves this unity of prayer and the practice of outward piety. This is the root of why we have such terrible problems in the Church today with abuses in the Liturgy and prayer groups/practices that are way out of the realm of proper and acceptable prayer. Every soul needs direction, formation, and example on how to pray. Good and right public prayer teaches how to pray. Without proper formation and example, people ‘express’ themselves to fill the void…and thus we have ‘prayer’ that causes scandal rather than edifies the soul and pleases God.

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