Notes towards a Sodality spirituality

The Work of Mary

 What is our charism?

  • personal notes for a Sodality spirituality

 Father Richard Peers, January, 2016


This is a tentative, personal, piece reflecting on the year of formation of the Sodality of Mary, Mother of Priests. I am grateful to fellow aspirants to the Sodality who have offered helpful feedback on some early drafts of this paper. This is not a policy document and has not been accepted or approved by anyone. It is offered, just as my initial talk was a year earlier to stimulate thought and conversations and to try and describe the journey of the Sodality.

From those who originally expressed an interest some have already decided that the form we seem to be developing is not for them. Others have come later and been attracted by some of the elements described below.

In February some of us will commit ourselves to try and live The Manual for a year. No doubt in the future changes will be made and new directions taken

As I write this, in January 2016, the Sodality does not actually exist and has no members. That won’t happen until the retreat in February 2016. Even then the process of forming an identity will be the work of years, decades, perhaps even generations. As a dispersed community I am not even certain of the extent to which we need a single spirituality.

The charism of the Sodality can be stated, as the aim in The Manual as:

“… the sanctification of priests

through the hearts of Jesus and Mary,

for the glory of God,

and for all people.”

A ‘spirituality’ would be the means by which we achieve that aim. As we have increasingly come to see ourselves as a ‘dispersed community’ it is apparent that we need to identify what it is that makes us a community and what it is that makes us feel that we belong. Belonging, finding a home, seems to be central to what many of us have been seeking; that seeking has brought significant prior experiences to the life of the Sodality: third order membership, oblates/associates of religious communities, years in the Society of Saint Francis and the Company of Mission Priests, priestly formation in a variety of different contexts.

Clearly the spirituality of the Sodality can never be exclusive; members will always be free to follow where the Spirit leads. However, having a shared spirituality, a common core, will aid the sense of belonging and of creating a common life. It will give us a common language and the opportunity for ecumenical relationships. It will help those outside the Sodality understand who we are and draw some to join us. Members of the Sodality and Associates will draw from a shared spirituality as the Spirit leads them in their own journey and in different ways at differing periods of our lives.

In the early conversations about the formation of the Sodality the first element that emerged was the sense of being a Marian community. Most early aspirants have a strong attachment to Walsingham and intense memories of pilgrimages there; we identify with the Catholic Anglicans who revived the shrine and maintain it.

Having identified that Marian element Fr Clive Hillman wrote the powerful prayer, which gained immediate support from aspirants, and was based on Pope Saint John Paul II’s teaching on Mary as ‘Mother of priests’. So a Marian charism seems fundamental. When we were working on the Rule/Manual and tried to identify other saintly patrons we just seemed to be plucking our favourite saints; ultimately we settled for the patronage of Mary alone.

So, the Sodality is profoundly MARIAN.

On our first Sodality day Fr Jonathan Kester, who had been a member of the Company of Mission Priests (CMP), used the phrase ‘dispersed community of priests’ this stood out for many people and has been formative in our development.

We are a COMMUNITY and we are PRIESTS.

On the second Sodality day we were addressed by Fr Tim Pike a former Warden of CMP. His passion for Saint Vincent de Paul and the Vincentian charism which has re-newed CMP in the last 20 years or so was deeply attractive to many.

This VINCENTIAN spirituality has a number of elements. It is MISSION focussed; Vincentians are the ‘Company of the Mission’. It is also strongly linked to the spirituality of the ‘Catholic reformation’, formerly often called the Counter Reformation. This spirituality has its origins in the Society of Jesus. Its characteristics are in some ways in contrast to a monastic spirituality, which had dominated in previous times. Some elements are:







I suspect it is a spirituality that works well in the lives of busy people. It is also a spirituality that developed in an environment of secularity and modernity and which seeks to find God in ordinary life rather than through intense periods of retreat or withdrawal.

In the development of The Manual some other elements stand out: Columba Marmion

and Jacques Olier are both quoted. Olier was founder of the Sulpician congregation of priests, for the Sodality he represents a charism to formation of the clergy, Marmion, though a Benedictine monk is author of Christ the Ideal of the Priest, a major work on the spiritual life of priests. Both represent a strong stream of post-Reformation western spirituality often known as the French School.


The Society of Mary, the Marists

As part of a conversation with aspirant Fr Michael Bowie he mentioned the Roman Catholic congregation the Society of Mary, the Marists. My only contact with them had been through (now) Bishop Alan Williams SM when he was administrator of the Roman Catholic shrine at Walsingham.

Exploration of the Marist charism and spiritualty has been a rich vein. At the final meeting of the Formation Group on December 14th I asked for, and was given, encouragement to explore this more deeply and to seek contact with the Marists in a spirit of fraternal friendship.

So here are some of the principal elements of Marist history and spirituality, which could be a source of life for the Sodality:

The Marists were founded in the nineteenth century as a fourfold family:




(Sisters of the Mission are a later development within the Marist family)

The Third Order of Mary (now the ‘Marist Way’)

The foundation has its origins in a number of priests in France who made a commitment at Fourvière on 23rd July, 1816 (more information, for the bi-centenary here: Several priests were involved in the initial ideas and the Society of Mary; the Marist fathers, recognise Venerable Jean-Claude Colin as their Founder. Fr Colin was the first Superior General of the Society and did most of the work on the Constitutions of the Society. (His 1872 form of the Constitutions are a fundamental text for the Marists, following Vatican II a period of discernment and re-sourcement led to the current, 1988, form of the Constitutions)

One of the most significant and most often quoted sayings of Fr Colin is:

“Think as Mary, Judge as Mary, Feel and Act as Mary.”

While many Anglo-Catholics will interpret the Marian patronage of the Sodality in terms of devotion to Mary, this is a different perspective. The task of the Marist is not to be simply devoted to Mary, but to be Mary to the world.

Contemporary Marists interpret this as:

– mind: intellectual (to think as Mary),

– soul: spiritual (judge as Mary),

– hands: pastoral (act as Mary),

– heart: emotional and human (feel as Mary).

Other aspects of the Marist charism that seem to resonate well with the Sodality relate to the need for heroism. In Marist spirituality that is applying the words of the Magnificat to all Marists; as Fr Colin wrote: “to do great things for God” linked to Mary’s hidden and the life at Nazareth; the greatness is God’s.

Colin: “if God wills to make use of us, we must take courage, we must not be faint-hearted; that is not what pleases God. The faint-hearted will not accomplish great things for God: omnia possum in eo qui me confortat (‘I can do all things in him who strengthens me’, Phil 4, 13).”

“How I like that prayer, “Lord, do great things through me” Some may say, “But that is pride,” but I on the contrary say it is humility. For I am nothing and God made the world from nothing. I acknowledge my nothingness and the almighty power of God by this prayer.”

Fr Colin wrote: ‘the Jesuits for functionality and Saint Vincent de Paul for the spirit’, this seems to echo the Sodality’s own growing spirituality drawing implicitly on Ignatian and explicitly on Vincentian role models.

The Sodality shares many aspects of the Marist vocation:

  • a focus on mission
  • bearing the name of Mary.
  • being Mary to the world
  • a commitment to be with Mary with the ‘Eglise naissant’, the church being born and the church at the end of time.

In response to an earlier draft of this paper Fr Hugo Adán wrote:

“I miss a theological approach to Marian piety and spirituality.

A reflection about the connection between Marian theology and ecclesiology could be very enriching for our identity as priests. The Church Fathers conceived mariology connected primarily to ecclesiology and not to Christology (that is why in the II VC Mary appears in Lumen Gentium). Mary is the prototype of the Church. She is the You in the loving dialogue of the Triune God with the human kind.

From this image maybe it could be good to reflect on the Yes of Mary; Mary as the daughter of Zion and Marian theology as a theology of Advent.

Mary is related then to the Incarnation, to history, to time. In Mary we are called to be faithful to the here and now, in hopeful waiting for the Lord, embodied in the Yes of Mary and promoting / entrusting / encouraging the “Yesses” of our local communities.

We are called to embody the You of the humanity in dialogue with the I of the Triune God. So mediation, not as master of our communities, but as witness with our people.

Walking in intimacy with God, an intimacy that never can dispel the transcendence of God. As Mary in the episode of the Temple or at the cross we are called to walk in darkness but with the light of Faith.”

I think this is right. However, I believe we need a common story of our beginning and a common stream of spirituality from which to draw before we can make this theology. In 2016 we plan to meet to talk about spirituality, evangelism and the Rosary. But the most important thing we are doing is simply living as a Sodality for the first time. Perhaps 2017 will be the year to develop a lived theology more deeply. I have given some sources for a theology of Mary in the final section below. 

The Work of Mary

One of the things that has pleased me about the formation of the Sodality is the sense of seriousness that has accompanied the work. The Marist emphasis on the work of Mary matches well the Sodality seriousness. Not baroque extravaganzas but continuing the work of Mary present at the beginning of the church, as the first Christian, and present in these end times and helping us to read the signs of the time and bringing the new church to birth. C.S. Lewis coined the phrase ‘deep church’ which has recently been used as the basis of the book Deep Church Rising by Andrew G. Walker and Robin A. Parry. Much in this book and its thinking has resonated with me as I have thought about the Sodality and how we relate to new movements in the church and the need to evangelise.

A key element of Marist spirituality is the sense of hiddenness ‘incognito et oculto’, unknown and hidden. For Anglo-Catholics there have been a number of campaigning groups in recent decades. From the beginning, aspirants to the Sodality were eager to create something that was about growth in holiness rather than making public statements, the sanctification of its members rather than campaigning. Fr Colin often referred to the Society of Mary as ‘this little Society’. Advice I received from a number of people as we began the work of the Sodality was not to be concerned with numbers; depth not breadth. If anything I am surprised that we are as many as we are at this early stage.

The online Marist document A Certain Way, outlines the sense in which the Marists are Marian:

“The Marist approach to Mary, graphically mirror Icons of Mary in the Eastern Christian Church, helps us understand what seems to be a curious aspect of Marist spirituality.

In the Constitutions that Colin wrote for the priests and brothers of the Society of Mary, he had a special section entitled “Marists are to be especially devoted to the Blessed Virgin.” One would naturally expect to find such a chapter in the Constitutions of a Marian congregation. Yet when one examines what Colin recommends as “special practices”, one finds nothing more or less than what was traditional practice for every Catholic!

Furthermore, in the present Constitutions of the Marist Fathers and Sisters and the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary, there is no section devoted to Mary in herself.

In all its years of existence, the Society of Mary has not initiated any special form of devotion or place of devotion to Mary. No significant prayers to Our Lady or books on Our Lady have been written by Marists. Marists have not identified themselves with any particular image or cult of the Blessed Virgin.

It seems that the Society of Mary is a Marian congregation with the least external reference to Mary.

And yet, in a review of Marian Congregations made 60 years ago, a Jesuit researcher said of the Society of Mary: “No other institute seems to us so totally and exclusively Marian.”

How can one explain what seems to be a contradiction?

The clue to this paradox can be seen, again, in the lcons of Our Lady. Instead of focussing attention on Mary, the Marist tries to identify with her, and so tries to be someone whose attention is focussed on the needs of people, and on the “extension and development of the mystery of the Incarnation.”

The Marian lcons of the Eastern Church may help us also to understand another slant given by Colin himself in his Constitutions. Generally, Constitutions of Religious Congregations followed a set pattern. Article I of the Constitutions dealt with the aims of the Congregation; Article II dealt with the way to achieve those aims; and Article III with some distinguishing mark of the Congregation. Significantly, Article Ill of Colin’s Constitutions dealt not with Marists and Our Lady, but with “Relationships with people in the Church and in Society”.

Clearly, Colin saw that the best way to describe the Marist was to situate him or her in relationship with the Church, with the world, and with other people. In this way Marists show their devotion to Mary by reflecting her attitudes and way of life in the world.”



Father [Colin] spoke to us of how fortunate we are to bear the name of Mary, and of the zeal with which we should imitate her. “She did not create a great stir during her earthly life,” he said, “but how much good she did and still does for the Church! There is our model. Let us clothe ourselves in her spirit.”

  • The Mayet Memoirs


One significant text for many contemporary Marists is this, reflecting on what it means to be ‘Marian’:

“The Marian Church

I would like to plead for a Marian Church; not for a church which multiplies processions and blesses huge statues…. rather a Church which “lives the Gospel after the manner of Mary.”

The Marian Church follows Mary into the mountains, going off with her to encounter life; she visits men and women, and, though things may seem to be sterile, she is on the watch for what is coming to birth, for possibilities, for the life which beats in things.

The Marian Church rejoices and sings. Instead of bemoaning its fate and the world’s woes, she is in wonder at the beauty there is on the earth and in the human heart, as she sees what God is doing there.

The Marian Church knows she is the object of a gratuitous love, and that God has the heart of a mother. She has seen God on the doorstep, on the lookout for the improbable return of  a son; she has seen him throw his arms around his neck, place the festal ring on his finger, and himself organise the home-coming feast. When she pages through the family album, she sees Zaccheus in his sycamore, the woman taken in adultery, the Samaritan woman, foreigners, the lepers, beggars and a common prisoner at his place of execution. So you see, the Marian Church despairs of no one, and does not quench the smoking flax. When she finds someone on the side of the road wounded by life, she is moved by compassion, and with infinite tenderness tends their wounds. She is the safe harbour, who is always open, the refuge of sinners, “mater misericordiae”, mother of mercy.

The Marian Church does not know the answers before the questions are posed. Her path is not traced out in advance. She knows doubt and unease, night and loneliness. That is the price of trust. She takes her part in the conversation, but makes no claim to know every- thing. She accepts that she must search.

The Marian Church lives in Nazareth in silence and simplicity. She does not live in a castle. Her home is like all the other homes. She goes out to chat with the other villagers. She weeps with them, she rejoices with them, but she never preaches to them. Above all she listens.

The Marian Church stands at the foot of the Cross. She does not take refuge in a fortress or in a chapel or imprudent silence when people are being crushed. She is vulnerable in her deeds as in her words. With a humble courage she stands alongside the most insignificant.

The Marian Church lets in the wind of Pentecost, the wind which impels one to go out, which unties tongues. In the public square, not for the sake of hammering doctrine, nor to swell her ranks, she proclaims her message: the promise has been kept, the fight has been won and the Dragon crushed forever. And this is the great secret which she can only murmur: to win the victory God has laid down his arms. True, we are in an intermediate time, the time of human history. And that history is a painful one.

Yet every evening at the end of Vespers the Church sings the Magnificat. For the Church knows where her joy is to be found. And look: God has not found our world or its afflictions, its violence or its wickedness uninhabitable. It is there that He has met us. And there, on the Cross, we have seen the “mercy”, the open heart of God.

There at the foot of the Cross a people was born, a Marian people. Seeing his mother and near her the disciple whom he loved, Jesus said to his mother: ‘Woman, this is your son.’ Then to the disciple he said: ‘This is your mother.’ From that moment, the disciple made a place for her in his home.

Brothers and sisters, let us belong to this people. Let us make a place for Mary in our home. Let us enter with her into the “humble and heart-rending happiness” of loving and being loved. And, in the words of Therese of Lisieux, the Church will be in this world “a heart resplendent with love”.

  • Francois Marc, sm


“Marist historian Jean Coste writes: “The first point of reference for every Marist is the person of Mary, of whose spirit we must partake. That Mary represents the heart of Christianity, of the Church, is brought out in two biblical mysteries, to which Father Colin ceaselessly sends us back. The first is Mary present in the Church after Pentecost: humbly immersed in its midst, animating by her prayer and her zeal that first apostolic group. The second sets before our eyes the house of Nazareth, where, in the obscurity of a little carpenter’s shop, the redemption of the world began to be realised, and where we see so clearly that a person cannot truly work for God if he is not spiritually ready to accept, if need be, for God’s glory, even obscurity and apparent uselessness.”

A Certain Way


From Bearings, a reflection document for the 25th anniversary of the approval of the 1988 Constitutions of the Society of Mary, by Craig Larkin SM:

To choose Mary’s name is to enter into a special relationship with her, which teaches Marists to relate to their neighbour in such a way that through them Mary can be present to the Church of today as she was to the Church at its birth. Mary did not press her privileged position as the mother of Jesus, but was ready to be first and foremost his disciple, one who ‘hears the word of God and keeps it’ (Lk. 8:21).

Chapter 15

“Finally, they should conduct themselves everywhere with such prudence and reverence that bishops may love our Society, care for it, protect it, and even look on it as their own.”

1872 Constitutions, 13:2

Chapter 17

“All Marists see Mary as the founder and perpetual superior …”


The French School – towards a spirituality for the Sodality

The unifying name for the currents of spirituality that seem to be coming together for us as a Sodality is the ‘French School’. While not everyone would accept the use of the title ‘French School’ it is convenient and widely accepted shorthand. Vincent de Paul, Olier (who knew Vincent and was his directee for a part of his life), the Marists, even, to some extent Columba Marmion (whose mother was French and was formed and ordained priest before joining the Benedictine community at Maredsous). Marmion was strongly influenced by Francis de Sales who was a major influence on John Eudes (one of the four key writers of the French School, together with Olier, Charles de Condren and Pierre de Berulle). Olier met and received de Sales’ blessing as a teenager.

I did not expect the Sodality to take this direction but in retrospect it makes perfect sense. Developing an appropriate sentimentality in the spiritual life was one of the original desires for forming the Sodality; this is an essential element of the spirituality of the French School. Even in the fundamental aim of the Sodality:

“Our aim is the sanctification of priests

through the hearts of Jesus and Mary,

for the glory of God,

and for all people.”

The ‘hearts of Jesus and Mary’ is a phrase typical of ‘French School’ spirituality; devotion and liturgical texts to the hearts of Jesus and Mary having been championed by St John Eudes.

In one article the relevance of the French school is described like this:

“As we try to assess the contemporary value of a knowledge of this school of spirituality from another century and a culture many … consider “foreign,” we might be surprised to find how many elements seem both modern and suited to our own way of thinking. For one thing, the role of the laity is highly significant in the French school. Renewal of spiritual energy and education of the faith of the ordinary man and woman were priorities for Berulle and his companions. Women of deep faith and keen insight were readily recognized as spiritual guides by Berulle, John Eudes, Olier and others. A strong sense of mission inspired these spiritual leaders.

. . . The French school, emerging as it did after the Council of Trent, existed in a post-conciliar age not too unlike our own. At a time when the entire Church is calling for renewal, we can look with confidence to the heritage of Berulle:

a spiritual life based on the great realities of faith;

inspiring, meaningful liturgies;

an understanding of the church as mystery;

the universal call of all persons to holiness;

priests and bishops who are truly pastors and men [sic] of prayer;

a sense of God in our daily lives;

a personal relationship with Jesus Christ;

openness to the Spirit of the Risen Christ;

an apostolic spirit for mission and service of the poor;

true devotion to Mary.'”


In a very helpful and simple presentation of the spirituality of the French school another writer characterizes the school by this list:

  • A deep mystical experience. Each of the leaders was a true mystic, nourished on Scripture, especially the writings of St. Paul and St. John.
  • A stress on specific aspects of the Christian faith and Christian living: a sense of God’s grandeur and of adoration; a relationship with Jesus lived out mainly through communion with his “states,” his mysteries, his filial and apostolic sentiments; great devotion to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen Christ; the necessity for each Christian to surrender to the Spirit’s action; a highly theological contemplation of Mary’s mysteries.
  • A mystical sense of the Church as the Body of Christ continuing and accomplishing the life of Jesus, his prayer and mission.
  • A certain Augustinian view of humanity that underlines the pessimistic but also strongly stresses positive and optimistic elements: “humanity, pure capacity for God.”
  • An extremely strong apostolic and missionary commitment.
  • A detailed and well-adapted method for instructing others: methods of prayer, vows of servitude,and various other commitments and Consecrations.
  • A special concern for the dignity of priests, their holiness and formation.

Of the prayer by Olier contained in the Sodality Manual Henri Brémond writes that, “it would be difficult to imagine a more perfect epitome of the French school”.

The prayer is based by Olier on an original by Charles Codren, there is also a version by John Eudes.

The French school of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the ‘founders’ of the school led to Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort and also to Therese of Lisieux and Elisabeth of the Trinity. In the twentieth century Madeleine Delbrel inherits the tradition. It would be impossible not to highlight here all that Charles de Foucauld and his sanctity have led to in the revival of Christian communities in France. His devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary (he wore the Jesu caritas emblem on his habit) and called his putative community Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus, The Jerusalem Community in Paris and elsewhere. Sadly the literature on these new communities is almost non-existent in English.

There is a very interesting quote from Charles de Foucauld which is similar to the Marist intention to be Mary:

“Sanctify souls by silently carrying me among them . . . . Walk in the world as my mother did, wordlessly, silently . . . . Carry me among them by setting up an altar among them, a tabernacle, carrying the gospel to them not by word of mouth but by the persuasive force of example, not by speaking, but by living; sanctify the world, carry me into the world . . . as Mary carried me to John.”

In the Anglican world the writings of Evelyn Underhill, who taught the Sulpician method of meditation, especially at the end of her life; the origins of the Sisters of the Love of God at Fairacres and even the affective spirituality taught by Gilbert Shaw in his Rhythmic Prayer mode reflect this school.

As a Sodality looking to this stream of spiritualty cannot be about adopting more practices or techniques but recognizing a theological basis for some of the elements that drew many of us to the idea of the Sodality in the first place. Too often ‘spirituality’ is divorced from theology, as if experience was all. The French school right at its start began with the need to keep spirituality linked to theology and this is also the vision of von Balthasar. This stream of thought gives us in the Sodality the opportunity to keep our desire for an appropriate sentimentality, an intensity of experience rooted in a Christocentric theological vision. As will be seen in the ‘next steps’ section below this is a journey we are only just beginning.

Summary: elements of a Sodality spirituality


So, to present, in the simplest way possible, what seem to be the main trends in the Sodality as we begin our life:

The Work of Mary

– present at the birth of the church and as the church is born in the end times

Think as Mary, Judge as Mary, Feel and Act as Mary





Venerable Fr Colin:

If God wills to make use of us,

we must take courage,

we must not be faint-hearted;

that is not what pleases God.

The faint-hearted will not accomplish great things for God:

omnia possum in eo qui me confortat

(‘I can do all things in him who strengthens me’ Phil 4:13).


How I like that prayer, “Lord, do great things through me”.

Some may say, “But that is pride,” but I on the contrary say it is humility.

For I am nothing and God made the world from nothing.

I acknowledge my nothingness and the almighty power of God by this prayer.”


Next Steps?

A Sodality for priests and Lay People?

There is a very good essay/paper on ‘Mary, Mother of mercy’ by the great Marist historian Jean Coste:

In the paper he makes this strong statement:

“A Society of Mary which could not include lay people …. would not be the congregation of the Blessed Virgin.”

Right from the start of the Sodality interested lay people have asked us if there was a way in which they could belong. Perhaps because we didn’t really know what we were creating or what there was to join we have not been very developed in our ideas about this. Although we have come to the view of admitting ‘Associates’ who could be any practicing Christian.

I suspect that we need to do more work on this and develop this form of association further. This may well be an area where forming links with the Marists and their lay branch, now known as the Marist Way, might be fruitful.

I suspect that part of our hesitation about a lay branch was the desire not to create another Catholic ‘movement’ in Anglicanism, of which there seem to be plenty at the moment, but to be a community, a leaven in the dough, salt and light, by our own repentance and growth in holiness. Perhaps we need to think through how a lay branch properly constituted with a life of its own might be of mutual benefit to the community of priests?


Sources for further reflection



The Joy of All Creation

A.M. Allchin


Blessed Virgin: Mary and the Anglican Tradition

Dr Colin Podmore, St Mary and All Saints, Walsingham Assumptiontide Lecture 2014

Maiden, Mother and Queen: Mary in the Anglican tradition

Roger Greenacre, ed Colin Podmore

Canterbury Press, 2013

ARCIC – Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ

Studying Mary: Reflections on the Virgin Mary in Anglican and Catholic Theology and Devotion

Nicholas Sagovsky

Continuum, 2007 

Lumen Gentium

Sections 52 – 69 deal with the place of Mary in the history of salvation

 French School

The best book on the French School is the collection in the Classics of Western Spirituality series:

Bérulle and the French School – Selected Writings

Ed. William M. Thompson

Paulist Press, 1989

An excellent Foreword and Preface and selections from Pierre de Bérulle, Madeleine de Saint Joseph, Jean Jacques Olier and John Eudes.

One of the best introduction to the French School is the section by John Saward in:

The Study of Spirituality

Ed. Cheslyn Jones and Geoffrey Wainwright, SPCK 1986

The Elements of the Spiritual Life

F.P Harton

SPCK 1932 and many subsequent editions

Is a much under-used book, the section on the Sulpician method is extremely helpful (page 249-250 in the 1950 edition) and the Chapter on Affective Prayer (Chapter XVIII page 251ff, 1950 ed.) makes mention of Augustine Baker and Gilbert Shaw.

The Art of Mental Prayer

Dom Bede Frost

Philip Alan, 1931

Another sadly neglected book. The section on Oratorian Prayer (Chapter VI) is superb. There are multiple references to Jean Jacques Olier.


There are, of course, numerous books about Ignatian spirituality and practice. Here are some of my favourites:

The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything

James Martin SJ,

HarperOne, 2012

This would be my number 1 recommendation for all things Ignatian

An Ignatian Spirituality Reader

George W Traub

Loyola Press, 2008 

Sleeping With Bread

Dennis Linn and Sheila Fabricant Linn

Paulist Press, 1995 

This looks like a children’s book and is deceptively simple guide to the daily Examen.



Constitutions of the Society of Mary, 1988

Rome, Padri maristi, Casa generalizia

Sometimes available from Amazon or Abebooks

A Certain Way


A paper on the 1988 Constitutions of the Society of Mary

The New Constitutions, a response in creative fidelity and an instrument of renewal of the SM

Jean-Claude Colin Website

Biography of Venerable Father Jean-Claude Colin 

Our Vocation: Do Great Things for God like Mary

Alois Greiler SM

Constitutions Chapter Five: Entering Nazareth

Kevin Duffy SM

Marist Spirituality in Four Voices

Marist Saints


Mass for the Most Holy Name of Mary, September 12th

Re-instituted to the Universal Calendar by John Paul II, and observed by all branches of the Marist family as the titular Solemnity





One thought on “Notes towards a Sodality spirituality

  1. Thank you for a most comprehensive exploration of what for the Sodality might be meant by treading the Marian way.

    In precis, the RC Society of Mary has chosen not to embrace a particular set of Marian ideals or method, but to accept and use the variety that exists or may exist in the future, using them in terms of thinking as, and being Mary in the world. There is much that can be gained from us in our own exploration.

    For the Sodality, Mary the patron and focus, and more especially perhaps, the particular relationship She has with and for members as priests. Thus, deeply Marian in femininity and ecclesial servanthood; unashamedly sacerdotal as a dispersed community in imago Christi.

    In being a dispersed community use of social media and other contemporary forms of communication might be vital. Regular communication and comment between members and use of the SSSM fora would draw a dispersed community easily into being more communal in a way not open to previous generations.

    Ad multos annos.


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