EVALUATED in the light of its history, its internal structure and its aims, the Sodality of Our Lady is an organisation of great importance in the life of the Catholic Church. At the same time, the Sodality has undergone a strange distorted interpretation in the minds and feelings of many Christians of our day who have come to regard it merely as an association of pious prayer founded mostly for women. For this reason it will be profitable to try to describe the meaning of the Sodality from two points of view - the spiritual as well as the historical.
To understand the nature of any historical organisation which in the course of time has evolved, divided and subdivided, and so, as it has aged, become exceedingly complex, we must go back and examine its origins for the valuable information which such a study will yield.
The Sodality is a movement of the Society of Jesus; it has its conception and birth, its supervised growth within the Order. Eventually the hierarchical Church identified itself with the movement and assumed its full guidance. This step, made necessary by the suppression of the Jesuit Order in 1773, bears witness in a significant, though indirect, way to the importance of the Sodality in the eyes of the Church. The Jesuit beginnings of the Sodality are now only remote history. The universal Church has completely absorbed the Sodality. It is still imperative, however, that we return in our thinking to the Sodality's origins so that we may delineate more accurately the Sodality ideal.