Monday, June 3, 2024
List of Traditional Catholic Third Orders

The Church is comprised of many members, such as the Mystical Body of Christ. It is composed of priests, nuns, religious or ordered men and women, and lay people. Each person has a unique vocation from God. Let’s learn about many of the positions and roles in the Catholic Church hierarchy.

There are four major religious Orders in the Church, as well as many other branches. One is the Benedictines, who follow the Benedictine Rule. Their mission is “ora et labora” or work and pray. They can be either contemplative or active. Another Order is the Carmelites. They refer to themselves as the “Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” They wear the brown scapular given by Our Lady to St. Simon Stock. They have the spirit of hermits and prefer silence and solitude. Another major Order is the Franciscans. The women’s branch is called the Poor Clares. Both are dedicated to “living the Gospel” and emphasize poverty and simplicity. Then, there are the Dominicans. They are very committed to learning and study whose mission is to share the fruit of their contemplation.

A Third Order is connected to a major Order, such as Third Order Franciscans. These individuals remain members of the laity, but they live by a rule of life (e.g., the Franciscans, Dominicans, Benedictines, etc). They may marry and have a family. But they make special promises to live in a holy way but do not make vows. They do not wear any specific clothing and go about life looking externally like an average Catholic in the pews.

During this period of crisis in the Church, committed Catholics who wish to join a Third Order that is in conformity with the Traditional Catholic Faith and not with Modernism thankfully have options. Here are some of those options:

Traditional Dominicans

There are two traditional Dominican Third Orders (i.e., The Third Order of Penance). There is a group loosely affiliated with the SSPX under Fr. Albert, which is the one that I'm a member of.  Fr. Albert, even though he has left the now-dissolved community in Belgium, still leads the SSPX-affiliated Third Order. The Third Order is very much still active with tertiaries around the country and in other non-US locations. More information can be found online.

The Resistance (i.e., SSPX-SO) has its own Third Order out of France as well. It is still very much active and going strong with tertiaries in the United States and abroad. More information can be found online. More information can be found online.

Traditional Benedictines

Since Benedict of Nursia (AD 480-547) began his monastic quest for God, ordinary Christians have sought guidance from his spiritual teachings. This led to the formation of a communal life where laypeople and secular clergy became affiliated with his communities, a tradition that persists to this day. The term 'oblate' derives from the Latin "oblatus," meaning "one who is offered." Oblates are Christians who affiliate themselves with a Benedictine community, dedicating themselves to God by striving to apply the Rule of St. Benedict to their lives as much as their circumstances allow.

The Monks of Nursia have a very active number of Oblates spread throughout the world. More information can be found online.

Traditional Franciscans

The Franciscan Third Order was established by St. Francis in 1221 to accommodate many married men, women, and diocesan clergy who wished to adopt his way of life but could not join the first or second orders. Within the Third Order of St. Francis, there is a distinction between the Third Order Regular and the Third Order Secular.

Some of these tertiaries eventually began living in communities, which evolved into a religious order that professes vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. This order is now known as the Third Order Regular (TOR). Members of these communities, whether male or female, live together according to their gender. This branch of the Franciscan Family was officially founded in 1447 by a papal decree that united several groups.

The Third Order Secular (Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis, in Latin), known as the Secular Franciscans, includes devout men and women who do not live in a religious community but lead their everyday lives in the world. Nevertheless, they regularly gather in community and profess vows, committing to live the Gospel following the example of Francis.

The Marian Friars Minor Third Order offers a traditional Catholic Franciscan option. There is also a Franciscan Third Order affiliated with the SSPX.

Traditional Carmelites

The Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, also known as the Lay Carmelites, is a third order of the Carmelite Order of the Ancient Observance, established in 1476 by a bull from Pope Sixtus IV. It is a community of individuals who choose to live the Gospel in the spirit of the Carmelite Order and under its guidance.

The Traditional Lay Carmelites of Fatima are one option

Other Traditional Options

Besides the aforementioned religious orders, the SSPX has an active Third Order, as does the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, which is known as the Confraternity of St. Peter, and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest has its own Lay Society, which is not strictly the same as a Third Order.

Do you know of any others? Share the details below in the comments box!

3 comment(s):

del_button June 3, 2024 at 10:32 PM
Anonymous said...

The SSPX has a Carmelite third order that allows isolates. Fr. Kevin Robinson is the director for it in the U.S.

del_button June 4, 2024 at 3:03 PM
Anonymous said...

Very helpful information. Thank you!

del_button June 4, 2024 at 6:31 PM
Anonymous said...

The Carmelites have both a Calced and Discalcedd third order.

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