Some Introductory Remarks on the Third Order Secular of Saint Francis
Do you desire to live a simpler life? Does your soul struggle with many worldly attachments, making it difficult for you to find that “emptiness for God” which is the necessary point of departure for serious prayer? Do you find the treasury of the Church’s prayers and devotions overwhelming? Are you finding a cohesive focus in your spiritual life a struggle?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may do well to consider the spiritual patrimony of the Third Order Secular of Saint Francis of Assisi, blessed with a living transmission of spirituality from one of the greatest luminaries of the Church.
The Third Order Secular of Saint Francis was founded by the famous Saint of Assisi for lay men and women who, while continuing to live in the world, desire to belong to an Order from which they may derive real spiritual benefits. Members of the Third Order—or Franciscan Tertiaries, as they are called—though not monastics, like their brethren in religion, follow a Rule of life, wear a habit consisting of a chord and scapular (beneath their outer clothing), and may gain indulgences reserved to members of the Order. Members convene monthly to pray the Franciscan Crown Rosary of seven decades, a meditation on seven joyful mysteries in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Rule of the Order does not aim for lofty goals, but rather, perfection in ordinary things. As such, the Rule serves well to ground the lives of Tertiaries in “holy simplicity”—a virtue which Saint Francis fondly thought of as a sister—and thus avoid the manifold distractions of the modern world.
Notable Franciscan Tertiaries through the ages have included Dante Alighieri, St. Joan of Arc, St. Thomas More, St. John Vianney, and Pope Saint Pius X. The Saints Louis IX, King of France, and Elizabeth of Hungary, are the respective patron and patroness of the Order. Come and see what informed the spiritual lives of these great men and women, who were able to claim spiritual filiation from our Seraphic Father Francis.