About the Third Order
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Early in his ministry Francis of Assisi recognised the need to include within his movement of reform and renewal people who lived the common life. The work of following Christ in simplicity, love and joy could not be restricted to the traditional religious life of the Friars and Sisters.
This was true in the twelfth century and it remains so today; it is the vocation of all Christians.
THE THIRD ORDER consists of any people, men or women, married or single, priests or laity; who through following the ordinary professions of life feel called to a life-long dedication under a definite discipline and vows.
Dedicating themselves to our Lord as Instruments of His Peace, they seek to fulfill the special aims of the third Order through the three avenues of service.
The Three Aims of the Third Order
To make our Lord known and loved everywhere
By word and example Tertiaries witness to Christ in their daily lives. By prayer and sacrifice they help forward God’s work wherever he has called them.
To spread the spirit of love and harmony
By working happily with people of different race, colour, creed, education and opportunity Tertiaries seek to break down the divisions in the world. They try to live in the spirit of Saint Francis’ prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
To live simply
Acknowledging that everything belongs to God, Tertiaries will use his gifts wisely, never wasting or destroying what God has made. They will provide the things necessary for themselves and their families without demanding luxuries. They will never forget the needs of others in their own country or elsewhere.
The Three Ways of Service
Tertiaries are called to live in an attitude of prayer; of openness to God and to others. Prayer is of primary importance, and the Eucharist is the heart of our prayer.
While Tertiaries give first place to the study of the Scriptures they also seek to widen their understanding of the ChurchÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mission, of their Christian calling, and of God’s world.
Tertiaries will seek to discover what God wants them to do. In their daily work and in their free time they will try to serve God and work for the good of others. The best service they can offer is to reflect the love of Christ, and to show his joy and peace to others.
A Guide to Preparing a Rule of Life
The Holy Eucharist
Since Tertiaries regard the Eucharist as the heart of their prayer they have a definite Rule regarding participation in the Eucharist.
Regular examination of your obedience to Christ is necessary. Your rule should allow for either Sacramental Confession or a personal discussion seeking counsel and advice.
You will be asked to set aside a definite time for prayer each day; to worship God, express your thankfulness, your sorrow for sin and your concern for others.
This is the discipline of saying no to oneself by putting God first. Often we know our particular weaknesses where we should impose some additional self-discipline. Your Spiritual Director’s advice should be sought on this matter.
A Retreat or Quiet Day provides an opportunity to rest and grow physically, mentally and spiritually. At least once a year you should plan to participate in an organized or a private Retreat.
We all need to learn more about God and his will for us. Study of the Scriptures, and of other books, is important to our Christian growth. Your Rule should make such provision for study as your circumstances permit
Simplicity of Life
Rightly understood, this is part of loving and sharing of the material as well as the spiritual things of life. In relation to the amount of income over which you have control your Rule should allow for the expression of this loving sharing (e.g. In hospitality, support of the Three Orders, your parish and the wider Church as well as other needs).
Service has always been an important part of the Franciscan vocation. Daily work should be the way in which Tertiaries serve God and other people. They should also be ready to take an active part in the life of the Church and the local community.
All Tertiaries are subject to the decisions of the Third Order Chapter. Every Tertiary has a Spiritual Director or guide whose duty it is to give advice and guidance in their Christian living. Personal contact with their Director should be made at least twice a year.
Tertiaries must also report regularly to the Order on the keeping of their Rule of Life.