31 August 2018

Word of the Day: Third Orders

THIRD ORDERS. Associations of the faithful established by religious orders. Dating from the thirteenth century, they may be either secular or regular. If secular, they are lay persons, commonly called tertiaries. If regular, they are religious, bound by public vows and live in community. Originally, third orders were Franciscan or Dominican, but the Holy See has since approved many others, both secular and regular, e.g., the Augustinians, Carmelites, Servites, and Trinitarians.
As I mention in my 'biography' in the sidebar, I am a member of the Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. As Fr Hardon mentions there are two sorts of Tertiaries, Secular and Regular. Secular Tertiaries are usually lay people, tho' secular Priests may be members. For Instance, Pope John Paul II was a Carmelite Tertiary. We live in the world, and pursue holiness according to the Rule of our Order.

Father omits one detail that applies only to Carmelite Tertiaries, however. Alone among all Secular Tertiaries, Carmelite Tertiaries may take public, simple vows of chastity and obedience. The vow of chastity binds according to our State of Life. If a single man or woman takes it, it does not preclude marriage, as would the vow of chastity of a Religious. It is simply a deeper commitment to the chastity that every Christian, single or married is called to, purity in sexual matters.

Our vow of obedience binds us only to matters under the Rule, delivered by a Superior in writing.

Traditionally, we renew our vows on the Feasts of the Epiphany (6 January) and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 September).

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