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Third Order
of the Society of St. Pius X

Third Order chaplain

Fr. Adam Purdy
Our Lady Of The Assumption Priory
12120 McCoys Fork Road
Walton, KY 41094
859-919-0271
e-mail

SSPX Third Order FAQs

1.  What is the Third Order of the Society of St. Pius X?

The Third Order is the fifth family of the Society of St. Pius X. You probably know that the first family in time was the priests and seminarians. This is the most important family of the SSPX, since the latter is a "priestly society of common life without vows." The priesthood is indeed the main concern of the Society. Our faithful know of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, MN, which is one of the five major seminaries of the SSPX, a Society which now has worldwide nearly 500 priests and nearly 200 seminarians.

The second family is the sisters of the SSPX, which has over 200 hundred members, including professed, novices, and postulants. They are the helpers of the priests by their daily prayer life (Mass, Rosary, Divine Office, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament), by their active apostolate (sacristy, catechism, visits to the sick), and their practical work (kitchen, washing, etc.). Their formation house in the United States District is the Sacred Heart Novitiate located in Browerville, MN.

The third family is the brothers. Presently they have about 50 members who devote themselves all over the world to supporting the priests. Several young Americans belong to this family, the brothers' novitiate in the United States District is located at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, MN.

The fourth family is the oblates, persons living in common with the priests, seminarians, brothers, and nuns but without taking vows. They remain lay-persons but are nevertheless a great help in the different houses in which they are to be found.

The fifth family to come into being is the Third Order, which was founded in 1980.

2.  What was the occasion of the foundation of the Third Order?

For several years, a number of Catholics had been suggesting the idea. Even pressing demands for it were not uncommon. A sample letter:

Dear Father,... often my rosary is the for the intentions of the Society of St. Pius X. In this connection, I would like to know if there exists a Third Order in the Society of St. Pius X and what its requirements are. I would like to live a more consecrated life... a more total gift of myself in the spirit of the Society. Is this possible? Please advise me.

The priests, therefore felt the need of providing the faithful with a means of living the evangelical ideals, of keeping Faith, Hope, and Charity in the midst of the unprecedented upheaval in the Church, and thus of finding the protection of an unassailable spiritual strength. They told Archbishop Lefebvre of their concerns and desires, and of the pressing appeals from the anguished faithful, abandoned without defense in the ruins of the structures of the Church, which formally secured and maintained their faith. The realization of the Third Order was the answer to the Archbishop.

3.  What is the purpose of the Third Order?

The SSPX's Third Order is an "Order set up to secure for souls living in the world a school of sanctity." Sanctification of individuals and those for whom members of the Third Order are responsible for; such is the purpose of the Third Order. Like the old traditional Third Orders (Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan...), the SSPX's Third Order is a state of life midway between the cloister and the world, or to put it in different words, a religious Order which will penetrate into Christian homes in the midst of the world.

Do you think that it is important for someone who is able to fulfill the obligations of the Third Order to decide to become a member?

Definitely yes. Listen to this story:

St. Pius X had a deep understanding of the needs of the Church and therefore often had penetrating insights. Happening to be one day amidst a group of Cardinals, the Holy Father said to them "What is the thing most necessary at the present time to save society?"  'Build Catholic schools," one said. "No."  "Multiply churches," replied another. "No again." "Increase the recruiting of the clergy" said a third. "No, no," replied the pope. "What is most necessary at the present time is to have in each parish a group of lay persons at the same time virtuous, enlightened, determined, and really apostolic." (Soul of the Apostolate; Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, OCSO)

To save the world, St. Pius X counted on fervent Catholics devoting themselves to the apostolate by word and action, but above all by example.

Therefore, what is the most important thing in each of our United States' missions is to have a small group of fervent souls seriously practicing the interior life. This body of elite Christians will be as the leaven and will lift up the spiritual level of the whole parish by their prayer life, by their discreet but efficacious apostolic action, but above all by their good example. The Third Order provides souls thirsting for perfection with a set of rules which can help them to attain this goal and thereby to sanctify their family and the whole mission. For instance, if ten persons in the congregation were to stay after Mass for the thanksgiving (because they are members of the Third Order), I am sure that within a few months the whole parish would be making a proper thanksgiving!

4.  What is the spirit of the Third Order?

It is centered on the devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is nothing else than the Sacrifice of the Cross renewed on the altar in an unbloody manner. The members of the Third Order unite themselves to Our Lord, the Divine Victim, offering Himself up out of love for His Father and for souls. In this they find the strength that they need on the difficult path to holiness. Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows, to St. Joseph, and to St. Pius X are also present in the soul of the member of the Third Order.

5.  What are the main obligations for a member of the Third Order?

Some may be called negative: for instance, habitual abstinence from television.  Why? Not only because most of the shows are near occasions of sin by their indecent pictures, but also because even when not featuring sex or violence, TV remains essentially imbued with the spirit of the world. This spirit is a spirit of love of self, of pride, of comfort, of self-enjoyment, of earthly pleasure. This spirit is quite opposed to the spirit of Our Lord, which is a spirit of love for God, of humility, of sacrifice, of the Cross, of true spiritual joy.  Radio and newspapers are sufficient means to keep oneself aware of the news.

6.  But are there other positive obligations?

Yes, for instance morning and evening prayer, daily rosary, confession once a month.  But since these obligations are common to all good Catholics, some other obligations are proper to the members of the Third Order: 15 minutes of mental prayer every day (or daily Mass where it is possible) and a retreat every two years (see the retreat schedule for a listing of dates and locations in the United States District).

7.  How can I become a member of the Third Order?

Once you have read and meditated upon the Third Order Rule, just fill out the application form and send it back to the address noted. Dear reader, God is expecting your generosity. God took upon Himself a body and a soul to die for you out of the excess of His love. And you, what do you do for Him? "Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us." Pray to God so that He may give you the courage to enroll yourself in the SSPX's Third Order, for the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity and for the salvation of your soul and of many others! God bless you!

 
 
 

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