Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 02 December |
Saint of the Day: St. Bibiana

How do you know which is the right lay order for you?

Wisdom of the Day | Sat Oct 13 2018

Joey Rozier

Joining a third order is not the same as joining a regular parish group.

Q. I am really interested in joining a lay order, like the Benedictine Oblates or Franciscan and Carmelite secular orders. In my diocese there are several large active orders to choose from, and I’ve looked into almost of them. I’d like to find a third order community to join so I can have some accountability in my spiritual life while trying to be a better Catholic. I’m just finding a hard time finding my niche. How do you know which is the right order for you?

First, I would like to point out that it is possible to grow in holiness without joining a secular third order. Joining a lay order should be approached with the same level of prayerful discernment as if you were joining any religious order — in fact, that is precisely what you would be doing — and should be done under the direction of a spiritual director. It is not a matter of “choosing” but of discerning one’s vocation. Joining a third order is not the same as joining a regular parish group; there are vows that are taken and Rules and Constitutions each order lives by. You are deciding to embrace a religious discipline. That’s a very serious thing to consider.

If you just want accountability, or a group of fellow Catholics to pray with, you might be better served joining a group at a parish level. This isn’t to discourage you from your attempts at spiritual growth. On the contrary, this is to help you avoid that spiritual pitfall of not living up to your own expectations. We often find good people trying to be the perfect, holiest Catholic they can, only to be defeated by their own shortcomings. Again, let me be clear: a third order is a vow to live a religious discipline similar to that of a monk, friar, or nun. It is not something most of us might be called to.

Joining a third order is also not the only way in which laity can practice and grow in holiness.

  • If you have a family you can make your home a domestic church and involve everyone in the household. Charity and good works often start within in our own homes.
  • Be an ethical employee who isn’t idle and doesn’t participate in gossip. You don’t have to hang icons all about your workspace (some companies may have policies against religious displays) but you can start each work day with a Rosary on your commute and a promise to devote all your work as prayer of thanksgiving for being gainfully employed.
  • Make a morning offering, an evening examen, and say grace before each meal.
  • Attend daily Mass when available.
  • Make regular use of the sacrament of Reconciliation.       

These things in themselves will help you become a more disciplined, mindful, and prayerful Catholic. I would suggest you start there for awhile, and seek guidance from a spiritual director to discern your vocation, and help you identify which community you might be best suited for, if you are indeed called to join a secular order.   

Tags:
CatholicismPrayerSpiritual Life
Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Andrea Bocelli
J-P Mauro
Andrea Bocelli to perform live Christmas conc...
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to t...
John Paul II
Philip Kosloski
St. John Paul II's guide to a fruitful Advent
CATHEDRAL OF THE SACRED HEART
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
6 Questions to determine if your heart is har...
ADVENT
Philip Kosloski
Prayer to be watchful during Advent
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.