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The Third Order is indeed a religious Order but an altogether new type of community at the same time. For while it possesses the spirit of a religious order, it does not obligate its members to take vows. It offers to both men and women, living in the world, the means not only of observing the laws of God but of attaining Christian perfection.

  The Rules of this new order may be reduced to the following principal articles: 

  •   No one was accepted as a member unless he were of an unquestioned Catholic faith and obedient in all things to the Church;

  •  The manner of receiving candidates from each of the sexes into the Order;

  •   Admission to religious profession was permitted after a year of novitiate, subject to the consent of the wife in the case of husbands and of the husband in the case of wives;

  •  Love of purity and poverty, especially in the use of clothes, and of modesty in feminine attire;

  •  That the Tertiaries should abstain from feasting, from immodest shows and balls;

  •  Abstinence and fasting;

  •  Confession and communion three times a year, taking care to make peace with everyone beforehand and to restore the goods rightly belonging to others;

  •  Not to bear arms except in defense of the Roman Church, of the Christian faith, and of one’s own country, or with the consent of one’s Minister; 

  •   The recitation of the canonical hours and other prayers;

  •  The duty of making a last will and testament three months after admission into the Order;

  •   To restore as soon as possible peace among one’s brethren or among those outside the order if any trouble had arisen;

  •  What to do in case the rights and privileges of the Order had been violated;

  •  Not to take an oath except in case of urgent necessity recognized by the Apostolic See.

To these rules were added others of no less importance; for example, on the duty of hearing Mass; of attending meetings called on certain fixed days; on the giving of alms by each according to his ability to help the poor and, especially, the sick; on the performing of the last rites for dead members; on the manner of exchanging visits in case of illness; on the manner of bringing back to the ways of virtue those who had fallen or were obstinate in sin; on the duty of not refusing the offices and functions assigned to each and to fulfill these with care; on the manner of settling disputes.

                                                                                                 Pius XI Rite Expiatis n. 34

Rite Expiatis; encyclical of Pope Pius XI,

Auspicato Concessum; encyclical of Pope Leo XIII,

Sacra Propediem; encyclical of Pope Benedict XV,