Marian Friars Minor Third Order
"...it has been long and specially Our desire that everyone should, to the utmost of his power, aim at imitating St. Francis of Assisi; therefore, as hitherto We have always bestowed special care upon the Third Order of St. Francis, so now, being called by the supreme mercy of God to the office of Sovereign Pontiff since thereby We can most opportunely do the same, We exhort Christian men not to refuse to enroll themselves in this sacred army of Jesus Christ."
-Pope Leo XIII, AUSPICATO CONCESSUM
What is the Third Order?
Below are three Papal Encyclicals in PDF Format detailing both the authentic character of St. Francis, and the nature and necessity of his Third Order.
The object of the Third Order of St. Francis is: to lead its members to Eternal Salvation by a life in conformity with the precepts of Christian morals. Pride and vanity, disobedience and disregard of lawful authority, disrespect towards the Holy See, sensuality and love of ease, attachment to worldly things, injustice, blasphemy, hatred, dissensions — in a word, the want of a penitential spirit, are the common vices of our age. To combat these vices by the exercise of the opposite virtues — this is the object of the Third Order. Therefore its Rule inculcates true and profound humility after the example of St. Francis, simplicity in dress, avoidance of vain display, obedience and subjection, reverence and love towards their Superiors, cultivation of chastity according to the state of life, renunciation of all dangerous amusements, conscientious fulfillment of the obligations of one’s condition of life, Christian moderation in the enjoyment of this world’s goods, zealous practice of the duties towards God and the Church, frequentation of the Sacraments, performance of the obligatory works of penance, fasting and abstinence, mortification, peacefulness and true Christian charity: in a word, it insists upon zeal and perseverance in the attainment of Christian perfection.
The Rule of this Order is adapted to all: it takes into consideration the different circumstances and also the frailties of human life. By its observance those of each and every state of secular life are drawn in a mild but persuasive manner to the contempt of the pomp and pride of the world, to the performance of their Christian duties, to the due regard for the rights of others, to Christian charity, to the fulfillment of the teachings of the Gospel and to the imitation of their Divine Master’s example.