Third Order of Minims
St. Francis of Paola, founder of the Minims, was convinced that lay persons as well as religious could and should pursue Christian perfection in whatever state of life they may have embraced. Following the establishment of the Order of Minims and the cloistered nuns related to his community, he encouraged lay adults of both gender to pursue his ideal of perfection. He provided them with a general plan and appointed persons of superior virtue to be their leaders. Some of these lay persons came together to live in religious communes; others continued as active members living in their own families.
Pope Alexander VI by means of a pontifical document officially approved the foundation of the secular Third Order of the Minims in 1501.
Inspired by a prophetic vision St. Francis established the Third Order with dual purpose:
1. Personal sanctification of the members through a Christian life which fulfilled to perfection the obligation integral to their Baptism and in a manner faithful to the charism of the “Minims”;
2. Vital apostolic involvement in the world as a leaven from within to bring about a spiritual renewal in the family, in the workplace and in society.
The spirituality proper to the members of the Third Order is the one embodied in the life of St. Francis of Paola and expressed in the seven chapters of his Rule which was approved by the Holy See.
St. Francis’ spirituality may be reduced to the three evangelical virtues: penance, humility, charity.
The spirituality of the Third Order is derived from that of the First and Second Orders. It has for its objectives:
A. The primacy of God in the lives of the members achieved through greater dedication to prayer and penance. These practices reveal to the world the way of conversion to God and of attaining freedom from the bonds of sin. They give witness to the priority of the spiritual over the temporal, and rest on the choice of a life style which is evangelically simple, sober and austere.
B. Humility of mind, heart and life.
C. Charity toward all brothers actively engaged in their care.
To assure that the members of the Third Order succeed in sustaining their fervor and strengthen their commitment to the pursuit of perfection and evangelical witness, they shall:
A. Receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist frequently, and attend Mass devoutly.
B. Be dedicated to prayer and meditate on the primary goals of life in order to be able to offer daily their work and suffering to God.
C. Practice the virtues of penance, humility, and charity as the most effective means to curb the weaknesses of the flesh and check vices and concupiscence.
The ‘Minim’ will look for an apostolate in harmony with his spirituality. He must always show preferential care for the least ones - the poor, the sick, the old, the neglected. In humility and brotherly love he must strive for the complete development, both human and Christian, of all he can influence.
The Tertiary should engage himself in social apostolates which are compatible with the prayer life or other pious practices at the heart of his religious commitment. He must always strive to grow in God’s grace.
His prayer must be
- Expressive of the spirit of the Beatitudes which consecrate his daily activities and apostolic work.
- Mental prayer, nourished with appropriate readings and followed by meditation.
- Daily recitation of classic prayers such as : the Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be (at least three times) or, whenever possible, part of the Liturgy of the Hours of his choice (e.g. morning prayer, evening prayer, etc). Tertiaries who are deacons or priests fulfill this obligation with the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours.
These prayers are to be offered on behalf of the Church, the Pope, the three division of the Minim family, vocations, missions, justice, peace, the sick and the dead.