T is for Third Orders

T is for Third Orders #atozchallenge @fillpraycloset on TwitterI see you. I know what you’re thinking. Third Orders like Opus Dei in the DaVinci Code by Dan Brown with all the flogging and such? Um no. Maybe you weren’t thinking that. But we’ll debunk the cray-cray myths anyway. Yesterday was our first foray into a book of the bible. My favorite, Sirach. There’s a free printable in rad black and white, that I have at my desk at work, in a corporate office. Hint hint, applicable and SFW. 🙂

What is it?

Let’s think of it this way, you know how there are priests and friars (collars and robes with ropes?) those are considered First Orders. Nuns and Sisters (don’t get me started on my love/lurve relationship with nuns) are considered Second Orders. Then there’s us, the peeps, or as we’re technically called, the Laity. We’re not called to serve as a nun, sister, priest or friar. We’re called to a little bit of both. I’m married and have children, but I am also a Third Order Dominican. There are some people who feel called to serve in a way that aligns with a particular charism – we associate ourselves with Orders depending on what their “specialty” or “point of focus” is. Here are the broad strokes:

Third Order #3op #atozchallenge @fillpraycloset

Why did I choose to share this particular “T” with you?

Obviously, it’s because I am part of a Third Order. But mostly because this is a unique and special way to live out the Catholic faith. I am married!! I live in the world, tied to a special community of brothers and sisters who share the same calling to the order created around a particular saint (and all them Friars and Nuns!)

It’s changed me. I’ve gotten more confident. I never thought I could be a Lay Dominican, what do I know about scripture and church history, or theology! I am a new Catholic. Well, let me tell you…if you’re called, you just know it and you learn. I meet with people I never would have known, once a month and they want to be there. They are deeply faithful to the Church and act upon it. They go to nursing homes and visit with the elderly or sick. They make house calls to members of the order that are too frail to make it to the meetings. We donate of our time and money to those in need.

Now, let me let you in on a little secret, not everyone sitting in the pews next to me wants to be there! Sometimes they are writing in their check books for the collection, yawning, checking their texts, chatting. I’ll admit it, it makes me upset and breaks my heart at the same time – but we’re human and it’s normal. It makes my atheist husband who comes with me in support, upset though. He feels that if he can respect where he’s at, they should too. Now why am I saying this? Not to shock you. But to share a couple of insights.

Being a member of a Third Order is being part of a group where they want more. More prayer, more study, more God, more more, in their lives. Are we better than anyone else? NO, that’s not what I’m saying. But let’s say you have a group of friends who love to drink coffee with you every week. But you, you obsess over coffee, you drink it when they’re not around. You have candles that smell like coffee and lip balms that taste of it. You search online for others who may have this cuckoo-for-cocoa puffs obsession and hey, they’re MAKING coffee beans grow in a greenhouse and they just live for everything coffee. You totally want to hang with them, because they get YOU. That’s what this Third Order thing was for me. Make sense?

Second, my husband goes to mass with me. He’s an atheist. He says it all day. He feels that if you don’t agree with the church down the line, you have no business joining. He’s kinda black and white that way. Our Deacon calls him  100 percenter. He loves me THAT much, that he would support whatever makes me happy. He supports my faith like he supports my writing, my going back to school, even parting my hair down the middle after parting it on the side for an age. See, my husband doesn’t want to be there. BUT, he respects where we’re at. He respects me, loves me and my passion whether it’s Catholic, Third Order or my hatred of teeth!

And there’s a really wonderful piece that I have linked to here a quazillion times. I won’t again here because I’m afraid if they see another ping back, I’ll be blocked forever. But, it’s perfect! You’ll have to check that link to get to the perfect piece on Third Orders by TJ Burdick at Ignitum Today.

And that Opus Dei myth? DEBUNKED

#3op #davincicode Third Orders #atozchallenge @fillpraycloset on Twitter

Come back tomorrow to read all about my Catholic take on the letter U. We’re already at U?! I am blogging my way through the alphabet with others who are doing the same. 

Please support the bloggers of the #AtoZchallenge by visiting, sharing or commenting. We have all worked long and hard to prepare these posts, some prepping for a couple of months, as we posted our regular schedule, took care of our children, went to work, had the flu…well, you get the idea.

29 thoughts on “T is for Third Orders

  1. Crisitina…your new blog looks wonderful…so happy for you : )
    Of course, I love articles on third orders! What a great post to read this morning.
    I like the coffee reference…perfect way to explain LOL!


  2. Hi, Cristina! I very much enjoy these alphabetical posts. I want to add a technical distinction to you list about first, second, and third orders. Second orders are nuns who profess solemn vows. Third orders have Sisters and Brothers who profess simple vows, as well as, lay people like you and me who profess promises or vows. I know the Dominicans have nuns who live cloistered lives and Sisters who live apostolic lives as teachers, nurses, social workers, etc.


    1. Thanks Ruth Ann! It’s really tough to give just enough information for a broad set of readers. As you can see, executive decisions overruled! Thanks for the note 🙂


  3. I’m reminded of Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris…. can’t remember the details but wanted to put it out there in case you’ve read her or not, you may want to read her. Your husband must be a fabulous man… seriously. He loves you THAT much! Here is what I’m thinking as far as those ho humming, texting, chatting people in church. There are some of us who do things out of love, pure and simple. There are other people who do things out of duty or fear or “because this is the way we always have done it.” We are the love people, God bless us! 🙂

    Julie Jordan Scott
    The Bold Writer from A to Z


  4. I’d never heard of the third order. Once again you’ve taught me something new and I thank you. You make it all so clear as I find Christianity such a big puzzle and I am not much fun in Bible studies.


    1. I am thrilled! When I planned these, I wanted to be sure that they would be clear and easily understood. Some people aren’t a fan of bible studies, I think it’s how you infuse the scripture in your “preach”. It’s always about the message!


  5. Love the post and the coffee analogy and the style – it’s just so you! Fabulous.
    A big high five to your husband, too. I think he rocks. 🙂
    What’s tomorrow going to bring, I wonder…


  6. That’s great that your husband attends mass with you, despite being an atheist. My husband is agnostic and dislikes organized religion (aka church). He has no problem with me attending or taking our children, but he would prefer not to attend.

    Interesting on the Third Orders!


  7. My husband was born and raised Catholic and is the one yawning and fidgeting during mass LOL. Ah well, we all come to our faith in different ways. I’m just glad he comes 🙂 Thanks for this post…I’d love to hear an in depth post on one of the orders….maybe after the A to Z 🙂


    1. Exactly! So much of our faith is meeting people where they’re at and not forgetting to show up and be present either.

      I’ve written a few on the Lay Dominican Order. Click on the Lay Dominican tab at the top.

      Happy Reading!


  8. I’m married to an atheist, too! But he never tried to dissuade me from all my woo-woo interests. My next book for instance is about haunted travel destinations, yet he traipses right along on research outings even though he thinks the idea of ghosts is utter bunk. But… he enjoys the history of it, and he knows I find it fun, so he joins in.

    Even though he’s an atheist, he was raised Catholic. Sadly, it was some rather mean nuns that literally chased him out of the church! (He ran all the way home and never went back.)

    I like your description, too, of why you are a lay leader. As a coffee-aficionado, your metaphor really sank in!

    I, too, can’t believe we are already at the letter U!

    ~Tui Snider~ Dropping by from the A to Z challenge! 😀
    @TuiSnider on Twitter
    My blog: Tui Snider’s Offbeat & Overlooked Travel
    I am also part of the #StoryDam team, a friendly writing community!


    1. Aw Tui! Kindred spirits! Thank you so very much for sharing that with me (and all of the lovely readers that stop by).

      If anyone else is reading, head over to her blog AND Story Dam, I love it!


  9. I would so love to join a third order some day, but I don’t want to scare my husband any more than I have to! He used to pout and argue every time I went to Mass and it was really, really tiresome. He doesn’t do that any more, but I don’t want to push it! Baby steps 🙂


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