Creating the Third Order…Pope Benedict XVI

Paul Keggington

February 15, 2008

jesusofnazareth.jpgAn excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth found while the Holy Father presents the first beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, may be helpful when discerning whether the Third Order of St. Francis is where one is ‘called to be’…

“For Francis, this extreme humility was above all freedom for service, freedom for mission, ultimate trust in God, who cares not only for the flowers of the field but specifically for his human children…For he did not want to found a religious order: He simply wanted to gather the People of God to listen anew to the word-without evading the seriousness of God’s call by means of learned commentaries.

dscf0754.JPGBy creating the Third Order, though, Francis did accept the distinction between radical commitment and the necessity of living in the world. The point of the Third Order is to accept with humility the task of one’s secular profession and its requirements, wherever one happens to be, while directing one’s whole life to that deep interior communion with Christ that Francis showed us. ‘To own goods as if you owned nothing’ (cf.1 Cor 7:29ff.)-to master this inner tension, which is perhaps the more difficult challenge, and, sustained by those pledged to follow Christ radically, truly to live it out ever anew-that is what the third orders are for. And they open up for us what this Beatitude can mean for all. It is above all by looking at Francis of Assisi that we see clearly what the words ‘Kingdom of God’ mean. Francis stood totally within the Church, and at the same time it is in figures such as he that the Church grows toward the goal that lies in the future, and yet is already present: The Kingdom of God is drawing near….” (page 78-79)

The world needs you. God calls you. We invite you.

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