SSPX 3rd Order

If you would like to live a more consecrated life, then consider the Third Order of SSPX. The SSPX’s Third Order is an “Order set up to secure for souls living in the world a school of sanctity.” Like the old traditional Third Orders (Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan…), the SSPX’s Third Order is a religious Order which will penetrate into Christian homes in the midst of the world. Our Lady Help of Christians is looking to start a SSPX Third Order community; for those interested in living a more consecrated life, then link to the SSPX Third Order website and evaluate the Rule.

What is the Third Order of the Society of St. Pius X?

The Third Order is the fifth family of the Society of St. Pius X. You probably know that the first family in time was the priests and seminarians. This is the most important family of the SSPX, since the latter is a “priestly society of common life without vows.” The priesthood is indeed the main concern of the Society. Our faithful know of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, MN, which is one of the five major seminaries of the SSPX, a Society which now has worldwide nearly 500 priests and nearly 200 seminarians.

The second family is the sisters of the SSPX, which has over 200 hundred members, including professed, novices, and postulants. They are the helpers of the priests by their daily prayer life (Mass, Rosary, Divine Office, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament), by their active apostolate (sacristy, catechism, visits to the sick), and their practical work (kitchen, washing, etc.). Their formation house in the United States District is the Sacred Heart Novitiate located in Browerville, MN.

The third family is the brothers. Presently they have about 50 members who devote themselves all over the world to supporting the priests. Several young Americans belong to this family, the brothers’ novitiate in the United States District is located at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, MN.

The fourth family is the oblates, persons living in common with the priests, seminarians, brothers, and nuns but without taking vows. They remain lay-persons but are nevertheless a great help in the different houses in which they are to be found.

The fifth family to come into being is the Third Order, which was founded in 1980.

2. What was the occasion of the foundation of the Third Order?

For several years, a number of Catholics had been suggesting the idea. Even pressing demands for it were not uncommon. A sample letter: “Dear Father,.. often my rosary is the for the intentions of the Society of St. Pius X. In this connection, I would like to know if there exists a Third Order in the Society of St. Pius X and what its requirements are. I would like to live a more consecrated life.. .a more total gift of myself in the spirit of the Society. Is this possible? Please advise me.”

The priests, therefore felt the need of providing the faithful with a means of living the evangelical ideals, of keeping Faith, Hope, and Charity in the midst of the unprecedented upheaval in the Church, and thus of finding the protection of an unassailable spiritual strength. They told Archbishop Lefebvre of their concerns and desires, and of the pressing appeals from the anguished faithful, abandoned without defense in the ruins of the structures of the Church, which formally secured and maintained their faith. The realization of the Third Order was the answer to the Archbishop.

3. What is the purpose of the Third Order?

The SSPX’s Third Order is an “Order set up to secure for souls living in the world a school of sanctity.” Sanctification of individuals and those for whom members of the Third Order are responsible for; such is the purpose of the Third Order. Like the old traditional Third Orders (Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan…), the SSPX’s Third Order is a state of life midway between the cloister and the world, or to put it in different words, a religious Order which will penetrate into Christian homes in the midst of the world.

Do you think that it is important for someone who is able to fulfill the obligations of the Third Order to decide to become a member?

Definitely yes. Listen to this story:

St. Pius X had a deep understanding of the needs of the Church and therefore often had penetrating insights. Happening to be one day amidst a group of Cardinals, the Holy Father said to them ‘What is the thing most necessary at the present time to save society?’ ‘Build Catholic schools’, one said. ‘No.’ ‘Multiply churches’, replied another. No again’.‘Increase the recruiting of the clergy’ said a third. ‘No, no’, replied the pope. ‘What is most necessary at the present time is to have in each parish a group of lay persons at the same time virtuous, enlightened, determined, and really apostolic.'” (Soul of the Apostolate; Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, OCSO)

To save the world, St. Pius X counted on fervent Catholics devoting themselves to the apostolate by word and action, but above all by example.

Therefore, what is the most important thing in each of our United States’ missions is to have a small group of fervent souls seriously practicing the interior life. This body of elite Christians will be as the leaven and will lift up the spiritual level of the whole parish by their prayer life, by their discreet but efficacious apostolic action, but above all by their good example. The Third Order provides souls thirsting for perfection with a set of rules which can help them to attain this goal and thereby to sanctify their family and the whole mission. For instance, if ten persons in the congregation were to stay after Mass for the thanksgiving (because they are members of the Third Order), I am sure that within a few months the whole parish would be making a proper thanksgiving!

4. What is the spirit of the Third Order?

It is centered on the devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is nothing else than the Sacrifice of the Cross renewed on the altar in an unbloody manner. The members of the Third Order unite themselves to Our Lord, the Divine Victim, offering Himself up out of love for His Father and for souls. In this they find the strength that they need on the difficult path to holiness. Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows, to St. Joseph, and to St. Pius X are also present in the soul of the member of the Third Order.

5. What are the main obligations for a member of the Third Order?

Some may be called negative: for instance, habitual abstinence from television. Why? Not only because most of the shows are near occasions of sin by their indecent pictures, but also because even when not featuring sex or violence, TV remains essentially imbued with the spirit of the world. This spirit is a spirit of love of self, of pride, of comfort, of self-enjoyment, of earthly pleasure. This spirit is quite opposed to the spirit of Our Lord, which is a spirit of love for God, of humility, of sacrifice, of the Cross, of true spiritual joy. Radio and newspapers are sufficient means to keep oneself aware of the news.

6. But are there other positive obligations?

Yes, for instance morning and evening prayer, daily rosary, confession once a month. But since these obligations are common to all good Catholics, some other obligations are proper to the members of the Third Order: Fifteen minutes of mental prayer every day (or daily Mass where it is possible) and a retreat every two years (see the retreat schedule for a listing of dates and locations in the United States District).

N.B. A monthly spiritual letter, Sursum Corda, which will eventually be available online, will be sent to all the members which will keep contact with the whole family of the Third Order, and will renew the fervor of each one to be more faithful to God’s grace.

7. How can I become a member of the Third Order?

Once you have read and meditated upon the Third Order Rule, just fill out the application form and send it back to the address noted. Dear reader, God is expecting your generosity. God took upon Himself a body and a soul to die for you out of the excess of His love. And you, what do you do for Him? “Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.” Pray to God so that He may give you the courage to enroll yourself in the SSPX’s Third Order, for the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity and for the salvation of your soul and of many others! God bless you! 


I . . . . firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day. And first of all, I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (see Rom. 1:90), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that, therefore, his existence can also be demonstrated: Secondly, I accept and acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time. Thirdly, I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time. Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical’ misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely. Fifthly, I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our creator and lord. Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili, especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas. I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion. I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality – that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful. Likewise, I reject that method of judging and interpreting Sacred Scripture which, departing from the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, embraces the misrepresentations of the rationalists and with no prudence or restraint adopts textual criticism as the one and supreme norm. Furthermore, I reject the opinion of those who hold that a professor lecturing or writing on a historico-theological subject should first put aside any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition or about the divine promise of help to preserve all revealed truth forever; and that they should then interpret the writings of each of the Fathers solely by scientific principles, excluding all sacred authority, and with the same liberty of judgment that is common in the investigation of all ordinary historical documents.

Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact-one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history-the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles. I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way. I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God…