Feast of the Purification

I wish you all a most blessed Feast of the Purification.  Today is also the day that we honour Our Lady under Her title of “Good Success”.  We hope to have pictures of a pilgrimage in Quito, Ecuador to the Royal Convent of the Immaculate Conception made by members of the Fraternity of St. Mary of the Angels.  They are visiting the Royal Convent because during this time the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Success is displayed.



Act of Consecration to St. Francis of Assisi

Dear Franciscan Tertiaries,


Here is a prayer that you can say daily to consecrate yourselves to the Seraphic Father.


Seraphic Patriarch St. Francis. So like unto Jesus, even from thy birth, in thy being born in a stable, and like him, laid in a manger. So like unto Jesus during thy lifetime, in thy burning zeal for souls. So like unto Jesus at thy death, having thy hands and thy feet pierced with nails and thy side opened as with a lance.


O favourite of the Sacred Heart of Jesus! So inflamed with His sweet and gentle, yet burning spirit of Divine Love. I, N., consecrate myself to thee, praying thee to obtain from God for me – even as thou wert wont to pray – the most sweet and ardent gift of His Divine Love, that my heart’s affections and my whole soul may be detached from every creature and thus be united to Him in time and eternity. Amen. My God and my All.

The First Nativity Scene

The world is indebted to St Francis for giving us the beautiful custom of the Nativity Scene. 


The following extract is taken from: http://www.fisheaters.com/adventcribs.html While it is not a traditional site, the entire document gives an informative account of how and why St Francis set up the first Nativity Scene:


St. Bonaventure, who wrote another biography of St. Francis, described the institution of the crib like this:


Now three years before his death it befell that he was minded, at the town of Greccio, to celebrate the memory of the Nativity of the Child Jesus, with all the added solemnity that he might, for the kindling of devotion. That this might not seem an innovation, he sought and obtained license from the Supreme Pontiff, and then made ready a manger, and bade that hay, together with an ox and ass, be brought unto the spot. The friars were called together, the folk assembled, the wood echoed with their voices, and that august night was made radiant and solemn with many bright lights, and with tuneful and sonorous praises. The man of God, filled with tender love, stood before the manger, bathed in tears, and overflowing with joy. 


Solemn Masses were celebrated over the manger, Francis, the levite of Christ, chanting the Holy Gospel. Then he preached unto the folk standing around at the Birth of the King of poverty, calling Him, when he wished to name Him, the Child of Bethlehem, by reason of his tender love for Him. A certain knight, valorous and true, Messer Giovanni di Greccio, who for the love of Christ had left the secular army and was bound by closest friendship unto the man of God, declared that he beheld a little Child right fair to see, sleeping in that manger, who seemed to be awakened from sleep when the blessed Father Francis embraced Him in both arms. This vision of the devout knight is rendered worthy of belief, not alone through the holiness of him that beheld it, but is also confirmed by the truth that it set forth, and withal proven by the miracles that followed it. For the example of Francis, if meditated upon by the world, must needs stir up sluggish hearts unto the faith of Christ; for even the hay that was taken from the manger by the folk proved a marvellous remedy for sick beasts, and a preventative against divers other plagues, God magnifying by all means His servant, and making manifest by clear and miraculous portents the efficacy of his holy prayers.


The history of the Nativity Scene should be of interest to all. I would especially like to encourage parents and grandparents to foster this beautiful tradition. Not only is the Nativity story attractive to children, its historical relevance should interest both the young and the old. 


So, in the spirit of St Francis, let us honour the beautiful tradition of the Nativity and transmit its history to future generations.


And be creative! For example, make your own Nativity scene using cardboard/construction paper. Have the children colour and cut out the figures. Have the older children do research on the various heroes of the Nativity. Have them present their findings. Have them act out scenes.


Remember that Christmas season extends until Candlemas (Feb 2) and so you and your children will have plenty of time for creative Nativity work!


Pax et Bonum


Sister Constance TOSF


Christmas Reading – Auspicato by Leo XIII

As Christmas reading, I would like you to read the encyclical Auspicato. Note that it is addressed “To all the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops of the Catholic World” and that they are asked not only to “celebrate” the memory of St Francis, but especially to encourage everyone to “imitate” the Saint. The Pope is very clear: not only is Auspicato a “public testimony” of his own devotion to St Francis, more importantly, it is an urgent call to use the Third Order as a remedy for the restoration of Christian civilization. (Par 1-9).


Why does Pope Leo XIII choose St Francis for this task? Because God chose him first. The Pope writes: “When the evils We have spoken of arise, as soon as the providentially appointed hour of help has struck, God raises up a man, not one of the common herd, but eminent and unique, to whom He assigns the salvation of all…. St Francis was the agent of this great work” (Par 7).


The Pope then says how St Francis went about this “great work”. He writes: “…with wondrous resolution and simplicity [St Francis] undertook to place before the eyes of the aging world, in his words and deeds, the complete model of Christian perfection” (Par 9).


Note that the Saint went about this work with “resolution” and “simplicity”. In other words, he worked with a firm determination and with everyday simplicity, and, most importantly, he worked! He was no slouch!


Also note that the Pope refers to the 12th century as the “aging world”. What would he say of our own century?


No doubt he would say today what he said to his contemporaries in 1882: Go and work!  The horrors of the great Revolutions of the 18th and the 19th centuries and their destruction of Christendom did by no means render him helpless and paralyzed. On the contrary, the martyrdom of thousands of Catholics (many were Tertiaries) spurred him to action and, specifically, to the restoration of the Third Order. He understood the great damage done to the Church, and this is precisely why he urged the high clergy to restore and to promote the Third Order. He writes: “Therefore take pains that the people may become acquainted with the Third Order and truly esteem it; provide that those who have the cure of souls sedulously teach what it is, how easily anyone may enter it, with how great privileges tending to salvation it abounds, what advantages, public and private, it promises; and in so doing all the more pains are to be taken because the Franciscans of the First and Second Order, having been struck recently with a heavy blow, are in a most piteous condition” (Par 25).  


What would the Pope say today when the entire Conciliar Sect has temporarily overshadowed the Church of All Time and destroyed all religious Orders? Would he wring his hands and give up? No! He would pray “…that Christian people may rend towards the discipline of the Third Order with the same alacrity and the same numbers as formerly from all parts they threw themselves into the arms of St Francis himself with a holy emulation” (Par 25).


The Pope insists that we have a clear understanding of what is meant by “the complete model of Christian perfection”. It is primarily that of Penance. We are called to imitate the Crucified One by living a rule of penitential simplicity: “For its rules consist only in obedience to God and His Church, to avoid factions and quarrels, and in no way to defraud our neighbour; to take up arms only for the defence of religion and of one’s country; to be moderate in food and in clothing, to shun luxury, and to abstain from the dangerous seductions of dances and plays” (Par 20).


Following this simple and penitential rule would have a positive effect on the society, as the Pope explains: “And thus domestic peace, incorrupt morality, gentleness of behaviour, the legitimate use and preservation of private wealth, civilization and social stability, spring as from a root from the Franciscan Third Order; and it is in great measure to St Francis that Europe owes their preservation” (Par 21). 


The Pope concludes his address by appealing to all people: “…it has been long and specially Our desire that everyone should, to the utmost of his power, aim at imitating St Francis of Assisi.” And he reiterates with force: “We exhort Christian men not to refuse to enroll themselves in this sacred army of Jesus Christ” (Par 25).


And because God is never outdone in generosity, and if we respond generously to His call, the Pope assures us that the “world would be brought to see itself led back from disorder to peace, from destruction to safety, by the favour of the Saint of Assisi” (Par 26).


Happy reading!


May you have a blessed Christmas!


Pax et Bonum


Sr Constance TOSF


St Mary of the Angels


St Mary of the Angels

St Mary of the Angels is the name of the Fraternity of the Third Order of St Francis Secular. We are Tertiaries, following the Rule of St Francis, and we are working towards the restoration of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We adhere to the Teachings of Roman Catholic Church of All Time, and we are dedicated to the work of the priests of the SSPX-Marian Corps and to their founder, Archbishop Lefebvre.
This article will explain where St Francis started the Order and will focus on the relevancy of the Order.
800 years ago, in the chapel of San Damiano not far from Assisi, an Icon of the Crucified came alive and said to Francis three times: “Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins”. Francis took it literally and restored several ruined churches, among them the Porziuncola, the little chapel of St Mary of the Angels, just outside of Assisi.
It was in the Porziuncola (meaning “small portion of land”) that he understood his vocation clearly, and there he founded the Order of the Friars Minor in 1209. Francis then built a small cell near the chapel and was soon joined by other brothers. In 1211 he received in the chapel Clare of Assisi and so initiated the Order of the Poor Clares. In 1226, knowing he was dying, he asked to be brought back to the Porziuncola where he died in his cell, not 15 yards from the chapel.
Therefore, the Porziuncola is more than a highly venerated piece of land: it is the cradle of the Franciscan Order. “After the death of Francis, the spiritual value and the charisma of the Porziuncola became even greater. St Francis himself pointed out the Porziuncola as a primary source of inspiration and a model for all his followers.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porziuncola)
Because the chapel of Porziuncola was too small to accommodate the number of pilgrims (estimated at 100,000 in 1582), it became necessary to enlarge the chapel. A Basilica, started by Pope Pius V in 1569, was built around the humble chapel and was completed in 1679. Then in 1909, Pope St Pius X elevated it to the rank of Patriarchal Basilica with Papal Chapel, also confirming its title of Head and Mother of the Whole Order of Friars Minor. (http://www.franciscanfriarstor.com/archive/stfrancis/sft_portuncula_lady_of_the_angels.htm)
God often uses the simple and the small to achieve great things. And so it is with the humble Porziuncola, today known as the majestic Santa Maria degli Angeli or St Mary of the Angels.
This account would not be complete without also mentioning the famous dream of Pope Innocent III. The Pope recognized Francis to be the small man in his dream who took the weight of the falling St John Lateran as it was collapsing, held it up with his shoulders, and then straightened it back again. This dream then convinced the Pope that Francis and his Order were the instruments chosen by God to “repair My House”.
Years have passed by since the day St Francis obeyed the call to “repair My House”, and his work prospered and spread. In fact, his work was encouraged and promoted by Popes throughout the years. Especially in the wake of the revolutionary havoc of the past two centuries that nearly destroyed Catholic civilization, the Popes have stressed over and over the importance and the necessity of the Franciscan Order, in particular of the Third Order (the Order for the laity).
Many Popes not only promoted the Third Order – Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI, Pius XII were themselves Tertiaries.
The Popes actively promoted the Third Order, granting protections and privileges and encouraging it to spread throughout the world.
In the 1882 encyclical Auspicato, Pope Leo XIII wrote: “The members of the Third Order proved their loyal and dauntless mettle in the defense of the holy faith; and if for their merits they have incurred great enmity at the hands of the evil-minded, they never lacked the approval of the wise and good, which approval after all, is the most creditable and alone desirable. Yes, Gregory IX, Our Predecessor, publicly commending their loyalty and courage, did not hesitate to shield them with his authority and to distinguish them with the honorable title of ‘Soldiers of Christ’ and ‘New Maccabees’.”
Pope Leo XIII also said: “The scope of the Third Order is simply this, to keep clean from the corruption of the world by sanctifying the ordinary and even the most trifling actions in the spirit of Jesus Christ” (Handbook pp 10-11)
In the 1884 encyclical on Freemasonry, Humanum Genus, Leo XIII said: [The purpose of the Rule] “is simply this: to lead men back to imitate Jesus Christ, to love the Church, and to practice all Christian virtues. Hence it must be powerful in eradicating the pest of certain very mischievous societies” (Handbook p 11).
In 1909, St Pius X wrote: “The Third Order is in these days wonderfully adapted to modern needs; hence wherever efforts are made to promote its growth, it can bring forth only the best fruits for the common good. Therefore We exhort you very earnestly to make every effort to further the advance of so wonderful an institution” (Handbook p 11).
The above citations are borrowed from the 1947 Handbook of the Third Order Secular of St Francis of Assisi by Fr Basil Gummermann, a Franciscan Capuchin. This is recommended reading not only for those interested in the Third Order; this is excellent reading for all Catholics who wish to work towards the restoration of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the world. In the concluding paragraph of the first part that deals with the Origin and Nature of the Third Order, he writes:
“These great Pontiffs revealed the firm conviction that the Third Order is an eminently practical and effective means of sanctifying individuals and reforming society on the basis of the Gospel. ‘The record of past ages as well as the nature of the Order itself show how effectually it promotes justice, integrity, and religious habits’” (1883 Misericors Dei Filius by Leo XIII).
Fr Gummermann continues: “In 1879, Leo XIII said to a committee of Tertiaries: ‘We are convinced that the Third Order is a most powerful antidote against all the evils which harass the present age, and that there is no means more apt to lead the world back to a true and solid observance of the Gospel’” (Handbook p12).
Fr Gummermann concludes: “In short, [Leo XIII] was convinced that the salvation of the world was to come through the Third Order from the Franciscan spirit, as he said in an audience to the Ministers Provincial of the Capuchins on March 12, 1886. His successors expressed the same conviction and urged the propagation of the Third Order” (Handbook p 12).
Strong encouragement indeed!
Perhaps the most poignant call to arms comes from the Pope who stood on the very brink of the precipice. In his July 1, 1956 Address on The Franciscan Vision of Life, Pope Pius XII exhorts the Tertiaries of Italy to be faithful to the command given to St Francis almost 800 years ago. The Pope says: “…[Y]our Seraphic Father heard the voice of the Crucified which exhorted him to rebuild His house, threatened by ruin. To defend the Church, to support the Church – that was the yearning of Francis of Assisi. Do you desire, beloved children, to be worthy of your Father and Master?”
Have the words of the Popes fallen on deaf ears? Has not another great churchman – the heroic Archbishop Lefebvre – answered the call and taken up the standard of St Pius X to “Instaure Omnia in Christo”?
Are not the brave and the self-giving SSPX-Marian Corps priests, as they follow in the footsteps of their founding Father – and in the spirit of St Francis – the faithful hearers and doers of what their Leader – the Crucified – commanded?
Is not the Franciscan call to repair and to support the Church a universal and therefore a Catholic call?
Just as the beggar of Assisi answered the call of the Crucified, just as the Popes of the past eight centuries have been calling Tertiaries to repair and support the Church that is now being Crucified, are we not called to do our part?
Therefore, if St Francis and St Mary of the Angels inspire you to do more, please consider joining the Third Order Secular (the Order for lay people).
Remember also that once there are three professed Tertiaries, they can then form another fraternity. In this way, the Third Order will spread throughout North America and the rest of the world. In this way, the Third Order can work toward the re-establishment of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is what St Francis was asked to do in the first place.

Pax et Bonum


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Sr Constance (TOSF)


TOSF – Office of the Paters

The Office (set of daily prayers) said by a Third Order Tertiary is a powerful prayer and benefits the entire Church. The article below explains the difference between public and private prayer, and how the Office plays an important part in the life of the Church.


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An Acknowledgement
Tertiaries have a choice of three Offices. They may recite the Breviary, the Little Office of Our Lady, or Twelve Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glorias. As most Tertiaries use the latter, we supply them herein with AIDS for its better recitation. Grateful acknowledgement is hereby expressed to the editor of the Franciscan Herald Press for permission to reprint these AIDS from the Tertiary Office of the Paters.


Tertiaries who are ecclesiastics, inasmuch as they read the Psalms daily, need do no more under this heading. Laymen who neither recite the canonical prayers nor the prayers in honour of Mary, commonly known as the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, must say each day twelve “Our Fathers,” “Hail Marys” and “ Glorys” unless prevented from doing so by ill-health.
Nature of Office
We are very familiar with this word “office” in its ordinary sense. It means a duty or an obligation entrusted to some responsible person. In liturgical language, it means the duty or obligation imposed by the Church on certain of her children, to recite daily a set form of prayer prescribed by her. But the Office is not a merely ecclesiastical institution: it is divine. Of old, God imposed a type of Office on the Synagogue, certain prayers to be recited at regular intervals. This means that the Church, through the Office, is simply assuming an obligation imposed by God Himself. The Divine Office, as we know it, is a liturgical prayer which goes back through monastic and ecclesiastical institutions to the cradle of Christianity; and, through the mosaic institution, right back to God Himself.
The Church does not indiscriminately impose this obligation on all. We could speak of it as a favour granted by her to some privileged souls. Just as she endows some with divine power to celebrate Mass in her name and for the whole Mystical Body, so, too, she appoints certain of her children as official representatives to bear the praises of mankind to the throne of God in her name, and to return from that throne with graces and blessings for man.
Object of the Office
The principal object of the Office is to give praise to God. He has created everything and done all things for His own glory. We, His creatures, are bound to glorify Him. This was His object in creating us. The life of Christ was spent primarily in glorifying the Father. “I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” Knowing the inconstancy of man and the irregularity with which many people pray, the Church steps in and makes sure that God will not be forgotten by the world, and that He will get from it the honour which is His due. This is why she commissions some of her members to offer up daily to God a hymn of praise through the Office. It is in practice the incense offered to God by the Church, being the counterpart on earth of that homage given to God by the heavenly multitudes, a homage almost terrifying in description as given by St. John in his Apocalypse: “After these things I heard, as it were, the voice of much people in heaven, saying: Alleluia, Salvation, and glory, and power is to our God. And again they said: Alleluia. And the four and twenty ancients, and the four living creatures fell down and adored God that sitteth upon the throne, saying: Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out from the throne saying: Give praise to our God, all ye his servants; and you that fear Him, little and great. And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of great thunders, saying:
Alleluia, for the Lord our God the Almighty hath reigned.

Although primarily a hymn of praise, a glorifying of God in the name of mankind, other objects of the Office are to render Him thanks for His continuous blessings, to ask His pardon for sin, and to secure for the world the graces which it needs. St. Bonaventure tells us that the purpose of the Office is to unite men with the angles in heaven in their praise and blessing of God; to testify to God an appreciation for all He has done and is doing for us; to conserve and renew devotion and the holy fear of God, which if not fed would be extinguished; to supply for those who cannot pray regularly, or who never pray.
Value of the Office
In the sight of God, all prayer is pleasing and valuable; but none can compare with that of the Office, as it is the official and public prayer of the Church.

We must consider for a moment the difference between public and private prayer. Some think that any prayer said by a group is public, and that all other prayer is private. By no means. Public prayer is the official prayer of the Church, prescribed and imposed by her on certain of her children. Thus, the priest or Tertiary reciting his Office in the privacy of his home, is reciting a public prayer. The Church prescribes both its form and contents, and commands them to offer it in her name.
On the other hand, take the Stations of the Cross, or the Rosary, even when performed by a congregation in church. These are but private prayers, as the Church has not commanded any group to offer them in her name. They are prayers of private devotion: even though they are approved of, and sanctioned by the Church.
Any public prayer of the Church surpasses al private prayer in value. Why is this? We must remember that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, of which He is the Head. He is the representative of the human race in its constant and obligatory duty of praising, thanking, making satisfaction and petition to God. As Head, He gives the Church His own power of adoring and praising God. The Church does this in her liturgy, and she tells us herself that, after the Mass, the Office is the greatest of all her liturgical and public prayers. It is her official voice of praise to God. We know that the Church is the Bride of Christ, and being Christ’s Bride will always be heard before the throne of God. The Office is, in reality, the praise of Christ Himself passing through the lips of the Church. After the Mass itself, it is the greatest prayer we have. Actually it is intimately connected with the Mass, drawing therefrom much of its grandeur, its value and its efficaciousness. It is a prolongation, a counterpart of the Mass, being a re-echo of the praise, thanksgiving, reparation and petition given by Christ to God in the Mass. The Mass is Christ’s perfect prayer. The Office is the official prayer of Christ’s Bride, Christ still praying through, and with, and in it, for the same purposes as He prays the Mass.
Because it is an Office sanctioned by the Church, there is a great difference between twelve Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glorys said as a Tertiary Office and said as private prayers. If two persons, one a Tertiary and the other not, recite these prayers with the same devotion, the results are not the same. The one who is not a Tertiary performs a private work of piety of his own choice and in his own name. The Tertiary recites an official prayer imposed on him by the Church and offered in her name. It is part of the prayer service the Church offers continually to God. It is a substitute for the Divine Office itself.
By deputing some to the recitation of an Office, the Church is really appointing them as her ambassadors, to offer to God the homage of the human race and represent it before His throne. We know the position an ambassador holds. He is the official representative of his country, carrying the weight and the authority of his country with him. One word from him before the throne to which he is accredited, carries more weight than the voices of many private individuals.
Similarly, while we recite the Office, God does not look upon us as souls coming before Him with their private interests, but as ambassadors of the Bride of His Son. While we pray thus, through and with Christ, our prayer is most pleasing to God and efficacious for ourselves and for others. This is why the Office surpasses in value and efficacy all private prayers. St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi says: “In comparison with the Divine Office, all other prayers amount to nothing.” St. Alphonsus says: “The smallest quantity of Office is of greater value than a hundred prayers of private devotion.
Marvellous Privilege
The privilege of Tertiaries are many and great, but one of their greatest privileges lies in the fact that the Church, Christ’s Bride and Spouse, delegates them to recite an Office, thereby joining their prayers with her own and with that of Christ, appointing them personal ambassadors before the throne of God.
Alas! How many Tertiaries see in their Office of privilege, God’s Work, as St. Benedict calls it? Some of them consider it a burden, a monotonous repetition of the commonest of all prayers to be recited daily, omitting it for the slightest cause, and usually reciting it when, and only when, a multiplicity of private prayers have been attended to. I do not, even for a moment, insinuate that Tertiaries should neglect their private prayers. God forbid! But because of its dignity and excellence, and value, their Office should be the central prayer of their lives, and not merely a prayer added to their private devotions. Remembering that they are ambassadors of the Church, they should never omit it, because, by failing to recite their Office, even though they are not bound under pain of sin to do so, they are not merely omitting an exercise of personal piety, they are failing the Church in a duty. To attend to it only after daily private prayers, is to underestimate the spirit and power of the Church’s liturgy.
When reciting the Office, the Tertiary is not praying as an individual, or in his own name, but in the name of the Church. His is no longer a solitary individual prayer: it is a public prayer of the Church, even when recited privately. It renders the Tertiary a kind of priest, a pontifex — such is the Latin for priest, meaning bridge-builder, a connecting link between God and man, going up to God with praises of humanity, and returning from the throne of God loaded with gifts for man.
Through his Office, the Tertiary is closely associated with priests and religious who have consecrated their lives to the perpetual praise of God. It helps him to forget himself, to get out of himself with the very will of Christ, which is the glory of God and the salvation of souls. While reciting the Office, he can be sure that he is praying as God wishes him to prayer, because the Church has commissioned him to pray thus.
Again, whatever the Tertiary’s personal merits may be, his Office is vested with the holiness and the efficacy of the Church. He is saying it in the name of the Church, which means that its effects do not depend merely on his personal merit; the whole Church is behind him. He does not recite an Office alone, but with thousands of priests, clerics, religious and lay-people. It is no longer the thin voice of an individual, but the powerful voice of the Church itself. The Tertiary unites his voice with that of the universal Church, thus constituting a marvellous harmony which ascends from every part of the world. It is not the Tertiary who prays; it is the Church who prays through the mouth of the Tertiary. It is even more than this. The Tertiary forms part of that universal choir with Christ at the head. Christ will be his support, supplying for his many deficiencies. Joining his poor and unworthy voice with this great symphony of worship and petition, his feeble breath becomes a part of that which is mighty and divine. Thus, defects which may be found in an individual recitation are, so to speak, merged into the perfect prayer of Christ and of many saintly souls. This, of course, should not lead to a careless and mechanical recitation, but should serve as an inspiration, a help, and an antidote to individual weakness.
Proper Recitation
Because of the great privilege the Church grants them, by allowing them [to] recite an Office, Tertiaries should render themselves worthy of this honour by reciting it daily with the utmost attention and devotion. Since it is a prolongation of Christ’s own prayer, it should be offered in union with Him. All those reciting should unite themselves to the perfect worship given to God by the Incarnate Word, in order to give to God through Him, with Him, and in Him, and at the same time to intercede with Christ for the needs of humanity. So intent was that great Tertiary priest, St. John Vianney, on uniting his daily Office in union with Christ, that he invariably recited his breviary at the foot of the Altar, pausing frequently to gaze up at the tabernacle where Jesus was. In a prayer recited before the Office, we ask that we may say it in union with that divine intention with which Christ praised God on earth. In that same prayer, we ask God, too, that we may recite it worthily, attentively and devoutly. Yes, these are the dispositions with which it should be recited.
Worthily: When reciting the Office, we are, as it were ushered into the presence of the King of kings, and should act accordingly.
Attentively: During it, we should attend to God’s presence, remembering that we are ambassadors before His throne, uniting our voices with those of the very angels and of the whole heavenly court. St. John tells us that the angels and elect in heaven cast themselves down before the Infinite Majesty. “And they fell down before the throne upon their faces and adored God.” We, too, should have an inward reverence for the infinite majesty of God, in spirit prostrating ourselves in adoration before Him.
Devoutly: This means that we try to concentrate all the powers of our souls in this sacred work, trying to carry out as perfectly as possible that divine injunction: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with they whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with they whole strength.
Beware lest that reproach made by God to those people who failed in their duty of honouring Him properly be applied to you: “This is the people that honoureth me with their lips; but their hearts are far from me.
Divisions of Office
The Divine Office proper is divided into Hours, of which there are seven. It became divided thus from the traditional times at which portions of it were recited. The divisions are: Matins and Lauds, recited very early in the morning, with the privilege of anticipating them on the previous night; Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, which were recited at the first, third, sixth and ninth hours of the day; Vespers, and evening prayer, and Compline, a prayer before retiring to rest.
If he so wishes, the Tertiary may divide his Office according to these Hours. It would be even well to do so. He would thus be in harmony with the spirit of the liturgy and would be interspersing his day’s work with an official prayer of the Church. Pope Leo XIII approved the practice of saying five Our Fathers, etc., for Matins, and one Our Father etc., for each of the Hours of Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. The same Pope strongly recommended meditation on Our Lord’s Passion while reciting the Office.
The Office may be said alternately by a group of Tertiaries in the same manner as the Rosary is recited by a group of people, or the office recited by Religious in choir.
Tertiary Office
The Rule mentions three different Offices which the Tertiary may recite: the Divine Office, or the Breviary; the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, which is very similar to the Divine Office, and which is not to be confounded with the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, as the latter would not suffice for the Tertiary Office; and the Office of the twelve Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glorys. Clerics who recite the Divine Office are not bound to recitation of the latter; and, in private, they may follow the Breviary of the First Order.
The usual Office recited by the Tertiaries is that of the twelve Our Fathers, etc. This is marvellously adapted to exigencies of modern life, which cannot endure long prayers. We see the wisdom of the Church in fitting the burden to the shoulder, giving an obligation in proportion to the strength of those expected to fulfill it. That is why the Office of Tertiaries is so small, but at the same time being an official prayer of the Church.
Because of its brevity and composition, there is a danger of misunderstanding the value of the Tertiary Office. The Tertiary should remember that, not only is he praising God in union with Christ’s intentions, but his is also using some of the grandest prayers in the whole liturgy of the Church. The Our Father was composed by Christ Himself. The Hail Mary consists, mainly, of God’s own salutation to Mary through the archangel Gabriel. At least, it fell immediately from Gabriel’s lips when he came straight from the throne of God, to announce our redemption. It is completed by the salutation of Elizabeth to Mary; and the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, added the rest. The Glory is a profession of faith in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, the fundamental dogma of our religion. Through it, the Church gathers up the praises of all creation from the beginning to the end of time, and offers them as a hymn of adoration to the Blessed Trinity.
Hence, despite its brevity, because of its contents and object, the Tertiary Office is really sublime.
God’s Minstrels
By means of their Office, Tertiaries become God’s minstrels, singers of God’s praises with Christ and the Church. Naturally, they should prove themselves worthy minstrels by a faithful daily recitation, never omitting that duty except when prevented by illness or some other just cause. The Rule caters for these exceptions, and, under these circumstances, dispenses Tertiaries from recitation of the Office.
Pope Leo XIII, although already reciting the Divine Office, recited his Tertiary Office daily and that before his morning Mass. In 1884 he wrote: “Indeed, every day, before we approach the Altar we recite the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory twelve times. Yes! Yes! The Pope himself recites every day the Seraphic Office of Tertiaries.
Francis Praying
Would that Tertiaries had a little of that devotion which St. Francis had when reciting his Office! Thomas of Celano tells us that, when Francis was saying his Office, not only did he seem to pray, but his very being became a prayer. What passed between God and himself in that converse and ecstasy of prayer, he never revealed to anybody.
When reciting the Office he would not lean on anything, but prayed in an upright position, devoting all his attention to the sublime work. “If the body,” he said, “which is the prey of worms, is allowed to enjoy its food in quiet, with how much more tranquillity and peace must the soul take its food, which is God Himself!” When he was nearing his end and was no longer able to read because of his poor health and almost total blindness, he had a cleric read the Office to him daily.
St. Bonaventure says that one may judge whether a religious is a good religious from the manner in which he recites his Office.
Of the Tertiary the same may be said. May he say it well, and cry out with David, the Psalmist: “Let my prayer, O Lord, be directed like incense in thy sight.

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We would like to acknowledge that the preparation of the document that this was taken from was compiled by A. Hermit, St. Mary’s, Kansas, from a manuscript entitled The Tertiary Office of the Paters published in 1949 by the Franciscan Herald Press (now defunct), and a treatise on reciting the Tertiary Office entitled AIDS, from the same publisher. Some minor editing has been done for clarification and correction.

Sr Constance (TOSF)