Can Lay brothers get married?

Can a lay brother in one of the many orders get married? or is it just for laymen? Or am I confused and laymen and lay brothers are the same thing?

Lay brothers are men who have joined one of the monastic Orders and have not received ordination (many will never be ordained and remain life-long and important members of their Order as lay brothers); as long as they are members of their respective Orders they may not marry. There are also laymen who may join an Order as a Secular or Third Order member; these men (and likewise women who join such an Order) are free to be married or to marry.

Perhaps Br. JREducation will chime in to give you a fuller picture.

I’m not JR but I’ll pinch-hit for him in case he’s busy elsewhere. :slight_smile:

What you say is essentially correct, although ‘monastic’ is not really the appropriate term here because it specifically applies to male religious who are monks; I’m also a lay brother, but I belong to a mendicant order - which is to say, I’m a friar, not a monk - and it would also be possible to be a lay brother in other kinds of religious institutes. But you’re quite right in pointing out that lay brothers are often non-ordained members of a religious institute that also includes ordained members. Ordination is the only difference between them, and otherwise they take the same vows, including lifelong chastity.

It depends upon the way that particular order defines a lay brother. A man who enters consecrated religious life as a brother, friar, monk (depending on the order) takes vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, so no, he may not marry. Nor may a married man who still has responsibility for wife and minor children be accepted as a candidate for that order. If he is not ordained, he is usually called a brother, and like a religious sister he is a lay person. If he is ordained he is also a priest even if the members of his order call each other “brother.”

If you are speaking of lay associates of various religious orders, such as Secular Franciscans or Benedictine Oblates, these are lay men and women who live in the world, many are married with children, and work in any job in the world, but associate with the monastery for their spiritual formation and direction, and often assist the monks or sisters in their ministries.

Some Religious Orders have “Lay Associates” (such as Oblates) instead of “Third Orders”. Some Religious Orders have only a “Third Order”, such as the Carmelites. Others have a “Third Order Regular” and a “Third Order Secular”, such as the Franciscans.

“Lay Associates” are an association founded hundreds of years after the original Order. Third Orders usually were founded by the original founder of the Order, as is the case of St. Francis. They are true Religious Orders as Pope Paul said when he approved the Rule for the SFO. “Lay Associates” are not.

Thank you for that clarification, Br. Mike. :slight_smile:

And the Discalced Carmelites use the term “Secular Discalced Carmelites” to designate the Third Order, and the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance us “Lay Carmelites”.

Frances - (O.C.D.S.) :wink:

We also have “T.O. Carm” Third Order Carmelites. It becomes very confusing when you look at all the different Religious Orders, Religious Institutes, Lay Institutes, etc.

You are more than welcome. We Carmelites must stick together. :wink:

Best wishes.

Thanks for answering guys, I would also like to mention that I’m interested in the Carmelites and their order.

not to be off topic, have you ever seen the blessed mother is dreams or Jesus?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit