How did you decide whether you were being drawn to a 3rd Order?

And how do you know you’re choosing the right one?

I’m sure you are all going to tell me to pray ! - and I do - so is it just a case of if the idea won’t go away then God is saying to me ‘this is where I want you to be’.

I am drawn to Carmelite spirituality - I like the contemplation thing - I try to say the LOTH and Rosary daily - I like the solitude of prayer and just being with God. I really feel He wants me to go further with my faith in this way - I’m not sure I would have been able to be a full-fledged nun (although I may have tried if I hadn’t met my husband when I did - I was thinking of joining a nursing order) and I love my husband and children. But since my marriage was convalidated almost two years ago now I have been interested (no that’s not really the word - its more of a pull) in joining an order.

I guess I would just like to know how others have discerned this and how they chose their order.

Also on another thread I noticed someone had written that they already followed the Carmelite Charism so it was a natural step to join - what would you say would be following their charism in secular life?

Apologies if this is a little rambly and thanks for any advice.

Hi–I am in a similar situation and would also be interested in the answer to the questions you posed.

I realized after much prayer that I could not be fully myself without living Dominican spirituality. I also noticed that living Dominican spirituality helped me to grow in virtue and observed that I lived my life with more charity inside the Order than out.

I personally believe that we find our path through two things - prayer, and encounter with people. They’re often very much linked, by the way - praying with the saints and other major figures of a religious tradition is the best way to get to know them and the family to which they belong.

Ofren here on the forums posters will request recommendations of religious or secular institutes that meet particular conditions they think are important. Of course there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but it can be a rather mechanical way of exploring a vocation. I developed my passion for Carmelite spirituality by firstly, meeting people who belonged to the Carmelite family, and secondly by reading works by and about the Fathers and Mothers of the order - so it was about personal links for me. Over time I wanted to share more and more of my life with them, and so I eventually applied and was accepted for formation as a friar.

In the modern world we have lots of ways to encounter other people, be they living or historical figures - books, TV and radio, internet, and old-fashioned face-to-face meetings and retreats. I find that this is a very immediate way to explore whether a particular tradition speaks to us in a way that fits our personality and spirituality.

In my order we often talk about Carmelite DNA, suggesting that those of us who are ‘grabbed’ by our charism feel this way because it is already part of us at a very deep level, and we simply have to realise this to give it room for expression.

I remember going on an excellent retreat at a Jesuit house here in the UK shortly before I decided to make a formal application to my piovince, and telling the director that I was seeking a path to follow, and that it was Carmel that most attracted me. His phraseology in supporting this decision has remained with me: he said that if it was the Carmelite saints with whom I felt most at home, it was with them that I should continue to discern.

If I understand your screenname correctly, and you are indeed from Yorkshire UK (where I grew up!) there are groups of the TOC (Third Order Carmelites) and I think also the OCDS (Order of Discalced Carmelites Secular) near to you. Finding out more by reading, and perhaps trying to meet some of these people in time, would be a good way to proceed. It doesn’t commit you to anything, and it’s just as possible that you can discern a path within another charism by taking the same steps with their saints and tertiary groups. This, initially at least, is what it means to follow a charism within a secular existence.

I could recommend some further reading for you if you’re interested; please feel free to send a private message to me. Prayers and best wishes.

I am an SFO with a wide contemplative streak. I knew shortly after I became Catholic that I needed something more, and I looked into the SFO first because I knew SFOs and was drawn to their witness. There is nothing else near me, and even SFO gatherings are far away, so it was a logical starting point. When I began formation, I knew that Franciscan spirituality fit my life well, but I also had to decide that it was okay to explore, and that nothing was lost by doing formation, even if it didn’t ultimately lead anywhere. After maybe six months, it was super obvious to me that this was my path.

Pretty solid response here. In my case, over time I just saw that it all fitted with all that I’m about. It’s like putting a round peg in a round hole, or a square peg in a square hole. Aptness plus aptitude.

Just wondering about some other problems one might encounter in choosing a third/secular order. If a person was drawn to a certain spirituality but there were no groups nearby, what would you recommend the person do next? Do they go with their 2nd or 3rd choice if they can find a group? Do they need to move to where their 1st choice group is located? Or does it mean that maybe God is not wishing them to join a third order at all?:confused:

It means you go ahead and look around and explore and maybe email people from the farther groups. I know that with Secular Franciscan fraternities, there may be emerging groups that aren’t listed in a directory yet.

Plus, third orders aren’t limiting. I’m a very contemplative Franciscan, and have a friend who is still convinced that I’m really a Carmelite. I’m also in higher education, which would make Dominican spirituality a good fit.

Look around. See what feels right. Different groups will have different flavors even within the same religious family.

I’m still in the discerning process of joining a Third Order. I’ve known ever since I even heard the word “Carmelite” that it was a path I needed to investigate seriously. I’m a convert to the faith, and this year have gone through a bit of a Second Conversion, taking my spirituality to a new level (daily mass, daily rosary and mental prayer, etc.).

If you’ve ever read “Story of a Soul” by little Thérèse of Lisieux, you may remember that she called Jesus Christ her ‘Spiritual Director’. For me, the Holy Ghost has been my spiritual director. I pray daily for guidance to take me down the path that will save my soul and will draw me closer to God and to Christ. I find that I’ll be prompted to do a certain Google search, or go to a certain bookstore where I pick up a new book that answers every question that God has put in my head in that moment. As I was reading “Story of a Soul”, it became eerie how often I would ponder a question for days, only to have the answer come to me as clear as day in the pages of the book. For example, I was struggling with prayer and what I should pray for. If I prayed for a holy death, I felt guilty that I wasn’t praying for priests, and if I prayed for priests, I felt guilty that I wasn’t praying for the holy souls in purgatory. That kind of thing. When little Thérèse said that she knew she was to dedicate her life to praying for priests and the conversion of souls, I realized, I can do that! That makes total sense to me. I’ve adopted a couple of priests that I know as well as asked God to assign me the priest that is in most need of my prayers as a spiritual mother, and pray for them daily. I also dedicated my rosary with the intention every day for the conversion of souls. When I’m prompted to pray for another intention by my ‘Spiritual Director’, I do so, but if not, I always pray for the sanctification of priests and the conversion of souls. Having a spiritual “mission” has brought great peace to my soul.

What confirmed my path towards Carmel for me was, oddly enough, a YouTube video. There is a movie about the life of Saint Teresa of the Andes, and I found a link to a video about Carmelite habits right here on this forum. After watching one clip, I had to go back and watch the whole movie. In one particular clip, Juanita (her name before she joined the cloister) was talking to a priest about why she wanted to be a Carmelite. He asked her the calling of a Carmelite, and she said, “To suffer, love, and pray.” It just hit me like a brick - I can do that! I can’t preach like the Dominicans, I’m too shy to serve like the Franciscans, I’m not disciplined enough to be a Benedictine. But I can pray. And I can suffer. And I can love.

Becoming enrolled in the brown scapular and praying a daily rosary has further drawn me to the charism of Carmel, to ponder God in my heart as Mary did. Every time I learn something new about Carmelite spirituality, my heart just soars. For example, I’ve been listening this week to a retreat talk by an Australian Discalced Carmelite on How To Pray. Everything that he says about getting to know God and entering an intimate relationship with Christ makes total sense to me. I pray daily to Our Lady of Carmel that I will do God’s will in everything, and that I can learn to walk this path of Carmel.

For me, the path of Carmel is simply walking towards the desert, to be alone with God Alone. It’s that deep union that I long for. I don’t ever expect to be a mystic like St. Teresa of Avila or John of the Cross. Instead, I strive to be like Brother Lawrence, simply living my life of doing the things that are required of my vocation, but in the constant and intimate presence of God. With some, spirituality is learning as much as possible. For me, being a Carmelite actually involves simplifying my spirituality, with mental prayer and practicing the presence of God as the core of my being. I’ve learned much more from standing with Mary and St. Mary Magdelene (my confirmation saint) as I pray at the foot of the cross than I have from any book, or video, or homily.

This journey of getting to know Christ and to love God as He deserves to be loved, and learning to accept the love of God for me, has brought me to places both happy and sad that I never dreamed I could go. I still haven’t formally pursued the path to join a third order group, as I have two options (both TOC and OCDS) and have not been pulled strongly in either direction. But I am preparing myself so that when God puts the option in front of me to go the direction He wants me to go, that I will be ready.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

I have been drawn to the OCDS (Order of Carmelites Discalced, Secular). As for discerning…I think that you have to have an actual vocation. I looked into religious life, even entered a community but it didn’t work out for me. I had looked into OCDS before that but in truth, I was looking as a “fall back on” kind of thing. So, eventually I met my husband and married him and had kids; but always I wanted to be closer to Our Lord. When the kids were young, I was praying over it and got a deffinate ‘no.’ Then the kids were grown up and I had let go of my many other obligations and it was time.

I looked into the Dominicans and the SFOs (on the internet, their writings–not in person). I didn’t feel that their charisms were a good fit for me. And I had this feeling for the Carmelites. So, Blessed be Our Lord, I found an OCDS community near me. I am now clothed and in 1st formation.

When I was being interviewed, one of the councilors came up with something I couldn’t come up with on my own…“Do you think you feel called to a contempletive community because the rest of your life is so busy?” (and it is) Yes! That’s it! I need to have the opportunity to be Mary and Martha. I am thinking, that for me, the Dominicans and the Franciscan secular orders would have been being Martha and Martha!

Hope that helps

Firstly thank you all for you replies - apologies that I have taken so long I saying that but I have just moved house and haven’t had internet access for TWO WEEKS ! - aargh - how have I survived ??? :eek:

This is what I am hoping when I find an order - that it will help me become what I know I can be but sometimes don’t have the patience or self discipline to acheive!

Absolutely, I think that’s why I am drawn to a contemplative community also - any other running around at the moment would be a bit insane but I CAN find the time, as my kids are old enough not to need me constantly, to take myself into a quiet room and pray - yes it is sometimes ‘prayer or SIMS 3’ but prayer is always much more rewarding!

Can you tell me a bit more about what you do in ‘1st formation’ - do you have a kind of ‘regimen’ of daily prayer, rosary etc - I would really like to learn as much as possible before contacting the order so I don’t look like what my kids would call a ‘total newb’ :blush:

[quote=HonoraDominum;8437873 It just hit me like a brick - I can do that! I can’t preach like the Dominicans, I’m too shy to serve like the Franciscans, I’m not disciplined enough to be a Benedictine. But I can pray. And I can suffer. And I can love.
]How To Pray

. Everything that he says about getting to know God and entering an intimate relationship with Christ makes total sense to me. I pray daily to Our Lady of Carmel that I will do God’s will in everything, and that I can learn to walk this path of Carmel.


Thank you for that lovely post - you pretty much summed up everything I feel. I too feel that my prayer and love is the thing that God has given me - I’m not charismatic or brave or talented in any way but I do have empathy for people and the urge to pray every time I hear something sad or awful - so maybe that IS my talent.

I am trying to get in touch with my priest at the moment - I belong to a large and busy parish and there are 3 priests so I don’t always see the ‘main guy’ after mass - when he’s normally too busy chatting up the elderly ladies (!) afterwards at the door that I don’t like to hang around and ask - but I am thinking more and more about the Brown Scapular. I have worn a veil to mass a few times and it really made me aware of my behaviour and what I was there for (not that I’m a rebel but just ‘enhanced’ the Mass if that makes sense) - anyway it was a tangible reminder and I wonder if wearing the scapular might be the same - just by having something on all the time, and you can feel it all the time, does this make you more aware of who and how you want to be?

Anyway definitely rambling now so will just say thanks for the links you provided - they have given me much to think about. :thumbsup: :smiley:

I posted my story on here awhile ago. I’d re-post it but it’s pretty lengthy (I needed three posts to contain it all), so it’s probably better if I just link it:

What an awesome account. Which one did you decide on?

I realized near the end of writing 3500 total words on the topic in less than two hours that the answer was pretty obvious. Because really, what order do we know will write (or talk) non-stop until they get an answer? Confession the next day confirmed it as the priest I saw had some wise words.

I’m trying to hammer down a time to meet with the head of the Dominican Priory here in town, but he’s also the president of the college so he’s super busy and hasn’t got back to me yet :frowning:

Ha ha. Yes.

Wanted to thank Honora Dominum for the post about how you were drawn to your 3rd order. It allowed me to honor my deepest desires and I now discovered there may be a group near me that I can learn from. I am very appreciative of your words and example. Thanks!:slight_smile:

Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you…

I’m just giving a brief, partial overview. First, one is an aspirant; that’s where you and the community determine if you are being called to be a Secular Carmelite. It sounds scary but it’s really not. That’s where you learn what a Secular Carmelite is expected to do. So, here it goes…1/2 hr of mental prayer daily (doesn’t have to be all at the same time), Morning and Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, Night Prayer if you can, daily Mass if it is possible and, of course, the Church’s rules on Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation Mass attendence, frequent confession (I go about once a month). Each community has it’s own apostalate, which usually isn’t very difficult; I mean, it usually doesn’t take tons of time.

The Carmelite way is very practical; our Holy Mother Teresa put a lot of emphysis on common sense. She said that holiness can be developed but common sense has to be there already.

Don’t feel like you don’t know anything…Most of the people coming at first don’t know what to do, or how to say the Hours; they’ll teach you. From your name, I’ll guess that you live in the UK; all I can say is that here across the pond we have 1 year as an aspirant, 2 years in first formation (kind of like a novice), 3 years after 1st Promises and then after that, difinitive Promises (like final vows–but they’re promises).

Good luck and I’ll keep you in my prayers!

This topic is coming up quite often around here. It confirms my belief that that many of the faithful are starving for an authentic approach to Christian spirituality and a way of ordering one’s life to God.

I started off looking for 2 things. Continued formation and a way to increase my understanding and practice of spirituality within the Catholic Church. I originally looked at Opus Dei but eventually moved away from that.

From there, I found out about lay orders and started digging. There were two groups that attracted me: The Society of Jesus and the Order of Preachers. Both have a strong intellectual tradition which interests me and I identify with the mission of both groups. As it turns out, the Jesuits do not have lay orders but they do have a group called the Ignatian Associates which function in many of the same ways. The Dominicans on the other hand, do have lay orders. From there, I looked continuously into both options and while I did waffle a bit, I kept coming back to the O.P. Following this, I found that I was moving to a new location and as it so happened, there was a Dominican Laity chapter in town.

Since prayer and contemplation was already mentioned, I would suggest to the Original Poster to study each group you are looking into and learn whatever you can about their Charism and approach to Spirituality. That may include buying books, reading articles, going to retreats put on by the orders,etc. For me, I started doing a great deal of study. I read dozens of articles, watched videos, and asked questions of anyone who would listen long enough. I made phone calls, sent e-mails, and made a general nuisance of myself until I had enough information to go forward with the beginning stages.

One thing I found interesting is that many orders started off right away with multiple parts of their family. For example, according to an article on the Dominican Laity by fr. Philbert, OP, although the Nuns were first, the OP has had three branches of the family since the early years: Friars (Religous Priests and Brothers); Sisters (Cloistered Monastic Sisters and Active Apostolic Sisters); and Laity (Lay Sisters and Lay Brothers) who are to “live within their families, neighborhoods, workplaces, and communities as a kind of leaven in the dough of society”. In addition, it is my understanding that at this time, the family is considered to have four branches with the previously named Monastic Sisters now being referred to as Contemplative Nuns and being viewed as a distinct branch from the Apostolic Sisters while of course remaining equal in dignity.

Now that I am in the very early stages of formation as a Dominican lay brother I am stocking up my library on books related to the OP. I already have enough books to last me two years of nonstop reading in addition to my study materials I am getting through the Province and my Chapter.

As an FYI, here is an example of the types of articles I was finding online. There are a surprising amount of stuff out there. I have posted a couple of these in a previous thread. but since they might be of interest to the OP, I will add them here as well.


[size=]***** = take everything I say with a strong dose of doing your own research. It is entirely possible that I am full of rubbish! :D[/size]

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