WARNING / ATTENTION
This is a pre-Vatican II document. Although it is still spiritually beneficial for individual and communal use, all references to pre-Vatican II practices may no longer be valid under Canon Law and Church Practice.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 2 The Purpose of the Third Order
- Chapter 3 The 1930 Constitution of the Third Order
- Chapter 4 Spiritual Opportunities
- Chapter 5 The Mass of Reparation
- Chapter 6 The Teachings of St. Norbert
- Chapter 7 The Norbertine Life
- Chapter 8 The Ceremonial of the Third Order
- Chapter 9 The Norbertine Calendar
- Chapter 1 Daily Prayers - Morning Prayer
Act of Adoration
Act of Faith, Hope and Charity
The Memorare, or Prayer of St. Bernard
Prayer to Our Guardian Angel
Prayer to Our Patron Saint
Prayer for a Happy Death
- Daily Prayers - Prayer During the Day
Prayer for Graces
St. Philip Neri's Prayer
Cardinal Newman's Prayer
Thomas á Kempis' Prayer
Prayer for Humility
Prayer in Honor of the Most Holy Trinity
Prayers to the Holy Spirit
Prayer for Greater Love of God
Prayer Before Study or Instruction
Prayer for the Increase of the Pious Custom of Daily Communion
Contemplative Poem: Just for Today
Contemplative Poem: All For Jesus
Method of Mental Prayer
Daily Prayers - Evening Prayer
Act of Adoration
Act of Contrition
Prayer for Daily Neglects
Act of Love
Prayer of St. Alphonsus
Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus
- Chapter 2 Preparation and Prayers for the Sacrament of Reconciliation
- Chapter 3 Communion Prayers
- Chapter 4 The Mass
- Chapter 5 Devotions to the Sacred Heart and the Holy Hour
- Chapter 6 The Eucharistic Way of the Cross
- Chapter 7 Devotions in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Chapter 8 Devotions in Honor of St. Joseph
- Chapter 9 Norbertine Devotions:
Little Office of St. Norbert
Novena to St. Norbert
Litany of St. Norbert
Throughout the Christian ages, the different religious orders have witnessed, gathered about their monasteries, priests and faithful, who, under the influence of their religious ideals of their dynamic spirituality, and of their Rule, have wished to lead a more Christian and disciplined life, without leaving their secular state. These associates, called Tertiaries or Oblates, following the priests and the nuns, form the Third Family of the Order to which they are united. They imitate the life of their brethren as far as possible, conforming their lives to the fundamental maxims of the Rule, and observing certain practices of the cloister compatible with their vocation in the world. Obviously they observe the spirit more than the details of monastic life, but special obligations are imposed upon them, which far from impeding the accomplishment of their secular duties, promote it.
St. Norbert may be considered the first to encourage a lay person to remain in the world and yet to aim at sharing monastic privileges. The Bollandists, after their usual critical study, concede that, and one may read in any biography of St. Norbert (1080-1134) that the Founder of the "White Order", seeing that the reception of Count Theobald, grandson of William the Conqueror, into one of his monasteries would be accompanied by grave difficulties, advised him to remain in the world.
In acting thus, Norbert was refusing wealth, possibly sustenance, to his two-year old Order because the old chronicler claimed this Count of Champagne and Blois had "as many chateaux as there were days in the year." The founder also deprived his new community of a candidate whose charity, piety, truthfulness and loyalty to the Church were proclaimed by St. Bernard to Pope Innocent II. Today modern historians like Nettement and Béraud looking over his life's record give the same verdict, and their phrases may explain even St. Norbert's advice to the royal candidate. They entitle him as the "father of orphans", "the defender of widows", "the protector of the weak", "the refuge of lepers".
Such demands on Theobald's charity and his duties as a ruler must have influenced St. Norbert's decision. At any rate, after advising hem to stay in the world, he gave Count Theobald a rule of Christian life with practicfes adapted to his vocation in the world, but exact enough, however, to become a sure path, a safeguard, and a bulwark against the dangers of the world. The Saint vested Theobald with a little scapular of white wool, worn henceforth by the Count of Champagne, and Blois as a proof and an emblem of his union with the Norbertine Family. Max Heimbucher, in his massive work, [footnote-001] dates the founding of the Norbertine Third Order about 1128 because Count Theobald was given the white scapular of the Norbertine Order in that year. This date labels it as the oldest current Tertiary organization. In his approval of the Order, Pope Benedict XIV, on May 22, 1752, appropriately called it the oldest, and also Pius XI, on March 30, 1923, in the encyclical issued on the eight centenary of the founding of this Third Order, wrote: "The oldest of these bodies of Tertiaries is the one that flourished in connection with the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré." Among modern historians it is interesting to note that the Benedictine Cardinal Gasquet wrote: "It is worth remarking that the Prémontré Canons were the first to conceive the idea, afterwards so largely developed by the mendicants of the thirteenth century, of uniting to them by formal aggregation laymen and women in what was known as a Third Order. These associated brethren, though not bound by the stricter obligations of religious life, still, while engaged in their ordinary secular employments, followed a mitigated observance somewhat akin to that of the Canons themselves." [footnote-003]
The name of Blessed Theobald of Champagne, the first to be received into the Third Order, was inscribed in the necrology of Prémontré and of Valsecret. The record of a great number of these associates is also found in the necrology of Floreffe, and in the obituary of Silly, a Norbertine Abbey in the diocese of Seez. The necrologies of all Premonstratensian monasteries give like records.
Soon all France and Europe supplied Tertiaries for the family of St. Norbert. "Kings, princes, dukes, counts, lords, and vassals", wrote Le Paige "all came to some Norbertine abbey to ask for the white livery of St. Norbert and the rules given by him to men in the world." [footnote-003]
It would be difficult to say what excellent influence this institution of the Third Order exercised in the general progress of civilization in France and in all Europe, throughout the centuries. The archives have not revealed all their secrets.
The Bollandists disclose traces visible at Antwerp from the twelfth century. The great city preserved a pious gratitude to St. Norbert, who at the beginning of the twelfth century had freed it from the tyranny of the heretic Tanchelm, and with peace came also the new Order. In a contract of brotherhood signed by the canons of Notre-Dame of Antwerp and the Premonstratensian Canons established in 1135 at the Abbey of Saint-Michel, it was stipulated that "the parishioners of Notre-Dame who wish to unite themselves to the Order of Prémontré by receiving the Rule and the Habit of the Order may receive the Sacraments from them and be buried in their cemeteries." [footnote-004]
"Obviously," writes the prince of Bollandists, Father Papebrock, S.J., "this is a spiritual confraternity including both sexes and married people, such as those that the mendicant Orders call Tertiaries."
The same author thinks that toward the middle of the sixteenth century the scapular for Tertiaries was modified, and that a lead medal was substituted, representing on one side the Host in a monstrance. Very likely, the associates hung it around their necks and wore it as a symbol of their faith in the Most Holy Sacrament. That Premonstratensian Tertiaries could not choose a better countersign than the image of the Most Holy Sacrament is also the thought of Father Papebrock, for are they not the children of a saint who made the adorable Eucharist the center of his priestly and religious life?
At the end of the seventeenth century, after a period of stagnation and obscurity, a vigorous restoration was begun in Brittany. The Abbey of Beaurport, not far from Saint-Brieuc, deprived of its regular abbot, had at its head an energetic Prior, Father Vincent Royer, who maintained the most edifying regularity in his monastery. Through his diligence the abbey church eclipsed all those of Brittany in beauty and splendor. His zeal did not end at the boundaries of the monastery, for he obtained a Pontifical Brief approving the "Confraternity of the White Scapular" established in the abbey. The General Chapter at Prémontré in 1686 under the Father General Michel Colbert (1702) praised and approved this confraternity which did not seem to differ from the Third Order, and granted to all its members a share in all the spiritual blessings of the Order.
Finally, in the eighteenth century, the Bavarian Norbertines with the permission of Father General, Bruno Becourt (1741), resolved in their turn to reestablish an institution which had existed in Bavaria, and which they thought to be of value for the welfare of souls. The Reverend Father Silbermann, Abbot of Saint Savior, in the diocese of Passau, and Vicar General of the Order in Bavaria, Tyrol, and the Palatinate, addressed a request to Pope Benedict XIV (1751) on the subject. The illustrious Pontiff welcomed his request, approved again the Third Order of St. Norbert, and gave it new rules better adapted to its present needs. Thus uniformity was established and the various efforts were united under the sanction of the Holy See. A Manual appeared, entitled "The Idea and Practice of the Old Third Order of St. Norbert." It is one of the first manuals for Norbertine Tertiaries.
The Pontifical Briefs of Benedict XIV and of Pius XI are the basis of the modern Third Order. In the Brief of Pius XI, March 30, 1923, the Holy Father gives his approval to the Rule, which eight centuries earlier St. Norbert had given to Blessed Theobald, and adds many spiritual favors to the indulgences granted to the Order by his predecessors.
Thus there has been an apparent ebb and flow to the history of St. Norbert's Third Order. Today we hope that it will return to its high tide, but never in jealous rivalry with the other excellent third orders, as the Franciscan and Dominican, which have done so much good. As the religious orders, with their distinguishing spiritual exercises, rules, and works of charity, all aim at the supreme purpose of honoring God, so do the various third orders have their characteristic methods of accomplishing life's task. They differ from each other, but as St. Norbert said of the many orders: "Etsi diversae numquid adversae?" - They may be diverse, but they are not opposed to one another. St. Thomas [footnote-005] compared the different religious orders in the Church to the various flowers and plants in the garden of God's Kingdom on earth whose variety and order delight the eye. It is to be hoped that the members of the Norbertine Third Order will continue to help beautify the Kingdom of God.
For this reason all Christians are admonished in the words of our Lord: "Be you therefore perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect," [footnote-006] but Tertiaries are urged to use special means. They are also given special help. In the faithful observance of the Rule which has aided many holy souls in centuries past, they may find the spirit of the Order, the strength of perseverance, and the realization of Christ's promise: "He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved." [footnote-007]
From 1124, the year made memorable in the history of the third orders by the investiture of Count Theobald of Champagne with the scapular of the Norbertine Tertiary, the third orders have claimed the allegiance of the laity for the ideals of the religious life. Even men outside the Church recognise the importance of incorporating at least the spirit of this life into mankind. Ralph Adams Cram wrote: "For the vast majority of men and women 'life in the world' is the life to which they are called. For them the system of monasticism becomes an example, and it is this very quality of communal life conceived in human scale which is most susceptible of extension from the cloister out into the manifold fields of secular activity. It is to the monasteries that we owe the fine organization of society in the Middle Ages, and it is to these orders together with the others that have come into being during the last five hundred years, that we shall turn again to find how once more we can build up a life that shall be human and not imperial." [footnote 1-2-1]
The saints who founded the great third orders sought the sanctification of the individual soul, then the improvement of society. They knew well that zeal which is effectual in the reformation of large groups emanates from one source, the sanctification of the individual. In every age, many thoughtful men and women have hear the call to live more perfect lives and have longed to remedy some of the evils current in the world about them. They have realized the need of spiritual direction and of organization and unity of work and prayer, were they to do appreciable work for God. To such as these St. Norbert gave the Rule of the Third Order. To men and women having high ideals, yet engaging necessarily or by vocation in worldly pursuits, he gave a rule of life which aids them in acquiring greater personal perfection and, consequently, of doing more for the glory of God. Tertiaries are given the great privileges of living, as far as is compatible with their lives in the world, religious lives under the guidance of an approved rule. They may thus give exactitude and regularity to each day and accomplish more for God both in prayer and in work. "Where there is no rule, there is no order," says a spiritual writer. "We live by caprice and fancies. With a rule of life, on the contrary, all is done in an orderly manner; each duty has its proper time set apart for it; nothing is forgotten; nothing is done in haste or in a creless manner. Thanks to a rule in life, all is done well; and that which is true in regard to order is equally true in regard to practices of piety. With a rule they are done with exactitude; without a rule they have no fixed hour; we defer them, and we finish by omitting them entirely." [footnote 1-2-2]
The rule of life followed by the members of the Norbertine Third Order gives to the lives of the Tertiaries regularity with its rich rewards; it also brings the true peace which comes with obedience to a rule or to superiors, the sacrifice of the individual's own judgment at times, the self-restraint, and the mortification often required on the part of those who are faithful to its directions. Moreover, Tertiaries know that they are following the will of God when they conform their lives to a rule written by a saint and repeatedly approved by the ecclesiastical authorities.
Each Tertiary is also a member of an apostolate of prayer and work, of a vast communion of souls all inspi9red by the same ideal of working for their own sanctification and for the salvation of souls. The Tertiaries share not only in the prayers and works of other Tertiaries, but also in those of the Norbertine Religious: they share, too, in a rich treasure of indulgences granted by the Holy See.
A modern writer says: "If, at any moment, you are unable to name a great man who is, or has recently been, having an influence on your conduct, you will be passing the verdict: Ordinary on the quality of your own thought and existence." [footnote 1-2-3] The life of a Tertiary ought never to be ordinary. In his search for perfection he seeks holiness in imitation of the virtues which made St. Norbert and the saints of his Order chosen ones of God. Within the Rule and the spirit of the Third Order, he is given a definite plan which he may follow, as it has been followed by Tertiaries of past centuries and, in more perfect manner, by the Norbertine Religious. Those Norbertine Religious or Tertiaries who have been canonized folloed their particular rule as perfectly as possible, making the basis of their spiritual lives the five great ends of the Norbertine Order: prayer, zeal for the salvation of souls, the spirit of habitual penance, a special devotion to the Eucharist, and a filial loyalty to the Blessed Virgin, especially to her Immaculate Conception. Upon the same spiritual background, the Tertiaries of our day may strive to be not only better Christians, but perfect Christians.
What others have done, they also may do. They may seek perseverance and fortitude in devotion to the Sacred Heart, to which the Order is solemnly dedicated, and to Our Lady, Protectress of the Order. They may find encouragement in remembering that they share in the prayers of a large religious family. Those who are constant and fervent in prayer, who are animated by an unremitting spirit of penance, not only make reparation for their own sins but for the sins of others. They may always find the great source of spiritual strength in frequent reception of Holy Communion and in attendance at the Holy Sacrifice. In devotion to the liturgical life of the Church, they may find happiness, for the liturgy is both beautiful and inspiring, and a wealth of instruction. Those who follow the liturgy by using a Missal at Holy Mass find spiritual aid not only in their rule and in imitation of the lives of the saints, but also in the lesson taught in the poetry of each day's Mass.
Tertiaries are so blessed with spiritual advantages that they can make their lives extraordinary. In imitation of St. Norbert, they may, if they are earnest in endeavor, advance daily in virtue. They may realize the joy of working for God, of remedying if only slightly, some of the evils of the world; for the reformation of society comes through the reformation of the individual. Tertiaries who follow the Rule, who imitate the lives of the saints of the Order, who pray unremittingly for the grace of perseverance, may confidently hope to do effective work for God even though they do no more than inspire others to be better Christians. Those Tertiaries who will do the most good will be ever mindful of the maxim of a holy Norbertine Religious, the Blessed Servace of Lairvelz: "The servant of God aims to be holy, not to appear holy."
The chief purpose of the Third Order of St. Norbert is to promote love of the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to the Blessed Virgin, especially under her title of the Immaculate Conception, and also to foster peace and harmony among individuals regardless of social or national distinctions.
Rule 1: Devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin.
Tertiaries should heartily cherish and zealously promote the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament of the altar and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
1. Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament
"In the service of the altar consists the essence of our salvation." Hugh of Fosses, O. Praem.
St. Norbert was one of the foremost of Eucharistic saints. [footnote 1-3-1] His faith in the Divine Mystery and his confidence in the efficacy of the Mass were remarkable. On one occasion, when he brought an end to a fanatical hatred destroying a country, he apparently ignored the impatience of the people; for, before he addressed the throng, he offered two Masses (a practice then permitted) to draw divine mercy upon those he would convert. Always, and before all else, he relied on this great supernatural means for the success of his apostolate. The Mass was the center of his life. When he stripped himself of his goods, and as a worthy precursor of St. Francis of Assisi, espoused evangelic poverty, he kept only the necessities for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice. His biographers have noted the extraordinary devotion with which he offered it. It was his devotion to the Eucharist which made him the choice of Providence to bring back the faith in the Real Presence and the worship of our Lord in the Eucharist in the city of Antwerp, carried away by the Tanchelm heresy. It was also his love of the Blessed Sacrament which made him the choice of Providence to awaken in the Church a religious family primarily devoted to the worship of the Blessed Sacrament and to the Mass.
The members of the Third Order of St. Norbert will be distinguished by their respect, their confidence, their love, and their zeal toward the Holy Eucharist. They will remember that the Eucharistic devotion in the Order of Prémontré has the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as its principal object; and they will remember the words of the holy founder: "It is at the altar that each one of us manifests the ardor of his faith and his love of God." They will try to profit by the gradces of love which are the fruit of Holy Communion. They will try to make a daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament. If possible, they will spend an hour once a month in adoration to repair the irreverence and sacrileges committed against the adorable Mystery, to gain the conversion of sinners, and to draw upon souols the graces of which Jesus is the source. All Tertiaries will receive Communion frequently, be devoted to the Mass of Reparation [footnote-1-3-2] and to all good works that have for their object the glory of God in the Sacrament of the Altar. In these they will find the true source of supernatural life.
2: Devotion to the Blessed Virgin
"He is not a son of the Virgin Mother of God who does not serve her with his whole soul." St. Norbert, Monita Spiritualia
There is a tradition sanctioned by Benedict XIV, in the martyrology of Regular Canons for August fifth [footnote 1-3-3) that the Blessed Virgin herself showed the founder of Prémontré the color and the form of the habit his disciples were to wear, saying, "My son, Norbert, receive this white habit from my hands."
Therefore, every true child of the saint regards his white insignia as a proof of the Blessed Virgin's love for him, and as an encouragement to foster in his heart ardent love for her, especially to her Immaculate Conception. Such is the tradition of the Order, a thought voiced also in words of the holy founder: "The intention of this Mother of fair love, in adorning us with the symbol of her purity, was to teach us to clothe ourselves with true devotion to her Immaculate Conception. Then, if you are not inflamed with love for her, if you do not imitate her virginal chastity, you are Premonstratensian Canons only in name and habit." (Monita Spiritualia)
Among the Tertiaries, as among the Norbertine Religious, this devotion should be expressed by love, imitation and zeal. As an expression of their love they will adopt the devotional practices of the Order. They will try to recite daily, as do the Norbertine Religious, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In any case, they will recite the rosary frequently and hold dear all practices of devotion to the Blessed Virgin which have been approved by the Church. On the days before the principal feasts of our Lady, the Norbertine Religious keep a fast. The Tertiaries will practice some mortification in their meals or perform some act in honor of Mary. The more generous the tribute, the more pleasing it is to the Queen of heaven.
God so cherished the honor of the Word Incarnate that He preserved the divine Mother from original sin. Since the Tertiaries wear the livery of Mary, they must seek to clothe their souls in the virtues of the Blessed Virgin. The Order is said to be "totus Marianus" - "entirely Marian"; each one of its Religious and Tertiaries, therefore, must have something of the soul of Mary. They will try to extend this tender and ardent devotion to the Blessed Mother, that many souls may be brought to know the Queen of the Order, learn to invoke her with confidence, love her with a filial love, grow through an intelligent and perfect devotion in intimacy, imitation, and dependence upon the loving Mother.
Rule 2: A Forgiving Spirit
Tertiaries should assist in dispelling a dissentious spirit and in implanting a peaceful and a charitable one. Therefore, they will live so in charity that it will not be difficult for them to forgive injuries quickly.
Like St. Norbert, who was so zealous in the reconciliation of enemies and so generous in teh forgiveness of injuries that he was called the "Angel of Peace", Tertiaries will endeavor to merit the blessing promised by our Savior in the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed be the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." [footnote 1-3-4] When personally offended, may they think of the insults meekly borne by their Crucified Master, the heartache of their Blessed Mother. Then may they accept the offense gratefully, for the "servant is not above the Master", happy that they may offer any humiliation in reparation for their sins. Remembering that every incident in their lives comes from the permissive Will of God, they will try to pray for one who has given them the opportunity to sacrifice their self-love for love of God. They who must often seek God's forgiveness for insults offered Him will try to pray the Our Father aright. Never will Tertiaries foster the least bitterness in their hearts, nor will they hesitate to make the first advance at reconciliation.
Rule 3: Conversation
Tertiaries should carefully avoid loose and uncharitable talk and vulgarities unbecoming a Christian.
"The servant of Christ bears all patiently, because he speaks and works for Christ." Blessed Servace of Lairvelz, O. Praem.
In conversation the Premonstratensians of the Third Order will observe the following rules:
1) They will listen to the advice of St. Norbert to his brothers: "Restrain your tongues, lifting your hearts to the heavenly kingdom." Keeping one's heart lifted to heaven while conversing with men is the means of attaining the perfection of which the Apostle, St. James, spoke when he said: "If man offend not in word, he is a perfect man." [footnote 1-3-5] On the verge of some doubtful remark, the Tertiaries will ask themselves whether Christ or Mary would have made it. If the answer is 'No', the speech will readily and resolutely be avoided.
2) According to the Constitution, the Tertiaries must not only cultivate this reserve, but endeavor to influence others to develop it. There should be no scrupples, no human respect. They will, on occasion, imitate the energy with which St. Augustine opposed sins of the tongue, for he had this sentence engraved on the wall of the room in which he ate with his disciples: "If anyone love to gnaw away at the reputation of the absent, may he know that this table is forbidden to him." [footnote 1-3-6]
3) The Tertiaries will try to make their conversations of value to souls. In their relation with others, they will show the gentleness and affability which gave St. Norbert such great influence over hearts. "Norbert was a man of God with a cheerful appearance, serene face, gentle conversation, affable way; finally -- all things to all men." [footnote 1-3-7] They will try to lead others into the right way, to encourage the works of zeal that others (perhaps governed by a secret jealousy) discredit by their criticism and scorn. Gracefully entering harmful conversations, they will attempt to turn them into useful or edifying channels. Let it be felt that they are children of God, judging all from the standpoint of faith and impregnated by a truly supernatural spirit. Thus, following the example of one called by his contemporaries the "Herald of God" they will fulfill, even in simple conversation, their office of apostles.
Rule 4: Avoiding Occasions of Sin
Tertiaries should not be present at scandalous parties, immoral shows, improper dances or other dubious activities. Likewise, the viewing or reading of books, periodicals and other media offensive to good morals and religion is forbidden.
"He is not chaste who does not instantly flee from the enemy of chastity." Blessed Servace of Lairvelz, O. Praem.
That such diversions are forbidden to any Christian worthy of the name is an elementary truth. Tertiaries who have made public profession of a close imitation of our Lord, will take no part in scandalous or dangerous amusements of any kind. They will also avoid all time-wasting reading. That there are social affairs, banquets, and entertainments at which they will be expected to be present is understood. They will be guided, however, by moderation. Pure and lawful recreation is not only permitted, but necessary. In the spirit of mortification, they may deny themselves superfluous trips, doubtful plays -- all that can favor dissipation or squandering of time.
Rule 5: Confession and Communion
Tertiaries should receive Holy Communion at least once a month and on Easter Sunday and on the following feast days of the Blessed Virgin: Assumption (August 15), Nativity (September 8), Immaculate Conception (December 8). They should, however, not be satisfied with monthly Communion but aim at frequent and even daily reception.
1) Confession. "You have given nothing to Christ if you have not given your heart." Blessed Servace of Lairvelz, O. Praem.
Tertiaries will confess every month, and if they can conveniently, every week; but if confession is impossible, Tertiaries should receive Communion as long as they are in a state of grace and fasting, if they receive as St. Norbert directs.
They will not approach the Sacred Tribunal without the firm resolution never to commit a single deliberate fault and to redouble their vigilance against faults of weakness. They will try to appreciate ever more deeply the abundant graces received in the Sacrament of Penance, through which their Lord, as a merciful Judge and Savior, prepares their hearts for His coming in Holy Communion.
2) Holy Communion. "You are the temple of God, and the spirit of God dwelleth in you." [footnote 1-3-8] The Source of all graces. Who loves men so much as to enter their hearts in Holy Communion, will hear the petitions of those who humbly and lovingly receive Him. The Tertiaries will pray for the interests of Christ throughout the world, for the suffering souls, for the Church Militant, in thanksgiving for the many blessings of God. They will ask their Divine Guest to imprint in their hearts the distinctive traits of the Norbertine character, to make them lovers of the Holy Eucharist as was the holy founder, that Christ-like in ideals and life, they may be filled with humility, charity, and zeal for those who are unfaithful to their duties, trying to make amends to the Sacred Heart for the ingratitude of those whose intimate Friend He longs to be.
Rule 6: Meditation
Tertiaries should devote a quarter of an hour to meditation or spiritual reading on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
The thoughtful hearing of a sermon will satisfy this obligation. To persons who are busy the Rule allows a choice between meditation and spiritual reading.
Meditation is "God's quarter of an hour." [footnote 1-3-9] Reflection is essential to growth in the spiritual life. Tertiaries may well try to spend fifteen minutes in meditation, "for he is not a friend of God who is not a friend of prayer." [footnote 1-3-10] In attentive prayer to Christ, the most loving and generous of friends, they will obtain an abundance of grace. Like St. Norbert, they will learn to "serve God not according to the will of men, but according to the will of God." [footnote 1-3-11]
The Tertiaries who sincerely desire to enrich their spiritual lives will find the living source of prayer and spiritual strength in well-chosen and well-assimilated reading. They may consider the words of St. Augustine: "You shall have made a good use of spiritual reading if it is a sincere mirror in which your soul, beholding itself, endeavors to efface the stains which it discovers and to enhance the beauties of the virtues with which grace has adorned it." Before the books of piety they will turn to the Gospels, [footnote 1-3-12] for a study of the Divine Writings is indispensible to Premonstratensian Tertiaries. They will familiarize themselves with the Sacred Text and they will study it with the thought of personal sanctification. One of the most popular explanations of the Sunday Epistles and Gospels was written by a Norbertine Canon of the seventeenth century. [footnote 1-3-13] This book has been translated into all modern languages.
Rule 6: Canonical Prayers
Tertiaries should, if convenient, daily recite the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin [footnote 1-3-14]; otherwise they should recite either five decades of the Rosary, or the Apostles' Creed, with the Our Father, Hail Mary, and this ejaculation: "Praised be the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and the Immaculate Conception of Mary" seven times. This latter form is concluded by the Prayer to St. Norbert:
Norbert, as a burning light placed on a candlestick, enlightened all who dwelt with him.
V. Pray for us, St. Norbert.
R. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
O God, Who has made of St. Norbert, Your Confessor and Bishop, a great preacher of Your Word; and through him has enriched Your Church with new offspring, grant that by the intercession of his merits we may practice with Your help what he taught by word and deed. Through Christ our Lord.
Priests and clerics, however, who are obliged to recite the Canonical Office, should add at Vespers and Lauds the foregoing commemoration of St. Norbert. [footnote 1-3-15]
The sick and those who are legitimately hindered in reciting the prescribed prayers may be dispensed from them or have them commuted into other forms of devotion by their superiors.
"Know him to be damned who does the work of God negligently." Blessed Servace of Lairvelz, O. Praem.
Tertiaries will notice the bond between this rule and the preceding one which prescribes mental prayer. No vocal prayer is seriously made which is not anticipated by habitual recollection and meditation. They will see in prayer the most efficacious means of serving the eternal interests of God and of souls. Following the example of the members of the First Order, they will dispose themselves for prayer by a short meditation, to determine all their intentions, to adopt the interior attitude they should have before God, and to choose the method they will follow in order to sustain their attention and fervor. They will remember the tradition of a great Religious Family whose aim before all is the perfection of divine worship, especially in all that concerns the celebration of the Mass.
Rule 8: Fasting and Abstinence
Tertiaries should abstain from the use of flesh meat on the Vigil of the feast of St. Norbert (July 10). For the rest they should faithfully observe the prevalent Church laws of fasting and abstinence. When legitimately dispensed, they should assist at Mass.
"An austere life is fruitful in joys; no one believes it unless he practices it." St. Norbert
St. Norbert was a great penitent. Following his example, his followers should lead a penitential life. He wants them to be, like him, friends of the Cross, and like him, to unite to their works the austerities of true monastic life. They will seek and find at the feet of the Crucified, the motive and strength of their zeal and efforts. The union with Jesus suffering, through love and through imitation, in order to be with Him, the Savior of souls, is the ideal of the Norbertine life. Like St. Norbert and his sons and daughters, the Tertiaries will believe firmly and practically in the supernatural efficacy of personal penance in the success of works and in the conversion of sinners.
Many motives will bring the Tertiaries to the courageous acceptance of their own suffering and penance; the desire to expiate their own sins and those of souls entrusted to them, of souls dear to the Immaculate Virgin; the desire to imitate Jesus Christ and His suffering, to repair in generous love the ingratitude deplored by the Sacred Heart; to revenge on themselves the injuries It receives; to drawn down upon priests abundant graces which will help them in their work for souls. This last desire will be especially dear. It will lead them to practice mortifications to carry bravely the heaviest crosses for the salvation of souls.
Pius X rejoiced that there were not only in the cloister but in the world many generous souls who praying for the sanctification of the clergy, ceaselessly offer themselves to God as voluntary victims. [footnote 1-3-16] The Tertiaries will imitate these truly apostolic souls. They will avoid all excess; for instance there will be no meal without some act of mortification, however small.
Rule 9: Vestition
Tertiaries should wear the habit of the Order or under their ordinary dress wear the white scapular blessed by the Abbot or his delegate. Tertiaries living in the world should dress simply and modestly so as to be an occasion of sin and scandal to no one.
"He is not poor who does not feel the inconvenience of poverty." Blessed Servace of Lairvelz, O. Praem.
The very material of the scapular reminds the Tertiaries that they are called to penance, for the thought of St. Norbert in choosing the habit was: "The tradition of the Church, that public penitants wore only wool." In color, the scapular symbolizes, according to the tradition of the Order, the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
For the Tertiaries it will be a constant reminder of all the bonds that draw them to the love and the imitation of the glorious Patron of their Order, of the obligation to love the Blessed Mother with the most filial devotion. Wearing this religious habit, they will try to learn ever more perfectly its lesson of humility, poverty, and penance.
Rule 10: Care of the Sick and the Dead
Tertiaries should be attentive to one another in times of sickness and of sorrow in a spirit of fraternal thoughtfulness and kindness. If possible, they should attend the funerals of departed members, assist at one Mass for each deceased person as soon as possible, and remember them in their prayers.
"How will a religious die in the Lord who in life has not worked for the Lord?" Blessed Servace of Lairvelz, O. Praem.
One of the most precious advantages of religious associations is that the members can and must pray for one another. Besides the Christian fraternity uniting them, the Tertiaries share, according to the Apostolic Brief, "In all the indulgences, the Masses, the prayers, and other spiritual works which, with the grace of God, are performed in the Order of Prémontré, and that, during life and after death."
The Tertiaries who learn that one of their associates is seriously ill, will be as helpful as poossible giving not only spiritual assistance but temporal, if necessary. Whenever possible, sympathetic attention to and cre of the spiritual needs of the poor and the sick in public institutions should be encouraged.
The Tertiaries of the Order may be buried in the habit of the Order. They will leave instructions in this regard: in any case they will not be buried without the scapular.
When a Tertiary has died, the Tertiaries must offer the prayers prescribed by the Rule to be said after the death of an associate. Moreover, every year, the Order of Prémontré solemnly celebrates three anniversaries of their dead: the feast of St. Gregory the Great (March 12), the feast of the Holy Trinity, and All Souls Day.
Rule 11: The Moderator
The abbot or his delegate or vice-regent may admit members to vestition and profession.
"He who has not his superior in place of God, God has not such in place of His son." Blessed Servace of Lairvelz, O. Praem.
The abbot has ordinary jurisdiction over the Third Order as over his monastery. He or his delegate admits new members, gives them the habit and receives their profession.
The Tertiaries belong to the abbey or the Priory that receives them, and the professions will be inscribed on the registry of that Abbey.
Rule 12: Admission of Postulants
Public sinners may not be admitted. Persons of both sexes who have reached the fifteenth year of their lives, provided that there be not the least doubt of their piety, prudence and moral integrity, may be admitted.
"Woe, woe to him who is an evil among good." Blessed Servace of Lairvelz, O. Praem.
The Third Order is for those who desire to follow Christ in a generous spirit of humility and mortification, who are earnestly striving for perfection.
It will therefore dismiss those whose reputation, piety, prudence, leave something to be desired. Those who look only upon the minor sides of the Third Order will not realize its profound and apostolic significance; those who are attracted by too human considerations will not have the spirit of piety and mortification of the ideal Norbertine.
It will accept only those who will understand and desire to follow the admonition of St. Norbert, "Lead a life of penance," and who will be firmly resolved to maintain and develop perfection by keeping the spirit and, as much as possible, the letter of the Rule. The Third Order will ever seek expansion, but, before all, quality, fervor and generosity.
The Third Order is not merely a simple affiliation to the Order of St. Norbert; it seeks the whole soul of those attached to it to form them in the spirit of its spirituality. The Order desires that the great motive in the Tertiaries' lives may be the realization, within themselves, of the Norbertine ideal.
Rule 13: Relation to Other Third Orders
Members of another Third Order may be admitted into the Third Order of St. Norbert provided they have ceased to belong to the other.
Rule 14: Loss of Membership
With a view to protect the good name and honor of the Third Order and to promote the salvation of our neighbor by our good example, members should carefully watch over their actions and way of living. Those who become a scandal to others by reason of their manner of life, if they show no indication of amendment, are urged to give up membership.
The Tertiaries should be attentive to the thought of St. Gregory the Great: "True faith consists in not belying our words by our behavior; he alone believes truly who practices what he professes:" for members of the Third Order, seeking in prayer and work to bring souls to the love of God, must far more what they are than what they have.
Rule 15: The Obligations of the Rules
None of the present rules oblige under pain of sin.
"The Constitution of Religious Orders, generally speaking, do not oblige under pain of sin. They are, save for special declaration, counsels of perfection to be followed with love, but if transgressed, the transgression in itself is not a mortal or venial sin. We say in itself; one can sin by transgressing a monastic rule by reason of the motive, indolence, or sensuality, for instance. One would be in danger of sinning gravely if one failed through formal contempt of spiritual authority in so much as it speaks in the name of God.
Rule 16: The Establishment of the Third Order
The Third Order of St. Norbert can be established only in conformity with Canon 703, Section 2, and Canon 686, Section 3 of the New Code.
"For canonical establishment of the Third Order in a locality, the approval of the Ordinary of the Diocese is necessary." Canon 703, Section 2
"The written permission of the Ordinary is necessary except where the First Order is canonically established." Canon 686, Section 3.
Rule 17: Visitation
The abbot or his delegate has the privilege of visiting and presiding at the meetings of the members at stated times for the purpose of acquainting them with the spirit of the Order.
"The abbot of the monastery or his delegate will convoke the members of the Third Order either for common retreats, annual or monthly, or for other meetings.
To the Norbertine Tertiaries a family has been given, an ideal to be realized, a tradition to be followed for the greatest welfare of their own souls and of those entrusted to their care. All this will be accomplished and the greatest benefit of their affiliation with the Order will be forthcoming only as they submit to regular and methodical control, throughout life.
Even the isolated Tertiary who may not be able to attend the meetings or to have regular contact with the director of the Third Order will not fail to realize that participation in the Rule and in the interests of the Order is absolutely necessary. All Tertiaries will try to make an annual retreat; at the time of their monthly recollection they will re-read a chapter of this Manual and examine themselves on the way they have followed the Rule; with the help of the formula contained in this book, they will renew their Profession, making the renewal on the day on which they made their original Profession in the Order.
If, one day, any Tertiaries think the Rule is too difficult, may they learn in meditation at the foot of Our Savior's Cross that their sanctification may be won only at the cost of perpetual effort and their obligations are the means to strengthen that effort. Then, through love of the Crucified, of the most Immaculate Virgin, of St. Norbert, and of his sons, saints of the Order of Prémontré, the Tertiaries, at peace, will find confidence and, knowing that they are helped by them all, will courageously take their way of the royal road of the Cross, day by day, hour by hour, "prepared for all good work, until death, for the redemption of souls."
The Approval of the Sacred Congregation of Religious
These present statutes of the lay Third Order of Prémontré, already approved by Pope Benedict XIV, are ratified and approved by this Sacred Congregation, and corrected in harmony with the New Code as set forth in the above Rules; are hereby ratified and approved by this Sacred Congregation.
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Die Orden und Kongregationen der Katholichen Kirche (1907) Vol. II, p. 58. This date is given as 1122 by Ellen Scott Davidson in her Forerunners of St. Francis, 1928, London, Jonathan Cape, 32 Bedford Sq. She writes: "Through Theobald, he established in 1122 a third order, the Fratres et Sorores ad Succurendum, who should live in the world but keep in so far as possible certain canonical observances. In this he anticipated by a century the Franciscan Tertiaries."
Monastic Life in the Middle Ages, p. 244
Bibl. Ord. Praem., lib 1, p. 311
Acta Sanctorum, Vol. XX, page 922
Summa II, 2 1q-183, art. III
Matt 5, 48
Matt. 10, 22
Ralph Adams Cram, The Great Thousand Years, Ten Years After, pp. 65-66
The Rev. M. Hammon, S.S., Meditations for All The Days of the Year, Vol. IV, pages 72-73. Benziger Brothers
Abbé Ernest Dimnet, The Art of Thinking, page 120
Blunt, H. Witnesses to the Eucharist
Part I, Chapter V, on Mass of Reparation
"On the same day the apparition of the Most Blessed Virgin who is in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist at Prémontré showed St. Norbert the white habit of the Institute."
Matt. 5, 9
James 3, 2
"Quisquis amat dictis absentem rodere vitam, Hane mensam vetitam noverit esse sibi -- "
Officium S. P. Norberti: Resp., ad I Vesp.
I Cor., 3
Blessed Servace of Lairvelz, O. Praem.
Blessed Servace of Lairvelz, O. Praem.
St. Norbert, Monita Spiritualia
"Quid debeas orare, Scriptura Sacra te docebit." (What you ought to pray, the Sacred Scriptures will teach you.) St. Norbert, Monita Spiritualia
L. Goffine's Devout Instructions on the Epistles and Gospels for Sundays and Holy Days, Benziger Brothers.
Copies of the English and Latin may be obtained at any Catholic bookstore. Officium Parvum B. Mariae V. juxta Ritum Candidi ac Canonici Ordinis Praemonstratensis may be obtained on this website in English.
Brevarium Praemonstratense inter suffragia.
At the Norbertine convent of cloistered nuns in Mesnil-St. Denis (Seine-et-Oise) of the Diocese of Versailles, there is the center of the Arch Confraternity, whose sole purpose is to pray for priests, living and dead. It numbers about 35,000 members.