A comment was made recently about the Third Order of Mercy. In many respects, this is a widely unknown aspect of the Mercedarian Friars. Perhaps, this is true for other Religious Orders and Congregations who have some sort of lay involvement. From the very foundation of the Order, lay people have played and taken an integral part in the Redemptive Mission of the Friars. Recall, that the Order was founded by a layman -- S. Peter Nolasco. The Order was a "Brothers' Community (i.e. non-clerical) from the very beginning. In the course of time, the Order's structure would change, yet the same involvement and necessity of the collaboration of men and women in the apostolic works of the Friars would remain the constant.
(Above: Some members of the Third Order with the Friars and His Excellency, Michael Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh)
“Since the beginning of the Order, lay people have participated and collaborated in the exercise of our redemptive mission, forming various associations and confraternities. Among the most important is the Third Order, an association of lay people integrated into the Mercedarian family, which participates in the redemptive spirit.” (Constitutions of the Order of the B.V.M. of Mercy, #117).
Members of the Third Order know and cherish the spiritual treasure of the Order so they are able to realize the Mercedarian ideal, according to the directives of the Church and of the Order, in keeping with the circumstances of each country. Candidates for the Mercedarian Third Order receive the scapular of the Order during the initial stages. After a period of preparation-study of the history, spirituality, and charism of the Order-the candidates who have already received the scapular request their incorporation into the Third Order with full rights and receive the shield of the Order.
Many spiritual privileges have been granted by the popes to the Mercedarian Third Order members. Upon fulfilling the usual conditions of reception of the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist and prayer for the Holy Father, they can gain a plenary indulgence on the day of their admission and on the liturgical feasts of the Order.
They also share in the merits of the prayers and good works of all the members of the Mercedarian Order. They share in the special suffrages many times throughout the year on the constitutional commemorations and on November 7th in remembrance of all the deceased religious, Third Order members, and benefactors of the Order.
The most distinguished of the Tertiaries was Beata Marianna de Jesus. (After the posting of this addition to the blog, I received a correction, a protestation... in my haste to post, I neglected to mention that Beata Marianna is distinguished after the illustrious Philip Johnson (haha....). Nothing is taken from her beatitude; but in her humility she allows him to stand first.... ok Phil, there you go.... )
Some of you who read this blog may be more aware of one of our honorary Tertiaries over at In Caritate Non Ficta