"Everyone who belongs to the Truth hears my voice…" (John 18:37)

Ordinary Holiness

I’ve always loved the song, Ordinary Holiness.1 Somehow, the words really speak to my heart. The refrain goes like this – maybe you know it …

“Ordinary holiness, in the sacred day today.

Where we live and love and labor, as we gather here to pray.

Humble God of all simplicity, help ev’ry heart prepare.

And heed the call to holiness, and hear the call to prayer.”

Ordinary Holiness is a song about daily life, about the “Kitchen table Gospel [that] is lived in ev’ry home where fam’lies take the time to kneel and pray.”2 It’s about the fact that holiness isn’t just meant for the Pope, for priests, and for religious, but is God’s personal invitation to each and every one of us. St. Augustine had this Divine call in mind when he wrote, “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”3

Most of us would agree that religious and priests – those who have committed their life to God through the ministry of the Church – are called to holiness; their state in life, in fact, is uniquely suited to this goal.4 But holiness is not just for this select group of people. As Pope Francis reminds us, we are all called to be holy, no matter what our state in life. Holiness, he said, “is not the prerogative of only a few: holiness is a gift that is offered to all, without exception, so that it constitutes the distinctive character of every Christian.”5 And we have confidence that God will provide us with all the graces we need in order to answer His call. After all, it simply wouldn’t make sense for God to call us to holiness and then leave us to figure it all out on our own.

To some people, the idea of ‘being holy’ might sound intimidating; they might even wonder what holiness has to do with everyday life. Some might ask, “Isn’t it enough to just go to Mass on Sunday?” But holiness is not an extraordinary way of life, nor something that is otherworldly; it is simply the manner in which those who desire to have a close relationship with God go about doing very ordinary things.

What is holiness?

e7f2665647f374d621826e621044eb22Holiness is about you and your relationship with God. It’s about your priorities and what informs your actions; it goes to the core of who you are. It’s about what you believe and how you want to live your life. While it’s true that holiness includes keeping the Ten Commandments, it’s not because we’re obligated to follow the ‘rules’. It’s because, practically speaking, this is how we show our love for God and neighbour. Holiness is about being – and becoming – the person you want to be: the person God has created you to be, the very best version of yourself.

The Catechism for Adults defines holiness as “A state of goodness in which a person – with the help of God’s grace, the action of the Holy Spirit, and a life of prayer – is freed from sin and evil. Such a person, when gifted with holiness, must still resist temptation, repent of sins that may be committed, and realize that remaining holy is a lifelong pilgrimage with many spiritual and moral challenges.”8

Holiness isn’t an automatic grace that we receive because of some ‘good’ that we have done. Nor is it a way of life that God imposes on us. The choice of whether to pursue (or not pursue) holiness is a decision that each one of us must make for ourselves. And once we have made that decision, it isn’t long before we come to realize that holiness is ultimately a gift. It is not something we will ‘achieve’ at a particular moment in time, however – a moment when we can finally breathe a sigh of relief and pat ourselves on the back because we have ‘arrived’. Rather, holiness springs from our desire to imitate Christ following-jesus-is-hardand to persevere daily in a spiritual journey that is often filled with obstacles and challenges. It is an adventure that will not be over until the moment we draw our last breath.

We are always subject to temptation in this life, always at risk of giving in to weakness and turning away from God. If we desire to become holy, we must cooperate with His grace. We have to do our part: resisting temptation, repenting of our sins, and persevering no matter what obstacles there may be along the way. And there is no denying that at times it is a struggle.

St. Paul put it so well when, in his Letter to the Romans he wrote, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. … For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. … Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom 7:15, 18-19, 24)

God alone can deliver us, and thankfully He has given us companions along the way. We are not called to make the journey to holiness alone. God gives us the grace of the sacraments, the teaching of the Church, the example of the saints, and the support of our families, friends, and parish communities. He has also given us the gift of Secular (Third) Orders, ecclesial movements, and lay associations to help us draw closer to Him.9 Although you might not be familiar with all of these organizations, you may be surprised to discover that they are not nearly as mysterious or exotic as they sound.


Some people following Jesus – Gary Bunt (2006)

Secular Orders (Third Orders)

Secular orders – sometimes called third orders – are lay people who are associated with religious orders such as the Benedictines, Carmelites, Dominicans, or Franciscans. Although any Catholic may join a third order, you can’t belong to more than one at a time. Sometimes referred to as oblates (in the case of Benedictines) or tertiaries, third order lay people live in the world. Unlike consecrated religious who live in community, they are not bound by public vows. However, they are full-fledged members of their religious family.

Every religious order has its own particular ‘charism’, which is a term that refers to the way in which different organizations (or individuals) are gifted by the Holy Spirit in order to serve Christ’s evangelical mission and build up the Church. For example, the charism of the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order is contemplative prayer, while the charism of Lay Dominicans is to attain knowledge and wisdom through study and preaching. Benedictine Oblates are attached to a specific monastic house and are considered part of the community; they devote their lives to Christ in constant prayer, in Lectio Divina, and in work. Secular Franciscans devote themselves to living the Gospel, striving to live a simple lifestyle like that of St. Francis.

Joining a third order is a serious event; you don’t just ‘sign up’ on a whim. “Secular tertiaries take their commitment to be a Christian vocation in the deepest sense of the word. It is not merely another Catholic organization or group. Entry into a third order requires spiritual discernment and a proscribed period of spiritual formation, followed by a formal profession that includes promises or vows. After their profession, members are required to fulfill certain spiritual practices or exercises, and, if at all possible, meet in a group setting for ongoing formation and fraternal exchange. They also must participate, according to their particular gifts, talents, and circumstances, in the apostolic mission of their religious order, according to the specific rule followed.”10 TJ Burdock gives inquirers some excellent advice in his article, How to Join a Third Order.

“There is nothing mysterious about it. The great religious orders of the church have always made room for laypeople who want to share in their mission and spirituality, and some of them have even progressed so far in holiness as to be proclaimed saints. One of them, St. Catherine of Siena, OP, is a Doctor of the Church.

“If you become a Dominican Tertiary, your chances of becoming a saint will go up by 75 percent!” a Dominican nun once joked to me. “There are lots of Lay Dominican saints; nuns, not so much.”11

You might be surprised to find out how many saints and famous people have been members of third orders. For example, St. Pope John Paul II was an honorary member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. Dominican Tertiaries include St. Martin de Porres, St. Rose of Lima, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, and the Academy Award-winning American actress, Jane Wyman. St. Thomas More, St. Thomas Becket, and the Servant of God, Dorothy Day were Benedictine Oblates. Secular Franciscans have included saints Joan of Arc and Bernadette Soubirous as well as St. Pope John XXIII and St. Pope Pius X. Other famous Secular Franciscans include the Italian poet Dante Alighieri, artist Michelangelo, Blessed Peter of Siena, piano virtuoso and composer Franz Liszt, composer Charles Gounod, and scientist Louis Pasteur.12

Ecclesial Movements and Associations


At the Vatican – Pentecost, 2013 with Ecclesial Movements, New Communities, and Lay Associations

Ecclesial movements and associations, by contrast, are not associated with religious orders in the Church. Instead, they come into being as a result of the inspiration of a founder. The Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops writes, “At the beginning of every such movement, there is always some charismatic figure, some founding individual who has the capacity to attract people around him or her and brings newness of life in the Church. Through the vitality and variety of their differing charisms and Christian objectives, ecclesial movements and associations are often the result and fruit of actively involved Catholics who assume responsibility for their Christian vocation to sanctify themselves and the world.”13

In these associations, “the Christian faithful, whether clerics, lay persons, or clerics and lay persons together, strive in a common endeavour to foster a more perfect life, to promote public worship or Christian doctrine, or to exercise other works of the apostolate such as initiatives of evangelization, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with a Christian spirit.”14

Although different movements and organizations have distinct charisms, there are certain things they all have in common. As Deacon Keith A. Fournier pointed out, “The term ecclesial movements … does not focus on a particular movement – but on the Lord and His Church. Movements come and go, but the Church endures. Even if we participate in a particular movement, our call is to bring people into a relationship with Jesus and help them to find a home in His Body.

“Though each movement may have a unique charism and mission, they have some important common elements which are discernible. For example, they all invite Christians into a personal relationship, an encounter, with the Lord Jesus Christ.

“They all proclaim that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and is still alive in our midst in the Church which He founded. They all emphasize the universal call of all baptized Christians to holiness. They all point to living faith as united with action and directed toward mission.”15

For those interested in exploring a bit further, scroll down to see descriptions of a number of lay Catholic Orders, Movements, and Associations. This list focuses on groups that exist within the diocese of Calgary, Alberta. For a more complete list of International Ecclesial Movements, Associations, and Third Orders, see Footnote 9 below.

– Sharon van der Sloot

Third Orders:

1. Oblates of St. Benedict

“Oblates of St. Benedict are Christian individuals or families who have associated themselves with a Benedictine community in order to enrich their Christian way of life. … [They] promise to lead an enriched Christian life according to the gospel as reflected in the Rule of St. Benedict. … Oblates strive after stability and fidelity in their lives by regular worship with other Christians and by the support they give to the social and educational apostolates of their local parishes as well as that of the Church as a whole.”16

The Rule of St. Benedict, from the Abbey of Metten

The Rule of St. Benedict, from the Abbey of Metten

Benedictine Oblates embrace the principle of exercising moderation in all things while balancing out a lifestyle of ‘ora et labor’ (prayer and work). “With the Rule as their guide, Oblates adopt values that are part of the very fabric of Christian spirituality, such as, spending time daily reflecting on the Sacred Scriptures [by means of Lectio Divina – Divine Reading]; cultivating an awareness of the presence of God in silence; devoting time to the praise of God; performing acts of mortification. … The Director of Oblates provides direction and instruction through letters or meetings. Conferences, group discussions, common prayers, and participation in the community’s liturgical life afford Oblates the opportunity for spiritual growth. In offering this assistance to the individual Oblate, the guiding principle is that stated by St. Benedict in chapter 64 of his Rule: “Let the Abbot so moderate all things that there be something for the strong to strive after, and nothing to dishearten the weak.”17

In Calgary, the Benedictine Oblates meet at St. Bernard’s Parish from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the 3rd Friday of each month.  They begin by singing Vespers (Evening Prayer), then share a simple meal during which they listen to a reading about Benedictine spirituality. This is followed by a short break to visit with one another, and then they finish the meeting with a teaching session. The Oblates support one another in their spirituality as members of a community, praying for one another and keeping in touch between meetings. The Calgary Oblates are attached to Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon where they often go for retreats. For more information, contact the Director of Oblates, Fr. Michael Storey at (403) 703-5407, or by email at michael.storey@calgarydiocese.ca. You may also want to check out the Benedictine Oblate website at  http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html.

2. Discalced Carmelite Secular Order (OCDS)

“The Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites welcomes those of the faithful who, by special vocation, undertake to live, in the world, an evangelical life of fraternal communion imbued with the spirit of contemplative prayer and apostolic zeal according to the example and teaching of the Carmelite saints. Secular Carmelites come from all walks of life. They are business owners, public servants, clerical staff, professionals, homemakers, retirees, students, men and women, young and old, married and single. Each one, trying to respond to God’s call to ‘meditate on the Lord’s law, day and night’ while working, raising families etc.”18

“Secular Carmelites live their Vocation in every aspect of life – at the monthly meetings, at home, at work and at any church activity they participate in. [Their] Constitutions point out six Core Obligations which are referred to as the 6 M’s:

  1. Meditation – at least one half hour daily;
  2. Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours (and Night Prayer, if possible);
  3. Mass – daily, if possible;
  4. Meeting – monthly, and this is obligatory;
  5. Mission – an apostolate of your own choosing and participation in Community apostolates, if applicable;
  6. Marian devotion – wearing the small scapular, rosary, if possible, etc.”19

Calgary OCDS Members on Retreat – 2013. They are wearing the OCDS scapular.

All members also attend their community’s annual retreat and fast on the vigil of important Carmelite feast days (which include the feast days of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross). In Calgary, OCDS meetings are held at St. Thomas More Church on the 4th Sunday of the month. The Aspirants’ (those interested in becoming a Secular Carmelite) meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. and the regular meeting is held from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. For more information, check out their website at www.ocdswest.ca, email them at ocdswest@gmail.com, or call Phil Hetherington at (403) 281-2198.

3. Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic (OP)

The letters “OP” stand for the Order of Preachers, a term which aptly describes the Dominican charism “to preach the Gospel for the salvation of souls.20 Members of the Fraternities of St. Dominic are lay men and women from all walks of life who live out the Dominican charism in their state of life in the world. They “are accordingly distinguished both by their own spirituality and by their service to God and neighbor in the Church. As members of the Order, they participate in its apostolic mission through prayer, study and preaching according to the state proper to the laity. (The Rule of the Lay Fraternity #4).”21

The four pillars of Dominican spirituality are prayer, study, community, and apostolate (i.e. the work they do for Christ and for the salvation of souls). “For a Dominican, that work can be many things, but at its heart it always involves preaching [verbo et exemplo – by word and example]. Prayer, study, and community life are essential to Dominican spirituality because each forms the Dominican for more effective preaching of Christ to the world. The apostolic life of a Dominican, then, is where the call to preach is set in motion, and the benefits of one’s prayer, study, and community life are infused into one’s preaching.

The Dominican Scapular. For a first hand account of what it is like to discern a vocation as a Lay Dominican, see "Becoming a Lay Dominican" athttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/crywoof/2014/04/becoming-a-lay-dominican/.

The Dominican Scapular. For a first hand account about discerning a vocation as a Lay Dominican, check out the blog post, Becoming a Lay Dominican.

“Fraternity members, who are mostly laity living and working in the world, have a special call in their apostolic life. Lay people have the ability to penetrate with the Gospel areas of the world that religious cannot reach. Therefore, like St. Dominic, fraternity members have a very specific apostolate that they choose to undertake, that of preaching the Gospel to the poorly catechized, to the uncatechized, to unbelievers, and to those who are hostile to the Gospel. Fraternity members are called to imitate the fearless example of their founder who labored his entire life as a priest against the insidious Albigensian heresy, even staying awake all night at a pub, evangelizing and persuading the pub owner until the man’s eyes were opened to the truth of Christ! The apostolate of the Fraternities of St. Dominic always involves teaching truth, especially to those people who are farthest from it.”22

A new Lay Dominican Chapter is being formed in Calgary at the present time. Meetings will begin once 6 people have made a commitment to actively discern their desire to live according to The Rule of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic. During the first phase of discernment, inquirers will:

  1. attend meetings that are devoted primarily to the study of the Dominican Order, including the pillars of its charism, life and history, and spirituality; prayer; reflection; and discussion;
  2. receive guidance in discerning their vocations as Lay Dominicans;
  3. enjoy the support of members’ prayers and interest in the discernment process;
  4. at the end of the first phase, complete a letter of application requesting reception into the Order.

Inquirers will meet at the Dominican Priory in Calgary; the day and time of the meetings are still to be determined.

If you would like to get more information about the Dominican Order and the role of the laity, check out http://laydominicans.org. For those who would like to know more about joining the group in Calgary, contact Ryan Fox at rfox@redeemer.ab.ca.

St. Dominic met St. Francis of Assisi in 1215, while he was in Rome for the Lateran Council. Both of them went on to establish a new kind of religious life that was mendicant and apostolic. They had great respect for one another and, “At a later time, one or the other founder got angry at his sons for extravagant buildings and held up the other Order as an example of simplicity. Members of both Orders call both saints ‘Holy Father’.”23

St. Dominic met St. Francis of Assisi in 1215, while he was in Rome for the Lateran Council. Both of them went on to establish a new kind of religious life that was mendicant and apostolic. “At a later time, one or the other founder got angry at his sons for extravagant buildings and held up the other Order as an example of simplicity. Members of both Orders call both saints ‘Holy Father’.”23

4. Third Order Secular of St. Francis

img-franciscan-charism“Secular Franciscans are Catholic men and women who seek to deepen their faith and pattern their lives on Jesus Christ, in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi. [They] live and work in society. [They] are married, single, old, young, and from all walks of life. [They] seek to proclaim, by [their] example, the love, joy and mercy of Christ to the world.”24 Franciscans are both active and contemplative and strive for perfect charity in their secular state. They have a lifelong commitment to the Gospel and a particular focus on the poor of the world. They are dedicated to social justice, ecology, and fidelity to the Holy See. Secular Franciscans are members of Fraternities who gather together each month “to pray, study the Word of God and Franciscan texts in order to transmit ‘the Gospel to life and life to the Gospel’.”25

 “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” -St. Francis of Assisi

In the Calgary area, the Secular Franciscans are a bilingual group (English and Korean) who meet on the 3rd (or 4th) Sunday of the month at Canadian Martyrs Parish (with the exception of July and August). “Ongoing Formation Group Study begins at 12:30 p.m., followed by [their] regular meetings at 1:45 p.m. which include presentations on Christian spiritual and social issues, discussions of readings on Franciscan spirituality, Liturgical Prayer, and time to encourage and uphold each other. Through the year, [they] also have celebrations, speakers, potlucks, retreats, and special Masses.”26 There are regularly scheduled new classes for ‘Inquirers’. For more information, call (403) 229-1279, or you can email them through their “Contact Us” page on their website at http://www.ofscalgary.com.27

Lay Movements and Associations:

1. Catholic Charismatic Renewal Society (CCRS)

_6272606The Catholic Charismatic Renewal Society is a lay ecclesial movement within the Catholic Church that is composed of lay people, priests, and religious. However, unlike other lay movements, they don’t have an earthly founder. Instead, their focus is on the Holy Spirit and their charism is “to strengthen conversion to Jesus Christ by promoting a deeper understanding of the Holy Spirit and His presence in the lives of God’s people and His Church.”28

Here in Calgary, the CCCRS offers regular weekly prayer meetings throughout the city in a number of parishes. They also offer days of renewal, retreats, and seminars. The focus of their work, however, is to organize, facilitate, and host Life in the Spirit seminars for parishes, a unique mission that distinguishes them from other groups. They support and build on the Life in the Spirit seminars through conferences with international speakers. The goal of these seminars and conferences is to further deepen and encourage the experience of the Holy Spirit’s power as He works within those who attend – so that they can go deeper in a more personal relationship with Christ, and through Christ with the Father.

To learn more about the Calgary Catholic Charismatic Renewal and to find out about upcoming events, check out their website at www.cccrs.com. The 2016 “Like a Mighty River” conference will be held at St. James Parish in Okotoks from Oct. 14th to 15th. To register or for more information, see 2016 Like a Mighty River Conference or contact Anthony at (403) 667-0637.

Those unfamiliar with the Renewal may want to check out the link, What is the Catholic Charismatic Renewal? where Michelle Moran, president of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Society (ICCRS) and a two-time speaker at the annual Fall conference, provides short answers to some commonly asked questions. To find other groups within Canada, see http://ccrscanada.com/About%20us.html. The International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services webpage can be found at http://www.iccrs.org/en/.

2. Catholic Women’s League of Canada (CWL)

The Catholic Women’s League (CWL) is a lay association of women rooted in Gospel values who strive to call their members to holiness through service to the people of God.29 It includes women of all backgrounds – from the ages of 16 to over 90 – who have gathered together out of a desire to serve God and Canada while at the same time seeking faith, fun, and fulfillment. The CWL’s motto is “For God and Canada”, and Mary is their patroness, honoured as “Our Lady of Good Counsel.”  It is now the largest women’s organization in Canada.

“The objective of the CWL is to unite Catholic women:logo

  1. to achieve individual and collective spiritual development;
  2. to promote the teachings of the Catholic church;
  3. to exemplify the Christian ideal in home and family life;
  4. to protect the sanctity of life;
  5. to enhance the role of women in church and society;
  6. to recognize the human dignity of all people everywhere;
  7. to uphold and defend Christian education and values in the modern world;
  8. to contribute to the understanding and growth of religious freedom, social justice, peace and harmony.”30

The current theme of the CWL is One Heart – One Voice – One Mission; One Heart – filled with mercy, compassion and holiness; One Voice – united in harmony to speak the truth with courage and zeal; One Mission – witnessing to the Good News of the gospel through personal encounter and joyful service.

Local parish councils of the CWL gather for monthly meetings and provide support within their parishes and communities through the witness of their lives and by means of many different charitable works. For more information, check out their website at http://calgarydiocesecwl.cloudaccess.net/, or go to the Canadian CWL website at http://cwl.ca/. If you are interested in joining, call your church office to find out whether there is a CWL Council in your parish.

3. Cooperators of Opus Dei (“Work of God”)

St. Josemaría Escrivá is the founder of Opus Dei.

St. Josemaría Escrivá is the founder of Opus Dei.

Founded in 1928 by the tireless efforts of Father Josemaría Escrivá (who was canonized a saint in 2002), Opus Dei is the fruit of a grace he received in prayer to advance the apostolate of the laity in the Church. The goal of Opus Dei is to help ordinary lay people seek holiness in and through their everyday activities, especially through work. Its aim is “to contribute to that evangelizing mission of the Church, by promoting among Christians of all social classes a life fully consistent with their faith, in the middle of the ordinary circumstances of their lives and especially through the sanctification of their work.”31

“The teaching that everyone is called to holiness was at the heart of the Second Vatican Council. And so, in Opus Dei, there are men and women, single and married, lay and priests, from all the continents, and all walks of life who are called to live a deep spirituality, without leaving their profession, their families, or their friends.”32

“ ‘Opus Dei’s main activity consists in offering its members, and other people, the spiritual means they need to live as good Christians in the midst of the world,’ explained its founder. The faithful of the Prelature attend weekly classes called ‘circles’, dealing with doctrinal and ascetical topics, and a monthly day of recollection, a time for personal prayer and reflection on topics to do with Christian life. In addition, they attend an annual retreat lasting three to five days. Similar activities are also offered to the cooperators, to young people, and to anyone else who wishes to attend.”33

Opus Dei offers weekend retreats for men and women, talks on current issues, summer camps for young people, monthly retreats, and individual spiritual direction. For more information, check out their website at  http://www.opusdei.ca/en-ca/. For a list of Opus Dei centers in Canada, see http://opusdei.ca/en-ca/article/our-presence-in-canada/. In Calgary, contact the Westwood Centre (for women of all ages) at (403) 270-8988; men can contact the Bowmont Centre at (403) 288-2588 or email bowmont.centre@gmail.com.


4. Couples for Christ

cfc_logoCouples for Christ is a charismatic Catholic lay ecclesial movement within the Church who focus on Catholic life, marriage, and family. Their mission is:

  1. to live in God’s righteousness and holiness, evangelizing people through a life of love and service;
  2. to work for the renewal of families that will serve God and build generations of Christian leaders; and,
  3. to pursue total Christian liberation through Social Justice, respect for life, and work with the poor.

Couples for Christ offer a range of ministries “from womb-to-tomb” for people in every state of life: kids, youth, young adults, single or married, elderly, divorced, or widowed.

The Christian Life Program (CLP) is the entry point for people interested in joining the Couples for Christ community. This program is “an integrated course intended to lead the participants into a renewed understanding of God’s call to them as Christian couples. It runs for a total of 13 separate sessions, usually held once a week. Most sessions consist of three basic ingredients: a teaching, a group discussion, and a time for fellowship. Each session would normally last for about 2 1/2 hours.”34

At the end of the seminar, couple-participants are invited to dedicate themselves to the Lord as CFC members and to commit to participate actively in the life of the community and of the Church through regular prayer meetings, attendance in community assemblies and teachings, and participation in parish life. CLP graduates are then grouped into cell groups called ‘households’, consisting of at least 4 and up to 7 couples under the pastoral care supervision of a household head. The households are an essential feature of community life for the adults. They meet once a week, to discuss the Gospel, share testimonies about their own struggles to live according to Christ’s example, and to support one another in their spiritual journey. CFC members are expected to work actively for the renewal of their own families, on the premise that the family is the basic unit of society.”35 For more information, check out the Couples for Christ website at http://couplesforchrist.ca/. Those interested in joining can email info@couplesforchrist.ca.

5. Legion of Mary

legion-of-maryThe Legion of Mary is a lay apostolic association of Catholics founded by the Servant of God, Frank Duff. Members of the Legionaries look to priests and religious for their spiritual and apostolic formation, and their inspiration is the True Devotion to Mary as taught by St. Louis Marie de Montfort. The object of the Legion of Mary is “the glory of God through the holiness of its members developed by prayer and active co-operation in Mary’s and the Church’s work.”36

“The unit of the Legion of Mary is called a praesidium, which holds a weekly meeting, where prayer is intermingled with reports and discussion. Persons who wish to join the Legion must apply for membership in a Praesidium. The Legion sees as its priority the spiritual and social welfare of each individual.”37 Members participate in the life of the parish by visiting families and the sick, both in their homes and in hospitals, and by collaborating in apostolic and missionary undertakings sponsored by their parishes. “Every legionary is required to carry out a weekly apostolic work in the spirit of faith and in union with Mary. [Members generally work in pairs.] … After a successful period of probation, members are called to make the Legionary Promise (this is only applicable for members over 18 years) which is directed to the Holy Spirit. Realizing the necessity for a strong support of prayer, the Legion has Auxiliary members, who associate themselves with the Legion by undertaking a service of prayer in its name.”38

For more information about the activities of the Legion of Mary within the diocese of Calgary, check out their website at http://www.lomcalgarydiocese.ca/index.php or email info@lomcalgarydioscese.ca. The international website can be found at http://www.legionofmary.ie/.

kofc-logo6. Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus are men of faith and men of action. From the time they were founded in 1882, charity has been their first principle.

“Guided by the principles of charity, unity, and fraternity, members of the Knights of Columbus work to overcome the hardships that people face in their parishes and communities. [They] are a growing organization – more than 1.9 million members – and for over 130 years have committed to overcome the challenges of the need for food, shelter, warm clothing and financial security, as well as provide aid for widows and orphans in our local communities. …

Knights have the opportunity to strengthen their parishes, give back to their communities, grow in their faith and gain exclusive access to top-rated insurance products to financially protect their families. Councils conduct many programs that support their parishes and communities including:

  1. Various prayer and Eucharistic adoration programs;
  2. Participating in the Coats for Kids and Food for Families programs;
  3. Encouraging vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Becoming a Knight doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice quality time with your family. “Volunteering an hour here or an hour there – with your family – can make an enormous difference in your life and in the lives of others.
Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to men 18 years of age or older who are practical (that is, practicing) Catholics in union with the Holy See. This means that an applicant or member accepts the teaching authority of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, aspires to live in accord with the precepts of the Catholic Church, and is in good standing in the Catholic Church.”39

The Knights of Columbus are involved in local, national, and international charitable projects such as Special Olympics, Global Wheelchair Mission, Habitat for Humanity, Food for Families, and Coats for Kids. Each local council (which are based within parishes) evaluates the needs of their community and implements those programs and activities that are most needed in their area. For more information about the Knights of Columbus in the Calgary diocese, contact your local parish or check out their website at http://kofc.ab.ca. The international website is available at http://www.kofc.org/en/.

7. Regnum Christi

Regnum Christi is an apostolic lay movement within the Catholic Church whose goal is to help people “to live their faith deeply and to get involved in works of service that assist people with the hope of bringing them closer to Our Lord. [They] share the spirituality and working principles of the Legionaries of Christ, a religious congregation of priests and men preparing for the priesthood. The Regnum Christi family includes consecrated members, laypeople, diocesan priests and permanent deacons.”40

Every summer, Regnum Christi holds medieval adventure camps for boys age 7-17 (Arcātheos) and girls age 9-17 (Captivenia).

Every summer, Regnum Christi holds medieval adventure camps for boys age 7-17 (Arcātheos) and girls age 9-17 (Captivenia).

“For each member of the [Regnum Christi] Movement, Jesus Christ is the center, standard and model of their whole life. They seek to know him and experience him intimately through personal and community prayer, encountering him especially in the Gospel, the Tabernacle and the Cross. They strive to love him with a personal, real, faithful and passionate love. They aspire to live in communion with Christ so that he will reign in their hearts. They seek to conform their whole being to Him, imitating him in thoughts, words and deeds, above all with universal and attentive fraternal charity. Regnum Christi members take up their cross every day (cf. Lk 9:22-25), because they are aware that the path that Christ followed to arrive at the Resurrection applies to them as well.”41

“The spirituality of Regnum Christi invites its members to foster, in a particular way, five supernatural loves: love for Jesus Christ, love for the Church and the Pope, love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, love for souls and love for Regnum Christi.”42 Their apostolic work includes a wide range of educational and other spiritual activities, such as weekend and week-long silent retreats, monthly talks, weekly member meetings, and individual spiritual direction. For more information about the Movement, see http://www.regnumchristi.org/en/. For those interested in joining, check out the link at How to Join Regnum Christi.


1 Words and Music by Julie and Tim Smith, Ordinary Holiness (San Jose, CA: Resource Publications, Inc., 1990).

2 Ibid.

3 St. Augustine, The Confessions of St. Augustine (New York: Image Books Doubleday, 1960), 43.

4 In his book, Difficulties in Mental Prayer, Dom Eugene Boylan wrote, “The religious life is sheltered; it is designed to lead to perfection, and even its smallest details are directed by obedience. The religious knows at each moment what God’s will is for him, and the doing of that will is the mainstay of his spiritual life and the foundation of his prayer. The priest on the mission has not that detailed knowledge of God’s plan in his regard – but he has God’s Holy Spirit, and he must live by Him. Attention and fidelity to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and to the obedience of charity may replace for him the obedience of the religious state. In fact, one might say that devotion to the Holy Spirit should be one of the main features of the priests’ spiritual life. The Holy Spirit was given to him in ordination for all the needs of his priesthood. Personal sanctity and prayer are among those needs. Our Lord has made all fruitfulness depend upon our ‘abiding’ in Him; the Holy Spirit is the principle of such a union.” Quoted from Dom M. Eugene Boylan, Difficulties in Mental Prayer (First publication – Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1943; reprinted with permission by Princeton, New Jersey: Scepter Publishers, 1997), 98-99.

5 Pope Francis, “General Audience Nov. 19, 2014”; Vatican Radio; Internet; available from http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/11/19/pope_at_audience_the_universal_call_to_holiness/1111603. Accessed 27 August 2016.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, United States Catholic Catechism for Adults (Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006), 9th printing (Oct. 2012), 514. Italics have been added to the text.

9 For a list and description of the 122 Lay Associations that have received the official recognition and explicit approval of the Holy See, see http://www.laici.va/content/laici/en/sezioni/associazioni/repertorio.html. Although most of us have heard of ‘lay movements’ and other associations within the Church, not everyone is familiar with the term, ‘Third Order’. A religious ‘order’ is a community of people who live apart from the world as brothers and sisters in common; they profess solemn vows such as poverty, obedience, and chastity. Catholic orders include, for example, the Order of St. Benedict, the Carmelites, and the Dominican Order. “Some of the religious orders of the Catholic Church are ‘sub-divided’ into three orders. The First Order consists of the friars [male religious]. The Second Order is made up of cloistered nuns [female religious]. The Third Order may also be divided into the Third Order Religious and the Third Order Secular. The Third Order Religious would be those sisters who are not cloistered but serve the Church in the world. The Third Order Secular is made up of laity and diocesan clergy who live the charism of the order in secular life.” (Quoted from “Secular Carmelite Information.”) Information about Third Orders may be found on the Internet by following these links:

Third Order Info on the Internet:

Augustinians— www.villavallelonga.com/canada/MarylakeShrine/Secular/SecularAugustinians.htm; www.augustinian.org/seculars-friends/


Carmelites— www.laycarmelitespcm.org (O. Carm. – Secular Carmelites, ancient observance) and www.ocdswashprov.org (Discalced Secular Order of Carmelites)



Marists— www.maristlaity.com


Minims— www.sanfrancescodapaola.com




10 Michael Wick, “Holy ‘Orders’ for Lay People – Following in the Footsteps of the Saints as Tertiaries,” Catholics United for the Faith; originally published in the Nov/Dec 2004 issue of Lay Witness Magazine; available from http://www.cuf.org/2004/11/holy-orders-for-lay-people-following-in-the-footsteps-of-the-saints-as-tertiaries/; Internet; accessed 29 August 2016.

11 Elizabeth Scalia, “She’s a Tertiary? He’s an Oblate? What Is That About?” Aleteia (Jan. 20, 2016); available from  http://aleteia.org/2016/01/20/shes-a-tertiary-hes-an-oblate-what-is-that-about/#sthash.41olhsiZ.dpuf; Internet; accessed 8 September 2016. For a list of Lay Dominican saints and blessed, see http://laydominicans.org/study/dominican-saints/.

12 Cf. Ibid.

13 Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, “New Ecclesial Movements and Associations” (Sept. 5, 2006),  Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops; available from http://www.cccb.ca/site/eng/commissions-committees-and-aboriginal-council/national-commissions/doctrine/documents/2059-new-ecclesial-movements-a-associations; Internet; accessed 29 August 2016.

14 Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, “Preface, Associations of the Faithful Directory,” Pontifical Council for the Laity; available from http://www.laici.va/content/laici/en/sezioni/associazioni/prefazione-del-card–stanisaw-ryko.html; Internet; accessed 29 August 2016.

15 Deacon Keith A. Fournier, “Pope Francis Gives direction to Charismatic Renewal and New Movements,” Catholic Online (Dec. 20, 2014); available from http://www.catholic.org/news/international/europe/story.php?id=58059; Internet; accessed 12 September 2016. Deacon Fournier is a Roman Catholic deacon in the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia. A human rights lawyer and public policy advocate, he is also the Chairman of the Board, founder, and president of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance.

16 The Order of St. Benedict, “Oblates: An Introduction,” available from http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html; Internet; accessed 29 August 2016. ‘Stability’ refers to the fact that “Benedictine oblates maintain a stable and life-long spiritual union with one monastery.” (See http://www.oblatespring.com/oblatespring0200oblate.htm.)

17 Ibid.

18 “Secular Carmelite Information,” provided courtesy of Leslie Blair, Calgary community.

19 “Information Sheet of the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order,” provided courtesy of Leslie Blair, Calgary community.

20 Michael Hurley, OP, “The Four Pillars of Dominican Life,” available from http://www.dominicanwitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/4pillars.pdf; Internet; accessed 15 September 2016.

20 “Order of Preachers: Dominican Charism,” http://www.op.org/en/content/dominican-charism.

21  “About Lay Dominicans,” Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic; available from http://laydominicans.org; Internet; accessed 15 September 2016.

21 Michael Hurley, OP, “The Four Pillars of Dominican Life,” available from http://www.dominicanwitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/4pillars.pdf; Internet; accessed 15 September 2016.

22 “Apostolate,” Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic; available from http://laydominicans.org/apostolate/; Internet; accessed 15 September 2016.

23  “Timeline of the Life of St. Dominic,” Dominican Vocations Province of St. Joseph; available from http://vocations.opeast.org/2014/08/19/timeline-of-the-life-of-st-dominic/; Internet; accessed 15 September 2016.

24 “Who are Secular Franciscans?” St. Mary’s Fraternity O.F.S.; available from http://www.ofscalgary.com/?page_id=10; Internet; accessed 9 September 2016.

25 “Franciscan Spirituality,” Secular Franciscan Order: National Fraternity of Canada; available from http://www.ofsnational.ca/FranciscanSpirituality_EN.asp; Internet; accessed 9 September 2016.

26 “St Mary’s Fraternity,” St. Mary’s Fraternity O.F.S.; available from http://www.ofscalgary.com/?page_id=8; Internet; accessed 9 September 2016.

27 Also see http://www.ofsnational.ca/index_EN.asp. A complete list of Canadian fraternities is available at  http://www.ofsnational.ca/RF_Index_EN.asp.

28 “Our Mission,” Catholic Renewal Services of Edmonton; available from http://www.ccredmonton.info/about/our-mission; Internet; accessed 10 September 2016.

29 Cf. “Our Mission,” The Catholic Women’s League; available from http://cwl.ca/about/our-mission/; Internet; accessed 10 September 2016.

30 “League Objects,” The Catholic Women’s League; available from http://cwl.ca/about/league-objects/; Internet; accessed 10 September 2016.

31 “About Opus Dei: Message,” Opus Dei; available from http://www.opusdei.ca/en-ca/article/message/; Internet; accessed 12 September 2016.

32 “What is Opus Dei?” Opus Dei; available from http://www.opusdei.ca/en-ca/video/what-is-opus-dei-2/; Internet; accessed 12 September 2016.

33 “About Opus Dei: Activities,” Opus Dei; available from http://www.opusdei.ca/en-ca/article/activities/; Internet; accessed 12 September 2016.

34 “About Us: The Christian Life Program,” Couples for Christ; available from http://couplesforchrist.ca/about/; Internet; accessed 10 September 2016.

35 “Joining Couples for Christ,” Couples for Christ http://couplesforchrist.ca/contact/join/.

36 “About Us – The Legion of Mary,” Concilium Legionis Mariae; available from http://www.legionofmary.ie/about; Internet; accessed 12 September 2016.

37 Ibid.

38 Ibid.

39 “Why You Should Become a Knight,” Knights of Columbus; available from https://www.kofc.org/un/en/join/index.html; Internet; accessed 12 September 2016.

40 “Get to Know Us: Who is Regnum Christi?” Regnum Christi Legionaries of Christ; available from http://www.regnumchristi.org/en/mission-2/; Internet; accessed 12 September 2016.

41 Cardinal de Paolis, “Principles of the Regnum Christi Charism,” Regnum Christi; available from http://www.legrc.org/regnum_db/archivosWord_db/principles_of_regnum_christi_charism_(translation_from_spanish_original).pdf; Internet; accessed 12 September 2016.

42 Ibid.

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