A while back I posted about Third Orders.  One such order is the Carmelites.

Well, actually, there are two flavors of Carmelite: The Carmelites of the Ancient Observance, which you might call the “original Carmelites” and the Discalced Carmelites, which technically means the “Carmelites who don’t wear shoes”, although now a days they generally do wear shoes.

Well, actually, the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance are more properly known as the Ordo Fratrum Beatissimæ Virginis Mariæ de Monte Carmelo, but I suppose we don’t need to get that picky, do we?

The Carmelites are an order whose history is a bit difficult to trace.  The Franciscans were founded by St. Francis of Assisi.  The Dominicans were founded by St. Dominic.  The Carmelites were founded by…well…some guys who individually started living on Mount Carmel and who…somehow…sometime…maybe in the 1200s?…eventually developed into an order.  It really is that vague.

The Discalced Carmelites were founded by St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross (both Carmelites) in the 1500s.  They were both Carmelites who felt that the original Carmelites had strayed too far form their roots (whatever those were…) and had become somewhat lax as a consequence.

In case you’re wondering, both types of Carmelites get along just fine these day.  Both orders have Priests, Nuns, monks and lay members.  Their spirituality is very similar.

So, what is Carmelite spirituality all about?

As I said, they don’t really have a founder (that we know of) but they take the prophet Elijah (which is why they called Mt. Carmel home – 1 Kings 18:16-45.  You can look it up if you don’t recall the event) and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Their goal is basically intimacy with God, and all of the actions they take spring from prayer, especially mental prayer and the levels beyond it.

Mental prayer and the levels beyond it…that’s a whole other post!

There have been quite a few Carmelite saints throughout the centuries.  A few of the better known are:

St. George Preca

St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

St. Teresa of Jesus

St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

St. Therese of the Child Jesus (The Little Flower)

St. John of the Cross




The St. Michael Prayer

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

This is actually the short (and most familiar) version of the prayer.  It was composed by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 after he saw a vision of demons trying their hardest to destroy the Church in the upcoming century. This prayer is part of the Leonine prayers which are typically prayed after the mass in the Extraordinary form.  Obviously, this is a great prayer for everyone to pray daily!

The Angelus – Part 1

As I write this, yesterday was the Feast of the Annunciation to Mary, which is described in Luke 1:26-38.  The Annunciation and the Incarnation are commemorated in the Angelus Prayer.

Here it is:

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
–and she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinner now and at the hour of our death.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
–be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinner now and at the hour of our death.

And the Word was made flesh
–and dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinner now and at the hour of our death.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God
–that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, O Lord, we beseech thee, thy grace into our hearts; that we to whom the incarnation of Christ thy Son was made known by the message of an angel may, by his passion and cross, be brought to share in the glory of his resurrection.  Amen.


Third Orders

Do you know about third orders?  A third order is a group of people who live according to the ideals and charism of a religious order.  They can be lay people married or single, deacons or diocesan priests.  They do not take vows but generally make a profession to live according to the rule of the order.

The Carmelites, Benedictines, Domincans, Franciscans and Servites all have third orders.

Joining a third order isn’t the same as joining a club.  There is generally a period of formation, which could last up to three years.  Some orders have you make a temporary profession for some time before making a permanent profession.

Members of third orders are still lay people, and being in a third order is a calling.  It should give focus to your spiritual life, help you grow in intimacy with God and give you a group of brothers and sisters who have a spirituality similar to your own and who will help you on your way to heaven.

For some reason, third orders are generally not well known, and you typically have to live near a third order group in order to enter into formation.  If you have an attraction to St. Francis of Assisi, St. Dominic, the prayer life of Mount Carmel or Our Lady of Sorrows, perhaps God is calling you to a third order.

Carmelite Third Order

Oblates of St. Benedict

Secular Franciscan Order

Domican Third Order

Secular Order of the Servants of Mary

Generally, in order to join a third order, you have to live near enough to an existing community that you can participate in the life of the group.  That means that where you live helps determine which orders you could possibly join.  Still, it doesn’t hurt to read about them and see if God might be calling you in that direction.




The Divine Office

What is the Divine Office (also known as the Liturgy of the Hours)?

In short, it consists of 7 daily prayer times (“hours”) and is prayed daily by priests, monks, nuns and (surprise!) lay people.  Most lay people seem to pray only the two major “hours” – Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer.

First of all, I keep putting the word “hours” in quotes because I don’t want you to think that it takes an hour to pray any of the “hours”.  It doesn’t.

There are a number of options available for getting stated praying the Office.  These days, you don’t even need to spend money on a book.  You can use websites like iBreviary, or Universalis to find the prayers, but I prefer to use the book.

Here’s an article by Msgr. Charles Popes on the issue of books vs. electronics for prayer.

So, let’s say you’ve decided to try praying the office…what book should you get?

The two most common choices would probably be Shorter Christian Prayer and Christian Prayer.

The first book is…well…shorter.

You can find Morning and Evening prayer in both books, but the longer one would include Night Prayer and some options for Daily Prayer and the Office of Readings.  You could also go whole hog and get the full 4 volume set which has everything in it.

You can also find a wealth of books, videos and websites which are happy to explain to you how you pray the Office.

So, why should you go to all this trouble?

The Divine Office will help sanctify your day, keep you focused on God and keep you in tune with the seasons of the liturgical year.  I can’t think of better reasons than those.  Start out with a website, try it for a month and see what effect it has on your relationship with God.

Chanting the Divine Office in English

The heart of the divine office is the psalms and canticles, and these are songs.  They are meant to be sung, but the book doesn’t have any music in it, so what resources are out there to help?

Courtesy of St. Meinrad Archabbey, here is a set of pslam tones based on the gregorian modes.  Here are the same tones in modern notation.  Don’t read chant notation or modern music?  Fr. Kevin Vogel has got you covered.  Here are some videos of him singing the notes.

These psalm tones are easily adapted to a verse with any number of lines.

But, wait, there are eight of them?  How can I tell which tone to use with which psalm?  Well, you could just use the first 4 on odd numbered weeks and the second 4 on even numbered weeks, or something along those lines, someone got a copy of the Psalterium Monasticum and, using that as a guide, made a list of which tone goes with which psalm and canticle.

Do you want more resources to help with the psalm tones?  Here you go.

All of the resources listed above have the advantage of being free, but you do have to fit the notes to the words yourself.  Perhaps you would prefer a resource with the words and music already put together for you?

In that case, try the Mundelein Psalter.  Here’s a review someone did of the book.  If you don’t want to spend the money without a better taste of what the book is like, you could try just the Office of Compline by Fr. Weber.  Fr. Weber’s psalm tones are used in the Mundelein Psalter.

If you have the Compline book but still need help singing the tones, Fr. Vogel has your back again.

That ought to be enough to get you started chanting!





I am a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and every year my local fraternity does something called the Rite of Extraction.  You can find a detailed description of it here, but, in short there are three baskets, one containing names of saints, one containing virtues and one containing bible verses on strips of paper.  After invoking the holy spirit, each member of the fraternity has a piece of paper drawn for him or her from each basket.

The saint that was drawn for me was St. Pope Pius X, about whom I new next to nothing.  I am supposed to walk with this saint throughout the year, so I figured I needed to learn more about him.  Fortunately, Popes write a lot, so all I really needed to do was to find the various encyclicals, etc that he had written.

You can, of course, find these at the Vatican website, but I don’t find navigating the site particularly easy, and I don’t find reading against the background color particularly easy, either.  Then I found another website called The Papal Encyclicals Online.  Here you can download various documents from popes and church councils in various languages and in various formats (including mobi and epub so you can sideload them onto the e-reader of your choice).

Very nice.

Pax et bonum

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

I saw a post an old post on a website in which someone asked how to reach the catechism.  That post never got an answer, but I’d like to address it here.

First of all, should we read the catechism?

Of course we should!  We should know what we profess to believe!  But, I have to admit, the catechism is a hard book to read.  You could, of course, use the index to look up topics that interest you and then read about them, and that would be a great idea.

Here’s another good idea, though:


The Didache bible is filled with references to the catechism, so you can go from Bible to catechism and back again.

Here’s a sample:

commentary_key_conceptsAnd you get your choice to two translations:  The Revised Standard Version Second Catholic Edition and the New American Bible Revised Edition.

Now, if you read something in the Bible, you can find the catechism references that relate to it and read them as well.  You bet to know the Bible and the catechism which sound like a win-win to me.

I’m not trying to review the Bible or help anybody make any sales, but this is such a great idea that I want people to know about it so they can check it out and decide if it interests them.

Pax et bonum

Chanting the Divine Office

Lay people are encouraged to pray the Divine Office daily.  (Clerics are generally required to pray it.)

Suppose you want to chant the office, or at least the psalms.  It’s easy to find chant in Latin, but what if you want to chant the office in English?  It isn’t so easy to find good resources for that.

St. Meinrad has published (and made available for free download) chants for use with the psalms.  You can find them in gregorian notation and in modern notation.

But which tone do you use with each psalm?  For the longest time, I used the first four on even numbered weeks and the second four on odd numbered weeks, just taking them in order.

Then I discovered a table that someone created based on the tones used in the Psalterium Monasticum assigning a tone to each psalm.

Here is a nice post over at St. Corbinian’s Bear in which the Bear has posted about chanting the office.  He is coming at it from the Benedictine tradition, but it is available to everyone.

It would certainly make a good lenten devotion.

Ash Wednesday

Lent is upon us once again.  I am resolving, among other things, to pray the Liturgy of the Hours regularly – at least morning and evening prayer.

You can use any one of a variety of books – small single books, larger single books, four volumes sets – as well as apps and website which will give you the texts.

The LOTH (or Divine Office) is mostly psalms, and it uses the Grail translation, which is excellent for chanting.  The psalms are songs, so, while you can certainly recite them, they are meant to be sung.  I use the psalm tones from St. Meinrad, which they have put up for download free of charge.

The LOTH is a great way to build your day around God rather than fitting God into whatever cracks may already exist in your day.  Always remember, God wants our best, not just our leftovers.

May your Lent be fruitful.