SSPX Third Order rule

The rule of the Third Order of the Society of St. Pius X was composed by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1980.

Purpose of the establishment of the Third Order

The sanctification of the individual member and of those for whom members of the Third Order are responsible.

Patron saint of the Third Order: St. Pius X

Sanctity today must be attained in a world which opposes it by errors and subtle heresies, introduced into all Catholic milieu under the name of Modernism. Pope St. Pius X was beatified for courageously denouncing Modernist errors and showing an example of sanctity in the solidity of doctrine, the purity of morality, and devotion to the Eucharistic Sacrifice. This holy pope is therefore clearly the model for souls who wish to sanctify themselves in our day.

Relationship of the Third Order to the Priestly Society of St. Pius X

The Third Order has been established by the Society; therefore, the chaplains of the Third Order are designated by the District Superior and approved by the Superior General. Members of the Third Order share in the graces of the Society, gained by its priests and the merits of its members.

Members of the Third Order

All Catholics, priests or lay, who accept the spirit and the Rule of the Third Order, are eligible for membership. Children can be enrolled with permission of their parents, the minimum age being 12 years.

Emblems: The medal of St. Pius X and a Cross, given at the time of profession in the Third Order.

The spirit of the Third Order

The spirit of the Third Order is that which animates the priestly society, i.e., the spirit of the Church, its living Faith, manifested in all of her Tradition, her infallible Magisterium, expressed and explained in the Catechism of the Council of Trent, in the Vulgate Bible, in the teaching of the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas, and the immemorial liturgy.

The spirit of attachment to the Roman Church, to the popes, to the bishops, the spirit of obedience to the authorities of the Church according to their fidelity to their office, which is nothing else than to spread the Catholic Faith and the Kingdom of Our Lord.

The spirit of vigilance in regard to anything which might corrupt the Faith.

The spirit of tender and filial devotion toward the Virgin Mary—according to the spirit of St. Louis Mary Grignon de Montfort—to St. Joseph, and to St. Pius X.

The desire to rediscover the capital importance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and its mysteries, and to find there the meaning and source of Christian life, a life of sacrifice and co-redemption.

Steps in membership

Enrollment: A request is sent to the priest in charge of the Third Order or to the District Superior. The priest in reply sends an information sheet to be filled out. Then, if the request is granted, he sends a copy of the document for enrollment.

Postulancy: This lasts one year, in the course of which the fidelity of the postulant in keeping his obligations and his adherence to the spirit of the Third Order is tested.

Profession: The postulant, in a ceremony, makes his profession in the presence of the designated priest. He then receives the medal and crucifix and his certificate of membership in the Third Order.

Personal obligations


  • Morning and evening prayers, such as Prime and Compline or the prayers from the Retreat Book.
  • Recitation of the rosary.
  • Attendance at the Immemorial Mass, if possible, or fifteen minutes of meditation.


  • attendance at the Immemorial Mass (and not the Novus Ordo Missae, because of the danger of acquiring a Protestant spirit).

Every two weeks (if possible or at least once a month): the sacrament of penance.

Every two years: a retreat.

Practical notes:

  • Recommended reading: The acts of St. Pius X, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, the New Testament, the Imitation of Christ, the lives of the saints. Try to spread good reading material.
  • Fasting on Ember Days, on vigils of great feasts, on Ash Wednesday, and Holy Saturday.
  • Abstinence on all Fridays.
  • To abstain from television and from unclean reading, and to practice sobriety.

Obligations of the married


  • To observe, in a spirit of submission to Our Lord, the laws of marriage toward the goal of having a large family. To renounce absolutely all positive action toward the goal of not having children.
  • To make of the family home a sanctuary consecrated to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary where evening prayers and, if possible, the Holy Rosary are recited in the family. Liturgical life should be paramount on Sundays and feast days. Avoid everything that could harm the souls of children; television, unclean magazines.
  • To choose truly good and traditional schools and to contribute to their establishment.
  • To be prudent in the choice of leisure activities and of vacation spots.

Professional and social duties


  • To follow the example of the Holy Family and to pursue the duties of justice and charity, whether one be an employer or an employee.
  • To promote and defend the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and to combat Liberalism and Modernism, scourges of modern times which are delivering the Church to her enemies.


The priest in charge of the Third Order in the district receives enrollments, names his assistants, and calls meeting of his council and general meetings to encourage members to remain active and vigilant in the work of their sanctification and that of others.

He will set up libraries with a librarian charged with lending books to postulants and to members.

He will publish a bulletin keeping tertiaries in touch with one another, sharing addresses, information, and the hours of meetings, religious ceremonies, days of recollection, pilgrimages, ordinations, religious professions, etc.

At meetings a collection will be taken up for the needs of the Third Order. A treasurer in charge will keep the accounts and will report them at meetings of the Council. The Council of the Third Order will decide how to use the resources at its disposal: internal expenses, help to a seminary, a school, the sick, retreat work, etc.

+Marcel Lefebvre
November 1, 1980