The laity not only have the right, but also have a sacred duty to seek a healthy and authentic Christian and human formation, in order to perfectly live the demands of the Gospel [1]

We want to form tertiaries in a great human and Christian maturity so that they reach the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13).

The tertiaries should manifest, with their works, that have God in their hearts, because each tree is known by its own fruit (Lk 6:44), and faith without works is dead (Jam 2:17).

Today more than ever, in a world of false ideals and maxims of life as seductive as they are pernicious, it is necessary to be formed in legitimate Christian values, in a hierarchical love and commitment: in the love of God and the truth over all loves, even that of one’s own life; and consequently in the love of country and the family for the love of God.

Aware that the laity themselves are the ones responsible for their own formation, the tertiaries of the Incarnate Word commit their efforts to achieve an authentic integral formation: human, spiritual, intellectual and apostolic; to live perfectly their commitments as members of the Third Order Secular of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word.

The environment of formation should be created, as much as possible, within the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word.


 The tertiaries place in the hands of the priests and religious of the Family of the Incarnate Word the formation of their spirituality, in order to be “a new incarnation of the Word”529, who was a man of integrity. In every tertiary the Incarnate Word should be reflected as in a mirror, in whom shines, without mixing but in an intimate union, human perfection and divine perfection. We must imitate Christ in everything who “being God, infused even in the humblest gestures of human existence a participation of the divine life. In Him we can and must recognize and honor the God who, as a man, was born and lived like us, and ate, drank, worked, carried out the necessary activities for all, so that over all the life and all the activities of the Men, raised to a higher level, reflects the mystery of the Trinitarian life. For those who live in the light of faith, as Christian laity, the mystery of the Incarnation also penetrates temporal activities, infusing in them the leaven of grace”[2]

 Human Perfection

 Nature and Grace

Human formation is the foundation of all formation. Bad intelligence of the relationship between nature and grace is the root of many evils. Grace does not destroy nature, but heals, elevates, perfects, dignifies and ennobles it.

Nature not only supports grace, as a mere external condition, but it enters into the essence of the Christian identity itself, and remains perfected. At the same time, grace transcends nature. Nature is subordinated to grace as the disciple to the teacher. The natural has, then, a relative autonomy in subordination to the supernatural.


It is necessary to seek the maximum perfection of nature, first of all by forming the powers of the soul, of the intellect and will, in order to live in coherence with Christian principles, firmly rooted, because those who do not live as they think, end up thinking as they live.

The tertiaries must be men and women who know how to think, with clear, firm ideas. Men and women of principles, who always seek truth, good and beauty, who possess an intellect that knows how to defend without being seduced and without allowing the least seed of error to nest in it.

The faithful must be educated in the love and knowledge of the truth by means of a broad intellectual formation, open to research in the broad field of human knowledge, with a faithful adherence to the Magisterium of the Church, which with its twice-millennial wisdom guides intellects and protects them from error. “Because the good of the person consists in being in the truth and in realizing the truth”[3].

Intellectual formation must be based on a vast knowledge of Catholic doctrine, synthesized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In a special way it is necessary to be formed in the particular knowledge of the Social Doctrine of the Church, by which the tertiaries will achieve the real transformation of the temporal order.

We must seek to form true professionals and specialists of high scientific levels who, in the different fields of knowledge, can give an adequate response to the most current and controversial questions, and in this way provide the Church with effective help in the evangelization of cultures most infected with idealism, encyclopedism, false humanism, scientism, liberalism and Marxism. Men and women who know how to fight convinced that with the strength of truth they can pulverize the best arguments that the enemies wield. Strive even to death for the truth and the Lord God will fight for you (Sir 4:28).

In addition, one must know how to enjoy the truth because of the goodness that God has imprinted on beings. “A thousand graces diffusing He passed through the groves in haste, and merely regarding them as He passed clothed them with His beauty”[4].

A fruit of an intellect that captures what is real is humor. Therefore, having a sense of humor is a good sign of mental health. Because the humor from which springs healthy irony, fresh laughter, happy laughter, implies the perception of the absurd, of the contradictory, of the disproportionate, of the deformed.

And it is an essential condition for this perception, to be owners of a healthy intellect capable of contemplating and understanding the being in its harmony and in the radiance of its beauty.

Whoever fights for Truth with bitterness transforms the truth into a bitter thing that repels and disgusts. It is not enough to fight for the truth, you have to love it and make it loved. Because the Truth, which is Good and is Supreme Beauty and Harmony, is in itself infinitely kind.

That is why, true humor is a privilege of realistic thinking. The modern world, submerged in ‘becoming’, changing, has become incapable of perceiving the absurd, the contradictory. Because their intellect has broken with the order of being; closed in their own conscience, they have apostatized from the first principles denying his immediate evidence.

And to be faithful to it, since by it the voice of God is manifested, always acting with rectitude of intention, without duplicities or ambiguities.

We must also know how to decide in conscience before God. Live looking towards eternity. A true conscience is the closest norm of human acts, “it is the testimony of God himself”[5], it is the “herald of God and his messenger, and what it says it does demand from itself, but it commands as coming from God, like a herald when he proclaims the king’s edict”[6].

 The Will

Likewise, together with the education of the intellect, it is necessary to adequately form the will, through the constant practice of all virtues and mastery of the passions, in such a way that, always and in everything, only the best good is sought and chosen.

That is why we must be willing to educate ourselves in both the individual and social human virtues in order to tend to the perfection of the human person that has an individual and social dimension. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Phil 4:8). “The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good”[7].

The exercise of virtues seeks “a habitual and firm disposition to do good. It allows the person, not only to perform good acts but to give the best of himself. With all its sensitive and spiritual strengths, the virtuous person tends toward good, seeks and chooses it through concrete actions”[8].

To form the will means to possess a will that firmly follows the good of the intellect, without being influenced by the passions. That is, have a third binary will, without slowness or delay. You have to have a solid, determined, courageous, intrepid will, capable of surrendering to the madness of the cross that loves things to the extent that they deserve to be loved, because they possess a hierarchical and vertical love. Only freedom that submits to the Truth leads the person to his true good.

Finally, we must order our loves, we only have political domination over our passions. We must form sensitive inclinations through agere contra ignaciano, refusing even lawful things. Not having ordered passions causes jealousy, envy, compromises, etc. that affect the correct performance of the higher faculties.

We want to form genuinely free men and women, owners of themselves, who, because they possess themselves, can give themselves totally. In this aspect we consider very important the practice of sports, the realization of camps, coexistence, etc.

Finally, the tertiaries must be men of action, who know how to act at the right moment when they can and should, and who are effective in action, without leaving for tomorrow what can be done today, that there is no fear, shyness or lukewarmness in them. For which it is essential to discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom 12:2), and to which we will avail ourselves of knowledge and the correct application of the rules of discernment of St. Ignatius. Loyola, so that in this way we always succeed in acting, because we are led by the spirit of God, we must be gentle as doves and wise as serpents (Mt 10:16).

Perfection of Grace

Christ was perfect man, also in the spiritual organism, by virtue of the grace of union his soul was filled with the highest perfection, because he had the fullness of grace, we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son of the Father; full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14), along with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the infused virtues.

The supernatural end of man corresponds to, and at the same time transcends, his natural end. That is why all the desires of man will not be consumed, but consummated in the beatific vision[9]. This correspondence and transcendence should be taken into account during the period of formation. Pius XI teaches that “Christian education covers the entire field of human life … to elevate, regulate and perfect it according to the example and doctrine of Christ”[10].

The faithful meditation of the Word of God, by which we know the divine mysteries, must have a privileged place in the life of the tertiary. This is especially important as it is ordered to the prophetic ministry[11]. The tertiaries should try to have a familiarity and love for the sacred texts, know how to read them frequently, meditate on them, explain them and defend them.

The reading of Sacred Scripture must be accompanied by prayer. “With exceptions for the first graces of the vocation to faith, or penance, all others are granted only to those who ask for them and especially those of perseverance”[12]. “God wants to give but only to those who ask”[13]. Without prayer salvation is impossible, “he who prays is saved and he who does not, is condemned”[14].

We must also have great confidence in the power of prayer. The effectiveness of prayer is such that when it is clothed with the right conditions it is infallible, the words of our Lord are forceful: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened. For the one who asks receives, the one who seeks finds and the one who knocks it will be opened (Mt 7:7-8); and whatever you ask for in prayer you will receive it (Mt 21:22); And what you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son, if you ask anything in my name, I will do it (Jn 14:13-14).

We must be men of prayer, we must not only assign specific times to prayer, but we must live in prayer, we must even know how to unite the action with the contemplation of eternal truths, in such a way that by this, we consecrate the multiple occupations to which we are subjected.

With the help of spiritual direction, we should strive to ascend in prayer until we reach maximum union, which mystics call spiritual marriage, ready to go through the active and passive nights of the spirit to belong all to God[15].

One should also grow in active participation in the sacred mysteries, especially in the Eucharist, which “is the culmination of Christian prayer”[16]. An authentic liturgical education is required for this, which leads increasingly to a “full, conscious and active”[17] participation in it. Therefore, it is necessary that the tertiaries participate frequently in the Eucharistic celebration, that they identify with the sacrificed Christ himself, living in fullness the priestly office inherited in Holy Baptism.

In addition, they must discover the beauty and joy of the sacrament of penance. In a world that has lost the sense of sin and divine mercy [18], “we must affirm that nothing is more personal and intimate than this sacrament in which the sinner finds himself before God only with his guilt, his repentance and his confidence. No one can repent in his place nor can he ask forgiveness in his name”[19]. Hence, “to awaken conversion and penance in the heart of man and to offer him the gift of reconciliation is the connatural mission of the Church, the continuation of the redeeming work of his divine Founder”[20].

The tertiaries must be “in perfect communion with the Hierarchical Church, because of its double bond: for the same faith and charity and for the government of only one over all: Peter”[21]. Our motto is “with Peter and under Peter”[22].

We want to form virtuous men and women according to the doctrine of the great masters of the spiritual life, especially: St. Augustine, St. Thomas, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Jesus, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, of all the saints of all times that the Church proposes as examples so that we can imitate their virtues. To be like another St. Joseph, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Sebastian, Sts. Felicity and Perpetua, St. Louis (King of France), St. Fernando, St. Christopher, St. Thomas More, St. Isidore the Laborer, St. Rose of Lima, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassatti, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, St. Juan Diego…

In this way, following the Pope in doctrine and the saints in life, we will never go wrong, since the Pope cannot be wrong in the teachings of faith and morals, nor were the saints wrong in the practice of the virtues.

In addition, they must be inculcated in the charism of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word.

The layman also learns to fulfill the mission of Christ and of the Church, living out of faith in the divine mystery of creation and redemption, moved by the Holy Spirit, who vivifies the People of God and impels all men to love God the Father and the world, and men in Him.

We must know how to form ourselves in charity towards the little ones, seeking Christ in men. This requires that the tertiary know how to continually be stimulated by the Spirit in the love of the Incarnate Word.

Jesus Christ, Son of God and of the Blessed Virgin, must be the center of all spiritual life: No one goes to the Father except through Me (Jn 14:6). We must seek to know and imitate the virtues of Jesus and Mary, to identify with them, in such a way that they are the mold of our spirituality.

We must learn to live by Providence, trusting only in God, for who called upon him and was overlooked? (Sir 2:10b); Cast your burdens on the Lord, and he will sustain you (Ps 55:22); that the Lord never abandons those who venture only through him. That if God feeds the birds of the sky and dresses the lilies of the field[23] he will not allow anything bad to happen to us. The Lord told St. Gertrude that, “Whomever trusts in me makes me so violent that it makes it impossible for me to deny him anything.”

We want to form tertiaries that are not “tributary”[24], that is, that are not excessively servile. That fully live in the reigning and Christian priestly lordship. That by having Jesus Christ they feel resonating in their ears: “I (am) your Father by being God, I your firstborn brother by being a man. I pay for and rescue you, what do you fear debts, if you with the penance and the Confession you ask for account of them? I your reconciliation, what do you fear? I the bond of your friendship, what do you fear God’s anger? I your defender, what do you fear contrary? I your friend, what do you fear that you lack what I have, if you do not turn away from Me? Your body and my blood, what are you afraid of hunger? Your heart, what fear you forget? You my divinity, what do you fear miseries? And as an accessory, they are your angels for defense; your saints to pray for you; your blessed Mother to be your careful and pious Mother; your the earth so that in her you serve me, your the sky because to him you will come; your demons and hells, because you will trample them as slaves and jail; your life because with it you earn the one that never ends; your good pleasures because you refer them to Me; your sorrows because for my love and profit you suffer them; your temptations, because they are merit and cause of your eternal crown; yours is death because it will be the closest transit to life. And all this you have in Me and by Me; because I won it not for myself alone, nor do I want to enjoy it alone; because when I took company in the flesh with you, I took it in making you participants in what I worked, fasted, ate, sweated and cried and in my pains and deaths, if it does not remain for you. You are not poor who have so much wealth, if you with your bad life do not want to lose it knowingly!”[25]

Tertiaries who are convinced that: “Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the people. The righteous are mine and mine the sinners. The angels are mine and the Mother of God and all things are mine. And God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and everything for me”[26]. And, in short, to understand and live that vibrant expression of St. Paul: … all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future; all are yours, and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s (1 Cor 3:21-23).

Formation in Discipline

An aspect of spiritual formation must be to acquire a discipline of life, with no other objective than to capture the “style” of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which in Him there is nothing else other than the attitudes which, as Son, he possesses together with the Father. Regarding our relationship of disciples with him, discipline consists in considering him as our “way” to the Father.

Discipline is the fundamental attitude of the disciple. It is submission to the rules of life in order that the truth be incarnated in the life of the disciples. For us, the truth is Christ, and being docile to discipline is letting us be ruled for Him.

We want our laity to be docile to the great discipline of the Church, expressed in the Code of Canon Law, in all other ecclesial norms and laws, and docile to the particular discipline of our Third Order, remembering the teaching: “aprehendite disciplinam”: love discipline, lest the Lord become angry (Ps 2:12)[27], and that of the Apostle: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4), thus they will become our lay people ready for every good work (2 Tim 2:21). “To educate them with discipline is nothing other than to induce them to good”[28]. Thus, the brothers “show their own way of life”[29].

Formation for the Apostolate

Jesus assumed a human nature in order to have human acts and operations, so that he would be a man of the lineage of Adam who would pay the penalty for sin and work the redemption of men. It was the hypostatic union that enabled the person of the Word to suffer and die in his human nature for the salvation of the human race. Under this image we, too, must acquire a serious formation for the apostolate.

Preaching and the apostolate were in perfect agreement with the end goal of the Incarnation[30], we too, who want to prolong the Incarnation in all reality, must live for the good of souls.

The goal of the apostolate is Jesus Christ. We must foster in ourselves a thirst for souls and communicate to others the good we have received. We must feel the same feeling that Jesus Christ had nailed to the cross: I thirst (Jn 19:28b).

It is necessary to seek to exercise and prepare adequately for different types of apostolate.

All those who intend to perform great apostolic works, must prepare themselves to suffer. The apostolate is cross, because the Supreme Apostle achieved redemption through pain and suffering, and no one can be greater than his teacher. The measure of love is pain, to the extent that we are willing to suffer, we will be more fertile. You have to let yourself be burned in order to burn. That is why they must be willing to suffer misunderstandings, condemnations, insults, ingratitude, ridicule, to be, like the apostles, a spectacle of the world.

One must also learn to work in a team, as a body, where each member takes his place, without envy, without any greater aspirations than to serve the propagation of the Kingdom of Christ, since “only the pooling of resources is capable of fully achieving all the aims of the modern apostolate and firmly protecting its interests”[31]. Let each one put his gifts and talents at the service of others.

Lay people, who wish, can be able to evangelize where the Church needs it most, including, if possible and necessary, going to distant lands so that Christ may reign, prevail and rule in all the world.


In the likeness of Christ, who grew and was strengthened by filling himself with wisdom[32], our whole life must be a continuous ascent to God; in the spiritual life, the one who does move forward move backwards. Each stage of life must be an opportunity to grow, to acquire new virtues, new knowledge, new wisdom of life and of grace.

For this, the different movements and groups in which the spiritual ascent is sought by different paths play a fundamental role. Woe to him who is alone (Ecc 4:10). When there is a whole group that supports and encourages each other, the devil will find many other ways to do his damage. Not only must we fight to change a soul, but, fight with alongside it against all those around it.

In Children and in Young People

Parents of the Third Order must have as their main concern that their children live and grow in an authentically Christian atmosphere, where joy, healthy fun, high ideals flourish, where they learn to commit themselves and acquire responsibility, experiencing the satisfaction of completed tasks, and everything done with generosity towards God and neighbor, and this for love of God.

That is why it is convenient from them, in their tender age, they learn to participate in children’s groups, festive oratories, outdoor activities: especially educational camps, organized by the same members of the Third Order, which are a school of life, where they learn to fend for themselves and of all those means that can forge their human personality.

Also, they must take special care of their spiritual formation through spiritual direction with good and holy priests, family prayer, spiritual exercises, retreats of perseverance, reading and meditation of Sacred Scripture, attendance at the Sacred Liturgy, etc.

Young people are constantly looking for someone to imitate, flesh and blood ideals. It is fundamental to propose to them holy ideals, famous models, saints and heroes by whom can stimulate them to practice virtue, and who can supplant false modern idols. To encourage them to holiness we must remind them that these models were not born holy, but were made such by their effort and the grace of God.

Educate them also in generosity, which is “the ornament of all virtues”, so that all the acts of their life are performed with greatness of soul.

They must also make them understand that the life of man on earth is a war (Cf. Job 7:1), and that they are destined to fight. We must form a courageous, pure, conquering youth, hope for the Church.

From a very young age they must be taught to love the truth and to bear witness to it, being able to devote themselves to the study of divine and human truth with enthusiasm and fervor, capturing the true meaning of study. Conducting a wide intellectual formation, through assiduous reading, the formation of critical judgment through study groups, the disputatio, confrontation and refutation of erroneous doctrines, conferences, Catholic culture courses, etc. Avoiding superficiality, vain curiosity, encyclopaedism, vain erudition that seeks extension but not depth. That they know how to be current, that they be men of their time.

 “The training for the apostolate should start with the children’s earliest education. In a special way, however, adolescents and young persons should be initiated into the apostolate and imbued with its spirit. This formation must be perfected throughout their whole life in keeping with the demands of new responsibilities. It is evident, therefore, that those who have the obligation to provide a Christian education also have the duty of providing formation for the apostolate”[33]. It is our desire to forge missionary families, true domestic Churches that know how to bring to perfection the duty of prophets that were acquired in baptism.

In Adults

Adults are to give an example of Christian life to the young. Therefore, they should seek to have a solid, balanced and free personality.

Ongoing formation will help with this, acquiring adulthood also in the spiritual life, through greater growth in prayer and in the practice of meditation. Therefore, they should try to consciously participate in the liturgical prayer of the Church. Especially in the Holy Mass, contributing to the Eucharistic sacrifice the oblation of their own life in an increasingly perfect way.

We must not lose sight of the fact that theological and intellectual formation never ends; on the contrary, it must grow more and more, especially in depth. Hence, good books, courses on theology, catholic culture, and any higher studying that can be done, will be very useful to this end.

Spiritual maturity will be the result of serious spiritual direction, the practice of the Spiritual Exercises and of participating in groups of formation and apostolates, where one can share all the wealth that he has acquired with the help of the Lord.

In the Elderly

The elderly are not excluded from their obligation to acquire permanent formation, since they must learn to live the demands of Christianity in a new way. Their lives do not lose their meaning nor do they become empty, on the contrary, it acquires greater wealth since the experience of their years are joined by new ones that have to do with the deterioration of their bodies, but this does not detract from the growth and youth that their soul.

They should give clear testimony of patience, wisdom, charity, joy, hope and courage. It is necessary to be aware that, although it may not be obvious, many will be aware of them and how their lives turn out to, and even at this moment they should set an example, just like the elderly Eleazar, who preferred an honorable death than to set a bad example for the young[34]


[1] Cf. CIC, can. 229. 

[2] ST. JOHN PAUL II, Catechesis of November 10, 1993.  

[3] ST. JOHN PAUL II, Address to the participants of the International Congress of Moral Theology, 04/10/1986, 1: Insegnamenti IX, 1 (1986), 970.  

[4] ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS, Spiritual Canticle (B), Song 5.  

[5] ST. JOHN PAUL II, Veritatis Splendor, 58.  

[6] ST. BONAVENTURE, In II Librum Sentent., dist. 39, a. 1, q. 3, concl., II, 907 b.  

[7] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1804.  

[8] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1803.  

[9] Cf. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, Summa Contra Gentiles, III, 63.  

[10] PIUS XI, Divini illius Magistri, 59.  

[11] Cf. ST. JOHN PAUL II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, 47.  

[12] ST. AUGUSTINE, De dono pers., c.16.  

[13] ST. AUGUSTINE, In Ps. 102.  

[14] ST. ALPHONSUS LIGOURI, Ascetic Works, 856-8.  

[15] Cf. Directory of Spirituality.  

[16] Cf. ST. JOHN PAUL II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, 48.  

[17] VATICAN COUNCIL II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 14.  

[18] Cf. ST. JOHN PAUL II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, 48.  

[19] ST. JOHN PAUL II, Reconciliation and Penance, 31,4.  

[20] ST. JOHN PAUL II, Reconciliation and Penance, 23.  

[21] Constitutions. 210.  

[22] Constitutions, 211, cf. VATICAN COUNCIL II, Ad Gentes, 38.  

[23] Cf. Mt 6:26. 

[24] Cf. Num 18:24. 

[25] ST. JOHN OF AVILA, Epistolary, letter 20, T. V, 149-150.  

[26] ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS, Sayings of Light and Love, nº 26, 45.  

[27] In the Vulgate. 

[28] ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, Ad Ephesios Lectura, Lect. VI, 4.  

[29] Letter to Diognetus, V, 4.  

[30] Cf. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, Summa Theologica, III, 42, 2.  

[31] VATICAN COUNCIL II, Apostolicam Actuositatem, 18.  

[32] Cf. Lk 2:51-53. 

[33] VATICAN COUNCIL II, Apostolicam Actuositatem, 30.  

[34] Cf. 2 Macc 6:18-31.