Paul Alexander TSSF

I joined the Third Order. I thought it would give me an anchor for my chaotic life style. That was some forty odd years ago, and the anchor is just beginning to hold me together now.

Paul Alexander TSSF

What is the Third Order of St Francis?

The Third Order, consists of men and women, married and single, whose Rule of Life commits them to following the way of Francis and Clare through their daily life at home, at work and with the Christian community wherever they find themselves set. You can find out more about the Third Order of St Francis on their website.

Why did I join TSSF?

A good question with a very muddled, convoluted potential answer. I joined so long ago I can’t remember when or precisely why. In retrospect half of my answer is probably fanciful. I joined because I had met two Franciscans at my school. Br Douglas was one of them. I was impressed by them because they joined in our weekly cross country run and were happy to have a nip of whiskey that we’d secreted in a hedge on route. I cycled to Hilfield Friary for a weekend and was caught up in the atmosphere of the place. When I had started out as a young actor I became very low being out of work and hitch hiked to Hilfield Friary. I thought maybe I had a vocation but was put right by Brother Jonathan who said I had a vocation as an actor. Through meeting Brother Michael and probably, almost certainly, Brother Edward, I joined the Third Order. I thought it would give me an anchor for my chaotic life style. That was some forty odd years ago and the anchor is just beginning to hold me together now.

So, ‘ What does this involve and why?’ Well, it involves a rule of life freely enjoined and worked out to fit one’s needs along certain spiritual guidelines. It involves being a member of a community of hopefully like minded people and it involves following certain Franciscan principles viz humility, love and joy. .’Why?’ Because it makes sense. Do we want to lie selfish, unhappy lives or do we want to live liberated, sharing, caring and joyful lives? It’s a no brainer.

Unique aspects of being part of TSSF

Community

I’ve found being part of Community and part of the Third of St Francis to be demanding, rewarding, enlightening, humbling and healing.

Prayer

A much misunderstood word and concept. For me prayer starts in utter silence and ends in utter silence. Contemplation. Francis started his journey in contemplation, ‘My God and My All’ and he ended his life in contemplation on the crucified loving Christ who was prepared to die for the love of the world. For me, to live up to that is impossible but I can at least stand at the foot of the cross  and lament.

Justice and Creation

Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) can be rephrased as Creation, Justice, Peace (CJP). Care for Creation has to come first without it, as Sergeant Fraser was famous for quoting in ‘Dad’s Army,’ “We are doomed”. You cannot have peace without having Justice so it behoves us to be just in all our dealings, if we want to have Peace which is like the cherry on the cake. These are principles we would be wise to live by.

Young Franciscans

And finally the Young Franciscans. Without them we have no life blood. We must do all we can to nurture their future existence. They are as precious as the children we are given to bring up and care for.
The Third Order of the Society of St Francis
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