Saint Benedict Center's main site is An online Journal edited by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Richmond, New Hampshire.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Third Order Formation and the Saint Augustine Institute

So much has happened since I last wrote you that I hardly know where to begin. Over the past few months I have spoken on the phone with many of you — tertiaries and non-tertiaries alike. I have explained the Saint Augustine Institute of Catholic Studies (SAI) and what it means to be a tertiary of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Your response has been inspiring. I have been getting several requests to help individuals start Circles of Study throughout the country. Our Membership Director, Brother Michael Maria, M.I.C.M., Tert. (Brad Grinstead), and I have also been talking with seven people who wish to join us as third order members; while several others have expressed sincere interest. Tertiaries are, generally speaking, lay people.
In these conversations I have had an opportunity to tell many people about Saint Benedict Center. This is a short summary of what I have told them and what their response has been.
Firstly, I explained that SAI is an easy adult-oriented method of studying the Catholic Faith. It is a tried-and-true method devised by our late superior, Brother Francis Maluf. There is no tuition. One does need, of course, to pay to obtain the books. Some required books, however, can be downloaded at no cost from our website. The Syllabus, which outlines the course of studies, is free at You can go through the Syllabus at your own pace. You may study on your own, if necessary. If you need any help, please let me know. The required book reports are easy to do and, don’t worry, I do not grade them. If your Catholic education has stopped since you left Catholic school, here is a chance to pick up where you left off. (I promised a friend one more thing. For those in the Chicago area, there is a circle forming right now. Contact me and I will put you in touch with the right people if you are interested in joining that group.)
Secondly, I talked about the Center at large and how it came to be. You would be surprised at the number of people who are just hearing about us for the first time. I took as long as was necessary to explain our double-charism as a crusade: (1) to defend all the dogmas of the Faith, but especially extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the Church there is no salvation), and (2) our commitment to work for the conversion of America to the one, true, Catholic religion. How could we do otherwise? We wish to share our Faith with our fellow Americans, and help them to know Our Lord in the only Church He founded.
Thirdly, I spelled out what the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are all about. I explained that Third Order members practice both the contemplative and the active life; i.e., they work in the world, but they are not of the world.
Learning the Faith in the proper manner is essential for our crusade. Without this knowledge we cannot be effective instruments in the active work of converting our relatively pagan country to the one, true Faith. Brother Francis used to say that one couldn’t be an aqueduct until he was first a reservoir. In other words: Nemo dat quod non habet (No man can give what he does not have). I stressed the importance of the proven method we use in the proper formation for our Order’s tertiaries today. We have a special mentoring program that nurtures the tertiary-novice so that he is not left to fend for himself. I also talked about the great fruits to be found on our websites, as well as in our monthly mailings, our bookstore, our weekly lectures here at the Center, and our annual conference.
Finally, but certainly not the last or least thing, I discussed our great love and devotion to our Holy Mother Mary. It is she who guides our apostolate. We love her so much that, in the spirit of Saint Louis de Montfort, we have consecrated ourselves in holy slavery to her. She is our mother and our mistress. It is in Mary that we find our way to Jesus. How could a Son deny anything to so good a mother?
And do you know what many of you have said in response to my conversations? I have heard this phrase so many times that I can repeat it to you word-for-word: “That is exactly what I am looking for!” I can understand this because I know how difficult it is to locate a good solid way of finding the Truth today. We are so beset with distractions, so confused with contrary teachings, so overloaded with new ways of doing things, that we no longer wish to hear the tired refrain, “Have you heard the latest?” No, we’d rather not hear the latest thing. We are modern in the good sense of the word and traditional in all respects. What we offer is the Catholic and Marian way to God that you have been looking for. Remember how the Apostle Philip enjoined his friend Nathanael when the latter said, “Can any thing of good come from Nazareth?” Philip responded, “Come and see” (John 1:46).
Email Brother John Marie Vianney at

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