Original Franciscan "Third Order" -- Confraternity of Penitents
Make Every Day a Path to Holiness
Formation in the Confraternity of Penitents
Formation in the Confraternity of Penitents is completed over a four year period following a minimum three month period of formal inquiry.
Formal inquiry begins with the submission of the Inquirer Application. Therefore, those who are seeking membership in the Confraternity of Penitents begin by submitting the Inquirer Application.
Inquiry can begin at any time.
Postulancy begins August 1 and March 1.
Novice years begin March 1.
(Note: Priests and deacons wishing to join the CFP complete the Rule and Franciscan Virtues lessons only, having already been well instructed in the Divine Office, Prayer, Scripture, and the Catechism in their religious formation.)
Books needed for formation, as well as a few other CFP materials, may be ordered from the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop on CFP Formation Materials link.
Formal inquiry is the first stage of formation with the Confraternity of Penitents. This stage begins with submission of the Inquirer Application. Inquiry Reflections are optional.
Novice 2 consists of twelve lessons, one per month over a year's time. Novice 1 must be completed successfully prior to beginning Novice 2. Second year novices continue study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and gradually embrace the fasting and abstinence sections of the Rule and Constitutions.
Postulancy consists of twelve lessons that enable the penitent to begin to explore the CFP Rule and Constitutions and to further discern God's direction. Answers to the lesson questions are submitted in writing via email or postal mail.
Novice 3 consists of 12 lessons, one per month over a year's time. Novice 2 must be completed successfully before entering Novice 3. Third year novices complete study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They gradually weed out extra possessions and switch to clothing that adheres to the Rule and Constitutions.
Novice 1 consists of twelve lessons, one per month, upon successful completion of the Postulancy. The first year novice will begin study the Catechism of the Catholic Church and develop a prayer option.
Lessons Prior to Pledging
Three lessons prior to pledging review the Rule and Constitutions to help the penitent discern one's committment to a life of ongoing penance (conversion). Novice 3 must be completed successfully prior to completion of these three lessons. A penitent may pledge for a year or for life and may also choose to take a private vow to live the Rule for life.
Three Lessons Prior to Pledging
Pledged Penitents and Associates Whose Formation Is Complete
Pledged Penitents and Associates who have completed formation select monthly readings from the documents of the Church and writings and lives of the saints to continue their formation.
Guidelines for Formators
Formators are those who review and respond to the instruction lessons submitted to them by their formatees in the Confraternity of Penitents.
If you have been asked to become a formator, may the Lord bless you abundantly in your call to the ministry of Formation in the Confraternity of Penitents. This call from the Lord is rewarding to both you as Formator, and to your Formatee(s), as you grow together in faith.
1. As a formator, you must be dedicated to living the CFP Rule and in total agreement with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
2. Your call as Formator is to assist Members and Associates (Formatees) in understanding the Rule and the Catholic Faith; and in applying the Constitutions of the Rule to their own lives by reviewing the lessons they submit to you. Following prayer for guidance and taking time for prayerful reflection on the responses in each lesson, your comments and instruction should be stated in written sentences, showing understanding and respect for the writer. In special circumstances, with the approval of the Minister General, the lessons and reviews may not be stated in written form.
3. Respond to lessons in a timely manner (generally within 2 weeks of receipt of lesson).
4. Encourage Formatees to keep copies of their lessons for future reference; however, you do not need to keep copies yourself unless you wish to.
5. Keep accurate ledgers of lessons completed successfully.
6. All lessons submitted to you are completely confidential and must not be shared in any way with any other individual except by the permission of the formatee and formator.
7. Periodically update your Chapter/Circle Minister (if any) and your Regional Minister on the status of your Formatees. This must be done at least once a year.
8. Formation applications must be completed yearly. Postulants enter Formation on either Ash Wednesday or August 1st. Formatees in Novice 1-3 begin lessons for the next level on Ash Wednesday. All formation applications and lessons are in the CFP Handbook and on the CFP website. Applications should come to you and also to the CFP Administrative Office.
9. Members are expected to complete their formation lessons within a year’s time and move on to the next year of Formation by Ash Wednesday in order to proceed. Members who do not complete a year of Formation by Ash Wednesday are allowed to continue with that year of Formation with the approval of you, as Formator, the Regional Minister and the Minister General. The appropriate application for the year must be completed with copies submitted to you, the CFP Office, and the above ministers.
10. Consult your Chapter/Circle Minister for concerns about a Formatee, (for isolated members consult your Regional Minister). If necessary, you may consult the Minister General.
11 . Review the rights, duties, and obligations for formators in the Handbook of the Confraternity of Penitents under the chapter entitled: “Rights, Duties, Obligations,” as well as the chapter entitled: “Formation,” from which these guidelines are taken. Also review the “Special Situations” section for Formation, in the Directory of the handbook where many situations and irregularities are further discussed.
--Dianne Joslyn, CFP
GUIDELINES FOR FORMATEES IN THE CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS
1. Entry into Formation begins either Ash Wednesday or August 1 for Postulants and Ash Wednesday for all others.
2. All formation lessons and applications are in the CFP Handbook and on the CFP website. Inquirer, Postulant, and Novice 1 applications may be submitted by e-mail and do not require the signature of a Spiritual Director. Novice 2, Novice 3, and Pledged applications are to be submitted in writing and signed by the penitent and his/her Spiritual Director.
3. All Members and Associates in Formation are to submit an application yearly, generally prior to Ash Wednesday, until a Member pledges for life, or until an Associate completes Formation. Applications should be sent to the CFP Office, and a copy sent to your Chapter or Circle Minister. If you’re not in a Chapter or Circle, a copy should be sent to your Regional Minister. Members who have completed formation submit an address update yearly, generally prior to Ash Wednesday. Therefore, everyone in the CFP, from inquirer through pledged and vowed members, will submit an application or update each year. This assists our Administrative Headquarters in keeping current records of all members.
4. Induction Ceremonies, to formally welcome you for each formation year, are encouraged and may take place with your spiritual director, within your Chapter/Circle, or at the annual CFP Retreat.
5. Formatees should briefly answer the questions following each lesson, including those listed under “Lesson on the Rule,” in written or typed format, on a monthly basis. Submit them to your assigned CFP Formator unless a dispensation has been granted. Answers may be submitted via e-mail, postal mail, or in person. If you cannot complete a lesson for any given month, or on a monthly basis, please let your formator know so that a workable schedule can be devised . Members with spiritual directors should also inform them of any difficulties in keeping up with lessons.
6. The Postulancy may be completed in less than 12 months time if it was begun on August 1st and if all lessons are completed by the following Ash Wednesday. Each of the Novice years must be a minimum of 12 months.
7. Members who do not complete a year of Formation by Ash Wednesday are allowed to continue that year of Formation, with the approval of their Formator, Regional Minister, and the Minister General. By Ash Wednesday, they must complete the appropriate application for the year and return a copy to the CFP Office, their Formator, and to their Regional Minister.
8. Those wishing to pledge must have successfully completed the Postulancy and three years of Novitiate as well as three lessons required prior to pledging. These three lessons must be completed each year until you make a life pledge or elect to become an Associate. Vows may be taken at the time of pledging.
9. Please review the chapters entitled “Formation” and “Special Situations” in the Handbook of the Confraternity of Penitents from which these guidelines are taken.
Enjoy your years of preparation for your calling in the life of a penitent! Following your formation, you will continue your spiritual growth by reading your choice of writings by or biographies of the saints or documents of the Church. You can share about these with others in the CFP.
--Dianne Joslyn, CFP