"Here begins the Rule of the Continent Brothers
and Sisters. In the Name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Thus begins the Rule for the Confraternity of
TO THE FORM OF LIFE
OF THE PRIVATE,
CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION OF
CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS
Note: There currently exist a few groups whose
members are seeking to do penance (be converted)
by living the Rule of 1221. One way to determine
which group would best fit the way the Holy
Spirit seems to be calling you is to study each
group's Constitutions or Statutes which tell how
the members of that group live the Rule today. If you join
a group, or enter its formation program, you are
doing so with the intention of seeing if you
will live your life by that group's
Constitutions or Statutes. Do
those seem to fit the desires which the
Holy Spirit has placed within your soul?
On this site, the Original (Primitive)
is in italics and appears first while the
penitents in the Confraternity live the Rule)
follow and are printed in regular font. We have
added blue links from each section of the Rule
to the corresponding section in the
Constitutions to assist in your study of our way
If the Confraternity's Rule and Constitutions appeal to you, please feel free to
contact us with any questions, and we will
assist you and pray for you. Please pray for us
as well. Thanks and may the Holy Spirit guide
you as you discern a possible call to live this
holy way of life.
OF LIFE FOR THE CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS
This is the Rule of
for the Confraternity of Penitents. Penitents live
this Rule according to the Constitutions of the
Confraternity of Penitents.
THE PRIMITIVE RULE OF 1221
Here begins the Rule of the Continent
Brothers and Sisters: In the Name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The memorial of what
is proposed for the Brothers and Sisters of Penance,
living in their own homes, begun in the year of our
Lord 1221, is as follows.
I: DAILY LIFE
1. The men belonging
to this brotherhood shall dress in humble, undyed
cloth, the price of which is not to exceed six
unless for evident and necessary cause a temporary
dispensation be given. And breadth and thinness of
the cloth are to be considered in said price.
2. They shall wear their outer
garments and furred coats without open throat, sewed
shut or uncut but certainly laced up, not open as
secular people wear them; and they shall wear their
3. The sisters in
turn shall wear an outer garment and tunic made of
cloth of the same price and humble quality; or at
least they are to have with the outer garment a
white or black underwrap or petticoat, or an ample
linen gown without gathers,
the price of an ell of which is not to exceed twelve
As to this price, however, and the fur cloaks they
wear a dispensation may be given according to the
estate of the woman and the custom of the place.
They are not to wear silken or dyed veils and
4. And both the brothers and the
sisters shall have their fur garments of lamb's wool
only. They are permitted to have leather purses and
belts sewed in simple fashion without silken thread,
and no other kind. Also other vain adornments they
shall lay aside at the bidding of the Visitor.
They are not to go to unseemly parties or to shows
or dances. They shall not donate to actors,
and shall forbid their household to donate.
6. All are to abstain
from meat save on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays,
except on account of illness or weakness, for three
days at blood-letting, in traveling, or on account
of a specially high feast intervening, namely, the
Nativity for three days, New Year's, Epiphany, the
Pasch of the Resurrection for three days, Assumption
of the glorious Virgin Mary, the solemnity of All
Saints and of St. Martin.
On the other days, when there is no fasting, they
may eat cheese and eggs. But when they are with
religious in their convent homes, they have leave to
eat what is served to them. And except for the
feeble, the ailing, and those traveling, let them be
content with dinner and supper. Let the healthy be
temperate in eating and drinking.
7. Before their dinner and supper let
them say the Lord's prayer once, likewise after
their meal, and let them give thanks to God.
Otherwise let them say three Our Fathers.
8. From the Pasch of the Resurrection
to the feast of All Saints they are to fast on
Fridays. From the feast of All Saints until Easter
they are to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, but
still observing the other fasts enjoined in general
by the Church.
9. They are to fast
daily, except on account of infirmity or any other
need, throughout the fast of St. Martin from after
said day until Christmas, and throughout the greater
fast from Carnival Sunday
10. Sisters who are pregnant are free
to refrain until their purification from the
corporal observances except those regarding their
dress and prayers.
11. Those engaged in
fatiguing work shall be allowed to take food three
times a day from the Pasch of the Resurrection until
the Dedication feast of St. Michael.
And when they work for others it will be allowed
them to eat everything served to them, except on
Fridays and on the fasts enjoined in general by the
12. All are daily to
say the seven canonical Hours, that is: Matins,
The clerics are to say them after the manner of the
clergy. Those who know the Psalter are to say the
Deus in nomine tuo (Psalm 54) and the Beati
Immaculati (Psalm 119) up to the Legem pone (Verse
33) for Prime, and the other psalms of the Hours,
with the Glory Be to the Father; but when they do
not attend church, they are to say for Matins the
psalms the Church says or any eighteen psalms; or at
least to say the Our Father as do the unlettered at
any of the Hours. The others say twelve Our Fathers
for Matins and for every one of the other Hours
seven Our Fathers with the Glory Be to the Father
after each one. And those who know the Creed and the
Miserere mei Deus (Ps. 51) should say it at Prime
and Compline. If they do not say that at the Hours
indicated, they shall say three Our Fathers.
13. The sick are not to say the Hours
unless they wish.
14. All are to go to Matins in the
fast of St. Martin and in the great fast, unless
inconvenience for persons or affairs should
V: THE SACRAMENTS, OTHER MATTERS
15. They are to make a confession of
their sins three times a year and to receive
Communion at Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. They
are to be reconciled with their neighbors and to
restore what belongs to others. They are to make up
for past tithes and pay future tithes.
16. They are not to take up lethal
weapons, or bear them about, against anybody.
17. All are to refrain from formal
oaths unless where necessity compels, in the cases
excepted by the Sovereign Pontiff in his indult,
that is, for peace, for the Faith, under calumny,
and in bearing witness.
18. Also in their ordinary
conversations they will do their best to avoid
oaths. And should anyone have sworn thoughtlessly
through a slip of the tongue, as happens where there
is much talking, he should the evening of the same
day, when he is obliged to think over what he has
done, say three Our Fathers in amends of such oaths.
Let each member fortify his household to serve God.
VI: SPECIAL MASS AND MEETING EACH MONTH
19. All the brothers and sisters of
every city and place are to foregather every month
at the time the ministers see fit, in a church which
the ministers will make known, and there assist at
20. And every member
is to give the treasurer one ordinary denar.
The treasurer is to collect this money and
distribute it on the advice of the ministers among
the poor brothers and sisters, especially the sick
and those who may have nothing for their funeral
services, and thereupon among the poor; and they are
to offer something of the money to the aforesaid
21. And, if it be convenient at the
time, they are to have some religious who is
informed in the words of God to exhort them and
strengthen them to persevere in their penance and in
performing the works of mercy. And except for the
officers, they are to remain quiet during the Mass
and sermon, intent on the Office, on prayer, and on
VII: VISITING THE SICK, BURYING THE DEAD
22. Whenever any brother or sister
happens to fall ill, the ministers, if the patient
let them know of it, shall in person or through
others visit the patient once a week, and remind him
of penance; and if they find it expedient, they are
to supply him from the common fund with what he may
need for the body.
23. And if the ailing
person depart from this life, it is to be published
to the brothers and sisters who may be present in
the city or place, so that they may gather for the
funeral; and they are not to leave until the Mass
has been celebrated and the body consigned to
burial. Thereupon each member within eight days of
the demise shall say for the soul of the deceased: a
Mass, if he is a priest; fifty psalms, if he
understands the Psalter, or if not, then fifty Our
Fathers with the Requiem aeternam
at the end of each.
24. In addition, every year, for the
welfare of the brothers and sisters living and dead,
each priest is to say three Masses, each member
knowing the Psalter is to recite it, and the rest
shall say one hundred Our Fathers with the Requiem
aeternam at the end of each.
25. All who have the right are to
make their last will and make disposition of their
goods within three months after their profession,
lest anyone of them die intestate.
26. As regards making peace among the
brothers and sisters or non-members at odds, let
what the ministers find proper be done; even, if it
be expedient, upon consultation with the Lord
27. If contrary to their right and
privileges trouble is made for the brothers and
sisters by the mayors and governors of the places
where they live, the ministers of the place shall do
what they shall find expedient on the advice of the
28. Let each member accept and
faithfully exercise the ministry of other offices
imposed on him, although anyone may retire from
office after a year.
29. When anybody wishes to enter this
brotherhood, the ministers shall carefully inquire
into his standing and occupation, and they shall
explain to him the obligations of the brotherhood,
especially that of restoring what belongs to others.
And it he is content with it, let him be vested
according to the prescribed way, and he must make
satisfaction for his debts, paying money according
to what pledged provision is given. They are to
reconcile themselves with their neighbors and to pay
up their tithes.
30. After these particulars are
complied with, when the year is up and he seems
suitable to them, let him on the advice of some
discreet brothers be received on this condition:
that he promise he will all the time of his life
observe everything here written, or to be written or
abated on the advice of the brothers, unless on
occasion there be a valid dispensation by the
ministers; and that he will, when called upon by the
ministers, render satisfaction as the Visitor shall
ordain if he have done anything contrary to this
condition. And this promise is to be put in writing
then and there by a public notary. Even so nobody is
to be received otherwise, unless in consideration of
the estate and rank of the person it shall seem
advisable to the ministers.
31. No one is to depart from this
brotherhood and from what is contained herein,
except to enter a religious Order.
32. No heretic or person in bad
repute for heresy is to be received. If he is under
suspicion of it, he may be admitted if otherwise
fit, upon being cleared before the bishop.
33. Married women are not to be
received except with the consent and leave of their
34. Brothers and sisters ejected form
the brotherhood as incorrigible are not to be
received in it again except it please the saner
portion of the brothers.
VIII: CORRECTION, DISPENSATION, OFFICERS
35. The ministers of any city or
place shall report public faults of the brothers and
sisters to the Visitor for punishment. And if anyone
proves incorrigible, after consultation with some of
the discreet brothers he should be denounced to the
Visitor, to be expelled by him from the brotherhood,
and thereupon it should be published in the meeting.
Moreover, if it is a brother, he should be denounced
to the mayor or the governor.
36. If anyone learns that a scandal
is occurring relative to brothers and sisters, he
shall report it to the ministers and shall have
opportunity to report it to the Visitor. He need not
be held to report it in the case of husband against
37. The Visitor has the power to
dispense all the brothers and sisters in any of
these points if he finds it advisable.
38. When the year has passed, the
ministers with the counsel of the brothers are to
elect two other ministers; and a faithful treasurer,
who is to provide for the need of the brothers and
sisters and other poor; and messengers who at the
command of the ministers are to publish what is said
and done by the fraternity.
39. In all the above mentioned points
no one is to be obligated under guilt, but under
penalty; yet so that if after being admonished twice
by the ministers he should fail to discharge the
penalty imposed or to be imposed on him by the
Visitor, he shall be obligated under guilt as
ENDS THE RULE OF THE CONTINENT.
Author: Cardinal Hugolino dei Conti
dei Segni who wrote this Rule at the request of St.
Francis of Assisi, 1221
Source: Franciscan Omnibus of Sources
CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS
FAMILY IN THE CHURCH
Members of the
Confraternity of Penitents (CFP) strive to surrender
to God through the living of a Rule of Life given to
penitents in the year 1221, at the request of St.
Francis of Assisi and written by Cardinal Hugolino
de Conti de Segni, later Pope Gregory IX. The
Constitutions of the Confraternity of Penitents
delineate how Members are to live the Rule today.
of Penitents is an international, private, Catholic,
lay association of the faithful, existing with the
permission of the
of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, USA, and
headquartered in his Diocese. Because the Bishop has
deemed the Rule and Constitutions acceptable to
live, he has indicated that the CFP Way of Life
is a safe guide to
holiness. If penitents live this life in humility
and love, they will move deeper into their own
III. SUBJECTION TO
The Pope, by virtue of being head of the Roman
Catholic Church, is also head of the Confraternity
of Penitents. The Bishop of the Diocese of
Providence, Rhode Island, USA, is the primary
representative of the Church regarding the
Confraternity of Penitents
and has confirmed the canonical status of the
Confraternity of Penitents as a private association
of the faithful (Bishop Thomas Tobin in a letter
dated February 11, 2009).
Confraternity acknowledges the authority of the
Bishop over its affairs and will follow his
All Members of the Confraternity, as well as its
spiritual advisors, Spiritual Directors, and
Visitor, are in complete conformity to all the
directives of the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic
Church and of the Holy See to whom belongs the
authentic interpretation of the Rule and
Constitutions. The practical interpretation of the
Rule and Constitutions belongs to the Bishop of the
Diocese of Providence, in consultation with the
Visitor and Minister General of the Confraternity
who may also consult the Confraternity Council.
IV. THE OBJECT OF THE COMMITMENT
The Object of the
Commitment is for the individual pledged member to
lead a penitential life in union with Christ and
with all the faithful. Penance is on-going, putting
on the mind of Jesus Christ to "Turn away from sin
and be faithful to the Gospel" (Mark 1:15). Penance
is conversion from doing things in worldly, selfish
ways to doing them God's way. This cannot be done
without some self-denial, for the Lord Himself said
that we must "deny ourselves, take up our crosses,
and follow Him" if we are to be His disciples. (Luke
Members of the Confraternity of
Penitents are to live converted to God and in a
loving, Christ-like relationship with each other and
with all. They are to participate in some form of
Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. They are
to maintain chastity according to their state in
life and are to follow the dictates of the Church
regarding sexual activity and family planning.
Unless communities of penitents are formed according
to Church law and following the CFP Rule and their
own Constitutions, penitents are to live in their
own homes as they, by the grace of the Holy Spirit,
simplify and sanctify their lives.
Without the permission of their spiritual director,
or religious superior, penitents should not
undertake physical acts of self denial or
mortification beyond those delineated in the Rule
FRUITS OF THE COMMITMENT
graces given to those who live a penitential life
under their freely chosen promise to God are:
enable penitents to understand the transitoriness of
this life and the superficiality of a worldly
direct penitents in the surrender of their own will
to the Rule and to the spiritual director so that
they may accept more joyfully the discipline and
direction that God gives (obedience).
draw penitents into a deep union with God Who wishes
all people to surrender everything to Him
enable penitents to experience in a small way the
self-emptying willingly embraced by Our Lord Jesus
Christ (abandonment to the will of God).
foster an increase of love for God the Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit, and for human beings, since they
are made in God's image. True love is to seek the
others' good before one's own (loving, selfless
service of God and of others).
VI. PURPOSE (CHARISM)
The Confraternity recognizes that God is Lord,
Creator, and Father. It endeavors to assist the
penitent in surrendering his or her life totally to
God's Divine Will as manifest through the teachings
of Christ, the authority of the Church, and the
motion of the Holy Spirit in the penitent's life, as
confirmed by the counsel of the penitent's spiritual
Thus, the Purpose (Charism) of the Confraternity of
Penitents is to promote penance (conversion), that
is, doing things God's way instead of human ways.
The Purpose (Charism) is developed in its Vision,
Prayer, Mission, Motto, Action, Song, and Symbol.
glory to God and surrender to His Will through the
living of a medieval, penitential Rule of Life, the
Rule of 1221. This Rule is lived as closely as
possible to its original intent, and in one's own
home or CFP community house, in peace with all
others, and in obedience to the Roman Catholic
Church, its Pope, and its Magisterium.
High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my
mind, give me right faith, a firm hope and perfect
charity, so that I may always and in all things act
according to Your Holy Will. Amen." (Saint Francis's
prayer before the San Damiano Crucifix)
shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart,
with your whole soul, and with all your mind, (and)
you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Jesus's
words as recorded in Matthew 22:37-38)
repair My House which, as you can see, is falling
into ruin." (The message given to St. Francis in a
voice from the San Damiano Crucifix.)
for God's specific direction in one's life so that,
through humbly living our Rule of Life, each
penitent may help to rebuild the house of God by
bringing love of God and neighbor to his or her own
corner of the world.
Longer I" is the theme song of the Confraternity of
Damiano Crucifix is the Symbol of the Confraternity
In July 1994, our
"founder" Madeline Pecora Nugent, inspired by the
Holy Spirit, began, with the approval of her
spiritual director Dom Julian Stead, OSB, to "live
the Rule of 1221." In 1995, a few others living in
Rhode Island, USA, also began to live the Rule and
named the group "The Brothers and Sisters of
Penance." In March, 1996, the Visitor Brother
Francis Kelly, FPO, asked that the group disband for
a year to discern God's direction. When the group
reorganized in March 1997, Dom Julian Stead, OSB,
became Visitor. That December, Rev. Robert Mulvee,
the Bishop of the Diocese of Providence, was
presented a copy of the Rule and Statutes (now
The initial letter of permission to live the Rule
and Statutes, signed by Rev. Msgr. William I.
Varsanyi of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island,
is dated January 30, 1998, and contains these words,
"Bishop Mulvee concurred with my opinion that this
Rule does not contain anything contrary to our
faith; therefore it may be safely practiced
privately by you or by anyone inclined to do so."
Under the name of
Brothers and Sisters of Penance, the
Confraternity went on the world wide web in the fall
of 1998, formally beginning a formation program with
six postulants. During Lent of 1999,
a group from Minnesota, organized as the Franciscan
Brothers and Sisters of Penance, found the Rhode Island group and
a merger was effected. Stephanie Natalie Carlson
Sullivan and Madeline Pecora Nugent, the first two
penitents to complete the four year formation
program and pledge to live the Rule for life, made
their pledges at Jesus Savior Church Prayer Chapel,
Middletown, Rhode Island, before
Father Valerius Messerich, OFM, on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 7,
After four and a
half years, the history, to that point, of the
merged Association, was brought to the attention of
the Diocese of Providence. Upon the recommendation
of the Vicar General for the Diocese of Providence
Rev. Msgr. William Varsanyi, and with the agreement
of Bishop Robert Mulvee, the decision was made to
severe the merger and to
refound the Association.
This was done on the
Queenship of Mary, August 22,
2003, with the name "Confraternity of Penitents"
given to the refounded group. In 2004, Bishop Mulvee
concurred with the advice of
CFP Spiritual Advisor
Father John of the Trinity, Erem TOCarm, and with
the agreement of CFP Visitor Father Jay Finelli, to
grant permission for CFP Members to celebrate the
Queenship of Mary yearly as a Solemnity, by
following the guidelines in sections 6 and 9 of the
CFP Rule and Constitutions.
The first death of
a pledged Member occurred on May 27, 2005, with the
death of Stephanie Sullivan.
In September 2005,
the Council of the Confraternity of Penitents met
with CFP Spiritual Advisor Father Martin Mary Fonte,
FI, and Sister Jacqueline Dickey, Vicar for
Religious of the Diocese of Providence. The
governing structure of the Confraternity was revised
to allow the Minister General greater freedom in
governance and a set of ordinances adopted. In July,
2006, in order to conform more closely to Church
terminology, what had been previously termed
"statutes" were re-named "Constitutions" and
"ordinances" renamed the "Directory."
Members are those persons considered to be part of
the Confraternity of Penitents. All baptized
Catholics who are fourteen years of age
or older, who are in complete harmony with all the
teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the
Magisterium, are eligible to enter formation as
Members include those who have pledged to live the
CFP Rule and Constitutions as well as those who are
pursuing formation in the CFP at the Postulancy
level or above and who have no impediments to
pledging if their formation were complete.
Those who wish to
live the CFP Rule, but who have impediments to full
Membership, may become Associates of the
Confraternity. Associates are non-members who are in
formation, or have completed formation, with the
non-members who support and pray for the CFP but who
do not participate in formation.
The Confraternity of Penitents is a private Catholic
lay association of the faithful with a hierarchical
structure of governance. It is primarily governed by
its Rule, Constitutions, and Directory as well as by
the Code of Canon Law. Supplementary governance is
provided by its Articles of Incorporation and
bylaws, filed with the State of Rhode Island on
August 19, 2003, and amended thereafter, and by the
regulations in the State of Rhode Island Non Profit
Penitents are first and foremost members of the
Church which is the body of Christ. Within the CFP,
they are Members of the international Confraternity
first, secondly of their Regions, and thirdly of any
local Chapter or Circle of the Confraternity.
The simplified governing structure
or Circle Minister (Local)
This simplified structure reflects
the Order of Governance and the Order of Appeal ,
proceeding from the local level up to the
International level. If the lower level, in
conjunction with the religious advisor(s) on that
level, cannot address the question or matter of
concern, it is referred to the next level. The
answer is, in turn, relayed down through the levels
to the petitioner.
The highest levels of appeal rest in
the Magisterium, that is in the Bishop of the
Diocese of Providence and in the Pope through the
The Confraternity of
Penitents is a worldwide organization. All CFP
Members, Associates, and Affiliates are ultimately
under the governance of the Minister General in
consultation with the CFP Council. All Members,
Associates, and Affiliates are also subject to the
Visitor and Bishop.
The Confraternity of
Penitents is self-governing and self-supportive,
receiving its funding through donations from its
Members and from others worldwide.
geographical subdivisions of the world which
simplify governance. Subject to the Minister General
and CFP Council, Regional Ministers shall govern
their Regions following the guidelines within the
Rule, Constitutions, and Directory.
gatherings form when two or more CFP Postulants,
Novices, and/or Pledged Members, from at least two
different families, meet together in person at least
monthly. A CFP Circle consists of at least two
Members while a CFP Chapter must consist of at least
and Circles are governed by their own Officers
subject to their Spiritual Assistant. They are then
subject to their Regional Minister and ultimately to
the Minister General and Visitor in consultation
with the CFP Council.
XI. RIGHTS, DUTIES, AND OBLIGATIONS
Several individuals exercise
leadership in the Confraternity of Penitents. The
principal ones of these are:
Confraternity of Penitents' Visitor is a spiritual
guide and immediate representative of the Roman
Catholic Church. He shall be a priest appointed by
or approved by the Bishop of the Diocese of
Providence, Rhode Island.
If he is also a
Religious, the Visitor must have the permission of
his superior to serve. The CFP shall have only one
Visitor unless the Bishop, in consultation with the
Minister General, deems that more are needed.
The office of
Minister General is the highest non-clerical office
in the Confraternity of Penitents. The Minister
General is responsible for the efficient operation
of the CFP and oversees it in every regard. The
Minister General is the primary contact with all
Bishops regarding the Confraternity, protects and
promotes the Purpose (Charism), and endeavors, with
prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance, to develop
and expand the CFP and the message of penance
With prayer and the
advice of the CFP Officers and Lay and Spiritual
Advisors, the Minister General shall make the final
decisions, subject to approval by the Visitor, on
all matters involving the Confraternity of
Penitents. The only exceptions to this are decisions
in the following five areas in which the elected
Minister General must have the unanimous consent of
those legally named as Council members, plus the
consent of the Visitor, to implement a decision:
dissolution of major assets or the spending of 20%
or more of CFP funds
to the CFP Name, Legal Status as a 501c3
Organization, and Purpose (Charism) as detailed in
the Vision, Action, Prayer, Motto, Mission, Song,
--change to the CFP
to the CFP Governance and Structure
to the CFP Formation Program
Confraternity Officers ensure that the CFP is
running smoothly on an international level.
Confraternity Officers are the CFP Ministerial
Assistant, CFP Messenger, and CFP Treasurer. They
assist and advise the Minister General in the
operation of the Confraternity.
ADDITIONAL COUNCIL MEMBERS
Additional Council Members serve as advisors to the
Ministers insure that formation is being properly
conducted in their Regions, both with isolated
Members and Associates and with those in Chapters
XII. TERM OF OFFICE
Elections and confirmation of
appointments are conducted annually. The term of
office for all Officers and leaders, other than the
Minister General and Formators, begins on January 1
following their election or appointment and ends on
December 31. If a term of office becomes vacant
before December 31, a replacement will be appointed
to fill the office until January 1.
Unless factors of
incapacity or inability are present, all Pledged
Members are eligible to vote and hold office.
Formation assures that those entering the
Confraternity of Penitents will be adequately formed
in the way of life required by the Rule and
Constitutions, will develop and advance in the
spiritual life, and will grow in knowledge of the
teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Each person
in formation is assigned a Formator to review their
lessons and to assist them with formation.
Formation is open to Members and Associates of the
Confraternity of Penitents. It consists of 51
lessons, which include 12 Postulant lessons, 12
lessons for each of the three years of Novice
formation, and 3 lessons prior to pledging. One
lesson is completed monthly, with the exception of
those in the August Postulancy who complete two
lessons per month. Each year of formation must be
completed successfully before applications can be
accepted for the next year of formation or for
Applications are made to the CFP Chapter or Circle
Minister (if applicable), the Regional Minister, and
the CFP Office, for Inquiry, for each year of
formation, for pledging, and for vowing.
The stages of formation are:
A Pre-Inquirer is an
individual who contacts the Confraternity, or any
Member of it, for information, advice, and/or prayer
about discerning a possible vocation to the
Confraternity, but who has not completed an Inquirer
Inquiry is the first
level of formal contact with the Confraternity.
Inquirers are exploring the CFP way of life and
discerning a possible vocation to it.
Postulancy is an introduction into the formation
process. Postulants reflect on certain teachings of
the Roman Catholic Church, on penance, and on the
spiritual journey. They study the CFP Rule and
Constitutions and begin to follow them in certain
Postulancy is a time
of further discernment of a vocation to the CFP.
The principal years
of formation are the three years of the Novitiate,
each consisting of twelve full months during which
the Novice regularly participates in at least one
Spiritual or Corporal Work of Mercy. The Novice also
undertakes a study of Scripture and of the Catechism
of the Catholic Church. Each year of formation
integrates different prescriptions of the Rule and
the Constitutions into the Novice's life. Those
prescriptions are: for Novice 1, prayer; for Novice
2, fasting and abstinence; for Novice 3, simplicity
of life. At the end of three years of Novice
formation, the penitent shall be praying certain
prayers for a certain amount of time daily, shall
fast and abstain weekly, and shall have greatly
simplified his or her wardrobe and possessions.
XIV. FORM OF COMMITMENT
A Pledge is a
voluntary commitment, before God, to live the CFP
Rule and Constitutions either for a year or for
life. Making a Pledge is an important and grace
filled step in the life of a penitent because a
Pledge is a binding promise to live according to the
CFP Rule and Constitutions, although not under pain
of sin. Prior to pledging, the Member must be at
least eighteen years old, must be confirmed in the
Roman Catholic Church, and must have successfully
completed all four years of formation plus three
additional lessons which discuss the seriousness of
the pledge. The pledge is made to a Roman Catholic
priest, deacon, religious, or to the penitent's
vow is the deepest
commitment one can make to live the CFP Rule because
it is binding under pain of sin, as long as it can
be kept. With the permission of the spiritual
director, a CFP Life-Pledged Member may take private
vows to observe the Rule and Constitutions for life
as well as additional vows approved by the Church,
such as Consecration to Our Lady.
Any equipment, property, or other assets purchased
by the CFP, either internationally, regionally, or
locally, for use by and in the Confraternity, remain
the property of the CFP entity (International
Council, Regional Council, Chapter or Circle
Council) which purchased them.
XVI. THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
conference and retreat, open to all Members
of the Confraternity, will be held annually if at
all possible. The Visitor or another priest, deacon,
male or female religious, will preside at this
gathering which shall promote Catholic spirituality
particularly through penance (conversion) and which
shall unite the total Confraternity. Other groups
within the Church may be invited to send delegates
to this event.
Chapters and Circles shall meet monthly in their
local communities. Electronic gatherings shall be
held monthly, if possible, for those unable to
participate in local meetings.
XVIII. FINANCIAL POLICIES
The Confraternity of Penitents is a non-profit
association. It has no mandatory dues, fees, or
assessments. If money is needed, the Treasurer may
XIX. ADDITIONAL PROCEDURES
Additional procedures are delineated in the CFP Rule
XX. APPLICATIONS OF THE RULE OF 1221
keeping with the Preamble of the Rule, here begin
the Constitutions of the Continent (those who give
up things) Confraternity of Penitents. In the Name
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
I: DAILY LIFE
keeping with section 1 of the Rule:
Those belonging to this Confraternity shall dress in
humble and inexpensive cloth. Subdued, solid colors,
as opposed to patterns and designs, should be
chosen. Colors shall be neutral shades (black,
white, cream, ivory, beige, tan, camel, brown, gray,
charcoal, etc.) in conformity with the colors worn
by the first penitents and blue in honor of the
Blessed Mother who is the patron of the
Confraternity of Penitents. The penitent should
strive to have only the least expensive and minimum
amount of clothing needed for comfort, employment,
penitent should mix and match styles and colors so
as appear indistinguishable from other seculars and
to avoid the appearance of a wearing a habit. Thus
penitents will do penance privately and
evident and necessary cause, a temporary
dispensation on clothing colors and quality may be
keeping with section 2 of the Rule:
Visible undergarments such as socks or stockings may
be of solid neutral colors or blue. Clothing that is
not visible may be of any color or pattern.
Men's ties should be simple, conservative, and
tasteful and may be patterned and of any color or
color combination provided that the ties are subdued
in appearance and not "flashy."
Colorful ornamentation and fancy jewelry are not to
be worn unless a dispensation is given. Engagement
rings, wedding bands, watches, and any other similar
adornments, and tasteful and unostentatious
religious jewelry such as medals are permitted.
Small pierced earring studs, in a simple and
inexpensive style, may be allowed if needed to keep
earring holes from closing.
special events, a dispensation is given for the
wearing of earrings, other jewelry, and clothing
that falls outside the regular garb of the followers
of this Rule.
use of perfumes, after shave lotions, and so on
should be avoided unless necessary. Wherever
possible, unscented hair sprays, soaps, lotions, and
so on should be chosen.
Female penitents may use cosmetics if necessary but
should keep their makeup as conservative as possible
so as not to draw attention to its use. The use of
extensive makeup is discouraged.
all times in public, a simple cross or crucifix must
be visibly worn either around the neck or in the
form of a brooch or lapel pin. The style chosen
should be in keeping with poverty, humility, and
simplicity according to the penitent's state in
life. If a penitent is already wearing a religious
habit of a First, Second, or Third Order community,
the habit of the Order will suffice. A penitent can
be excused from the wearing of a cross, crucifix, or
habit if to do so may endanger the penitent's life
or impede the penitent's manner of earning a living.
keeping with section 3 of the Rule:
clothing and accessories must be modest and chaste.
They must also be simple and inexpensive unless a
dispensation is given according to the estate or
employment of the person and custom of the place.
Penitents should attempt to live as simply and
inexpensively as possible according to their state
in life. With the consent of their spouses and
families, they are to have the minimum number of and
least sophisticated appliances, furniture,
furnishings, electronic aids, and vehicles as
necessary. However, the following of this section of
the Rule must not create more work or inconvenience
for penitents or other family members.
keeping with section 4 of the Rule:
Outer winter garments shall be either of lamb's
wool, or a comparable imitation, only, or of any
non-fur material. They shall be of either a solid
neutral or blue color, simple and modest, and shall
conform to the Constitutions under section 1.
Purses should be of either a solid neutral or blue
color. Suitcases and carry bags such as back packs
should be of these colors if possible.
keeping with section 5 of the Rule:
Attendance at immodest functions or events at which
immodest or immoral behavior is exhibited or
fostered, except to condemn such behavior, is
forbidden. This would include movies, parties,
plays, and so on.
The penitent should avoid the near occasions of sin
in all circumstances and should strive always to
give good example to others.
keeping with section 6 of the Rule:
penitents, all Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and
Saturdays are days of abstinence (that is, meatless
days) unless directed otherwise by a physician. Meat
is allowed on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.
Abstinence will follow current Church regulations
which are listed in Appendix A of these
Except for Sundays and Solemnities, penitents are to
eat but two meals daily throughout the year unless
advised otherwise by a physician. However, a third,
small "bite to eat" of beverage and solid food may
be taken if needed at one other time during the day.
Beverages such as fruit juice, milk, coffee, and so
on may be taken at any time between meals.
Except for Sundays and Solemnities, between meal
snacks of solid food should be avoided.
all times, penitents should be temperate in eating
their own homes, penitents should attempt to prepare
foods that other household members enjoy even if
this means that penitents must sometimes prepare an
individual dish for themselves in order to follow
order to be hospitable, penitents may eat small,
between meal snacks if they are entertaining guests
or if they are guests in the homes of others.
eating with others in a group setting, the penitent
should endeavor to allow others to choose their
foods first as long as this penitential practice can
be kept hidden and not call attention to the
Travelers while in transit to their destinations and
those who are ill, weak, pregnant, or breastfeeding
are exempt from following the abstinence provisions
of this Rule.
In keeping with section 7 of the Rule:
Before and after meals, let the penitents reverently
say either their regular meal prayer, or the Lord's
prayer once, and let all give thanks to God. If they
forget or if they are fasting completely from food,
they are to say three Our Father's. These prayers
may be prayed out loud or silently with head bowed
unless to do so would either be dangerous to the
penitent or highly offensive to the company kept.
keeping with section 8 of the Rule:
Fridays are days of fast for penitents. From the
Feast of All Saints until Easter, penitents are to
fast on Wednesdays as well. Wednesdays and Fridays
are also days of abstinence, following section 6 of
Fasting guidelines shall follow current Church law
and are listed in Appendix A of these
amount of food eaten on fast days will be particular
to the individual penitent who should feel hungry
but not debilitated, drowsy, or ill. The penitent
should consult a spiritual director, confessor, or,
if needed, a physician regarding the amount of food
to be eaten.
keeping with section 9 of the Rule:
Penitents are to observe a pre-Christmas fast from
November 12, the day after the Feast of St. Martin,
until Christmas and a pre-Easter fast from Ash
Wednesday until Easter.
Penitents who are guests in the homes of others, or
who have been invited out to eat, are permitted to
eat what is set before them so as not to embarrass
the host unless that day is a day of fast and/or
abstinence enjoined by the Church. Penitents might
consider not accepting invitations to eat out on
Church enjoined days of fast and abstinence.
Sundays are never days of fast or abstinence.
Penitents should not fast or abstain on any of the
Church Solemnities. These include the Octave of
Christmas, the Feasts of New Year's, Epiphany,
Annunciation, the Octave of Easter, the Feasts of
the Ascension, Assumption, All Saints, Immaculate
Conception, and all other Solemnities of the
Penitents are permitted to celebrate with between
meal snacks birthday parties, anniversaries,
baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and other
special occasions unless these would fall on a fast
day enjoined by the Church.
Additional exceptions to the fasting provisions of
this Rule are listed under sections 6, 10, and 11 of
the Rule and Constitutions and in Appendix A to
In keeping with section 10 of the Rule:
pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are exempt from
fasting and abstinence both by the Church and the
In keeping with section 11 of the Rule:
Fatiguing work may be either physical or mental. If
a penitent is unsure whether his or her work
classifies as fatiguing, a priest or spiritual
director should be consulted.
Those engaged in fatiguing work may eat three times
daily on work days if necessary for strength. They
are bound to follow, however, the days of fast and
abstinence enjoined by the Church and, as a
penitent, to observe Friday as a day of fast and
abstinence, unless their parish priest, confessor,
or spiritual director exempts them.
In keeping with section 12 of the Rule:
Prayer is the core of growth in a life with God.
Penitents must be committed to a life of prayer as
outlined in this Rule. More prayer than what is
listed, including daily mental prayer, meditation,
and contemplation, is encouraged.
must adjust one's schedule to make time to pray.
Extraneous activities that do not foster prayer life
should be dropped. However, prayer must not
interfere with daily duties such as caring for
family members, keeping house, or earning a living.
Penitents may have to pray during the night, while
driving, while doing house or yard work, and so on.
Playing tapes of spiritual conferences or sacred
music and hymns while working or driving may help. A
pocket sized New Testament or Psalter may be carried
so that the penitent can seize a few moments of
prayer and meditation while waiting in line, waiting
on hold on the phone, and so on.
While the Liturgy of the Hours is the preferred
method of prayer, substitution of the rote prayers
(Option Four below) is permissible especially for
those times when it is impossible to sit down with a
breviary. The penitent should, however, not rely
totally on these other prayers as a substitute for
the Liturgy of the Hours.
There will arise certain days on which a penitent
finds it impossible to say all the required prayers
in any form. On such days, the penitent is to raise
his or her mind to God at the required prayer times
and have the intention to pray even though the
opportunity is not available. These days should be
rare. If a penitent finds it impossible to pray the
hours on most days, he or she must examine his or
her life and make proper adjustments so that the
prayers can be said.
should renew the consecration of themselves and the
Confraternity to Our Lady. The recommended prayer of
consecration of the Confraternity, The Marian
Consecration Prayer, is in Appendix B of these
are to pray a daily formal prayer (office) of some
kind. The preferred method is to use the Liturgy of
the Hours (breviary).
For those who have no breviary, other offices
approved by the Church may be substituted. These
include the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin or
the Office of the Passion.
those without breviaries or copies of other offices,
certain Psalms may be substituted for each of the
hours. These are listed in Appendix C of these
a penitent cannot read or has no Bible, breviary, or
Office book, the penitent may pray Our Father's,
Hail Mary's, and Glory Be's in place of each office
as directed below under Option Four.
penitents are to pray daily Morning, Evening, and
Night Prayer, preferably using the Liturgy of the
Hours. Morning Prayer (Lauds, called Prime in the
Primitive Rule) is to be prayed between 6 a.m. and
11 a.m. Evening Prayer (Vespers) is to be prayed
between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. Night Prayer (Compline)
is to be prayed right before retiring for bed.
addition, for Morning Prayer, all are to add the
Apostles' Creed and Psalms 51 ("Have mercy on me, O
God, according to your steadfast love," etc.) and 54
("Save me, O God, by your name, and vindicate me by
your might," etc.) and 119 ("Happy are those whose
way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord")
up to verse 32. If a penitent cannot read, he or she
should endeavor to memorize the psalms. If this is
not possible, three additional Our Fathers may be
Night Prayer, right before retiring for bed, all are
to add Psalm 51 and the Apostles' Creed. If the
penitent cannot read Psalm 51, an Our Father may be
Glory Be to the Father is to be prayed after each
addition, penitents should, if possible, spend a
minimum of fifteen minutes daily in meditative or
complete the daily prayer schedule, the penitent
must then choose, with the guidance of a spiritual
director, one of the following five options:
OPTION ONE: PRAY THE COMPLETE LITURGY OF THE HOURS
AS PRESCRIBED IN THE CURRENT BREVIARY
Office of Readings (formerly called Matins) was once
said around midnight but may now be prayed at any
time during the day. The little hours of Terce
(Mid-morning Prayer-about 9 a.m.), Sext (Mid-day
Prayer-about noon), and None (Mid-afternoon
Prayer-about 3 p.m.) are prayed at approximately the
hours described. Penitents may combine some of these
prayers and say them at alternate hours if their
personal schedules require it. For example, the
Office of Readings and Morning Prayer may both be
said at dawn if need requires. Midmorning, Midday,
and Midafternoon Prayer may be combined at noon and
Evening Prayer and Night Prayer combined prior to
bedtime. Clerics are to recite the Hours after the
manner of the clergy.
OPTION TWO: PRAY A FIFTEEN DECADE ROSARY**.
possible the fifteen decades should be broken up so
that the Rosary is prayed, in part, throughout the
day to approximately correspond to the times of the
Any fifteen decades may be chosen.
OPTION THREE: PRAY AN HOUR OF MENTAL PRAYER DAILY.
may be broken up into two 30 minute segments or four
15 minute segments. An ideal place to pray would be
before the Blessed Sacrament.
OPTION FOUR: PRAY OUR FATHER'S
who do not know how to read, who have no Bible or
breviary, or who cannot read on a particular day,
may say, for the Office of Readings, twelve Our
Father's, twelve Hail Mary's, and twelve Glory Be's;
for every other one of the hours, seven Our
Father's, seven Hail Mary's, and seven Glory Be's.
OPTION FIVE: OTHER SUBSTITUTIONS
parenting small children or otherwise suffering
continuous distractions or time constraints may,
with the permission of their spiritual directors,
substitute short pious ejaculations for the minor
hours. These may be as simple as mentally lifting
one's mind to God. Penitents should, however,
endeavor to pray Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer
unless dispensed from doing so by their spiritual
directors. At the minimum, those who choose Option
Five must review their prayer schedule at the first
meeting of each year with their spiritual directors
so that adjustments may be made.
In keeping with section 13 of the Rule:
While the sick do not have to say an office, they
may do so all or part of the time.
In keeping with section 14 of the Rule:
Since attendance at public recitation of Matins (the
Office of Readings) is inaccessible to most
penitents, the penitent should attend daily Mass
unless there is an intervening conflict of
obligations. Parenting small children, health
concerns, getting children off to school, employment
schedules, and so on constitute some of these
conflicting obligations. If Mass attendance is
impossible or is unwise, the penitent should
prayerfully recite one decade of the Rosary at some
time during the day.
are to go to daily Mass in Advent and Lent unless
serious inconvenience for persons, business,
employment, or duties should threaten. Again, a
decade of the Rosary is to be said if Mass is not
Mass, signs of devotion and reverence before the
Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist should
follow the parish priest's or the bishop's
directives. Penitents' behavior and clothing should
avoid drawing attention away from Christ's Presence
in the Eucharist and from the words and
attendant to its celebration.
V: THE SACRAMENTS, OTHER MATTERS
In keeping with section 15 of the Rule:
Penitents should consider confessing their sins
twice monthly unless an undue burden is involved
with this frequency or unless advised by the
spiritual director to confess at another time
interval. At a minimum, penitents are to confess
monthly and to receive the Eucharist weekly provided
the penitent is in the state of grace.
are to be reconciled in every way possible and to
tithe ten percent of their income to their parish,
the Catholic Church, or to charitable organizations
whose goals are in keeping with the Church hierarchy
and Magisterium. The tithe must not be given to any
organization that is working in opposition to the
Church. If a ten percent tithe seems too high, the
penitent should consult the spiritual director, or a
spiritual assistant of the Confraternity, about the
appropriate amount of the tithe and then should
follow the advice given. Since the penitent is to
financially support their home Chapter or Circle of
the Confraternity of Penitents and the work of the
international Confraternity, a portion of one's
tithe may go to this cause.
In keeping with section 16 of this Rule:
They are not to take up or bear lethal weapons that
would be used against other human beings with the
exception of participation in a just war with the
permission of the penitent's spiritual director, or
as part of one's legitimate employment (police
officers, for example). If a penitent is living in a
dangerous environment in which a weapon may be
necessary for self-defense, a spiritual director
must approve the penitent's possession of any
Hunting and fishing to provide meat for one's family
is permitted. One is also permitted to kill animal,
bird, or insect pests that may be destroying one's
food supply or threatening one's life or goods.
In keeping with section 17 of this Rule:
are to refrain from formal oaths except where
required by law.
In keeping with section 18 of this Rule:
They are not to take oaths in ordinary
They are to watch their speech and, should they sin
by speaking, they are to say, by evening of that
same day, three Our Father's.
each member teach his or her household to love and
the members lovingly serve others outside their
house-hold by participating, as much as obligations,
time, finances, and health permit, in the Spiritual
and Corporal Works of Mercy, following the guidance
of God and their spiritual director. Let them serve
all with the charity and mercy of Christ. The
spiritual and corporal works of mercy are listed in
Appendix D of these Constitutions.
VI: SPECIAL MASS AND MEETING EACH MONTH
In keeping with section 19 of this Rule:
Penitents living in proximity to each other should
stay in touch with one another and ideally form a
Chapter or Circle to assist each other in this way
of life, subject to the Confraternity's guidelines
on forming a Chapter or Circle.
Chapter or Circle may be formed without a spiritual
assistant (Visitor). The spiritual assistant must be
a priest, deacon, or male or female religious who
upholds all the teachings of the Catholic Church and
who fully supports the penitents in living this Rule
Should a Chapter or Circle lose its spiritual
assistant, it must obtain permission from the
Confraternity Visitor to continue meeting while a
search is made for a replacement. In the meantime,
the Confraternity shall assign a temporary spiritual
assistant to the group. Permission to continue
meeting without a permanent spiritual assistant must
be renewed annually.
Chapters and Circles that are temporarily without
spiritual assistants may wish to use audio or video
tapes to provide formation for their members until a
new spiritual assistant is acquired.
members of this Confraternity are to gather for
their monthly Chapter or Circle meeting at a time
the local ministers see fit. If possible, they
should attend Mass as part of this meeting.
there is no local Chapter or Circle, a member is
permitted to attend an internet Chapter of the CFP,
be part of a by-mail Chapter of the CFP, or live
this Rule on his or her own under a competent
spiritual director. All such members should be in
regular contact with the Confraternity by letter,
e-mail, or phone call and should obey the spiritual
assistant (Visitor) of the Confraternity in all
matters that concern the Visitor as stated in the
In keeping with section 20 of this Rule:
Every member shall contribute generously to the
treasury of their Chapter or Circle or of the
There are fixed expenses affiliated with running the
Confraternity that are part of every member's
responsibility and apostolate. These include mail
and newsletter costs, formation materials,
miscellaneous printing, phone expenses, and the cost
of maintaining the Web page. Monies will be used to
cover these expenses and occasionally to provide
alms for needy members, as approved by the minister
and the council, who may be consulted to determine a
fitting donation as well.
report of how this money is being utilized may be
requested at any time by any member.
a Chapter or Circle in the Confraternity requests a
visit from the Visitor or someone else, they should
reimburse the expenses of the visit.
the United States of America, all monies donated to
the Confraternity of Penitents are tax deductible.
The CFP is a bona fide non-profit, tax exempt
In keeping with section 21 of this Rule:
Mass the penitents should pay particular respectful
attention to the Gospel, the homily or sermon, the
Consecration of the Eucharist, and its worthy
their Chapter or Circle meetings they are to listen
attentively and to speak charitably.
members should have the opportunity to faith share
about their spiritual experiences and concerns at
is suggested that all penitents make an annual
retreat or hermitage experience, unless so exempted
by a spiritual director or Chapter minister.
VII: VISITING THE SICK, BURYING THE DEAD
In keeping with section 22 of the Rule:
When a Chapter or Circle member falls ill, fellow
penitents should visit the person or else send a
card or make a phone call to the ailing party,
exhorting the ill penitent to penance (personal,
ongoing conversion). Weekly contact is encouraged.
penitents are able to provide help to ill members,
they should lovingly do so.
In keeping with section 23 of the Rule:
a Chapter or Circle member should die, those
surviving members should gather for the funeral if
work and family commitments allow. They are not to
leave until Mass is celebrated and the body
consigned to burial.
23b. Within eight
days of the demise, each member shall say for the
soul of the deceased: a Mass, if a priest,
other wise.* If a member cannot read the Psalter, he
or she may say fifty Our Father's with the words
"May the souls of the faithful departed through the
Mercy of God rest in peace" following each Our
Penitents may, if they wish, add the ejaculation,
"Lord, have mercy on ________'s soul" after praying
each psalm, or the Glory be.
In keeping with section 24 of the Rule:
addition, every year, for the welfare of the
brothers and sisters living and dead, each priest
must say three Masses and the other Chapter or
Circle members are to recite the entire Psalter from
the Bible. The Psalter may be recited all at once,
in sections throughout the year, or by praying one
psalm or section of psalm daily.
Those who cannot read shall say one hundred Our
Father's with the words "May the souls of the
faithful departed through the Mercy of God rest in
peace" after each Our Father. These may be said all
at once or throughout the year.
In keeping with section 25 of the Rule:
are to make their last will and testament within
three months of their pledging to live the Rule,
lest anyone of them die before creating a valid
In keeping with section 26 of the Rule:
are to make peace with members of the Confraternity
and all others, seeking, if necessary, the
consultation of the Church.
penitent must daily pray for all those who refuse to
make peace with the penitent and must forgive such
people all wrongs done to the penitent.
brothers and sisters are always to take the first
steps toward reconciliation. Under no circumstances
are penitents to hold grudges or wish ill to anyone.
In keeping with section 27 of the Rule:
contrary to their rights and privileges, trouble is
made for the brothers and sisters by those in civil
authority of the places where they live, the
ministers of the place shall do what they shall find
expedient on the advice of their Chapter or Circle's
spiritual assistant, their spiritual director, or
their parish priest.
In keeping with section 28 of the Rule:
each member accept and faithfully exercise the
ministry of other offices imposed on him or her,
although anyone may retire from office after a
penitent should follow the consensus of the electing
group in determining whether or not to accept an
office. If nominated for a position it is prudent to
consider if the nomination be the will of God. This
holds true for the election as well.
nominations and elections must be conducted in
absolute charity and honesty. Secret ballot
elections are the proper way to elect someone from
among those nominated. The person getting the most
votes is the one elected. Terms of office are one
a penitent who is nominated for, or elected to,
office feels stress over this service, the penitent
should prayerfully examine the causes of this stress
and discuss these with a spiritual director, the
Chapter or Circle minister, and the Chapter or
Circle's spiritual assistant.
elections, only pledged members shall be eligible to
nominate and vote and also eligible for office. If
an insufficient number of members are pledged,
officers shall be appointed by the Confraternity.
In keeping with section 29 of the Rule:
When others wish to enter this Confraternity, the
ministers shall carefully inquire into their
standing and occupation and should question them
thoroughly to ascertain their adherence to the
Church's teaching regarding faith, Church authority,
and morals. Only those who hold to the views of the
Church's Magisterium, or who change their views to
adopt those of the Church, shall be considered for
admission to the Confraternity.
Moreover, the ministers shall explain to all
inquirers the obligations of life under the Rule,
especially that of restoring what belongs to others.
And if those inquiring are content with that, let
them begin to follow the rules of formation as set
up by this Confraternity.
Those living this life must at once begin to pay up
their debts, are to reconcile with their neighbors,
and begin to tithe if they have not been doing so.
In keeping with section 30 of the Rule:
After these particulars are complied with and the
year of postulancy and three years of novice
formation have elapsed, if those novices seem
suitable to the ministers of their Chapter or
Circles, let them be received on this condition-that
they pledge that they will observe everything here
written, or to be written or changed on the advice
of the ruling body of the Confraternity, unless on
occasion there be a valid dispensation by the
ministers or Visitors or their own personal
spiritual directors; and that they will, when called
upon by the ministers, render satisfaction as the
Visitor shall ordain if they have done anything
contrary to this condition.
Penitents may pledge to live the Rule for life or
for a year. Yearly pledges are to be renewed
annually and may be changed at any time to a
pledges are to be put in writing then and there and
signed by the penitent and also by the minister and
the spiritual assistant. Nobody is to be received
In keeping with section 31 of the Rule:
penitent who has pledged to live this Rule must have
the consent of his or her spiritual director in
order to be released from the pledge. The penitent
must also petition, in writing, the spiritual
assistant, minister, and Visitor for release and
shall give the reasons for the request. The minister
and spiritual assistant should thoroughly explain
the seriousness of asking for release from this
promise to God. They may also question the penitent
to see if the Confraternity has failed the penitent
in some way.
Those who wish to depart from this Confraternity to
enter a religious Order should receive not only
permission but also the blessing of the entire
Confraternity. It is the norm of the Church that
individuals should always move towards a greater
commitment to Christ and His Church when they leave
any lifestyle for another.
In keeping with section 32 of the Rule:
person who does not adhere totally to all that the
Catholic Church teaches through its hierarchy and
Magisterium, and no person in bad repute for
disputing these teachings, shall be admitted. If
such persons are under suspicion of this, they may
be admitted if otherwise fit, upon being cleared by
In keeping with section 33 of the Rule:
Those married are not to be received except with the
consent of their spouses, provided they are living
with said spouse. If separation, annulment, or
divorce has occurred, spousal consent is not
divorced penitent should seek either to reconcile
with the spouse or to apply for an annulment of the
marriage following regulations of the Roman Catholic
In keeping with section 34 of the Rule:
Brothers and sisters ejected from a Chapter or
Circle as incorrigible are not to be received in it
again except it please the majority of the Chapter
or Circle members.
VIII: CORRECTION, DISPENSATION, OFFICERS
In keeping with section 35 of the Rule:
ministers shall report public faults of any members
to the Visitor for disciplinary action. And if
anyone proves incorrigible, after consultation with
the council, they should be denounced to the
Visitor, to be expelled by the Visitor from the
Confraternity, and thereupon it should be published
in the meeting.
the incorrigible action was a crime against public
laws, the criminal offender must be made known to
proper public authority.
In keeping with section 36 of the Rule:
anyone learns that scandal is occurring relative to
brothers and sisters in any matter, that person
shall report it to the Visitor.
In keeping with section 37 of the Rule:
Visitor has the power to dispense all brothers and
sisters in any of these points if the Visitor finds
In keeping with section 38 of the Rule:
When the year has passed, the ministers, with the
counsel of the Chapter or Circle, are to elect a
minister, associate minister, and a faithful
treasurer who is to provide for the needs of the
Chapter or Circle and of the brothers and sisters
and other poor; and a secretary who, at the command
of the ministers, is to publish what is said and
done at meetings.
In keeping with section 39 of the Rule:
all the above mentioned points, no one is to be
obligated under guilt, but under penalty; yet so if
after being admonished twice by the ministers he or
she should fail to discharge the penalty imposed or
to be imposed on him by the Visitor, he shall be
obligated under guilt as contumacious and so
expelled from the Chapter or Circle.
penitent should have a spiritual director for help
in discerning how to grow in the penitential
lifestyle and understand the motion of the Holy
Spirit. Penitents shall pray for this grace.
Spiritually mature priests, deacons, or other male
or female religious can serve as spiritual
directors, provided they are supportive of all the
teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and are also
supportive of the intentions of the penitent to live
the Rule. In their absence, other penitents, who are
experienced in the "things of God" can serve as
spiritual directors if approved by a spiritual
assistant of this Association.
expected that most penitents will have a spiritual
director by the middle of the first year of novice
formation and that they will be meeting with their
spiritual directors at least monthly. Without a
spiritual director, no penitent is permitted to make
a permanent commitment to living this Rule.
Spiritual direction is best done face to face, but
spiritual direction via computer, phone, and postal
mail is permitted. Spiritual directors serve as
advisors not military commanders. A good
relationship enables penitent and director to
discuss points of disagreement. Generally, once
discussion is ended, it is safer for penitents to
follow the director's advice, wary of pride in one's
own opinions and judgment. However, before the
tribunal of Christ, each person will have to take
full responsibility for every decision. The virtue
of prudence requires that penitents not deviate from
a director's advice without prayerful consideration
of the entire situation.
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER II AND CHAPTER III
CURRENT CHURCH REGULATIONS ON FASTING AND ABSTINENCE
Penitents observe all Church prescribed days of fast
and abstinence as well as additional days required
by the Rule itself. Current Church regulations on
fasting and abstinence are these:
The law of fast prescribes that only one full meal a
day be taken; but it does not forbid taking some
nourishment at two other times during the day. The
two smaller meals should be sufficient to maintain
strength according to each one's needs, but together
they should not equal another full meal. Eating
between meals is not permitted, but liquids,
including ordinary, homogenized milk and fruit
juices, are allowed. Malted milks, milk shakes, and
the like are not included in the term "milk." All
those from eighteen years of age to the beginning of
their sixtieth year are bound by the law of fast on
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Abstinence: The law of abstinence forbids the eating
of meat, but not eggs, milk products, nor condiments
of any kind, even though made from animal fat.
Forbidden are the flesh meat of warm blooded animals
and all parts of such animals. This does not include
meat juices, broths, soups, lards, gravies, sauces,
animal fats, and liquid foods made from meat. Also
allowed are fish and all such cold-blooded animals
such as frogs, shell-fish, clams, turtles, oysters,
crabs, and lobsters. All those who have completed
their fourteenth year are bound to the law of
abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and on all the
Friday's of Lent.
substantial observance of the laws of fast and
abstinence is a serious obligation. When a
proportionately serious reason exists, there is
surely no sin in departing from these norms. Thus,
one may very well be excused by sickness or any
infirmity which requires that one eat meat even on
Friday during Lent, by the need to take one's meals
in common, by travel when it is not possible to
obtain readily permissible foods, by great poverty,
(Source: The Pastoral Companion: A Canon Law
Handbook for Catholic Ministry, Franciscan Herald
Press: Chicago, Illinois, 1995, pp. 292-96).
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER IV, 12
Marian Consecration Prayer
you do we turn, O Holy Mary, glorious and
Ever-Virgin Mother of God, Queen of Angels and of
Saints, the "Virgin made Church." To you do we cry,
O Handmaid of the Lord, Mother of the Suffering
Servant, who made the Lord of Majesty our brother.
For through you the most exalted Son of God emptied
Himself for love of our love, taking the form of a
slave in your womb and dying in destitution on a
cross as He gave you to us, O Refuge of Sinners. To
you do we fly as we beg you to obtain for us the
true spirit of the Gospel.
Immaculate Conception, Spouse of the Holy Spirit,
taking you into our home, we consecrate and entrust
ourselves and our Confraternity totally and forever
to your Immaculate Heart. Make us your true sons and
daughters and use our Confraternity as an instrument
of Christ Our King to convert sinners, to sanctify
souls, and to strengthen and renew the One, Holy,
Catholic, and Apostolic Church, that God-Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit-may be glorified, praised, and
adored by all mankind. Amen.
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER IV, 12
who do not have a breviary may use the following
substitutions of Psalms for recitation of the Daily
Office (Psalms are numbered according to the New
American Bible, Catholic edition, and taken from My
Daily Psalm Book, arranged by Rev. Joseph Frey, c.
1947 by the Confraternity of the Most Precious
Blood. The entire Psalter is recited in a week's
time). Since the hour of Prime has been suppressed,
those Psalms listed for Prime may be used as focal
points for the period of meditation and mental
Sunday: Office of Readings--1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11;
Morning Prayer--93, 100, 63, Daniel 3: 57-88, 148;
Prime--118, 119 v. 1-32; Midmorning Prayer--119 v.
33-80; Midday Prayer--119 v. 81-128; Midafternoon
Prayer--119 v.129-176; Evening Prayer--110, 111,
112, 113, 114, 115; Night Prayer--4, 91, 134
Monday: Office of Readings--14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21,
30; Morning Prayer--47, 5, 29, Canticle of David
("Blessed art thou, O Lord, God of our father
Israel, from eternity to eternity. Thine, O Lord,
are grandeur and power and splendor and glory and
majesty. For all that is in heaven and on earth is
thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art
the ruler who is exalted above all. Wealth and honor
are from thee, and by thy power thou rulest all
things. And in thy hand are strength and power, and
to thy hand it belongs to make everything great and
strong. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee and we
praise thy glorious name."), 117; Prime--24, 19;
Midmorning Prayer--27, 28; Midday Prayer--31;
Midafternoon Prayer--32, 33; Evening Prayer--116,
120, 121, 122; Night Prayer--6, 7
Tuesday--Office of Readings--35, 37, 38, 39; Morning
Prayer--96, 43, 67, Tobit 13 v. 1-10, 135;
Prime--25; Midmorning Prayer--40; Midday Prayer--41,
42; Midafternoon Prayer--44; Evening Prayer--123,
124, 125, 126, 127; Night Prayer--12, 13, 16
Wednesday--Office of Readings--45, 46, 48, 49, 50,
51; Morning Prayer--97, 65, 101, Judith 16 v. 13-17,
146; Prime--26, 52, 53; Midmorning Prayer--54, 55;
Midday Prayer--56, 57, 58; Midafternoon Prayer--59,
60; Evening Prayer--128, 129, 130, 131, 132; Night
Thursday--Office of Readings--62, 66, 68, 69;
Morning Prayer--98, 90, 36, Jeremiah 31, v. 10-14,
147; Prime--23, 72; Midmorning Prayer--73; Midday
Prayer--74; Midafternoon Prayer--75, 76; Evening
Prayer--133, 136, 137, 138; Night Prayer--70, 71
Friday--Office of Readings--78, 79, 81, 83; Morning
Prayer--99, 143, 85; Prime--Canticle of
Isaiah--Isaiah 45: 15-26, Psalm 147 v. 12-20, 22;
Midmorning Prayer--80, 82; Midday Prayer--84, 87;
Midafternoon Prayer--89; Evening Prayer--139, 140,
141, 142; Night Prayer--77, 86
Saturday--Office of Readings--105, 106, 107; Morning
Prayer--149, 92, 64, Ecclesiasticus 36 v. 1-16; 150;
Prime--94, 108; Midmorning Prayer--102; Midday
Prayer--104; Midafternoon Prayer--109; Evening
Prayer--144, 145; Night Prayer--88, 103, 95,
Canticle of Mary--Luke 1 v. 46-55, Canticle of
Zachary--Luke 1 v. 68-79, Canticle of Simeon--Luke
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER V, 18d
Spiritual Works of Mercy are:
Instruct the ignorant
Advise the doubtful
Be patient with those in error or who
Comfort the afflicted
Pray for the living and the dead.
Corporal Works of Mercy are:
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick and imprisoned
Ransom the captive
Bury the dead.
keeping with the conclusion of the Rule:
end the Constitutions of the Continent Confraternity
of Penitents, that is those who give up things in
fulfillment of the Gospels of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Confraternity of Penitents
520 Oliphant Lane
Middletown RI USA