“Since the continual growth of the Third Order should be in holiness rather than in numbers, careful inquiry shall be made whether candidates are fit for entry into the Order, according to the conditions laid down in the Rule and these Constitutions. Those are fit for membership, who, called by divine grace, desire to dedicate themselves to God in a special way in the world; that is, wish to be pleasing to God and to be of service to the Church and to human society according to the spirit of St. Francis.” Constitutions Article 11
Inquiry is the initial phase in discerning the call to follow the Franciscan way of life in the journey to holiness. This period consists of no less than 6 months and includes a brief introduction to the Franciscan Third Order, the Rule, life of St. Francis and St. Clare and the Franciscan family, and a review of Catholic doctrine and morals. In addition to the formation sessions, those discerning joining the Third Order must participate in the life of the local fraternity, including, but not limited to, the regular gatherings of the community.
“Those are fit for membership, who, called by divine grace, desire to dedicate themselves to God in a special way in the world; that is, wish to be pleasing to God and to be of service to the Church and to human society according to the spirit of St. Francis” – Constitutions Article 11.
“Those are called postulants who have made application for membership in the Third Order and who are candidates for the next regular reception into the Third Order novitiate. After the application has been approved by the fraternity council, new members (postulants) having been notified, may be received…” – Ritual Franciscan Third Order.
The period of postulancy begins with the ceremony of Reception of Postulants. During this period, which consists of no less than 6 months, the postulant is further instructed in Christian doctrine, prayer, the life and spirit of St. Francis, and in the Third Order.
Having been found suitable by the advice of the fraternity council, “postulants are received into the novitiate by means of the clothing of the habit, which consists in receiving a blessed scapular and cord, according to the form prescribed by the Ceremonial of the Order.”- Constitutions Article 16.
“The purpose of the novitiate is so to prepare the novices that they may afterwards dedicate themselves to God by profession, with a full realization of their obligations. They shall, therefore, be thoroughly formed by means of a solid grounding, both theoretical and practical, in the Christian and Franciscan life.” Constitutions Article 20.
During the period of novitiate, which consists of no less than 18 months, the novice is instructed in the regulations of the Rule, the Constitutions, life of prayer and the Admonitions of St. Francis. The novice is carefully instructed in the holy Gospel of our Lord and learns how to live in the spirit of Franciscan penance while in the midst of the world.
After completion of the novitiate period, with the advice of the council, the novice is admitted to profession.