The Cathar society divided into two separate groups of people: the Perfecti (Perfects) and the Credentes (Believers). The Perfecti were the core of the Cathar movement. The Cathars believed that their Perfecti were the true essence of the Christian Church. While usually small in number, the Perfecti were the heart and soul of the Cathar movement.
The Credentes were expected to abstain from meat and dairy products, from killing, and from swearing oaths.
However, Credentes gained admission to the Perfecti through the sacrament of the Consolamentum. The Consolamentum was both sacramental and sacerdotal. In the instance of a sacrament, the Consolamentum granted redemption and liberation from the material world. In the instance of being sacerdotal, the Consolamentum allowed those who received it to become a sort of Cathar clergy. The Consolamentum was considered baptism of the Holy Spirit, baptismal regeneration, absolution and ordination all in one. Once an individual received the Consolamentum, they are required to dedicate their lift to enabling others to find the road to gnosis.
Individuals that received the Consolamentum were obligated to live a life of strict asceticism. The Perfecti were to live frugal, simple, pure lives. This new lifestyle began immediately, after the Consolamentum. At the ceremony, the new Perfecti would be dressed in a black robe and cord belt.