Since the 6th century, the Benedictine way of monasticism emphasized three religious vows: obedience (submitting to the direction of the abbot/abbess or prior/prioress), stability (committing oneself to a particular monastery for life), and “conversion of life” (which includes no private ownership of property and celibate chastity). In the 12th century, the mendicant orders, such as the Dominicans and Franciscans (apostolic orders serving a diocese or the Pope outside of a monastery), professed the three so-called “Evangelical counsels” of chastity, poverty and obedience. Given that mendicant orders needed the ability to move around for their ministry, the vow of obedience took the place of conversion of life.
The Companions of The Way live out a more mendicant form of new monasticism in that we are not restricted to living cloistered in a monastery under religious vows. Instead of religious vows, our members reaffirm and uphold their baptismal vows while consecrating their lives to discipleship of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our consecration to discipleship and our rule of life flows out of our baptismal vows because discipleship is the universal call of all baptized Christians. We also see the “sacramental” nature of true Catholic discipleship. A life devoted to our Lord really does communicate His graces in our lives. Finally, our charism stems from a distinctly “English” spirituality, meaning the Catholic Faith as lived out in England prior to the English Reformation plus the Benedictine inheritance of corporate daily prayer, which was partly retained after the English Reformation through inclusion of the Divine Office in the Book of Common Prayer. Coupled with the rhythm of daily prayer in English Catholicism is the focus on the reading of Holy Scripture. St. Jerome said that to be ignorant of the Scriptures is to be ignorant of Christ. A Christian must include the study of the sacred Word in their daily rhythm of discipleship. So our charism holistically melds together devotion, sacramental living, corporate prayer, and Scripture into a fully formed disciple of Jesus Christ.
The mission of the Companions has a local parish focus to directly engage Christian brothers and sisters in a life of discipleship and holiness. Transformation in the Church will be more potent if hearts and minds are touched on the interpersonal level.
Our community’s motto is discipuli facientes discipuli, or “disciples making disciples.” Therefore, our community’s charism is centered around discipleship. We have a three-fold mission to (1) grow mature disciples of Jesus Christ in our Companions, (2) to model that growth for fellow Christians, and (3) to love and support our fellow Christians in their own growth in discipleship. Our monastic rule reflects this central mission.