The word “companion” comes from the Latin word “panis,” which is the word for bread. It means to break bread together. In Christianity, the central sacred ritual is the Eucharist, the sacred meal at God’s holy table. When the body of Christ gathers around the table, each person receives a share in the sacred mystery of the body and blood of Jesus. At the Eucharistic feast, Christians are holy dinner companions. The journey of faith needs holy companions to support and uplift one another.
For millennia, the Church has called all Christians to grow into mature disciples of Jesus Christ. The development of faith did not end at baptism, but it grew and matured just as human beings develop from drinking milk to eating solid food (1 Cor. 3:2). Discipleship is a continual process for every Christian no matter their stage of life, and it is not an easy process. Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). While access to the presence of God at His holy table is available to all Christians because of the grace offered through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the journey of Christian discipleship can be difficult and filled with struggle. The good news is that just as Christians are dinner companions at God’s holy table, so to are they companions of The Way in the journey of discipleship.
The Christian community of the Companions of The Way was founded on the need for holy companions in the journey to become mature disciples of Jesus Christ. In a 21st century culture that does not value following the way of Jesus, it is even more critical and pertinent to have mature Christian disciples modeling the path in every parish. Our motto is discipuli facientes discipuli, or “disciples making disciples.” Through modeling discipleship and supporting fellow Christians in sacred practices, such as daily prayer, weekly worship, Bible study and engaging in acts of service, a renewal in the life of the Church will take place.
Monasticism offers a road map for Christian discipleship by offering a “rule of life.” To many modern ears the idea of a rule of life may sound harsh and overly authoritarian, but this is far from the truth. Simply put, a rule of life is how one organizes their life. People organize their lives around work, sports, family, extracurricular activities, etc. Whatever the configuration, that is their rule of life—it is the value and time structure they place around daily and weekly activities. A monastic rule of life organizes life around the rhythm of faith. A crucial part of becoming a mature disciple of Jesus is to make faith the central axis around which life is organized. The Companions of The Way live out a rule of life that consists of traditional practices expected of all Christians. By forming a common rule of life around discipleship, Companions have both accountability and support on the journey.
The following rule outlines the philosophy, theology, and practical details of the Christian community of the Companions of The Way. We hope God will lead you to be holy dinner companions in our community
Rule of Life
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
The vision of the Companions of The Way is to see members encouraging and modeling Christian discipleship in every parish around the globe (Acts 1:8). In this effort, the community will be dispersed to fulfill the Great Commission of making disciples to the ends of the earth (Matt. 28:16-20). Companions may engage in discipleship ministries among several parishes in a clericus. The community will connect through communication technologies and hold regional and national meetings each year.
The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) provides the structure for a life of prayer and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the BCP, both personal and public prayer create a foundation on which to stand and grow into Christlikeness. God loves the sweet aroma of His people’s sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, which we should offer to Him continually (Heb. 13:15). Each Companion of the Way will engage in daily prayer to God the Father, through the Son, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Each member will recite the offices of Morning and Evening Prayer every day, individually or corporately, and they are encouraged to recite the four-fold office of Morning Prayer, Noonday, Evening Prayer, and Compline. Developing an informal life of prayer is also important for discipleship, particularly practices of contemplative prayer.
Prayer and worship are twin liturgical pillars of devotion to Christ. So, each Companion will be required to partake in weekly reception of the Holy Eucharist. Everyone is encouraged to partake in daily Mass if possible.
Each member will devote two hours a week, individually or corporately, to studying the Bible, devotional literature, or Christian theology and teachings. If there is not a regular Bible study at a Companion’s parish, then leading or organizing one is strongly encouraged. Scripture provides the context for living a Christian life, and encouraging our siblings in Christ to live and breath the world of the Bible leads to Christian equipping, growth, and transformation (1 Tim 3:16-17).
Each Companion will discern their ministerial calling within their local parish church. First and foremost each Companion of The Way is a disciple of Jesus Christ. Their primary ministry is discipleship, and how that calling is lived out in the local community will be discerned with their community mentor or the Abbot. The focus of the community will be on the Catechetical ministry of the Church, but this extends beyond confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church. Discipleship is holistic and includes knowledge and practice. The community rule of life will provide the foundation of a ministry of “disciples making disciples” (2 Tim. 2:2).
“…heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the Lord your God, the earth with all that is in it…” (Deut. 10:14).
God is the owner and bestower of all blessings in this life and the next, and Scripture is clear that 10% of our livelihood is to be given back to God (Mal. 3:10). The tithe is the minimum standard of Christian giving, and each Companion is to model discipleship with their finances by meeting this standard. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7) even beyond the tithe; so offerings to the Companions of The Way are encouraged as one is able. Parishes may contribute a portion of their budget to the Companions in order to support discipleship in their parishes.
On Vestments and Clothing
Each full member of the community will be vested in the habit of the community while engaging in ministry, worship, and wherever else the Companion is led by the Holy Spirit to do so. The community’s habit is a simple dark grey hooded alb with a black rope cincture and a marian blue scapula over the top. The marian blue scapula represents discipleship and servanthood. Whether one is wearing the habit or street clothing, the community’s Jerusalem cross (Acts 1:8) should be worn. When a community member is not engaged in ministry or worship, they may wear simple secular clothing with the community’s Jerusalem cross.