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 sacrificial meal at God’s holy altar. When the body of Christ gathers around the altar, 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 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 discipleship practices, such as daily prayer, weekly worship, adoration, Bible study, spiritual and theological reading, and engaging in acts of service, a renewal in the life of the Church will take place. This renewal can then spill over into building bridges and reconciling with non-Catholic Christians. With the world increasingly pressing against the Church, unity among the body of Christ is even more paramount. This unity must heal the schisms between Catholics and non-Catholics.
New Monasticism is a movement to take principles and practices from traditional monasticism and adapt them to a modern lay or clergy person living in the world. Monasticism specifically offers a road map for Christian discipleship in the modern age through 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 mature disciples of Jesus is to make faith the central axis around which our lives is organized. The Companions of The Way live out a rule of life that consists of traditional practices expected of all Christians and the fulfillment of their baptismal vows. By forming a common rule of life around discipleship grounded in our baptismal vows, Companions have both accountability and support on the journey. Our form of new monasticism is a scaffold between the principles and practices of traditional monasticism and the laity living out in the world.
The following rule outlines the philosophy, theology, and practical details of the Christian community of the Companions of The Way. It is the road map for putting our charism of discipleship into practice. 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).
The vision of the Companions of The Way is to see members encouraging, modeling, and nurturing communities of Christian discipleship in every parish around the globe (Acts 1:8). In this effort, the community will be dispersed to aid the Church in fulfilling the Great Commission of making disciples to the ends of the earth (Matt. 28:16-20). Companions may engage in discipleship ministries and community among several parishes. The community will connect through local chapter meetings and communication technologies, and the Companions will hold regional and national meetings each year for equipping and fellowship. A community of discipleship is key in following The Way of Jesus.
The Divine Office according to the Ordinariate to the Chair of St. Peter is the official prayer book of the Companions and should be published soon. An online daily version is available here.
Daily prayer guides, such as the Divine Office and St. Gregory’s Prayer Book, provide the structure for a life of prayer and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ. Through such guides, both personal and corporate prayer creates 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 (or Prime and Compline in most divine office books), 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 the practices of praying the rosary, adoration, and other forms of mental and contemplative prayer.
Prayer and worship are twin liturgical pillars of devotion to Christ. So, each Companion will partake in weekly Mass in order to fulfill their Sunday obligation. Everyone is encouraged to partake in daily Mass if available in their area. The sacraments are tastes of eternal life and you can never have too much eternal life. Confession prior to reception of the Holy Eucharist is necessary in order to “discern the body of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:29) and not commit sacrilege.
Each Companion will discern their ministerial calling within their own parish. First and foremost each Companion of The Way is a disciple of Jesus Christ. Their primary ministry and spirituality is discipleship, and how that calling is lived out in the local community will be discerned with their community mentor or the Community Steward. The community rule of life will provide the foundation for developing a ministry of “disciples making disciples” (2 Tim. 2:2), but each Companion will be mentored in how to disciple others.
Our Lord Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40). As Christians we are commanded to love God and our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). So, each Companion, or ideally each local group of Companions, will be open to daily opportunities to serve or show Christ’s love to others and consciously commit to at least two hours a month of service to the church or the greater community.
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. Each member will devote two hours a week, individually or corporately, to studying the Bible, devotional literature, or Christian theology and Church teachings. If there is not a regular Bible study at a Companion’s church, then leading or organizing one is strongly encouraged. You do not have to be a scholar to read the Bible in community. 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). Following the Divine Office will take a Companion through most of the whole Bible in a two-year cycle.
On Fasting and Self-Denial
Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” St. Paul said that the grace of God trains us to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:12). The Christian life is one of divine joy, but paradoxically we are called to deny ourselves to deepen that joy and let it flow through us. Each Companion will discern with their mentor or the Community Steward how they can healthily integrate regular fasting and self-denial into their lives.
Christians throughout the ages have practiced fasting and self-denial by not eating meat on Fridays throughout the year. This is to re-collect and make present the ultimate self-denial Christ made on the cross on Holy Friday. Every Companion is encouraged to reclaim this ancient Christian practice as an act of fasting and self-denial.
On Feasting and the Sabbath
The flip side of fasting and self-denial is feasting. Our modern culture often tries to feast everyday, but the Church consistently calls us to feast on Sunday, the Lord’s day. If Friday is about fasting to share in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, Sunday is about feasting to share in the celebration of the resurrection. Companions are encouraged to make Sundays special by engaging in opportunities to feast, such as eating a good meal, making a favorite dessert, or participating in hobbies or recreation after Mass.
Unless there are conflicting and unavoidable work obligations, every Companion should develop a practice of Sabbath rest from work on Sundays. Spending time with family and friends on Sundays is a good way to unplug from the demands of the week and develop gratitude for God’s gifts in our lives. It also creates a concrete weekly rhythm of faith in a world of busyness and hectic calendars.
“…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. Churches may contribute a portion of their budget to the Companions in order to support discipleship ministry in their parish.
St. Paul encourages the Corinthian Christians to flee sexual immorality because unlike other sins which are committed outside of the body, it is the kind of sin that is committed against one’s own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means living a life of sexual purity, whether single or married. Each Companion will live out this virtue in their daily lives for the development of their own holiness and as a role model to others.
Our Lord talked about money more than any other topic besides hell and the Kingdom of God. He frequently addressed the barriers that money presents to discipleship. To the rich young ruler, Jesus said “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:24). God wants our hearts, and money frequently vies for first place. As Jesus says in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Discipleship does not necessarily require poverty because many Christians do have financial obligations, such as providing for their family. However, a life committed to simplicity clears away the distraction and temptation of money when seeking first the kingdom of God. Each Companion will engage in thoughtful simplicity of life.
Each member of the confraternity will be given the vestments of the community, which may be worn while engaging in ministry, worship, and wherever else the Companion is led by the Holy Spirit to do so. Permission from the pastor or bishop should be sought before wearing the full vestments. The community’s vestments consist of a Marian blue scapula, which may be worn as a full size scapula or small scapula worn under the clothes (in development). The Marian blue scapula represents discipleship and servanthood. Whether one is wearing vestments or secular clothing, the confraternity’s cross should be visibly worn. When a community member is not engaged in ministry or worship, they may wear simple secular clothing with the confraternity’s cross.