Who are we?
The Companions of Augustine of Canterbury are a dispersed community of Christians who share a common rule of life, although some of us are experimenting with living in residential community. We draw on the Benedictine monastic tradition for practical wisdom about how to mature together as disciples of Jesus in an increasingly post-Christian and individualistic culture.
In particular, we have discovered the great value of
• A spiritual journey undertaken together rather than alone
• A shared Rule of Life
• Community, in helping us discern our gifts and calling
• Learning to become present to God, creation, others and the cry of our own heart
Why Augustine of Canterbury?
Augustine and his monastic mission restored the Christian faith to Anglo-Saxon England after arriving in Canterbury in AD 597. He used a form of contextual mission that quickly transformed the pagan Anglo-Saxon culture by focusing both on the nobles and the agricultural communities in a pattern very different from the church in mainland Europe. His example is an inspiration in an era in which Christian beliefs, practices and values are waning once again. He calls us to pay close attention to our culture and adapt to its challenges.
Next, Augustine reminds us that Christian community is not to be self-serving, but to be about serving others in Christ’s name. But he also reminds us that mission depends on the mutual tending of each other’s spiritual well-being. This deliberate rhythm of movement between inward and outward focus; between community and mission; between prayer and action; between monastery and marketplace is the ancient heartbeat of the living Church. We seek to nurture this rhythm in our own lives.
Finally, we sense a spiritual and symbolic connection with three sites in Canterbury associated with Augustine’s mission:
• St Martin’s was the first place of hospitality for Augustine’s mission, and is the oldest church in England in which there has been uninterrupted worship.
• Christchurch Priory, now Canterbury Cathedral, became a centre for mission first in Kent and then throughout England as the Church grew.
• St Augustine’s Abbey was where Augustine’s monastic community lived, prayed and worshipped. But it also became a place of learning and scholarship.
Therefore, we take seriously the place of hospitality, mission, worship, prayer, community life, study and learning both in our shared life and also as we help each other discover and fulfil our individual calling within the particular social context in which we find ourselves.
What does becoming a Companion involve?
First, you’ll participate in an intentional discipleship group over a period of two-and-a-half months in which you:
• Use Lectio Divina to sharpen the ability to listen to God, creation, others and the cry of your own heart
• Identify your strengths, gifts and calling
• Develop a personal rhythm or ‘Rule’ of life that fits your own personality and circumstances
The group facilitates a process of formation as disciples that helps nurture the core values on which the Companions are founded.
If you’ve already completed a Canterbury Diocesan iD (Intentional Discipleship) group you won’t need to do this again.
Next, you’ll attend a Companions meeting. Mutual stories are shared and we’ll explore together why becoming a Companion is right for you.
Declaration of Commitment
The Companions’ Rule is read out and then the following declaration is made:
In the mystery of divine Love,
and in the presence of this Company,
I acknowledge my calling
to be a Companion of Augustine of Canterbury.
I gladly embrace the relationships, values and disciplines
expressed in the Companions’ Rule of Life
and I will participate in the life of the community.
Pray for me, my companions, as I will pray for you.
The Canterbury Cross is given as a symbol of commitment.
Companions living in residential community will also make an additional Declaration of Commitment.
Our three daily offices for personal and corporate worship are Prime (early morning), Minor Hours (midday), and Compline (night prayer).