Holy Scriptures - Apostolic Tradition - Godly Wisdom
Holy Scriptures - Apostolic Tradition - Godly Wisdom
The St. Thomas Companions was formed within the Holy Nation Christian Communion as a response to the need of a deeper sense of commitment and contemplative life. We are a non-residential and international New Monastic Order whose members try to help each other build a closer relationship with Christ, thereby allowing our New Selves to emerge for His love and service. For us, monasticism is one form of living the Christian life, which we base on daily prayer, reflective study, and service to others. The monastic life is not to be considered an ancillary activity, but a foundation for everything we do in life. Our charge is to awaken to the presence of God within, so that we can know, love, and serve God in our own unique way, the way in which we were made. Like St. Thomas we seek, doubt, ask, rejoice and confess.
The contemplative life of our New Monastic community is not directed towards the individual, in and of him or herself. Instead, contemplative life is directed first and foremost to the life and holiness of the whole Church. The Church's life becomes fuller when our Companion joins him or herself, by the gift of his or her life, whole and entire, to Christ, in prayer, and in firmly following the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
For thousands of years people have been striving to become aware of the enduring love of God. Frequently, these pathways rest in devotion, knowledge, and action. The vows we hold dearest reflect these three ancient, sacred pathways. They are the foundation of our monastic practice; this is what we do and who we are. The charism of our Companions is to live the monastic vows of Daily Prayer, Reflective Study and Personal Service that lead to nurturing of the soul at the hands and heart of Christ. This results in our knowing, loving and serving the Lord in our own unique way, as God made us. We are being transformed by living what we value. Not that these things in themselves do the transforming, but they put us in a position whereby we can be transformed by the love of God.
There must be a basis for the life of the Order which is enough to hold everyone together. The basis must include Jesus Christ. It does not need to be based merely on programs or activities. It is to be concerned with all that is involved in being a Christian. The top priority of this Monastic Community is personal spiritual renewal - the renewal of one’s relationship with Christ. This involves helping each other discover our true life in Him, thereby diminishing the power of the ego. This is a primary concern, because it is only through spiritual renewal that a community draws together and personal growth happens. Secondly, the Community becomes a model for Service. What do we do with whom we have become? A Monastic Community therefore, is simply a network of care-givers and care-receivers of the soul.
Living our life with God the Creator, in the way of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit and in affirmation of the ancient Creeds, we are committed to the following:
We will be committed to Jesus’ way of love, grace and truth-telling;
We will seek to know Jesus as Lord over every aspect of life;
We will seek reconciliation with God;
We will devote ourselves to serving others and peacefully fight for what is good and godly;
We will actively seek to know God more fully through the partaking of the Sacraments, the reading of Scripture, the wisdom of His people, and in all whom we meet; trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to shape us into the likeness of Jesus Christ;
We will be and find good soul-friends for the Journey;
We will pursue an acceptable to God rhythm of prayer and praise within our abilities;
We will honor our fathers and mothers in Faith and imitate them in everything good;
We will help others live their divine purpose by inviting them to follow the abundant and liberating way of Jesus;
We will strive to purify our hearts from the desire for possession and power – and strive to be in right and holy relationship with God and each other;
With this Rule, we have committed to a common life and mission rooted in this church. Together we seek to live lives of grace, peace, reconciliation, hospitality, justice, joy, love and hope, knowing that ‘another life is possible’.
The organizational aspect of the Order is organic – it is developed to meet needs
of the community, both individually and communally as it strives to respond to the Great
Commandments. There must be enough organization for its members to be able to grow together in service. But not so much organization that the organization becomes the focus and overshadows the personal, spiritual renewal. There is a common misconception that the only real personal relationships are the kind that are formed individually or in small groups where people can “get to know each other well.” In real communities there is a bond that comes from having something in common, belonging to the same body, that has a single purpose, such as personal, spiritual renewal.
Every Companion of the community needs to be an active participant. This means that each member is actively pursuing a personal relationship with Christ and is on a path of spiritual renewal. This journey is different for each person, but it always leads to the same thing – total emptying of oneself and unifying with God.
Members are strongly encouraged to be in regular contact with each other. This is a unique challenge of a dispersed community. We do this through email, teleconference calls, cell phones, text messaging, regional and national meetings (Convocations). The interaction between the people must be relationship-oriented, and not just task-oriented. It is a proper blend of both.
Christ is the leader and the center of our Order. The sacred scriptures teach us about Christ and our connection to Christ and to each other. Truth matters very much to us, the truth about ourselves and the truth about God - the truth that is God, the truth which God is. Friendship, love, communion with others and through others, together with God; these are the core of all that we value most. We treasure our interior connection to these values as we work to help others experience, as we do, the joy of life. But as humans, we are also vulnerable to the difficulties of being human: we experience many good things, but we also can experience despair and anxiety, grief and loss, fear and worry. Together as a Community, and with the help of God through our local support teams, these things can be transformed into greater faith, greater gratitude, and greater joy. While Christ is the leader of our Church, we have Guardians who manage and nourish the both the individual and the Community as a body.
Aspirants: The monastic tradition requires people who wish to tenter a vocation to take sufficient time to discern their choice. The Aspirancy is traditionally the first step in this discernment process. It last for about 3-months before beginning the Postulancy. Aspirants should be no less than 25 years old and are asked to complete several activities and exercises. The Aspirancy is not a guarantee of admittance into the Postulancy.
Postulants: Postulants are people who have expressed their intention to become members of the Order and have succesfully completed the Aspirancy. The period of time a person remains a Postulant is up to the Guardian, but is usually about 6-12 months. Postulants may be asked to do the following:
If, after completing these tasks, the Postulant still feels called to this New Monastic Order, he or she will be sent an application to complete. Upon acceptance, the new member will be assigned a Formation Guide. The journey continues as a Novice!
Novices: If the Postulant chooses the vowed path, he or she spends some time as a Novice. This is a time for Novices to become familiar with the Community to see if it is appropriate for them. Novices work with a Mentor and follow a formation plan that includes being involved in community interaction, building their lives around the Order’s values, and shaping their own Personal Rule of Life. At the end of this time, if they and the Council feel that a continued association with the Order would be blessed, Novices may ask for full commitment (Profession) to the Community.
Full Members - Profession: Professed Members of the Community may take a religious name, use the title “Brother” or “Sister,” and will have voting rights on issues affecting the general welfare of the Order. All members continually strive to be responsive to the needs of others, pray for each other and for God's grace for the Community, and work to incorporate the Community’s values into their lives.
For more information, please contact Abbot Symeon.