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Growth in Companions

by Michael Ford last modified 17 Jul, 2020 02:57 PM

As we begin to look back now over the period of complete lockdown, many examples are emerging of where we have not only been praying and serving, but also growing as a Diocese.

Lockdown has certainly been a time of growth for the Benedictine Companions of the Abbey at Milton.

The community is still young - this November will mark 2 years since they were founded. Guided by the Rule of St Benedict and with their spiritual home at Milton Abbey, the Companions are a dispersed community of men and women, lay and ordained, who live out Benedictine life in families, communities and work places across Dorset and further afield.

The Revd Justin Pottinger explains:

"Our daily office ends with our prayer of union, including the petition, 'Help us to be steadfast in the service of your will, that we may grow in number and holiness.' We have been blessed in both regards.

"Our regular pattern had been to meet at least fortnightly to pray together, but since the lockdown has started we have been meeting daily via Zoom to pray the office together at noon. Not everyone can make everyday, but between us we hold that discipline of prayer. Our shared commitment to this discipline has helped us grow together and deepen our prayer life in a way that would have been much harder as individuals.

"Somehow, a distraction is often close at hand when it is time to pray, but the knowledge that we are supporting on another gives encouragement and that additional encouragement to prioritise prayer throughout the day.

"We have also grown in number, taking advantage of the possibility of corporate worship to celebrate the Eucharist together on the 11th July, the feast of St Benedict.

"It was a great blessing to all be together either in person, and with one companion joining via video link. As with St Benedict’s Day last year, we also admitted a new member of our community. It is always good to journey with people exploring a vocation to join our community – a discernment for all concerned as to whether this community is where the person is being called.

"Once someone ready to act on their sense a call to joining the community, we help them think about how our common rule of life could be applied to their own circumstances and welcome them as a probationer. This gives everyone the chance to see what membership of the community means before, if the person and the community are in agreement, admitting the person into the community at a celebration of the Eucharist."

Born circa 480 and the son of a Roman noble, Saint Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino became the father of Western monasticism when he wrote his famous Rule that established and became the norm for monastic living throughout Europe.

St Benedict’s teaching points to the establishment of the ‘school for the Lord’s service’ to provide both the environment and the necessary means for the individual’s search for God. Benedict shared the biblical view that, unless we are in honest relationship with God and other human beings, we will inevitably prefer our own desires to the demands of the Christian life. Hence he promoted the community life because he knew that it rescues us from our narrow self-interest through a deeper sense of our dependence on God’s mercy and on the love of our community. He recognised that surrender of self-will was key and therefore dedicates a large part of his Rule to obedience.

According to St Benedict our work, however mundane or challenging it may be, becomes a form of prayer reflecting the need for humility. He also asks us to look for God in the simplest things we do and make him our purpose for doing them; meeting Christ when we serve others; finding balance and moderation in all things; being aware of God’s creation and taking great care of our environment. Parents will find some amazing advice in Benedict’s instructions for a good abbot (Abba is Latin for father).

To find out more about how you might become a Benedictine Companion of the Abbey at Milton, email Justin via .

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