The Companions of Our Lady and Saint Mungo
Order of Saint Benedict
The Companions of Our Lady and St Mungo are a Community founded within the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway of the Scottish Episcopal Church by two Solemnly Professed and Consecrated Sisters from the Companions of St Luke—Order of St Benedict in The Episcopal Church (USA). Their Vows are held by The Right Reverend Kevin Pearson. They are based in the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway and we follow the Canons of the Scottish Episcopal Church and its policies.
The aim of the community is to seek God, following the example of Christ, his mother Mary, and Saint Mungo in glad obedience and singleness of heart. Their rule is the Rule of Saint Benedict. Their motto is Redire ad cor (‘return to the heart’) and they seek by prayer, contemplation, the Divine Office and work to bring all people together into the liberating embrace of Divine Love. Their prayer is for all people but especially for the Church that it may be faithful to the heart of Christ, and for all those who have been ignored, debased and wounded by the Church, and by sectarian conflict of all kinds.
The Community is an intentional hybrid of traditional monasticism and ‘Christian Community’ living the Benedictine life, following its Rule and Vows in a manner consistent with our time. Members may follow the path toward vowed life in a lifelong commitment, vowed life in renewable annual vows, or as pilgrims whose intention is for a short-term association. All paths will be fluid with an initial common formation period.
Membership is open to all Episcopalians over the age of 21, lay or ordained, single, partnered or married, without regard to gender identity or sexuality. It is intended that members will be self-supporting and live dispersed within the Diocese, coming together at regular intervals for prayer, study, fellowship and meals in common.
Those interested in joining the Companions are invited to meet and begin a process of discernment of their vocation.
The Rev Dr Ellen Barrett (Sr Helena OSB)
Alison Whybrow (Sr Alison Joy OSB)
The Institutes of the Companions of Our Lady and Saint Mungo
The Purpose of the Community
Our aim is to seek God, following the example of Christ, his mother Mary, and Saint Mungo in glad obedience and singleness of heart. We are come together with one heart and one mind to follow Christ’s guiding wherever it may lead us. After the Gospels, our fundamental Rule is the Rule of Saint Benedict. Our motto is Redire ad cor (‘return to the heart’).
Prayer is at the centre of our life: the Divine Office, the Holy Eucharist, and the private prayer and lectio of each. This Opus Dei is truly the work of God and nothing is to be preferred to it. The active ministries to which we may be called are to be entered into as the overflow of our prayer.
We pray for all people, and especially for the Church, that it may be faithful to the heart of Christ, and for all those who have been ignored, debased, and wounded by the Church, and by sectarian conflict of all kinds. The goal of both our prayer and our work is to bring all people together into the liberating embrace of Divine Love.
Of Hospitality to All
All who present themselves, either as guests or as aspirants, are to be treated as Christ himself and given every honour and courtesy. Let us always share with them of our best in all things that they may feel truly welcome.
By the same token, let us treat our siblings in community with respect, courtesy, transparency, patience, and tenderness, for Christ is no less present in them. Let not daily familiarity lead to lack of loving respect. As we endeavour to grow more Christ-like, let us strive to love each other as Jesus does, each of us as precious in his sight as though they were the only one. Nevertheless, we must be individually and collectively accountable for our fidelity to our purpose.
Of the Three-fold Vow
We bind ourselves to God, to the Church, and to each other by the three-fold public vow of Conversatio morum, Obedience, and Stability. Conversatio is the continuing redirection of our life Godwards, recognizing and accepting our shortcomings and striving towards greater wholeness and love for God, for others, and indeed for ourselves as God’s beloved. Therefore, Conversatio encompasses every aspect of our life in Christ, and by it, we aim to grow more perfectly into the likeness of the One in whose image we were created.
Our Obedience is first of all to God, who through the Holy Spirit calls us to a life centred on Christ. It is the glad obedience of love’s response to Love, not accepted under duress or fear. Likewise, we are obedient to our Institutes and to those in authority over us. Such obedience should be offered promptly and in simplicity, yet not blindly, for respectfully to question a command or request that goes against conscience or common sense is to use the discerning mind God has given each of us. We must be careful to avoid a habit of unnecessary objection or contentiousness. These undermine mutual charity and community.
Stability is at its heart our abiding faith in God. The inward journey only begins, continues, and ends in this faith. We also see stability as encompassing fidelity to one’s vows and to the monastic state. Traditionally it has also meant stability of location, one’s monastery, for a rootless vine cannot flourish, and stability of context needs some physical referent. More broadly stability resides in communion with one’s siblings in community. Nevertheless, though our Companions may live dispersed throughout the Diocese, we will meet regularly for prayer, discernment, and fellowship in order that our prayer and our work become earthed here rather than lead us into wandering restlessly at will.
The ideal of monastic poverty is common goods and a common purse, and no personal ownership. Outside of the traditional community, this is an ideal to be striven for, but our practice, as it may evolve beyond the single cell, must evolve as a pragmatic interpretation of the tradition. Unless and until a community house with a common purse may be set up, members must be self-supporting.
Our poverty should include care and reverence for all creation, living as lightly as we can upon the earth. Simplicity and utility should be our guide. All tools, clothing, vessels, and furnishings should be thoughtfully chosen and treated carefully as instruments for God’s service. Just as we should avoid excess and be content with simple things, there is no virtue in choosing ugly, cheap, and shoddy goods.
Of Chastity and Mutual Love
Chastity commensurate with one’s state in life is incumbent upon all Christians. Celibacy has generally, but not exclusively, been the monastic norm. For some of us, as for some in the Celtic tradition, the love and fidelity of spousal chastity will be the ruling norm. For others, it will be celibate chastity either by permanent consecration to that state, or the chastity of the single state with the possibility of entering into a spousal commitment in future. Whatever the case, even though we make no explicit reference in the vows to either celibacy or chastity, chastity in whatever form is to be the rule among us.
Chastity and spousal fidelity do not mean that we should be afraid to love others and to express that love in appropriate ways. While it is natural that we are drawn to some people more than to others, let us always remember that love includes rather than excludes.
Of Community and Humility
If there is an occasion to mark seniority, let it be done by date of entry among us. Otherwise, except for those chosen to exercise an office or work, let there be no partiality among us based on gender, marital or social status, or ordination.
Let the gifts of each be discerned and put to use in such a way that both the individual and the community grow and flourish, but let none think themselves better than another, for there are varieties of gifts, but it is the same Spirit that has led each of us to offer ourselves as a whole oblation to God. As each has given all, so each is to be lovingly supported in the continual offering of self.
Let us be humble enough to recognize our own strengths as well as our weaknesses, but do not boast of the former nor make excuse for the latter. In all things seek God’s glory rather than our own. As a Talmudic sage said, ‘It is better to be a threshold than a lintel stone—you have less far to fall.’
Love and honour each other in Christ, and may he bring us together into life and freedom in God’s unending love and light.
Of Our Place in the Church
We are a Community founded within the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway of the Scottish Episcopal Church by two Solemnly Professed and Consecrated Sisters from the Companions of Saint Luke—Order of Saint Benedict in The Episcopal Church (USA). Our vows (and those of future vowed members) are held by our Bishop and his legitimate successors.
We follow the Canons of the Scottish Episcopal Church and its policies regarding jurisdiction, process for separation and secularization, the Canon on private chapels, and the protection of vulnerable groups.
Those interested in joining the Companions are invited to meet with us, to develop a personal prayer rule and begin the process of discernment of their vocation. Some may be led to follow the path of the vowed monastic, others to be our companions on the journey in a less formal manner for a time, with commitment to be renewed annually. Membership is open to all Episcopalians over the age of 21, lay or ordained, single, partnered or married, without regard to gender identity or sexuality. It is our intention that members live dispersed in their own homes within the Diocese, coming together at regular intervals for prayer, study, fellowship, and meals in common.
Of Our Place in Society
At present, we own no real property, though we do not rule out the possibility of having a Community House in future.
We are not yet a Registered Charity, though at some future date that may be necessary or advisable. All moneys which may be donated to us shall be kept separate and used for community purposes only, of which a strict accounting shall be kept.
No abuse by a member will be tolerated, be it mental, spiritual, physical, or sexual, of any member or those among whom we live. Any such incident will be dealt with in the requisite fashion as appropriate, in civil or canonical process and pastoral concern for all involved.
Of Additions and Amendments to these Institutes
From time to time as the Community develops, additions and amendments will be required. These will be considered by the elders of the Community with the advice of at least two knowledgeable persons for any matters relating to civil or canon law and practice.