A Simple Rule for the Companions of
St Silouan Athonite
Any group or community, in order to serve a common purpose, must have at least a simple Rule of Life that can be used to keep the members on a common path. This simple Rule of the Companions of St Silouan Athonite should serve to inform each aspirant and each Companion of the common threads running through the Companions’ lives. It’s simple, undemanding, and doable for practically anyone anywhere with a sincere commitment.
The Companions do not proselytize or attempt to convert anyone from their faith or belief tradition nor do the Companions promote or prefer any single faith or belief tradition. Companions do not advocate a one-spirituality-fits-all but respects the fact that each tradition, each individual has a unique spirituality and can share that spirituality with others without causing harm. Companions listen with the ear of the heart, silently, reflexively. Companions urges each member to deepen and nurture his or her own faith or belief tradition through membership in Companions.
Three important questions you should ask yourself before proceeding:
- Do I understand spirituality as a discipline seeking to transcend my perceptions and experiences, and enter the sacred Silence within?
- Am I in search of the mystery some call God, Atman, Brahman, Nirvana, Enlightenment, Unity, Truth, Love?
- Am I willing to honestly and authentically share my perceptions, experiences, questions, and to receive those of other Companions nonjudgementally?
The Purpose of the Companions The Companions of St Silouan Athonite is a fellowship of clergy, religious , monastics, and lay people who seek to be formally connected as a Community under the principles taught by St Silouan Athonite, in order to deepen their spiritual lives. Through their connection with the Companions they look to incorporate the key values of simplicity, humility, love of others, forgiveness, and compassion that help them live out the call of these values and to the Companions community while living in the world, while the same time as helping to support the Companions in its mission.
A Covenant of Reflection, Meditation, Contemplation Above all, prayerlike reflection and contemplation spiritually connects the Companion with the entire community of Companions of St Silouan Athonite. Each Companion is committed to support each other in sharing reflections, meditations, contemplative practices and spiritual exercises. Each companion will be mindful of the other Companions each day during a time set aside for such reflection. The Companions goal is specifically that the Companions may be faithful to their vocation to the community regardless of the Companion’s faith or belief tradition. Companions pledge to use their reflection time to help the Companions grow as men and women of values and service and to remember them in their daily reflections. We are all servants among servants and, if called to lead, we are servant leaders.
The Place for Spiritual Practice. In most institutionalized religions, faith and belief systems, ritual and liturgical practice has always been at the heart of so-called spirituality. Each Companion will have his or her individual faith or belief tradition and it is important that the community of Companions recognizes and respects that tradition and its centrality in the Companion’s healthy spiritual life. The Companions community envision our brother and sister Companions as committed members of a worshiping community of their choice in a manner that strengthens their spirituality and is a tangible sign of their inner spiritual life. We also recognize and respect the fact that our Humanist and non-theist brothers and sisters likewise practice a meaningful spirituality. As an ecumenical and interfaith community committed to dialogue, each Companion shall seek to engage and to learn from all other companions’ faith or belief system.
The Spiritual Cycle The Companions recognize that each faith and belief community celebrates a ritual cycle or a denominational liturgical year. The rites and rituals practiced in these cycles or liturgical practices is a graced means of entering more deeply into the mystery of life, being, and belonging. An appreciation of a spiritual cycle provides a tangible structure for sharing and growing, and Companions should take advantage of these spiritual opportunities, particularly during great feasts and festivals of the many faith and belief communities represented in the Companions group, and through such participation nurture a deepening their consciousness of being members of the unity of creation.
Personal Spiritual Practices A divine spirit invites each Companion to develop a dedicated rhythm of personal spirituality practices. While the ways each of us practices our spiritual discipline in private, that practice will vary according to individual preferences and needs, the time available for spiritual practices, a suitable environment for such practices, and lifestyle factors.
The human spirit longs to develop an inner life that encompasses the whole of creation, and which expresses itself in the myriad situations of life and living. This is what unceasing awareness involves for all sentient beings, not just spirituals and so-called mystics. Companions dedicate themselves to developing a disciplined life of spirituality that makes time each day for personal spiritual recharging and practice, whether through such practices as lectio divina of holy scriptures, contemplation, or meditation, or some form of the daily service. Each companion pledges to be a resource for assisting other Companions in finding their own personal rhythm of spirituality.
Continuing Development The desire to grow in wisdom and understanding of mystery is itself a witness to the human spirit in our lives. Part of being a Companion of St Silouan will involve regular reading and study that sensitizes us to the vastness of life’s mysteries and a deepening understanding of our spirituality. No matter how we are called to share the fruits of our reading and study—whether in teaching, preaching, writing, ministry, or in friendships and relationships—is meant primarily to enrich our relationship with our spirit, and Companions make it an integral part of their spiritual practice.
Retreat Times In order to be open to deeper levels of appreciation of life’s mystery that lead to a fuller engagement, regular periods of retreat are highly recommended. Retreat from the world even for a weekend, brings spiritual renewal, enhances focus and supports concentration without the distractions and noise of the world. As part of their rule of life, Companions are urged to seek out, inquire about, and plan at least one three-day retreat each year, and to schedule an three-day retreat either at a natural inspirational location, or at a suitable monastery or retreat center. In instances where travel or extended away time is problematic, Companions should make an effort to set aside periodic “spiritual care” days to devote themselves to a more intense practice of reflection, meditation, reading, and self-examination.
Personal Care Human beings are a composite of body, mind, and spirit and we experience the work of the spirit on each of these levels. Our physical and mental health affects our spiritual well-being and reciprocally, spiritual health affects our physical and mental health. Our psychospiritual and physical disposition is contagious and transmissible; they in turn affect the people and world around us. Companions should endeavor to develop the understanding spirituality as holistic; body, mind and spirit. Companions are expected to practice good stewardship over their holistic health.
Spiritual Guidance and Self-Examination The wisdom of tradition has recognized that each one of us needs periodically to meet with an experienced spiritual guide in order to grow as healthfully. While the frequency and nature of spiritual guidance and self-examination or, if available and practical, peer supervision, will vary from individual to individual and from locale to locale. Companions should discover and take advantage of the available resources for spiritual guidance or supervision, and undertake regular self-examination as components of their spiritual practice. When spiritual guidance or supervision is not possible, Companions may set aside a “quiet” day for a life review—optimally once every 90 days reflect on any changes since the previous examination. Companions are urged to keep a personal journal and to discipline themselves to daily recording of their spiritual life..
A Generous Heart The further we progress in the spiritual life, the more we recognize that we actually require much less than we once thought. As the stewards of creation’s limited gifts and beneficiaries of the spirit’s boundless graces, we will be embraced by the desire to respond in gratitude. As their life circumstances allow Companions look to share their time, talents, and financial gifts in support of their communities, the poor, and the work of the Companions as we grow. The Companion’s vocation to spirituality, service and disciple leadership will become leaven in the world. Companions strive to keep their lives simple, avoiding extravagance and waste, and are committed to responsible stewardship with their resources.
While Companions does not ask for material support from members, we do realize that many organizations and groups do very important work in the world feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and the suffering, protecting the vulnerable, and providing spiritual support and encouragement. Companions should be generous in their support of worthy groups, missions, institutions doing humanitarian work.
Connections with Others During their earthly pilgrimages, the great sages of human history, the Buddha, Jesus, the Patriarchs, Mohammed, and others revealed themselves as persons of compassion and wisdom, and who at the same time showed us what enlightenment is like. They demonstrated a striking concern for those they encountered and made clear by their actions the importance of relationships in life and living. Learning from the example of the great teachers of history, especially those of the great faith and belief traditions, Companions recognize the importance of fostering and maintaining healthy relationships in their lives, devoting time and energy especially with those friends, family members, and spouses they are committed to in a special way.