About a dozen Companions and friends of CR met in the library at Southwark Cathedral on the afternoon of Saturday 7th November. We were delighted that Fr. Nicolas CR was able to be with us on this occasion. After saying a short Office of Prayer together, Fr. Nicolas spoke to us about the Community’s plans for the future, and then gave us some general advice about what we might do as a group of Companions.
There had been a rather unfortunate letter published in the Church Times of the previous day, raising some objections to the plans for the reordering of the church at Mirfield. However, it would be necessary to take up the floor to install a new heating system. The plans are for a church that will look very alive and be very user friendly, giving access for disabled visitors and elderly brethren. Mirfield will become a place that will attract more visitors, although many streams of people already come in and out. Good quality art work will be needed, as symbol is very important in presenting the Gospel to people. There is also the new monastery project. The Church Times letter was right in saying that the Community had declined in numbers. If CR does nothing and stays in its present building, it will die out. Other communities have found that if they move away it precipitates decline. The new project will be very expensive, and CR may collapse under the strain, or it could kick start a new kind of Community. To take the risk could be death, but not to take the risk would be death. The Community is to be commended on its vision and courage.
Companions centre around the Community, perhaps because it is attractive or inspiring, but as Companions we should work out how we can reflect these characteristics in our own Christian life. These are the main points to remember:
The centrality of worship
Critical Christianity, i.e. an intelligent, thinking kind of Christianity. Nowadays Christianity suffers from an illiterate, short, sound bite approach. Book reviews are included in ‘CR Quarterly’ in the hope that we’ll read the books!
Involvement in the
world. The first CR brethren
were involved in the Christian Socialist Movement, and then there was the
anti-apartheid struggle in
Meeting together. CR is committed to living together, and brethren will be closer together in the new monastery. For Companions this particular charism is manifested through meetings and prayer together. Remember that the word ‘companion’ comes from the Latin ‘cum panis’ (with bread), and eat together sometimes. There is something sacred about eating together, and in the Gospels a great deal happens around a meal, a piece of fish, a glass of wine etc.
A sense of fun is very important, and whatever we do we should enjoy it. If groups become boring, they should stop.
A recommended book to read is Timothy Radcliffe’s ‘What’s the point of being a Christian?’ Each person should come to the next meeting with one answer to this question.
Summary: Marks of community are worship, intelligent engagement, making a difference to this sinful and wicked world, and having fun.
We should look for the Risen Christ, and eventually we will begin to find him in the most surprising places and people. We should think of the world as the place where Christ is to be found. We must not think that we should take Christ into difficult, run down areas. That would be impertinent. He is there already.
There was then a short discussion about the ecumenical aspect of CR’s work. Fr. Nicolas commented that the new kind of Christian unity will need to be built at all sorts of levels.
We will investigate the possibility of sharing a meal at our next meeting, which will probably be rescheduled for February. This will be confirmed in due course.
Vanessa Dixon will be taking over as contact person for the group:
+44 (0)1689 851767