Q: Who is Mary the Apostle?
A: Mary the Apostle is another name of Mary Magdalene. The Eastern Church calls her the Apostle to the Apostles. She is the first who proclaimed the good news of the resurrection to many of Jesus’ other followers.
Q: How did you decide this community would be dedicated to her?
A: We listened and prayed our way into it. Mary Magdalene has deep meaning for each of us. She was a close follower of Jesus. She was profoundly healed by Jesus and from then on accompanied him—all the way to the cross. She kept vigil with him at cross and tomb. The risen Christ called her by name, and she was the first to see and recognize him.
We, too, have experienced his healing power in our lives, answered the call to follow, and know the urgency of proclaiming new life beyond what we can ask or imagine to a broken and glorious world. We honor her as a leader of the Church, and see her as an example of women’s ability to claim authority and speak the Gospel.
We also are stirred by the ways in which the legacy of the Church has made her a focus for women’s sexuality. Rather than just dispute the stories and “clean up her reputation,” we claim her as an icon of redeemed sexuality, the counterpart to Eve. Through Mary Magdalene, all people are invited to reclaim their embodied love. Whether we are celibate or not, we see the body as holy and passion as a gift.
Q: Why start a new community? Why not join an existing one?
A: We each found that our sense of call to religious life did not match an existing community. As we have uncovered a deeper awareness of that call as expressed in our charism statement (you can find this on our site), it has been confirmed. We recognize our debt to the long tradition of religious life as expressed by these other communities, and grow in continuity with them. There is also a clear call to be a community grounded in contemporary expressions of faith and to respond to the changing church and world from a blend of both ancient and new.
Q: Are you nuns? Do you live in a convent?
A: As we open our vowed community to people of all genders, Companions seems to be the best title. At this point we call our residence simply “Companions’ House.” It is a place that is dedicated to life in Christ—a life of commitment and companionship with Christ, all God’s people and each other.
Q: What is your particular mission?
A: Our mission is to enable all people we meet (in person or virtually!) to experience the presence of God through a common life of worship, study and prayer. We are committed to pursuing that in freedom with curiosity, gratitude and joy as we live into being a community that loves boldly.
Q: What is your ministry?
A: Our first, deepest ministry is prayer. We pray for the world and for individuals as we are called and asked, but the basis for this is the awareness that we are one with God, and the desire to serve God and share in God’s healing of the world. Particular ministries flow out of that source.
We proclaim God’s grace of new life—resurrection—in any way we can. We do that with individuals and through gatherings of people of all genders. Retreat leadership, teaching, preaching and spiritual direction are some of the ways that we have been called to live this out. Our Covenant Companions and ConSpiritors serve in a variety of ways in their locations. We are excited to see what new members bring as gifts and look forward to seeing what else God is dreaming for us.
Q: What commitments do you make?
A: Vowed companions pledge continual conversion of life under vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Our attitude toward these traditional vows is that they are about what we “get to do” more than they are about what we don’t do. Conversion of life speaks to a commitment to letting God’s Spirit shape and change us throughout our lives. We are growing into the freedoms that these vows bring: freedom from being possessed by possessions, freedom to love God and God’s people in a way that is distinct from having a primary significant other, and the freedom to respond to God’s love with our YES to what is emerging as God’s will, discerned through community. We put flesh on the bones of those vows by living according to our Covenant.
Covenant Companions make a promise based on the same loves and the same desire, living them out in ways appropriate to their life circumstances. Family and work commitments shape their lives differently from residential members, but the values and commitments of the Covenant govern both groups.
Q: What is your daily life like?
A: Those of us who live in community follow a fairly traditional monastic schedule. Early to bed, early to rise, and living an active contemplative life define our days. Prayer comes first, last and in between. We pray the monastic hours when we are home: Morning, Noonday, Evening and Night prayers, and most days we have a celebration of the Holy Eucharist. When we are away from home for ministry we keep a modified prayer schedule as we are able. Private prayer and spiritual practices are integrated into our days as seems best for each. We take our meals together (some in silence, some not), have work periods in the morning and afternoon, and set aside time for study and recreation. Woven through our weeks are times to reflect, study scripture and, take Sabbath time and have some fun—with each other and on our own.
Q: How is CMA supported financially?
A: CMA is supported through the work of members of the community, financial resources they bring with them and the generous gifts of friends and donors. We rejoice in the response of confidence that these supporters have shown in this endeavor through their gifts to the life and ministry of the Companions. Some have offered us in kind donations of service, for which we are grateful.
Q: How do I become a Companion of Mary the Apostle?
A: The first step is to look at our “Pathways to Companionship” page for the many ways to be a Companions. The next step, of course, is to talk to us and pray about it!