Rule of Life for Married, Single or Celibate Lay Members of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham
Fiat, Amen, Alleluia!
The Lay Branch of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham (COLW) is made up of single and married people, widows and widowers. We embrace a vocation from God to live our baptismal commitments, in the midst of temporal realities, according to the charism of COLW, the fundamental traits of which are described in numbers 1-3 and 122-124 of the COLW Statutes, in the COLW Book of Life and in this Rule of Life.
The sharing in the charismatic consecration of COLW enhances and deepens our commitment to live the call to holiness and to an active participation in the mission of the Church which flows from the grace of baptism. Living a contemplative/active life, each member’s home becomes a COLW dwelling, a little Holy House rooted in the Fiat of Our Lady at the Annunciation and in the ancient Carmelite tradition. Sharing the COLW vocation to ever-deeper union with God in the Divine Will, we aim to live the vocational and incarnational spirituality of Walsingham as expressed in the COLW Book of Life. Inspired by the fiats of Jesus, Mary and Joseph we aspire to be supernatural in our aspirations, magnanimous of heart, audacious in self-giving, tenacious in the face of difficulties, and practical and effective in action.
As members of the lay branch we strive to live a profound and unceasing prayer life, modelled on Mary’s interior life and rooted in an ever-greater surrender to God’s love in the reality of our lives. Amidst family and professional commitments, we must learn how to live constantly in the presence of God so as to offer him our own Magnificat for all he does. We remember to pray in, with and for the larger community, reciting the Angelus daily and using the COLW prayer book according to our own circumstances. We keep in mind that fruitfulness flows from a deep interior life built on love for the Eucharist and meditation on the Word of God.
Single people, couples, and families choose to live out a form of fraternal life that is compatible with our respective state of life. The lay commitment takes on different forms, enabling us to persevere in our call to communion amidst varying limits, situations, and stages in life. We live in separate locations but gather at set times during the month in a common space or, where not practical, online. Faith sharing and life-giving practices build up members in COLW dwellings or clusters and reflect the joy and common life of the Holy Family.
Work and Mission
Our work and mission as lay members is to live in the joy of the Gospel, bringing it into the public, cultural, economic, political, academic and social arenas of life and sharing with everyone the love of God we experience.
- In living our lay vocation, we make it our first priority to live our family life and the duties of our state in life, enlightened by the Word of God and Church teaching.
- We seek to be conscientious in our profession and to participate in parish and diocesan life, contributing the Colwelian charism to society and to the local Church.
- We participate in apostolic initiatives and works of COLW, according to our possibilities. In the future, mission couples and singles who have a particular call to evangelisation or ministries of the Community take an active part in the mission and apostolates of COLW, in communion with brothers and sisters of the Community.
- We desire to share with others the gift of God we have discovered in COLW, so we introduce and invite others to COLW, and accompany those who show an interest in getting to know it, or in participating in its spirituality and mission.
The Spirit of the Evangelical Counsels
We dedicate our lives to the Lord, living in the world as witnesses to the Gospel and to the coming of the Kingdom with the spirit of the evangelical counsels according to the COLW charism.
- In living our lay vocation, fidelity to the Holy Father and the Magisterium is paramount.
- Our obedience lies in openness to God’s will in the reality of our lives.
- As anawim of the Lord, we live with creative stewardship our relationship to possessions and to creation, trusting in Divine Providence at all times.
- We show solidarity with each other and with those outside of the community.
- According to our means, we support the COLW family and its mission with regular donations and/or with the gift of our time or talents.
- We find an example of constancy and stability in Our Lady’s virtues, in her fiat given in joy and in sorrow and in her life immersed in the Trinity.
- The cultivation of discretion in speech and modesty in behaviour, reflecting purity of heart, will enable all to live chastely in our state in life.
- A chaste relationship with others includes hospitality within the COLW dwelling and service outside of the home.
As lay members of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham we begin a path of formation in which we discover in Christ the full meaning of our lives: being configured to him and fulfilling our specific mission as members of the lay faithful to transform the world in which we live. We should receive an integral formation, in the spiritual, human, apostolic and intellectual dimensions. Formation is all about Christ, allowing him to become flesh in us so that we, like Mary, can offer him to the world. It is a path of interior transformation that brings us to fullness of our human and Christian potential. As COLW members we assume responsibility for our own formation. At the same time, the competent authority must establish a formation plan that offers objectives, guidelines and means. Study circles and annual gatherings are ordinary means of formation in COLW.
Personal Charter of Life
Each lay member has a personal charter of life articulating our commitment. We work out the details of this charter before the Lord and in dialogue with the lay branch of the Community. This charter is effective for the duration of a year and may be modified annually, with the counsel of the local lay coordinator. The charter takes into account our level of Community commitment, professional life, living situation, fraternal life, mission, and formation.
There are three stages for incorporation into the lay branch: 1) Candidacy
2) Temporary commitment for four years
3) Permanent commitment
The leader of the consecrated branch with the leader of the lay branch and the lay council work together to develop and strengthen lay members in fidelity to the charism.
Diocesan priests, deacons and seminarians of COLW are people who personally accept the call to live their vocation according to the COLW charism. They are invited to associate individually to the Community, according to this Rule of Life. They share in the spirituality, the means of sanctification, and the spiritual and apostolic resources that COLW offers. Consecrated virgins can do likewise with the permission of their bishop.
‘O Mary, teach us always to say yes to the Lord,
Every moment of our life
O Mary, teach us always to give thanks to the Lord,
Every moment of our life’
Anawim: (pronounced ann-a-weem).
A Hebrew word used in the Old Testament. It refers to the ‘poor ones’, the outcasts and the marginalised. It was the anawim who remained faithful to God in times of difficulty.
The evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience are recommended for all the baptised. They are called the ‘evangelical’ counsels because we find them lived and therefore recommended (counselled) by Jesus in the four accounts of the Gospel (‘evangelium’ in Latin). The spirit of the evangelical counsels becomes for the lay members of COLW a plan for life which touches the areas of power, of sensuality and of material goods. They help us not to serve false idols, but to attain that freedom of loving God and neighbour which is above all forms of egoism. Holiness lies in the fulfilment of this double command to love.