“When he is to be received, he comes before the whole community in the oratory and promises stability, fidelity to monastic life, and obedience.” Rule of Benedict, 58
Stability, fidelity to monastic life and obedience. These are the three promises an oblate makes when he gives himself over to God. These promises make up the foundation of how one lives their vocation out as a Benedictine oblate. But what exactly does it mean? What exactly does living out the promises look like in the daily life of an oblate?
Living ones vocation out as a Benedictine oblate can take on many different forms. The way in which I strive to live out my vocation can be quite different from others even within my own monastic family. The Rule of St. Benedict allows for such diversity and is one of the reasons why it has lasted for over 1,500 years. In the next few posts I intend to speak on the three promises of stability, fidelity to monastic life and obedience and how I strive to live them out as an oblate.
The promise of stability stands in stark contrast to a society which seeks pleasure and fulfillment in quick fixes and happiness that is just a click away. Stability, the first of the promises made by any Benedictine, requires us to plant our roots in the community we find ourselves in, whether at home, work, or society in general. Stability is the promise that forces us to look at our surroundings and strive to see God there. It asks us to look for God in the here and now and not in some distant future where we think all shall be better.
At times we may find ourselves being irritated with those who surround us. We may find the way things are done to not be in our liking or taste and we may very well find ourselves being challenged by those we are called to love. Our gut reaction is to flee because this is the path of least resistance. This allows us to not have to get into the thick of things and face them as they are. The promise of stability shows us that God has placed us with these people, in these situations, and challenges us to grow in love. We are not called to change the world to our own wishes and needs but to love in the midst of all trials.
Stability also asks me to continue on the journey when I find the monotony a bit to much. I reminds me that I should not look for external excitements which might stimulate my desires at the moment but will produce very little fruit. It calls me to stick with the path I have chosen and to reap the benefits of the Benedictine life which has been lived out by thousands before me.
And in the life of an oblate stability also requires me to have a greater focus on my family, whether it be in single or married life. Those God has chosen to place before me are those which will help me to grown in love. Committing myself to a greater acceptance of who they are and who they are not will allow me to grow to love them as God loves them. When the going gets tough, as it inevitably does in life, I am called to stick it out and work through the difficulties that present themselves simply because in the end I recognize that the challenges of life and of others will lead me to a greater acceptance and love for all human life.
In a time in which people and places are disposable, stability asks me to see them how God sees them – as gifts which call me to holiness. It might not be easy but that’s not the point. Nothing worth having in life is ever easy.
Although it can seem constraining at first, stability is actually quite liberating. It takes away the need to look elsewhere for happiness and reminds me that it is to be found exactly where I am at and with the people God has chosen to place in my life.