Just what is a Benedictine Oblate and why would you want to become one?
That is a question I am sure many of us oblates get. An oblate is one who wishes to give him/herself as an offering to God – for His glory and the good of the Church.
There is a formation period called the novitiate which lasts at least one year and consists of the novice studying the Rule of St. Benedict, monthly Chapter Meetings if you’re near an Oblate Chapter (a group of oblates in one area), or doing the novice studies through the mail. St. Meinrad allows long-distance novitiates for those who do not live close to a monastery. You can do your studies at home and send them to the oblate director. This is how I did mine. You will also begin to pray the Divine Office, which is the official prayer of the Universal Church and is deeply connected with the Mass.
After a year of ones novitiate the novice discerns whether or not he/she feels that God is 1) calling them to be an Oblate and 2) calling them to be an Oblate at that particular monastery or convent. Each monastic community is independent and some may like one place over another. Make sure to discern that too.
At ones oblation, the oblate promise Stability, Conversion to the Monastic Way of Life, and Obedience. My stability is attached to St. Meinrad Archabbeyin Indiana. We also promise to do certain rituals and/or practices throughout each day, which helps to deepen our spiritual life.
The Benedictine road is one traveled in moderation. As we follow The Rule of St. Benedict in the world and not in a monastery, our way of approaching this life will not be the same as monks and nuns. Yes, there are definitely things which we can do that will aid in our conversion to a deeper monastic way of life, but we must make sure that we live a life of balance, not forgetting the duties and demands of life which we face each day.
The Benedictine motto is “Ora et Labora” or “Prayer and Work.” Prayer always comes before work for the Benedictine. We are reminded of this by the daily prayer times we set aside for the Divine Office. We are also called upon to set with Sacred Scripture and practice the ancient form of monastic meditation/prayer of Lectio Divina.
The Practice of the Presence of God along with a deep sacramental life is what keeps us on the road towards Jesus Christ – our ultimate goal!
The Rule of St. Benedict might seem burdensome to some yet if we continue on its path we come to realize that the Rule is not a burden but a sweet guide which leads us ever closer to Jesus Christ.
As always – “That in all things God may be glorified!”