St Benedict and His Rule:
The Rule of Saint Benedict is a guide to how monks should live together and worship God. In other words, the Rule uses Biblical principles to describe the full Christian life devoted to God. The Rule’s application is universal and timeless.
By Jerry O’Hare, Oblate
From Winter Review 2018
Being a new oblate reminds me of the old adage “every day is a new day”. Every day I learn something from ancient teachings for the first time; every day I try something old for the first time, and the next day I get to do it all over again! Even the Holy Rule of St. Benedict takes on different meanings, even though the words remain the same.
A few years ago, this “starting anew” everyday would have driven me crazy; I like consistency, certainty and other such illusions. Being an oblate has taught me that God is full of surprises and surrendering to God’s will isn’t just part of the adventure, it is the adventure!
Combining the practices of prayer, humility and hospitality with the daily practices of work, study and quiet reflection always leads to the next step on my spiritual hiking trail. Most of the time, it’s a step that I didn’t see coming, but it is something I needed to experience just at that right time.
The trick is to leave myself open and vulnerable to God’s will…..God’s next “dare”. It’s a gift I want to be open to receive. Being an oblate at Benet Hill makes being open to God’s will just that much easier.
Oblates are Christian adults who desire to seek God by living in harmony with the spirit of Saint Benedict as revealed in the Rule of St. Benedict and its contemporary expressions. Oblates associate themselves with a particular Benedictine monastery so that they may share in the spiritual life, prayers and works of the community. By embracing the Benedictine way of life, they strive to live full Christian lives enlightened by personal efforts to understand Christ’s teaching in the Scriptures.
Benedictine Oblates do not take vows and usually do not live in a monastic house of the community. Oblates have a strong desire to find God and experience a fuller Christian life. They do make promises to seek God more intensely through the Rule of St. Benedict in partnership with the sisters of the Benet Hill community as their state of life permits.
The word “Oblate” means offering. Therefore Oblates of St. Benedict offer themselves for service to God and others, keeping in mind the Benedictine motto: PEACE. By integrating prayer and work, they manifest Christ’s presence in the world.
Oblates have a love for Scripture. Lectio Divina or prayerful reading of Scripture is central to an oblate’s way of life. Part of oblate life is the desire to be obedient to the will of God. Oblates fulfill this desire with humility, by patiently bearing the everyday trials of life, by appreciating silence, by keeping one’s speech under control, and by viewing all work as holy.
Oblate life is formed in and around the Benedictine community and thus shares in the prayer, work, love and commitment of the community. The oblates also form a community among themselves and among their family, friends and church.
For More Information on Oblates: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oblate
Oblate formation/integration takes place within the Benet Hill community, particularly by deep listening to God’s will, stability of life’s setting and openness to the Spirit. The process of formation/integration involves individual and interpersonal elements: personal prayer, service and support by the community. Both spirituality and service are involved according to the Rule of St. Benedict.
Christian formation is a dynamic process of becoming a mature member of the Body of Christ. Within the people of God, an individual’s response to God’s unique call allows the progressive unfolding of the gifts of each person. Through the community which shares instruction and wisdom, sings psalms, hymns and sacred songs, extends forgiveness, and wraps all with love, God enables the individual to grow so that all will be together in perfect unity. (Col. 2:13-16)
The guidelines for this formation/integration requires both structure and flexibility. Encouragement, support and accountability on the part of the individual and Benet Hill Monastery are essential for healthy formation and community life.
Marie Therese (MT) Summers, OSB
719-633-0655 ext. 120
Inquirer: When a person inquires about becoming an oblate, a packet of basic introductory information about Benedictine oblates and about becoming an oblate is given to the inquirer. The inquirer may be invited to attend an oblate meeting or event. The purpose of the inquirer stage is to provide initial information about the Oblate way of life.
Candidate: If the inquirer expresses interest in becoming an oblate, the inquirer becomes a candidate. A mentor or mentoring group will be assigned to companion that candidate through this initial step. The purpose of the candidate step is to allow reflection on the experienced call to journey into the mystery of a deepened relationship with God through the way of St. Benedict and the appropriate response to that call.
Novice: Once candidates have decided to continue responding to God’s unique call, they begin a minimum of one year of study, service and discernment as novice oblates under the guidance of a mentor. The candidate is received as an oblate novice in a simple ceremony at Vespers, during which the candidate is introduced to the Benet Hill Community by her mentor, and expresses her desire to become an oblate. A copy of the Rule of St. Benedict and a St. Benedict medal are given to the novice at that time. A packet of study materials is also given to the novice. Novices submit a Request to Make Oblation to the Oblate Director. The mentor or mentoring group submits a recommendation to the Oblate Director.
Professed Oblate: After a minimum of one year of study and discernment, the oblate novice may seek to make a lifelong commitment as a professed oblate of St. Benedict. Although oblation may be rescinded by the decision of the individual, the promise to live as an oblate should nevertheless be taken seriously in context of the person’s relationship with God, the Church, the community of affiliation, and fellow oblates.
Ongoing Formation: Oblates renew their oblations annually, and are encouraged to review their practices and implement a plan of ongoing formation each year. The professed oblate continues their life-long formation as a Benedictine oblate through reading, workshops, regular meetings, participation in community and oblate activities as able.