The Personal Oblate

Subiaco Abbey and Academy, where Stanford atte...

Subiaco Abbey and Academy, Subiaco, Arkansas, U.S.A.

The Personal Oblate? Well, that would be me. You too if you are one. And if you’re not you can humor me or, and don’t worry, it’ll be OK if you do this because I do it myself at times, you can always hit the back button. I began this blog, oh, maybe two and a half years or so ago and I continue it for two reasons. The first reason is to encourage fellow Christians. I figure everyone needs encouragement and living in this world can be pretty hard what with crime and pollution and war and politics and I really don’t want to talk about those things right now, I’d rather focus on encouragement and steer clear of depression. The second reason for my blog is simple evangelization. I’ve found something worthwhile, Someone worthwhile, and want to share. A blog is a good way to do that. No one is forced to read it, I don’t send out invitations, and I believe that if you’re here and reading this it’s because God got you here. That’s MY take on it, and, hey, its MY blog. Like I said, there’s always the back button. I just wanted to clarify before going on, because this post is about being a Benedictine Oblate, but I thought to make it clear where I’m coming from so that where I’m going won’t be a surprise to anyone.

 

When I was 18 I considered seriously entering a monastery. I never wanted to be a priest, but I did want to be a brother. Without going into any great detail about the whys and wherefores suffice it to say I did other things instead. But forever after that I always felt drawn to religious life. I considered third orders but for whatever reason just never made a firm decision. At one point I even thought about the diaconate. I think we’re all better off for my not having done that.

 

One of the things that I’ve realized over the years has been the need for balance in my life. Personally I think balance is something everyone needs in their life and I understand that this can entail different things for different people but for me it means an orderly existence with appropriate boundaries. I need structure. I’ve always sought after it and I’ve spent most of my life striving for it. Now all this is just me but one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that I’m not really all that different from anybody else. If I need certain things chances are that others have the same or similar needs. We are, after all, each one of us human.

 

A few years back, still striving for balance and seeking appropriate structure in my life, I was introduced to the Rule of St. Benedict and Benedictine spirituality via the Oblate program at Subiaco Abbey. Oddly enough this is the same monastery I thought about joining when I was 18. Guess what? The Oblate program? It was for me perfect balance and structure. So what I didn’t do early on in life I’m able to do now in a slightly different way but I’m still, by the grace of God, getting it done. I began my novitiate. I think most monasteries run their Oblate programs along pretty much the same lines. At Subiaco Abbey the normal novitiate for an Oblate is one year. Because of my health, and because I honestly didn’t think I’d live long enough to last the novitiate, I asked Abbot Jerome if I could make my Oblation at the next Oblate retreat. That was six months after beginning the novitiate. He gave his permission and at that next retreat I made my Oblation. I never will forget standing there in front of that altar. Approaching the altar has always been an extremely meaningful act for me. It’s not just another piece of furniture that you approach casually. Or at least it isn’t for me. And after this I fooled everybody, myself most of all, and lived.

 

Because I wanted to do this thing with all I could muster, heart and soul, body and mind, I decided to go a step further. And I actually took this step, with my parish priests permission, prior to my Oblation. I wrote out private vows based on the Rule. Stability, fidelity, and obedience. I took them on my knees at the altar of my parish Church, alone with my Jesus. I took them with the personal understanding that these were once and for all. I would not renew them. There would be no need. I intended that they stick and because God loves me they have. I had made up my mind and my heart. And I’ve been nothing but blessed ever since.

 

You don’t have to live at the Abbey to have an Abbot, to live the Rule, to pray and work and give, to make the Monastery your spiritual home. I can’t travel so much any more but when I’ve been able to I have never been so at home as when I set before the Tabernacle at Subiaco Abbey.

 

All the above? Well, bluntly, I’m evangelizing fellow Catholics and attempting to recruit. The Benedictine Order is old, traditional, and a thing of beauty. That God brought me to it is a miracle of love and grace. But it’s not a miracle that I own. It’s a miracle meant to be shared. The Benedictine Order is my home. I am Benedictine. I share my home now with you and tell you openly that if you feel called to a religious life while living in the world and yet not being a part of it the door to my Abbey is open. Welcome home.

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