Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Who Is Called to Be an Oblate of St. Benedict ?



It is suggested that those seeking to make their Oblation should prayerfully reflect on the following paragraphs taken from St. Vincent Archabbey’s Manual for Oblates.

benedict_rule_web2Being invested as an Oblate novice or making full Oblation is not a matter of entering a religious order. Deciding whether to seek novice Oblation or Oblation would, therefore, not ordinarily require the long, ponderous discernment that a Christian might undergo to make a long-range vocational decision to enter a religious community or take religious vows. However, Oblation does involve a serious and normally lifelong commitment; so the decision should be made with some careful discernment.

The Manual for Benedictine Oblates (1962) states, “The Act of Oblation is not a vow and thus does not carry with it the binding force of monastic profession, nor does it bind under sin. Its obligation need not be lifelong; it can be terminated at any moment by the monastery or the Oblate. On the other hand, it should not be looked upon as of no consequence, since it involves the giving of oneself to God in a solemn way” (pp. 4-5). As in all matters of Christian decision, one should basically be asking, “Does God want me to do this?” In this specific case one should ask, “Does God want me to become an Oblate (novice)?” In other words, “will becoming an Oblate (novice) draw me closer to Christ and the Church, given my state in life and other responsibilities?” A genuine desire to grow in holiness and a sense of gratitude for the gift of contact with the Rule and/or Benedictines can generally be interpreted as a sign of God’s call.

benedict-icon_webSt. Benedict gives us some helpful criteria to make this decision. He says that a candidate for monastic vows should “truly seek God” and “show eagerness for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials” (RB 58:7). We can explore these four criteria in terms of the commitment of every Christian:

  • truly seeking God: All Christians should seek God above all else and seek to grow in discipleship of Jesus Christ. Oblates should seek to intensify their daily commitment of faith to making their journey of life in Christ and with Christ.
  • being eager for the Work of God: Oblates should have a desire to enter more fully into community prayer and, in particular, the “Divine Office” as prayed by the monastic community. Normally, this desire will be expressed by a frequent praying of the Office from a breviary of the Oblate’s choice.
  • being eager for obedience: Listening for God’s word in every person and every situation is a fundamental goal and an ongoing task of the monk. Oblates should long for growth in attentiveness to God’s word and in loving, faith-filled response to God’s word, whether spoken through Scripture and liturgy or through the ordinary people and experiences encountered in daily life.
  • being eager for trials: “Becoming obedient to death” in imitation of Christ can be a heavy yoke indeed, and yet it is a yoke that becomes light when shared with Christ. Psychologically healthy people do not welcome trials for the sake of hardship itself; however, monks and Oblates come to realize that God can speak to us and transform us in a special way through trials. A patient, faith-filled response to trials can lead the Christian to deeper identification with Christ and greater compassion for others in their suffering.

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1 Responses »

  1. A wonderfully succinct summation of the vocation to Oblate status. Very helpful.