Oblates

During the summer of 1999, several of our friends approached Brother Brendan and asked him to teach a course on the practice of lectio divina.  He began to meet with this group once a month, and before long, they were asking for a more permanent basis to the classes, as well as a closer connection to the monastery.  Fortunately, in our tradition, we have the Rite of Oblation to formalize just such a relationship between the monks and laypersons.

obliatesOblates of Saint Benedict are laypersons who attach themselves to a Benedictine community and promise to live their lives according to the spirituality and principles of the Rule of Saint Benedict as their state in life permits.

We presently have 25 Oblates living in Chicago, the suburbs, even in other states: men and women, married couples and singles, young and old.  The Oblates are invited to participate in conferences given after Mass on the first and third Sundays of each month.  The conferences cover spirituality, Gregorian chant, the Psalms and monastic history.  In addition, Oblates play a prominent part in the major liturgies of the year, assisting with preparations for Easter and Christmas and events such as the Solemn Vows of a monk or ordination of a priest within the community.

Twice a year the Oblates are invited for a more intense time of recollection, during which the Oblates stay in the monastery guest houses and receive spiritual conferences given by the monks.

If you would like more information on Benedictine Oblation, contact our Oblate Director, Brother Ignatius, OSB at chicagomonk@earthlink.net, or at (773) 927-7424 ext. 203.

8 Comments

  • Bill DeWitt says:

    Can a non-Catholic become an Oblate?

  • Fr. Peter says:

    Dear Bill,
    Yes–this is relatively common, in fact.

  • Cecilia says:

    Is it just for adults, or may teenagers become Oblates?

  • Robert Daraskevich, Obl. OSB says:

    Fr. Peter,
    Does Holy Cross Monastery allow the “transfer” of oblation from another monastery?

  • Desiderius Beneventanensis says:

    Other than the Benedictine oblates, all other similar religious third orders of the Roman Catholic Church strictly forbid non-Roman Catholics from joining. This is a most curious situation for the benedictines to be the lone exception to a standard practice across the Church.
    How is it that the benedictine oblates came to develop differently from other third orders ?

    Elsewhere it is stated: “As the oblate is in an individual relationship with the monastic community and does not form a distinct unit with the Catholic Church, there are no regulations in the modern canon law of the Church regarding them. One consequence is that non-Catholics can be received as oblates of a Catholic monastery.”

    It could be argued that this practice brings a positive ecumenical benefit in exposing the faith to others…but not everyone is comfortable with this practice.

  • Fr. Peter says:

    Dear Desiderius, the concept of an Oblate is much earlier than even the concept of a religious order, much less a third order. An Oblate is one who simply makes a gift of himself or herself to God in connection with a Benedictine monastery. I can’t say why the legislators of Canon Law do not deal directly with Oblates, but we can at least say that non-Catholics can fulfill the requirements of conversion of life, obedience and stability as their state in life permits. That ‘state in life’ includes the limits of one’s own tradition with regard to ecumenical sharing with Catholics. I would close just by noting that the ‘comfort’ of individuals is not a very sure guide for the goodness of a particular practice. Indeed, not a few of our Lord’s teachings were meant to make us a bit uncomfortable, I think.
    Fr. Peter

  • I am a convert from the Episcopal Church, where I was a “confrater” of St Gregory’s Abbey, the Episcopal Benedictines in Three Rivers, Mich. I really valued my affiliation with the monastery, and I have been deeply shaped by the Rule over more than 30 years. Now as a Catholic–and a priest–I would be glad again to be associated with a monastery, and under even the modest discipline and accountability of oblature. Can you consider receiving priests as oblates?

  • Evan says:

    That was a beautiful response to the question. I should imagine that Vigils is not always a comfortable practice. Do non-Catholic oblates receive the host at mass? (I’m a Unitarian and genuinely don’t know these things.)

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