What Is An Oblate?
“Oblate” means “offered”, as bread and wine are “offered” on the altar, and refers to those who have chosen to affiliate themselves to a particular Benedictine monastery. Oblates do not take vows but make a commitment to live by the values of St Benedict’s Rule insofar as these are relevant to the circumstances of their lives. Their commitment will normally be to balance their prayer, work family life and leisure in a way that puts first things first. The strong sense of community and hospitality at St Anselm’s extends itself to our oblates in a special way.
On the first Sunday of each month oblates of St Anselm’s take part in the conventual Mass. They join the community afterward for coffee and at 10.30 return to the Chapel for a spiritual conference usually given by the director of oblates. An annual retreat is held. In 2008 there has also been a pilgrimage to Rome led by the Prior. A small additional St Anselm’s oblate group exists in the city of Philadelphia.
How Do You Become An Oblate?
First, by attending one or several monthly meetings. Then, after consultation with the oblate director, Abbot Aidan Shea, by being enrolled as an oblate novice and spending a year studying the Rule of St Benedict under the guidance of the director. If he or she persists for a year, a novice makes a final act of oblation which has been written out in the novice’s own words. This act, modeled on a monk’s profession but lacking its canonical status, expresses the commitment to live by the oblate ideal. The Superior of the monastery formally accepts the new oblate with prayers and a blessing.
My Vocation as a Benedictine Oblate
by Adam Kline
A vocation is a calling. I am, by profession, a teacher. I believe that I am called to be a teacher. But, I also have a spiritual side, which is not nourished by simply being a teacher.
My attraction to Benedictine spirituality goes back many years and I have always been attracted to the monastic life, but I do not feel called to be a monk. I have found that through the process of my oblation, I am able to combine those two parts of my life. As an oblate of St. Anselm’s Abbey I am linked to that community of monks through my daily praying of morning and evening prayer and through my participation in the Eucharist with the monastic community.
I am also nourished in my journey through the spiritual talks and discussions given by our oblate director. Becoming an oblate has also brought me in contact with a group of lay people who are equally interested in Benedictine spirituality and I enjoy my interactions with them at our monthly oblate meetings.
If you are interested, come join us at the Abbey for the Eucharist, hospitality, and a spiritual talk on the first sunday of every month.