My name is Marie Louise Schmidt. 50 years old, from Denmark, musician, married to Michael and have three wonderful kids: Camilla, Frederik and Rasmus.
To become an oblate and thus consecrate my life to God and community as a lay person, has been on my mind for quite a while. Almost since I became a catholic in 2007. By that time I began to read books of contemplative writers such as Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thérèse of Lisieux and books on the desert fathers and mothers. Ignatius of Loyola was also a great inspiration. I was drawn to the contemplative path but had a feeling that there must be more to it than reading all the books, important as they are.
I came across a book called Silence and Honeycakes, and in the spring of 2009, I realised that the person who had written the foreword to this book – Fr. Laurence Freeman - was coming to Denmark to give a talk on Christian Meditation. I went – and started to meditate right away. After a while, I had a strong feeling that I should meditate with other people, and so I joined a group. When we came to Lent 2010, I decided to start meditating twice a day on a regular basis. I was curious about the Rule of Benedict – and to my luck, we had a copy of it, and of Joan Chittister’s commentary as well, which I began to study with great interest. The Office I had prayed on and off since my conversion.
Looking at my spiritual practice I can see that I am meditating twice a day, praying the Office, studying the Rule, participate in arranging WCCM retreats, and I have been the National Coordinator for WCCM in Denmark for about two years. I’m joining a newly started Oblate Cell group in Denmark, and I visit different benedictine monasteries when possible.
I take all this as a sign for me to approach the way of becoming an oblate of WCCM. Eileen Dutt has been my mentor. I can’t thank the Lord enough for that. It has been an ongoing joy and great inspiration and help to talk with Eileen all the way through the oblation process.
Studying the Rule of Benedict and reflecting on the Benedictine way of living, thinking and praying is a great school of how to model my life on Jesus according to the gospel and the Christian tradition. It’s a source of constant joy, inspiration and challenge. Studying the rule and meditating opens up the gospel message for me at a new and deeper level. It is life changing, and it helps me to become more aware of being humble, awake, listening and thankful. Trying to live this out in community in the everyday life is both a gift and a challenge. I try my best.
The thought of finally committing myself for life made my heart jump a bit – but Michael gave me a trip to Monte Oliveto Maggiore during Silent Week this year, and I considered this a great opportunity to reflect on my journey towards final oblation. The Benedictine life we met at Monte Oliveto was one great lesson in keeping serious focus at all times. When we came to Holy Thursday and I read the Lent reflections from Fr. Laurence and the story about Jesus washing his disciples feet, I got the vision that becoming an oblate, to model my life on the gospel and follow Jesus in this way is not a heavy, overwhelming burden and a lot of obligations and things I have to do to be accepted - it’s God’s gift to me and a way for Him to show me his love and mercy. A way for Him to wash my feet. Thank you.
With this in mind I wish to apply to become a Benedictine Oblate of WCCM and in this way in deep thankfulness offer my life to God and share in the life and work of the Community.
- Place: Denmark
- Date: September, 2016