Oblates Articles

Monastics in the World: A Short description of Oblates in the Christian Meditation Community 

By Laurence Freeman OSB

The Divine OfficeUnlike other religious leaders, Benedict wrote only one rule of life, not one for men, one for women, and another for lay people. He wrote one rule that can be lived by men and women inside and outside the monastery as monks, nuns, and lay people.

Benedict's Rule is eminently flexible, allowing each monastery to find its own charism. In "MONASTICS IN THE WORLD" Father Laurence recalls his friend and teacher, Dom John Main O.S.B., who placed the tradition of Christian Meditation at the center of the monastic life of the contemplative community he founded. Before his death in 1982, John Main spent his years as a mature Benedictine monk teaching the practice of meditation to all.

John Main's conviction was that Saint Paul's direction to "pray always" was not meant just for specialists -- Cistercians, Benedictines, or Carthusians-- but for all believers. Out of that conviction sprang what he called a "Community of Love". Today, there are meditation groups and meditation centers around the world following his teaching. Many of these meditators have become Oblate members of the Community.
This guide presents Father Laurence's thoughts on: the Oblate tradition, discerning a calling to Benedictine Oblation, the process for becoming an Oblate, and the hallmarks of the commitment an Oblate makes to his/her community. READ MORE


Oblates in the Western Monasticism  

By Derek G. Smith

Whatever the outward historical form oblature has taken -and it has taken many outward forms- its first and essential reality is a commitment to the monastic tradition of prayer and its generous silence. Its second purpose, almost inseparable from the first, is to seek to share that tradition of prayer and that profound gift of silence with the whole people of God. Unless that commitment and motivation are pursued, oblates lose their reason for existence as lay affiliates of monasticism who have promised their lives to the cultivation and sharing of those ideals. His prayer and his oblation, as the oblate soon discovers if only obscurely, are formed within a role [1] in the monastic community, a role which has had a vigorous, varied and tenacious history since the origin of monasticism.

There are many issues which attract one's attention when oblation is examined within a comprehensive historical view. Among them are at least these four: (1) the origin and practice of infant oblation, which quite apparently and despite its changing forms, has provided the basic definition for many (perhaps most) roles of lay affiliation in western monastic history; (2) the question of whether oblation of an infant is binding on that infant on reaching the "years of discretion"; (3) the effect of practices in the oblation of infants which have affected the development of the role of adult oblates; and (4) the relationship of lay oblation to monastic profession. These questions deserve to be treated in a comprehensive single study in English. Excellent studies of particular problems and specific periods in the history of monastic oblation have been made by European monastic scholars. [2] In English these matters have largely been treated in passim in larger works. [3] The purpose of this paper is to suggest the desirability of carrying out a historically comprehensive work in the English language on oblation and its varied influences in monastic history. [4] With the help and support of the monastic community with which I am affiliated, I hope to attempt such a work. READ MORE