BY OKONGWU EVELYN GENITRIX
The word ‘’Oblate’’ means ‘’Offering’’, which means offering oneself to God in the service of others. Oblate of St. Benedict are lay faithful, men and women, married and single who seek to unite their lives of prayer and work in the spirit of St. Benedict, to bear witness to Christ’s presence in the world. They associate themselves with a Benedictine monastery to share in the spiritual and material good works of the monastery. However, oblate do not live in the community (monastery), nor do they take vows but make oblation and carry out their usual duties, as their state in life permits, continuing with whatever profession they have in life, caring for their families and so on, extending the spirit of monastic community into their place of work, family circle, in their civic and social activities.
THE PLACE OF OBLATE’S IN THE CHURCH
In the Church, the role of oblates is not that of a Priest, Monk, Nun or Rev. Sisters, but living the Christian life and extending Benedictine values into the world. By their oblation, they promise to regulate their lives according to the spirit of the rule of St. Benedict, adopting the teachings of the rule as their state in life permits. Therefore, the oblate of St. Benedict rank of course as a Lay Institute in the Church, because being an oblate of St. Benedict is something more than just joining another organization in the Church.
WHAT DO OBLATES DO?
Oblates bind themselves by a promise to God to live Benedictine life within the context of their family life and profession. By affiliating with a monastic community without actually living within the enclosure of the monastery, Oblates share in the daily prayers and good works of the monks and nuns. They pray some part of the Liturgy of the Hours daily. They pray for the community, while the community in turn includes them in its daily prayers. They support the community in its activities and encourage vocations to the Benedictine life. From the spiritual union which oblates develop with the monastic community, they are the ‘’spiritual arm’’ of the monks and nuns.
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