Last weekend was an exciting one for me. I, along with 17 other Oblate novices, signed our covenants and became Oblates. Along with all monks and alumni of St Meinrad Seminary, we became part of the Saint Meinrad Archabbey family.
Many people have asked me, “What is an Oblate, and now that you are one, what does that mean?” I will try, over the next few days, to tell you of my journey, beginning with what an Oblate is.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word oblation as a thing presented or offered to God. We, as an oblate, offer ourselves to God. The way that we do this, is by following the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the holy Rule of Saint Benedict, and the values we share with the monks of St Meinrad Archabbey. Christians of all faiths denominations may become Oblates and may be married or single. As an oblate, a person can through their manner of life and daily prayer, bear witness through the lens of Saint Benedict.
The Rule of Saint Benedict is a book of precepts written in 516 by Benedict of Nursia for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot. The spirit of St. Benedict’s rule is summed up in the motto, ora et labora, which means, pray and work. There can be a sense in which work is prayer if it is offered up in a spirit of recollection and if prayer accompanies work, or proceeds and follows it. In his holy Rule, St. Benedict teaches that nothing should ever take precedent over the work of the monastery, which is sacred worship in the Liturgy. But St. Benedict also stresses that all should be done in moderation. Sister Joan Chittisler writes that in Benedict’s Rule, “All must be given its due, but only is due.”
There are several reasons to become an oblate. By attaching yourself to an abbey or monastery, there are opportunities to deepen your faith through the support and encouragement of other oblates and the monks (or religious sisters, depending where you go), attending the abbey for prayer, retreats or spiritual direction, and by studying the Rule of St Benedict as a way to focus your spiritual growth.
To become an oblate requires a minimum of one year’s study, under the direction of the oblate director. This is similar to the year of discernment other vocations make. As an oblate novice, you receive monthly lessons to reflect on and write about. These are turned into the director, who in turn, provides feedback. Oblates do not take vows, like other religious, but at their final oblation, they do enter into a covenant to dedicate themselves to the service of God and all people, according to the Rule of St Benedict.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about my journey, including a little on the history of St Meinrad.
3 thoughts on “ora et labora”
Proud if u!
Thanks for the explanation.Im asked that question as well.