I have not arrived…I have merely touched down
The next question is, now that you are an Oblate, what do you do with it? That’s a good question, but to say I can answer it, beyond a “pat” answer, would be untrue.
Br. Jerome Leo, of St Mary’s Monastery, recently wrote these words in his daily Rule of St. Benedict reflection:
It is very necessary, in stating that we seek God, to admit that we haven’t altogether found Him yet, nor will we ever do so before death. Even in the beatific vison of heaven itself, we creatures will never, ever get to the root of our Creator, to the “ground zero” of God. We will joyfully travel ever deeper into Him for eternity.
Another way of saying this is that we need to come to the Holy Rule and to the Gospel and to Christ admitting how frighteningly little we do know…how very much we need to learn.
I think Don Henley put it best in his song, The Heart of the Matter:
‘The more I know…the less I understand. All the things I thought I’d figured out, I have to learn again.’
But the good news, for me anyway, is the more I learn, the more I want to learn…and grow…and, if possible, understand. Sometimes I feel like a child whose parent says to them, “I want you to go to the store…” and before they can finish their instruction, the child is out the door and running. The child is obedient and eager to please but has not yet learned what the parent wants them to achieve.
By studying St. Benedict’s Rule daily, reading sacred scripture, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, etc, I’m trying to develop the tools to “hear God’s direction” and obey it. These tools help keep me focused on the task my Father is asking me to do. Of course, this looks different for everyone.
By attaching ourselves to St Meinrad’s Archabbey, oblates are called to stability of heart, fidelity to the spirit of monastic life, and obedience to the will of God, just the same as our brothers, the monks, are called to do. But our call is not to leave the secular world, but to take these promises into it as God leads us. Just as no two monks are called to live it out in exactly the same way, we, as oblates, aren’t either.
A few years ago, I was introduced to the Divine Mercy Chaplet by a dear friend. This prayer was given to Marie Faustyna Kowalska (Saint Faustina), a Polish Roman Catholic nun. Faustina was a mystic who had many visions of Christ. These she recorded in her diary, which she was urged to keep by her confessor. Jesus entrusted her with the mission of proclaiming to the whole world the truth of Divine Mercy. He conveyed to her His will that a Feast of Divine Mercy be instituted on the first Sunday after Easter, and he bade her paint a reproduction of her vision, which she was to furnish with the inscription: “Jesu, I trust in You”, that it might be venerated across the world. He also dictated to her a special prayer, called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, promising that all those who pray it will know His Mercy both in their lifetime and at their death.
I began to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet daily about three years ago, praying especially for lost souls and souls in purgatory. Praying this prayer, along with reading St. Faustina’s diary, has had a two-fold effect: It has helped me embrace the pain that I have daily and to offer it to Christ and it has encouraged me to read and understand more of about Christ’s plan of mercy and his desire that none should go without it.
As for what else God will call me to do, I no more can answer that than any of us can. But I do know that if I’m too busy to listen, or rushing out the door, thinking I already know the answer, I’ll never know for sure. So being an Oblate, helps me to “hear him speak” through prayer, through study, through work, through play…to focus on my Father’s voice, amid the noise of daily life.
Thank you for the questions and interest…if anyone has other questions, or would like to talk to me directly, please let me know.
“All grace flows from mercy, and the last hour abounds with mercy for us. Let no one doubt concerning the goodness of God; even if a person’s sins were as dark as night, God’s mercy is stronger than our misery. One thing alone is necessary; that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in a ray of God’s merciful grace, and then God will do the rest.” (No. 1507, St Faustina’s diary)