Monday, May 11, 2009

Benedictine Environment

Oblation and living the life of an Oblate of St. Benedict hinges on purposeful devotion and personal commitment to the Gospel ideals of Benedictine spirituality. Monastic spirituality may not affect the weather but it does generate a climate that creates personal environmental changes.

It’s not something that I can take for granted and go about in some willy-nilly fashion. Oblate life is, after all, a distinct vocation or calling to a lifestyle that is set apart from the normalcy of the world while still living in the world. It can easily very well be a lifestyle that is set apart from the normalcy of most modern day Christians while remaining in ranks with them[1].

“Just as the monk takes the vows of obedience, stability, and conversion of life at the time of Profession, so does the Oblate implicitly promise at the time of Oblation to live by these values through the commitment to “dedicate myself to the service of God and neighbor according to the Rule of St. Benedict. These promises of Oblation, while not binding under pain of sin, should be taken seriously as part of a carefully discerned lifelong commitment.”[2]

Investiture in the Benedictine community has a conditional nature about it, one that is surrounded by the perimeters that are both recommended for and expected of Oblates. There is a certain gentle performance factor involved in Oblate life. It is one that must not be confused with the trap of mere fundamental legalism that compromises individual human personality and spiritual growth.

The ethical rubrics and liturgical codes prescribed by the Church and our Order, things we might as easily refer to as sound advice from a mother and father who loves us[3], are important aspects that must be taken into consideration where a balanced Oblate life is concerned. I find that it’s altogether too easy to begin listing too far in one direction or another without the assistance of their leverage. They keep me from wandering far off on tangents that do little or no good at all toward furthering a true lay apostolate.

[1] Guidelines For Oblates Of St. Benedict, Constitution, para. 4
[2] Formation Booklet, St. Vincent Archabbey, IV., C.
[3] RB, Prologue 1