(Photo by Karen Streveler, OSB)
What is an oblate? When someone asks me what my weekend plans are and I’m going to the monastery for an event, I always pause because I know I’ll have to answer that question. It’s not that I want to be a secret oblate. It’s just a tough question because I want to say so much. Yet I know I have only 15-30 seconds to answer before I see the questioner’s eyes glaze over.
So what is an oblate?
My latest answer: Someone who wants to be part a supportive community, exploring/living in a way that brings us closer to God and each other. There, that was about seven seconds, I have eight to spare!
That answer is the tip of the iceberg and doesn’t address why I’m still an oblate.
I became an oblate when I graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 1987. I wanted to maintain a relationship with the sisters I had come to know and love during my time at college. My oblate practice has ebbed and flowed since then.
Inquirers often ask, “How much time does it take to be an oblate?” It depends how much time you have and how much time you want to give. There have been years when I didn’t devote much time to my practice. Now I meet regularly with others, study the Rule of St. Benedict and pray Lectio Divina (a monastic way of prayerful reading).
Another Benedictine practice I’ve been exploring is hospitality. Being an oblate guides how I respond to my life and to others. How do I respond to my friends and family? My co-workers? How do I respond to the person holding the cardboard sign on the street corner? How do I respond to God’s voice calling me to a fuller life?
All of these practices are as important to me as getting a good night’s sleep. They help me to show up, hear God’s voice and respond (hopefully kindly) to all the people and events in my life.
We are having an event on May 20, 9:30-11a.m. in Rosamond A at Saint Benedict’s Monastery for those wanting to know more about what an oblate is and how to become one. Oblates will share how they live their oblate journey and Sister Laureen Virnig, OSB, will answer questions about the process of becoming an oblate. There will be plenty of time for questions and delicious scones and coffee. If you came to the event last October and would like to come again, please do.
To register please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 320-363-7144 by May 17. I hope to see you!
Lynda Gradert, OblSB