Benedictine Oblate routine


I’m considering taking a path toward becoming a Benedictine Oblate, but with a young family and intense work obligations, I’m wondering if it’s possible? If you are an oblate, Can you share your daily routines, experiences, work, family, prayer balance with your commitment to your obligations as an oblate? I’ve read conflicting information ranging from hours or prayer to brief lectio divina prayers.

Also, I’m not close to a monastery. How do I participate or is it not possible?


I’ve been an oblate for 16 years, and when I started I was much in your position. Really, IMHO the biggest commitments are stability, obedience and inner conversion, nourished through prayer, study of the Rule and lectio, and of course attending oblate meetings. How this manifests itself will depend on your particular situation but I would say the most important way is in recognizing Christ in others, no matter how likeable or dislikable they are. It takes work… and that’s where inner conversion comes in.

As for prayer/lectio, it depends on your particular monastery’s oblate constitution but the usual is to pray at least a part of the Divine Office (aka Liturgy of the Hours) daily. There is no set formula. According to our constitutions I am able to use either the Liturgy of the Hours, the abbey’s breviary, or a couple of short Offices the oblate master drew up, either entirely or in part. Our previous Oblate master suggested Lauds, Vespers and Compline and had prepared an abridged breviary for us for that purpose, based on the monastic Office.

We need to keep in mind that for Oblates (and even for monks) the Rule is inspiration, not legislation. Even many things in the Rule aren’t applicable in today’s monasteries, for instance the Rule speaks about children being given to the monastery. Originally, that’s what oblates were. The modern notion of oblates as mature adults started in Solesmes under Dom Prosper Guéranger.

I’m retired now and my children are grown, so I pretty much pray the entire Office daily; I alternate between the Liturgy of the Hours and the monastic Office as used at my abbey, however the mood strikes me; in summer, I only pray one mid-day hour, in winter all three, and in summer I shorten Vigils/Matins (the Rule allows for shorter readings in the summer).

It was not always that way when my family was younger. Both my wife and I are/were professionals. We need to consider family needs first. But oblate life is not incompatible with family life, on the contrary, it can make you a better husband/wife/parent/colleague/employee/boss.

I won’t bore you with the details of my prayer schedule as it’s probably too heavy for your situation, but it is vital that you do find some time for daily prayer, preferably some part of the Liturgy of the Hours. Read silently, Lauds and Vespers won’t take much more than 10-15 minutes, Compline and the minor hours a bit less. You’ll grow to like the psalms and probably want more later on. If I only had time for ONE office, it would be the Office of Readings very early in the morning, but that’s just me. You have to find your own way. One of the best things about being an oblate is that Benedictine spirituality is very much about finding balance in life, and that includes tailoring your prayer routine to your reality so that you don’t ignore it, but at the same time you don’t overdo it.

Good luck, God bless and welcome to my prayer list!


Please keep us posted. I’ve been contemplating this myself for over a year, and I’m in similar circumstances. I’ll be very interested to follow your experiences.

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