Benedictine Oblates

Trying to make sure I ask this the right way. I have been discerning a lot regarding a possible secular vocation. One issue that I have been struggling with is I am a husband and father to young children, and I worry about activities that will take me out of the home - one 3rd party group meets about 45 min away at night, and I’d pretty much be going there from work and my kids would be asleep by the time I came home. Another meets on 1 Sunday a month for a big chunk of time, and I’d be faced with not attending Mass as a family on the Sabbath, which I feel takes away from my primary vocation as head of the family.

From what I have been reading of the oblates, they seem like - I want to make sure I dont say this the wrong way, but the best fit in a lot of ways. I keep seeing different members and different web sites stressing that you do as much as you can, and primarily stay faithful to your primary vocation of taking care of your family. And while there is definitely a sense of community, as there are with 3rd orders, I get a sense that it is more individualized - I mean, I read Elizabeth Scalia’s post on 3rd orders and oblates (she is the latter), and she states that she is hundreds of miles away from a monastery, and privately renews her oblation every year. I dont want to state it the wrong way, but I get the sense that its not as overly focused on community as the 3rd orders. Does this seem acccurate?

This would not be my principal reason for joining, but I definitely find it less daunting than some 3rd orders, which just seem like something i would not have time for until after my kids were grown.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Are you drawn to Benedictine spirituality? Does the Rule of St. Benedict seem like a good way of life for you? Is the Liturgy of the Hours a form of prayer that appeals to you? Is there a monastery that feels like “home” to you that you would want to be affiliated with?

To me, the primary concern is the spirituality. If you’re drawn to the Franciscans, for example, then it wouldn’t make sense to become a Benedictine Oblate. Do whatever you have to do to become a Secular Franciscan. But if Benedictine spirituality is where you are spiritually nourished, then do whatever you need to do to follow that way of life.

You don’t live as an Oblate only at the meetings of your Oblate group. You live it out day by day within your life in the world, so you want it to be a good match.

Agree with the above.

The oblates, to me, seem to be a closer knit group. A HUGE advantage is that most monasteries have at least a few monks, so their chances of just disappearing seems unlikely. There are OFS (Franciscan) groups that have absolutely no religious attached to them as SA’s (Spiritual Assistants). That job is taken by other OFS’s. I firmly believe that you must be attached to your religious in a third order/oblate type of relationship, otherwise what is the point? Put another way, a huge part of these types of relations is the witness of the religious who follow the spirituality.

Maybe I am being unclear, or coming across as judgmental. If so, I truly apologize.:o

Sharing in the spirituality is essential to being a member (secular, Oblate, or vowed) of any religious congregation. Keep in mind, too, that women’s Benedictine monasteries also have Oblates, both male and female.

Every order, Oblate, or Associate program has a formation period–the length, and what it consists of varies widely… But the point is that you don’t just “join.” The formation period is to “form” you in the group’s charism, as well as to give you the time to decide if you “fit”–and them the time to decide, as well. There is nothing wrong with going through formation for some time and then deciding it isn’t right for you. But “convenience” should never be a reason for making such a choice.

As a Benedictine Oblate, I agree with the poster who said being a third order is not something you do yearly, or once a month, it is a way of living, a day-to-day thing. It takes a lot of time and energy.

There are married couples in the community to which I belong.

I think it would be best to talk to one of the monks about your possible secular vocation. They will be able to help you enormously, and they will be very willing to do so.

I’m so sorry, clearly I botched my attempt to explain myself. Yes, I do love the spirituality and truly want to embrace it on a daily basis in ask the ways they teach- lectio divina, study of the Rule, my breviary, etc. And I want to visit the monastery and maybe get a spiritual director from among the monks. My concern is that I have trouble getting out of my house a lot, and it seemed like there was perhaps more flexibility among the oblates in that regard.

I don’t know where you’re located, but if you are anywhere near Indiana, I would call St. Meinrad’s Archabbey. They have a Website. Even if you aren’t near Indiana, they would be happy to speak with you about a secular vocation. Some third orders meet once a week, some only once a month.

Good luck to you. I hope you can find the answers you seek.

And some only ev ery 2 months. :slight_smile:

Even less for us. Keep in mind that there are few Benedictine abbeys in Canada and thus each one has oblates from a very wide geographic area. Our abbey is in Quebec and we have oblates from as far as Maine and New Brunswick in the East, and Minnesota and Toronto in the West.

We meet every year for an annual retreat weekend, plus regional meetings once in the spring and once in the fall. However there’s a small contingent of oblates that live near the abbey, of which I am one, and we can generally be found at the monastery at least every Sunday and big solemnities for Mass and sometimes for the Divine Office; a couple live even closer than I (I’m 35 minutes away) and attend Mass and nearly every Office daily (I’m jealous…). I also help out from time to time and have worked bottling cider or taking inventory in the bookshop and helping the monk who runs it with IT issues, or giving lifts to monks that don’t drive. Plus I often make a private retreat at Lent.

As was pointed out it’s a way of life. I too had a young family when I started 12 years ago (my youngest was 8, and my oldest 13). But I found the Liturgy of the Hours truly great for my soul and have made a habit of it. I’m working at getting better at Lectio Divina. My kids are now all out of the house and I’m retired so I have a bit more time to get involved. I’ve been involved with international oblates and am on the organizing committee for the World Oblate Congresses held in Rome every 4 years. In fact I leave for Rome next week for 10 days of planning meetings at Sant’Anselmo abbey for the next Congress tentatively scheduled for 2017.

St. Benedict proposes a balanced approach to spirituality that takes into account individual circumstances, even for his monks. As oblates, we follow more the “spirit” of the rule than the letter of it, although like a lot of new converts to a spiritual movement it took me some time to figure that one out!


  1. Lucky you! Have an awesome trip. I expect a full report. :smiley:

  2. I, too, am working on Lectio Divina. 1st steps: no problem. Contemplation, OTOH, :(:confused::blush::shrug:

You may want to check out the website Oblate Spring:

“For anyone interested in Benedictine Oblates or Benedictine Spirituality.
You are welcomed here as Christ”

Lots of great information and links.


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