The Arian Catholic Order of Saint Benedict
The Poor Knights of Christ
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Knights Gothic of the Temple of Christ and Saint Michael the Archangel
What is an Oblate of Saint Benedict?
Oblates of St. Benedict are Christian individuals or families who have associated themselves with a Benedictine community in order to enrich their Christian way of life. Oblates shape their lives by living the wisdom of Christ as interpreted by St. Benedict. Oblates seek God by striving to become holy in their chosen way of life. By integrating their prayer and work, they manifest Christ's presence in society.
Saint Paul tells us that each member of the body of Christ, the Church, has a special function to perform. Most are called to the married state and the raising of a family. Some are called to the single life in the world and others to the life of a priest or religious man or woman. The role of Oblates is to live in the world, to become holy in the world, to do what they can to bring the world to God by being witnesses of Christ by word and example to those around them.
Oblates concern themselves with striving to be what they are, people of God and temples of the Holy Spirit. Their prayer life will flow from this awareness, as will their willingness to offer themselves (that is the meaning of the word oblate) for the service of God and neighbour to the best of their ability. Oblates do not take on a new set of religious practices and are not required to say a certain number of prayers or engage in special devotions. They do not live in a religious community or take vows.
Saint Benedict and Oblates
Saint Benedict lived in the sixth century. He was born in a small town north of Rome and came to Rome for his education. Before long he abandoned his studies and lived as a hermit for several years at a place called Subiaco, where in time he acquired a reputation for holiness and miracles. Attracting many followers, Benedict established monastic communities at Subiaco, Terracina, and Monte Cassino. It was at Monte Cassino that he wrote a Rule which combined moderation with fidelity to the best traditions in Christian monasticism. During the following centuries, his monastic way of life spread throughout Europe, and Benedictine monasteries and convents became the principal centres of prayer, culture, and education.
From the very beginning Benedictine monasteries accepted boys, and convents received girls, "offered!' to them by their parents for their religious training and education. These children lived in the community, shared its daily round of religious activities, and became known as Oblates. In the course of time, lay people asked to be associated with the work of the monks and nuns, without however leaving their homes, families, and occupations. These too were received, offered. themselves to God, became Oblates of a monastery or convent, and promised to regulate their lives according to the spirit of the Rule of St. Benedict. They applied the teachings of the Rule to their lives in the world, in their family circles, in their places of work, and in their civic and social activities.
Today, throughout the world, there are thousands of Oblates praying and working in spiritual union with Benedictine men and women of various communities and receiving spiritual strength and inspiration from their association as Oblates.
The Rule: A Guide for Oblates
Oblates promise to lead an enriched Christian life according to the gospel as reflected in the Rule of St. Benedict. In this way they share in the spiritual benefits of the sons and daughters of Benedict who are dedicated to the monastic life by vow. After a time of preparation, which culminates in an act of Oblation -- a rite approved by the Church -- the candidates become Oblates of St. Benedict. This promise affiliates them with a Benedictine community and commits them to apply to their lives the characteristic monastic principles.
Oblates strive after stability and fidelity in their lives by regular worship with other Christians and by the support they give to the social and educational apostolates of their local parishes as well as that of the Church as a whole.
In accord with the teaching of Benedict, Oblates practice moderation. This moderation manifests itself in the use of the goods of this world, an increasing concern to their neighbour, and in the way they temper and direct their desires. Their fidelity to Christian living will provide a much needed example of genuine Christianity and a stabilizing influence for good on all around them.
In the spirit of the gospel, Oblates commit themselves to a continual conversion to Christ. They see sin and any attachment to it as basically incompatible with a serious following of Christ. Through this deepening of the baptismal promise, Oblates are free to put on Christ and to allow him to permeate their lives. In this way Oblates will come to recognize that in all the phases and events of their lives, in their joys and successes as well as in their sorrows and disappointments, they are in close union with Christ and participate in his very death and resurrection. This 'putting on of Christ' is the goal Oblates pursue in their conversion of life.
In the spirit of obedience, Oblates strive to discover and maintain their proper relationship toward God, their family, and the civil and religious society in which they live. Before God, Oblates must come to recognize themselves as creatures dependent on their Creator and as sinners before their Redeemer. Aware of their own spiritual poverty and need of God, Oblates come to realize that they have no other reason for being, except to be loved by God as Creator and Redeemer and to love and seek him in return.
In loving obedience to God's plan, Oblates will develop a deep reverence for life. They will respect it as a precious gift from God and defend those groups which because of age, health or race are defenseless and most open to attack. Seeking harmony and integrity of life, they perpetuate and enhance the traditional Benedictine motto: Peace. Personally and together with other Christians, Oblates work to promote Christian family living. They take care to seek out opportunities for the practice of charity and warm hospitality to those around them.
Benedictine Oblates seek God in association with a monastic community: as individuals and as members of a body, they grow in love of God, neighbor, and self. With the Rule as their guide, Oblates adopt values that are part of the very fabric of Christian spirituality, such as, spending time daily reflecting on the Sacred Scriptures; cultivating an awareness of the presence of God in silence; devoting time to the praise of God; performing acts of mortification. An acquaintance with these and other Christian values presented in the Rule of St. Benedict will enable Oblates to attain that special peace and joy that Christ came to bring and promised to all who follow him.
The Director of Oblates provides direction and instruction through letters or meetings. Conferences, group discussions, common prayers, and participation in the community's liturgical life afford Oblates the opportunity for spiritual growth. In offering this assistance to the individual Oblate, the guiding principle is that stated by St. Benedict in chapter 64 of his Rule: "Let the Abbot so moderate all things that there be something for the strong to strive after, and nothing to dishearten the weak."
For further information, contact the Oblate Director at the abbey or convent of your choice.
I. Enrollment of Oblate Novices of Saint Benedict
Those who wish to become Oblates of Saint Benedict are first enrolled for a year as Oblate Novices. The ceremony may take place in a church or chapel or other fitting place. A sufficient number of medals of Saint Benedict and copies of the Rule of Saint Benedict should be at hand, one for each candidate.
The Abbot of the monastery, or the Mother Superior of the convent, or someone delegated by them, conducts the ceremony. If the officiant is not a priest, then the medals of Saint Benedict are blessed by a priest beforehand.
There may be times when additional solemnity is desired. This can be done by way of lighted candles on the altar or table, appropriate Scripture readings, a homily, prayers of petition and the like, or especially by celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice, at which the newly enrolled Oblates receive Holy Communion.
The officiant begins:
Let us pray
We beg you, 0 God, forgive us our sins. We know that we cannot sufficiently atone for them by our own good works. May the merits and intercession of Mary, the Virgin Mother of your Son, our Lord, and the patronage of our holy Father Benedict therefore help us to attain salvation. This we ask, through the same Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
Questioning of Candidates
The officiant asks the candidate (candidates):
The candidate (candidates) answer: I do.
Blessing of Medals of Saint Benedict
If the medals of Saint Benedict have not heen blessed beforehand, they are blessed as follows. Any priest may now give this blessing (Instr. Sept. 26, 1964).
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
In the name of God the Father Almighty, + who made heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them, I exorcise these medals against the power and attacks of the evil one. May all who use these medals devoutly, be blessed with health of soul and body. In the name of the Father + almighty, of His Son + Jesus Christ our Lord, and of the Holy + Spirit the Paraclete, and in the love of the same Lord Jesus Christ, who will come on the last day to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire. R. Amen.
Let us pray
Almighty God, the boundless source of all good things, we humbly ask that, through the intercession of Saint Benedict, you pour out your blessings + upon these medals. May those who use them and earnestly strive to perform good works, be blessed by you with health of soul and body, the grace of a holy life, and remission of the temporal punishment due to sin. May they also, with the help of your merciful love, strive to exercise true charity and justice toward all, so that one day they may appear sinless and holy in your sight. This we ask, through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
An alternative form of the blessing.
Presentation of Medal of Saint Benedict
The officiant gives each a blessed medal of Saint Benedict, saying:
Receive this medal with its Cross of Saint Benedict, and be reminded of the need to take up your cross daily and follow the true King, Christ our Lord, and thus learn to share with patience in the sufferings of Christ that you may one day share in His heave nly kingdom.
Presentation of the Rule of Saint Benedict
The officiant gives each a copy of the Rule of Saint Benedict, saying:
Accept this Holy Rule of Saint Benedict which was written in the spirit of the Gospel teachings of Christ and handed down to us through the centuries. Let it be a special guide for you in our life as a Christian and Oblate of Saint Benedict. May the principles herein contained show you the true Way of Christ as taught us in the Gospels: love of God and love of our fellow human beings.
May you therefore be more and more concerned about the needs of others, ready to give generously of yourself to the building up of true Christian fellowship with those around you: the strong and the weak, the wise and the unwise, the healthy and the sick, the rich and the poor, the joyous and those afflicted with misery and sorrow, the lovable and the lovable, the secure and the insecure, those well cared for and those who are neglected, the young and the aged, those placed over vou and those who are u nder your care, those of your faith and those not of your faith, whether in affairs of Church, business, government, or any other area of life.
May your study of this Rule inspire you to work zealously in harmony
with others where you are, for the good of humanity and the honor and
glory of God. May God bless and guide you in your striving to be a
faithful Oblate an witness of Christ and of Saint Benedict, through the
same Christ our Lord.
Final Prayers and Blessing
The officiant prays over the newly enrolled Oblate Novices:
Let us pray
Listen to our prayers, Lord, as we receive this Oblate Novice (these Oblate Novices) into union and affiliation with the Benedictine community of (name of monastery or convent). May he (she, they) be strengthened with unfailing firmness so that: persevering in his (her, their) holy resolution he (she, they) may serve you in all holiness.
0 God, you once called our blessed Father and Lawgiver Benedict to
serve you in seclusion from the turmoil of sin and evil in the world.
We beg you to grant strength and perseverance to this your servant (these
your servants) who is (are) eager to serve you, not apart
from, but in the world where he (she) lives and works (they
live and work), having promised to follow the teachings of Saint
Benedict as his (her, their) guide. This we ask, through
Christ our Lord.
May the blessing of almighty God, of the Father, and of the Son, +
and of the Holy Spirit, come down upon you (us) and remain with you
Instructions for Officiant
The officiant fills out and signs the card of Notification of Enrollment as an Oblate Novice, and sends it immediately to the Director of Oblates of the respective monastery or convent. The exact mailing address of the new Oblate Novice should be given so that it can be propely entered into the Oblate mailing list.
A Certificate of Enrollment, signed by the officiant, should be given to each of the newly accepted Oblate Novices, who should keep this certificate among their important papers, to be reminded when it is time to make their Final Oblation a year later. Then, too, in case of death, the date of death should be noted on the certificate, and this in turn is to be sent to the monastery or convent, so that the community may pray for the deceased Oblate Novice.
II. Act of Final Oblation for Oblates of Saint Benedict
A year after their enrollment as Oblate Novices, they may make their Final Oblation as Oblates of Saint Benedict upon mutual agreement with their Director of 0blates. This act of Final Oblation makes them full fledged Oblates of Saint Benedict for life, or for as long as they desire to remain Oblates. If at any time they wish to transfer their affiliation to some other monastery or convent, they may do so with the permission of the superior of the monastery or convent to which they are affiliated and the permission of the superior of the monastery or convent to which they wish to transfer, but the Act of Oblation need not be made anew.
The form of Final Oblation is prepared beforehand. Arrangement is made to have the ceremony in a church or chapel or other fitting place. The abbot of the monastery or the Mother Superior of the convent, or anyone delegated by either of them, conducts the ceremony. When additional solemnity is desired, this can be done by way of lighted candles on the altar or table, appropriate Scripture readings, a homily, prayers of petition and the like, or especially by celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice, at which the new Oblates receive Holy Communion.
Invocation of the Holy Spirit
Those about to make their Final Oblation come before the officiant, carrying their form of Oblation. The officiant begins:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray
0 God, you have filled the hearts of your faithful with the light of your Holy Spirit; grant us by the same Spirit to know what is right, and always to rejoice in His consolation.
Raise up, 0 Lord, in your Church, the Spirit which animated our holy
Father Benedict, so that, filled with that same Spirit, we may strive
to love what he loved, and to practice what he taught. This we ask,
through Christ our Lord.
Questioning and Admonition
The officiant asks the candidate (candidates):
Do you wish to make your Final Oblation as an Oblate (as Oblates) ol
Saint Benedict and thus be affiliated with the Benedictine community of
...........(name of monastery or convent)..........? The
candidate (candidates) answer:
The officiant responds:
May the grace and mercy of God be with you. As Oblate Novices you have had a year to study the Rule of Saint Benedict and the Benedictine way of life, according to which you wish to govern and enrich your life as a Christian (as Christians) in accord with your state in life. By now you should know, from this year of experience as an Oblate Novice (as Oblate Novices), under what conditions you are about to make your Final Oblation as an Oblate of Saint Benedict.
If you are still ready and willing to be guided by the teachings of our holy Father Benedict, in so far as your state in life permits, and are resolved to remain faithful and persevere in your holy resolution, you may now make your Final Oblation.
After a pause, the officiant questions each Oblate Novice in turn. If the group is large, he questions all together as a group.
N.N., do you dedicate yourself to the service of God and humanity
according to the Rule of Saint Benedict?
Will you strive to be faithful and persevere in your holy resolution
for the rest of your life?
The officiant then says:
Thanks be to God. Since God has given you this good will and you trust in His help, you may now make your Final Oblation.
Act of Final Oblation
Each one in turn reads his Oblation alone. If many candidates are present, then each in turn reads only the first part of the Oblation alone, up to and including mention of place of residence. When the last one has finished with this, then all together read the remaining part of the Oblation:
Peace! In the Name of our Lord Yeshua, the Christ. Amen.
I ..............(Baptismal Name)...(Benedictine Patron's Name)..........
offer myself to Almighty God
..............(Name of church, chapel, or parish)..........
Each one, when finished making his Oblation, goes to the altar or table and signs his full name on the Oblation form.
Formal Acceptance of New Oblates
The formal acceptance of the new Oblates is announced by the officiant:
As God's representative, I now accept your Oblation and admit you into spiritual union and affiliation with the Benedictine. community of (name of monastery or convent) as an Oblate (as Oblates) and adopted son (sons, daughter, daughters) of our holy Father Benedict, and give you the privilege of sharing in the prayers and good works of the community.
May God strengthen you in your faith. May you persevere in your holy
resolution to serve God and humanity in accord with the spirit of the
Rule of Saint Benedict, as your state in life permits. And may God
reward you, according to His promises, with the vision of His glory for
Concluding Prayers and BlessingsThe officiant prays:
V. Lord, have mercy.
Let us pray
0 God, you blessed your holy confessor Benedict with the spirit of all the just. Grant that this (these) newly accepted Oblate (Oblates) may be filled with the same spirit and, with the help of your grace, may faithfully carry out what he (she, they) has (have) promised.
0 God, you willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary, herself the dwelling
place of your Holy Spirit, should be presented in your temple. Grant
that, through her intercession, we too may become worthy to be
presented in the temple of your heavenly glory.
May the peace and blessing of almighty God, of the Father, and of
the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit, come down upon you (us) and remain
with you (us) forever.
Instructions for Officiant
The forms of Final Oblation should be properly signed by the officiant and sent as soon as possible to the Director of Oblates of the respective community. The full and correct mailing address should likewise be indicated so that it can be properly entered into the Oblate mailing list.
A Certificate of Oblation, signed by the officiant, should be given to each of the newly accepted Oblates. The Oblates should keep this certificate among their important papers, knowing that, in case of death, the date of death is to be marked upon the certificate, and this in turn is to be sent to the monastery or convent, so that the community may pray for the deceased Oblate.
III. Renewal of Oblatation for Oblates of Saint Benedict
It is recommended that Oblates renew their Oblation at least once a year or oftener. This can be done on any day of one's choice, but the following feasts are the most fitting times for Renewal of Oblation: February 2, Presentation of our Lord in the Temple; November 21, Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; March 21 and July 11, feasts of Saint Benedict; February 10, feast of Saint Scholastica; March 9, feast of Saint Frances of Rome; July 15, feast of Saint Henry.
Renewal of Oblation may be done without any special ceremony. It can be done in one's own words if so desired. The important thing is the renewal in one's own heart. It may be done privately or in common with a group of Oblates, with greater or less solemnity according to the circumstances of time and place, whether in a church or chapel or other fitting place. A suggested form of renewal is given below. It may be used privately, or with others, whether a representative of the monastery or convent is present or not.
It is not necessary to notify the Director of Oblates that the Renewal of Oblation was made, but such notification is always welcome so that the Director of Oblates is assured of your wish to continue as an Oblate.
RENEWAL OF OBLATION
An appropriate passage from Holy Scripture could first be read. If a priest is present, be could give a short homily, or a representative from the monastery or convent could be asked to give a short talk.
The Oblates renew their final Oblation as follows:
Peace! In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
I renew my oblation
Let us pray.(all together say:)
Eternal God, almighty Father, you know well the weakness of our human nature. Look upon us your servants and strengthen us with the power of your blessing so that, with the help of your grace, we may faithfully carry out the promise we have made as Oblates in response to your holy inspiration. May we live a holy and upright life according to the spirit of the Rule of Saint Benedict. And may you reward us, according to your promises, with the vision of your glory for all eternity. This we ask, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the blessing of almighty God, of the Father, and of the Son, +
and of the Holy Spirit, come down upon us and remain with us forever.
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© 2005-6 Rev. Dr. M.J. Mackenzie-Hanson, B.A. (Hons), D.D., a.c.O.S.B.