In Christian monasticism (especially Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Methodist), an oblate is a person who is specifically dedicated to God or to God's service.
Oblates are individuals, either laypersons or clergy, normally living in general society, who, while not professed monks or nuns, have individually affiliated themselves with a monastic community of their choice. They make a formal, private promise (annually renewable or for life, depending on the monastery with which they are affiliated) to follow the Rule of the Order in their private lives as closely as their individual circumstances and prior commitments permit. Such oblates are considered an extended part of the monastic community; for example, Benedictine oblates also often include the post-nominal letters 'OblSB'or 'ObSB' after their names on documents. They are comparable to the tertiaries associated with the various mendicant orders.
The term "oblate" is also used in the official name of some religious institutes as an indication of their sense of dedication.
The word oblate (from the Latin oblatus - someone who has been offered) has had various particular uses at different periods in the history of the Christian church.
The children vowed and given by their parents to the monastic life, in houses under the Rule of St. Benedict, were commonly known by this term during the century and a half after its writing, when the custom was in vogue, and the councils of the Church treated them as monks. This practice continued until the Tenth Council of Toledo in 656 forbade their acceptance before the age of ten and granted them free permission to leave the monastery, if they wished, when they reached the age of puberty.The term puer oblatus (used after that Council) labels an oblate who had not yet reached puberty and thus had a future opportunity to leave the monastery, though puer oblatus can also refer to someone entering an abbey. At a later date the term "oblate" designated such lay men or women as were pensioned off by royal and other patrons upon monasteries or benefices, where they lived as in an almshouse or homes.
In the 11th century, Abbot William of Hirschau or Hirsau (died 1091), in the old diocese of Spires, introduced two kinds of lay brethren into the monastery:
Afterwards, the different status of the lay brother in the several orders of monks, and the ever-varying regulations concerning him introduced by the many reforms, destroyed the distinction between the conversus and the oblatus.
The Cassinese Benedictines, for instance, at first carefully differentiated between conversi, commissi and oblati; the nature of the vows and the forms of the habits were in each case specifically distinct. The conversus, the lay brother properly so called, made solemn vows like the choir monks, and wore the scapular; the commissus made simple vows, and was dressed like a monk, but without the scapular; the oblatus made a vow of obedience to the abbot, gave himself and his goods to the monastery, and wore a sober secular dress.
But in 1625, we find the conversus reduced below the status of the commissus, inasmuch as he could make only simple vows for a year at a time; he was in fact indistinguishable, except by his dress, from the oblatus of a former century. Then, in the later Middle Ages, oblatus, confrater, and donatus became interchangeable titles, given to any one who, for his generosity or special service to the monastery, received the privilege of lay membership, with a share in the prayers and good works of the brethren.
Canonically, only two distinctions ever had any consequence:
In modern practice, many Benedictine communities have a greater or smaller number of secular oblates. These are either clergy or laypeople affiliated in prayer with an individual monastery of their choice, who have made a formal private promise (annually renewable or for life) to follow the Rule of St Benedict in their private life at home and at work as closely as their individual circumstances and prior commitments permit.
In the Roman Catholic Church the oblate is in an individual relationship with the monastic community and does not form a distinct unit within the Church, there are no regulations in the modern canon law of the Church regarding them. One consequence is that non-Catholic Christians can be received as oblates of a Catholic monastery.Similarly in Methodist monasteries, non-Methodist Christians can be received as oblates. The same is the case with many Anglican monasteries, which accept non-Anglican Christians as oblates.
By contrast, the Eastern Orthodox require that Oblates be baptized in the Orthodox faith and in good standing with their local parish.[ citation needed ]
There is a small number of conventual or claustral oblates, who reside in a monastic community. If the person has not done so previously, after a year's probation they make a simple commitment of their lives to the monastery, which is received by the superior in the presence of the whole community. More on the level of committed volunteers, they would share in the life of the community and undertake, without remuneration, any work or service required of them. They are not, however, considered monks or nuns themselves. Often they wear a religious habit similar to, but distinct from, that of the monks or nuns. A conventual oblate may cancel this commitment at any time; and it is canceled automatically if the superior sends the oblate away for good reason, after simple consultation with the chapter.
There are several religious orders (i.e., living the consecrated life according to Church Law) that use the word "Oblate" in their name, or in an extended version of their common name. These are not oblates like the oblates (secular) and (regular), and should not be confused with them.
Examples include the:
The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict, are a monastic religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Benedict. They are also sometimes called the Black Monks, in reference to the colour of their religious habits. They were founded by Saint Benedict of Nursia, a 6th-century monk who laid the foundations of Benedictine monasticism through the formulation of his Rule of Saint Benedict.
Monasticism or monkhood, is a religious way of life in which one renounces worldly pursuits to devote oneself fully to spiritual work. Monastic life plays an important role in many Christian churches, especially in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions as well as in other faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. In other religions monasticism is criticized and not practiced, as in Islam and Zoroastrianism, or plays a marginal role, as in modern Judaism. Women pursuing a monastic life are generally called nuns, religious or sisters or rarely, Canonesses, while monastic men are called monks, friars or brothers.
The Rule of Saint Benedict is a book of precepts written in 516 by Benedict of Nursia for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot.
A monastery is a a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in communities or alone (hermits). A monastery generally includes a place reserved for prayer which may be a chapel, church, or temple, and may also serve as an oratory, or in the case of communities anything from a single building housing only one senior and two or three junior monks or nuns, to vast complexes and estates housing tens or hundreds. A monastery complex typically comprises a number of buildings which include a church, dormitory, cloister, refectory, library, balneary and infirmary. Depending on the location, the monastic order and the occupation of its inhabitants, the complex may also include a wide range of buildings that facilitate self-sufficiency and service to the community. These may include a hospice, a school, and a range of agricultural and manufacturing buildings such as a barn, a forge, or a brewery.
A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practice. The order is composed of laypeople and, in some orders, clergy. Religious orders exist in many of the world's religions.
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism by monastic living, either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decides to dedicate his life to serving all other living beings, or to be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live his or her life in prayer and contemplation. The concept is ancient and can be seen in many religions and in philosophy.
Christian monasticism is the devotional practice of individuals who live ascetic and typically cloistered lives that are dedicated to Christian worship. It began to develop early in the history of the Christian Church, modeled upon scriptural examples and ideals, including those in the Old Testament, but not mandated as an institution in the scriptures. It has come to be regulated by religious rules and, in modern times, the Canon law of the respective Christian denominations that have forms of monastic living. Those living the monastic life are known by the generic terms monks (men) and nuns (women). The word monk originated from the Greek μοναχός, itself from μόνος meaning 'alone'.
A lay brother is a member of a religious order, particularly in the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church, who fulfills a role focused upon manual service and secular matters, and is distinguished from a choir monk or friar whose primary role is to pray in choir. In female religious institutes, the equivalent role is the lay sister. In male religious institutes, lay brothers are additionally distinguished from choir religious in that they do not receive holy orders and are therefore not clerics. Lay brother and lay sisters roles were originally created to allow those who were skilled in particular crafts or did not have the required education to study for holy orders to participate in and contribute to the life of a religious order.
Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices, and views.
The Cluniac Reforms were a series of changes within medieval monasticism of the Western Church focused on restoring the traditional monastic life, encouraging art, and caring for the poor. The movement began within the Benedictine order at Cluny Abbey, founded in 910 by William I, Duke of Aquitaine (875–918). The reforms were largely carried out by Saint Odo and spread throughout France, into England, and through much of Italy and Spain.
Consecrated life is a state of life in the Catholic Church lived by believers who wish to follow Jesus Christ in a more exacting way. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it "is characterized by the public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in a stable state of life recognized by the Church". The Code of Canon Law defines it as "a stable form of living by which the faithful, following Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that, having been dedicated by a new and special title to his honour, to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and, having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory."
There are a number of Benedictine Anglican religious orders, some of them using the name Order of St. Benedict (OSB). Just like their Roman Catholic counterparts, each abbey / priory / convent is independent of each other. The vows are not made to an order, but to a local incarnation of the order, hence each individual order is free to develop its own character and charism, yet each under a common rule of life after the precepts of St. Benedict. Most of the communities include a confraternity of oblates. The order consists of a number of independent communities:
New Monasticism is a diverse movement, not limited to a specific religious denomination or church and including varying expressions of contemplative life. These include evangelical Christian communities such as "Simple Way Community" and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's "Rutba House," European and Irish new monastic communities, such as that formed by Bernadette Flanagan, spiritual communities such as the "Community of the New Monastic Way" founded by feminist contemplative theologian Beverly Lanzetta, and "interspiritual" new monasticism, such as that developed by Rory McEntee and Adam Bucko. These communities expand upon traditional monastic wisdom, translating it into forms that can be lived out in contemporary lives "in the world."
The Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Louis is an abbey of the Catholic English Benedictine Congregation (EBC) located in Creve Coeur, in St. Louis County, Missouri in the United States. The Abbey is an important presence in the spiritual life of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The monks of the Abbey live their faith according to the Benedictine discipline of 'prayer and work', praying the Divine Office five times daily, celebrating daily Masses in English and Latin, and working in the two parishes under their pastoral care and in the Saint Louis Priory School, which the Abbey runs as an apostolate. The Abbey and its school sit on a 150-acre (0.61 km2) campus in west St. Louis County, in the city of Creve Coeur.
The Order of Saint Benedict is a loose affiliation of monastics of the Orthodox Church who strive to live according to the Rule of St Benedict. The "Order of Saint Benedict" is not an incorporated body. Orthodox Benedictines enjoy good relations with each other, which frequently cross jurisdictional boundaries. "Monastic Orders" are not found in Orthodoxy, so Orthodox Benedictines are often known as "Orthodox Community of Saint Benedict" OCSB-Ro where the "Ro" refers to their lineage from Saint Romuald. Their Roman Catholic equivalents are OSB-Cam where the "Cam" refers to their Camaldolese lineage.
A religious brother is a member of a Christian religious institute or religious order who commits himself to following Christ in consecrated life of the Church, usually by the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. He is a layman, in the sense of not being ordained as a deacon or priest, and usually lives in a religious community and works in a ministry appropriate to his capabilities. A brother might practice any secular occupation. The term "brother" is used as he is expected to be as a brother to others. Brothers are members of a variety of religious communities, which may be contemplative, monastic, or apostolic in character. Some religious institutes are composed only of brothers; others are so-called "mixed" communities that are made up of brothers and clerics.
A religious institute is a type of institute of consecrated life in the Catholic Church where its members take religious vows and lead a life in community with fellow members. Religious institutes are one of the two types of institutes of consecrated life; the other is that of the secular institute, where its members are "living in the world".
The Subiaco Cassinese Congregation is an international union of Benedictine houses within the Benedictine Confederation. It developed from the Subiaco Congregation, which was formed in 1867 through the initiative of Dom Pietro Casaretto, O.S.B., as a reform of the way of life of monasteries of the Cassinese Congregation, formed in 1408, toward a stricter contemplative observance, and received final approval in 1872 by Pope Pius IX. After discussions between the two congregations at the start of the 21st century, approval was given by Pope Benedict XVI in 2013 for the incorporation of the Cassinese Congregation into its offshoot, the Subiaco Congregation. The expanded congregation was given this new name.
Saint Brigid of Kildare Monastery is a double monastery of The United Methodist Church located in St. Joseph, Minnesota, United States. The guiding sources for the monastery include the Holy Bible, the Rule of Saint Benedict, the Benedictine Breviary, and Methodist texts such as The United Methodist Hymnal, The Book of Discipline, and the writings of John Wesley.
St. Andrew Abbey-Cleveland is a Benedictine monastery in Cleveland, Ohio.
Our lay members are referred to as Oblates.
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Can Persons Other than United Methodists be Oblates of Saint Brigid's Monastery? Monasticism is a way of life in which the desire and search for God is all-important. Its spirituality is a process of transformation into Christ through self-emptying in order to be totally available to God. As such it is not tied to any single Christian denomination or tradition. Since Benedictine monasticism predates the separation of the western Christian churches, monasticism forms an ideal basis for ecumenism in today's world. The main forces transcending all our differences are the love of God, of sacred Scripture, of prayer, and our genuine love and concern for one another. So, yes, all Christians can be Oblates and engage in scripturally based prayer, prayerful reading, contemplative union with God, and the loving gift of self for others. Anyone can practice this way of spirituality that is essentially the same as was taught by Saint Benedict over 1,500 years ago.
The Companions of St. Luke, OSB welcome any Baptized Christian who is a member in good standing within their church community as candidates for Novice-Oblation.