Oblate

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In Christian monasticism (especially Catholic, Anglican and Methodist), an oblate is a person who is specifically dedicated to God or to God's service.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers.

Monasticism religious way of life

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. Similar forms of religious life also exist in other faiths, most notably in Buddhism, but also in Hinduism and Jainism, although the expressions differ considerably. By contrast, in other religions monasticism is criticized and not practiced, as in Islam and Zoroastrianism, or plays a marginal role, as in Judaism.

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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 life 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' [1] [2] or 'ObSB' after their names on documents. They are comparable to the tertiaries associated with the various mendicant orders.

In religious organizations, the laity consists of all members who are not part of the clergy, usually including any non-ordained members of religious institutes, e.g. a nun or lay brother.

Clergy leaders within certain religions

Clergy are formal leaders within established religions. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's doctrines and practices. Some of the terms used for individual clergy are clergyman, clergywoman, and churchman. Less common terms are churchwoman and clergyperson, while cleric and clerk in holy orders both have a long history but are rarely used.

The term religious profession is used in many western-rite Christian denominations to refer to the solemn admission of men or women into a religious order by means of public vows.

The term "oblate" is also used in the official name of some religious institutes as an indication of their sense of dedication.

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".

Origins and history

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, [3] though puer oblatus can also refer to someone entering an abbey. [4] 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.

Ecumenical council conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice

An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice in which those entitled to vote are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) and which secures the approbation of the whole Church.

The Tenth Council of Toledo was summoned to meet on 1 December 656 by King Reccesuinth. In November 655, the bishops of Carthaginiensis held a provincial synod in Toledo, the Ninth Council of Toledo. They scheduled a second council for 1 November the next year, but a general council was called by the king.

Puberty is the process of physical changes through which a child's body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction. It is initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads: the ovaries in a girl, the testes in a boy. In response to the signals, the gonads produce hormones that stimulate libido and the growth, function, and transformation of the brain, bones, muscle, blood, skin, hair, breasts, and sex organs. Physical growth—height and weight—accelerates in the first half of puberty and is completed when an adult body has been developed. Until the maturation of their reproductive capabilities, the pre-pubertal physical differences between boys and girls are the external sex organs.

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:

Speyer Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Speyer is a town in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located beside the river Rhine, Speyer is 25 km south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. Founded by the Romans, it is one of Germany's oldest cities. Speyer is dominated by the Speyer Cathedral, a number of churches and the Altpörtel. In the cathedral, beneath the high altar, are the tombs of eight Holy Roman Emperors and German kings.

  1. the fratres barbati or conversi, who took vows but were not claustral or enclosed monks
  2. the oblati, workmen or servants who voluntarily subjected themselves, while in the service of the monastery, to religious obedience and observance.

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.

In the Catholic Church, a choir monk is a monk who is planned to be or already is ordained as a priest. In particular, they are distinguished from the lay brothers, who do not receive holy orders.

Scapular short cloak worn with ecclesiastical dress

The scapular is a Western Christian garment suspended from the shoulders. There are two types of scapular, the monastic and devotional scapular, although both forms may simply be referred to as "scapular". As an object of popular piety, it serves to remind the wearers of their commitment to live a Christian life.

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:

  1. that between those who entered religion "per modum professionis" and "per modum simplicis conversionis" the former being monachi and the later oblati
  2. that between the oblate who was "mortuus mundo" ("dead to the world," that is, who had given himself and his goods to religion without reservation), and the oblate who retained some control over his person and his possessions – the former only (plene oblatus) was accounted a persona ecclesiastica, with enjoyment of ecclesiastical privileges and immunity (Benedict XIV, "De Synodo Dioce.", VI). [5]

Oblates today

Secular oblates

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.

As the oblate is in an individual relationship with the monastic community and does not form a distinct unit with the Catholic 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. [6] Similarly in Methodist monasteries, non-Methodist Christians can be received as oblates. [7] The same is the case with many Anglican monasteries, which accept non-Anglican Christians as oblates. [8]

Conventual oblates

To be distinguished slightly from other secular oblates, 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.

Religious congregations that use "Oblate" in their name

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:

Notable oblates

See also

Related Research Articles

Benedictines Roman Catholic monastic order

The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict, are a monastic Catholic religious order of monks and nuns that follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. They are also sometimes called the Black Monks, in reference to the colour of the members' religious habits.

Rule of Saint Benedict Book of precepts

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 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.

Monk religious occupation

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

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 monachos "monk", itself from monos 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 promises made by members of religious communities

Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices, and views.

Enclosed religious orders Christian religious orders separated from the external world

Enclosed religious orders of the Christian churches have solemn vows with a strict separation from the affairs of the external world. The term cloistered is synonymous with enclosed. In the Catholic Church enclosure is regulated by the code of canon law, either the Latin code or the Oriental code, and also by subsidiary legislation. It is practised with a variety of customs according to the nature and charism of the community in question.

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 Flanagnal 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 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. While there is no actual incorporated body known as the "Order of Saint Benedict", Orthodox Benedictines enjoy good relations with each other, which frequently cross jurisdictional boundaries. Technically, there are no "Monastic Orders" 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 Romould. Their Roman Catholic equivalent are OSB-Cam where the "Cam" refers to their Camaldolese lineage.

Sigebert Buckley was a Benedictine monk in England, who is regarded by the Benedictines and by Ampleforth College in particular as representing the continuity of the community through the English Reformation.

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.

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.

Territorial Abbey of Tokwon territorial abbey

Tokwon Abbey was a Benedictine monastery of the Congregation of Missionary Benedictines of Saint Ottilien, located near the town of Wonsan in what is now North Korea. Founded as a monastic mission in Seoul, the community transferred to Tokwon in the 1920s to take charge of the newly created Apostolic Vicariate of Wonsan. The persecution of Christians in North Korea since 1949 made any church activity in the abbacy impossible. However the Territorial Abbacy of Tokwon is formally still kept as one of the few remaining territorial abbeys within the Catholic Church.

Saint Brigid of Kildare Monastery is a double monastery of The United Methodist Church located in the American city of Saint Joseph, Minnesota. 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.

Incarnation Conventual Priory, Agbang, Kara, Togo, is a Benedictine monastery of the Congregation of the Missionary Benedictines of Saint Ottilien. Established in 1985 by Frère Boniface Tiguila, the monastery is currently home to 28 monks. Conventual Prior Fr Bernard Anaté is the community's superior.

St Michael's Priory, Kumily, Idukki, Kerala, India, is a Benedictine monastery of the Congregation of the Missionary Benedictines of Saint Ottilien. The monastery was established in 1987 by Zacharias Kuruppacheril, an Indian secular priest. Located on the western slopes of the Cardamom Hills, around 150 km east of Kochi, the monastery is currently home to 13 monks and 6 brothers in formation. Prior Fr.John Kaippallimyalil is the community's superior.

St Benedict's Conventual Priory, Digos, Davao del Sur, Philippines, is a Benedictine monastery of the Congregation of Missionary Benedictines of Saint Ottilien. Established in 1983 at the request of Bishop Generoso Camiña of the Diocese of Digos, the monastery is currently home to 21 monks. Conventual Priory Fr Edgar Friedmann is the community's superior.

Waegwan Abbey

St Maurus and St Placidus Abbey, Waegwan, Chilgok, North Gyeongsang, South Korea is a Benedictine monastery of the Congregation of Missionary Benedictines of Saint Ottilien. Established in 1952 by Korean monks who had survived the dissolution of St Benedict's Abbey, Tokwon, and Holy Cross Abbey, Yanji, the monastery is currently home to 131 monks. Abbot Fr Blasio Park is the community's superior.

References

  1. OblSB, Norvene Vest. "Norvene Vest, OblSB. Presentation about Benedictine Oblates, July 1999, Conception Abbey, MO". www.osb.org. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 5, 2015. Retrieved January 11, 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. Little, A. G. (1932). "JSTOR: The English Historical Review, Vol. 47, No. 188 (Oct., 1932), pp. 568-582". The English Historical Review. jstor.org. 47 (188): 568–582. doi:10.1093/ehr/XLVII.CLXXXVIII.568. JSTOR   553067.
  4. http://phonoarchive.org/grove/Entries/S13475.htm [ dead link ]
  5. Catholic Encyclopedia
  6. "World Congress of Benedictine Oblates "Comments from National Coordinators" 2009" (PDF). benedictine-oblates.org. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  7. "Discernment". Saint Brigid of Kildare Monastery. 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 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.
  8. "Membership". English: Companions of St. Luke - OSB. 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 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.

Further reading

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Oblati"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.