“From now on you are spiritually affiliated to the monastic family of the Monastery of Our Lady and Saint John.”
From “The Rite of Oblation”
The Oblate and the Monastic Life
From the very earliest days of Benedictine monasticism, people have been attracted to Benedictine spirituality, and have sought a closer link with the monastic life through affiliation with a particular monastery as Oblates.
There is a group of Oblates affiliated with the monks of Alton Abbey. They strive to pursue in the world a more perfect Christian life, despite it not being possible for them to join the Community as monks, perhaps because of family commitments. Oblates enter into fraternal union with the monastery, and many of them have found in that bond the grace of a powerful channel of strength and stability which supports and enhances their own vocation in the world.
Rule of Life
Each Oblate of Alton Abbey has a written Rule of Life that reflects the individual circumstances of his life. The Abbot and Oblate Master will be pleased to help individuals formulate the Rule of their Oblation. The Benedictine Life is a search for God. The monks undertake this in their monastery, which Saint Benedict describes as ‘a school of the Lord’s service’. By following the direction of the Holy Rule, they strive to live according to Gospel values, and to become more Christ-like in obedience to God’s call (this is true for all Christians, of course). The Oblate, by his own Rule of Life, witnesses to the Gospel through his relationship with those among whom he lives and works.
What are the obligations of the Oblate?
1. To conform his life to the spirit of the Rule of Saint Benedict.
2. Daily to pray a specified portion of the Divine Office.
3. To practise regular and frequent attendance of Mass, especially on Sundays and days of obligation.
4. To practise regular prayer, both formal and meditative.
5. To make an annual retreat at the Abbey.
6. To use the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation as often as may be appropriate.
7. To make the life and work of the Abbey a regular intention of prayer, especially at Mass. This intention should be observed with special fervour on festivals throughout the year.
8. Where appropriate, to preach about the monastic life and to foster vocations.
9. Daily to recite the Prayers of Union
10. To keep in regular contact with the Community and to visit the Abbey as frequently as possible.
11. To practise regular almsgiving.
12. To make adequate provision for study, recreation and the needs of family commitment and personal relationship.
How to become an Oblate
At Alton Abbey, only men are received for oblation. Usually, candidates for Oblation are only received in adulthood. An intending Oblate will be under probation for one year, during which the relationship is established and the Rule of Life composed. A simple Rite of Admission as a Probationer marks the beginning of this process, including the Presentation of a copy of the Holy Rule. Admission as an Oblate is marked with a slightly more elaborate ceremony. The Abbot, in the presence of the whole Community, receives the commitment of the Oblate and witnesses the submission of a written statement of intent, called the Chart of Oblation. This commitment is usually renewed annually. At Oblation, the Oblate is clothed with the scapular, and is given a medal of Saint Benedict. The scapular may only be worn within the enclosure of the Abbey.