An Oblate of St. Benedict is a Christian lay person who associates with a Benedictine monastery in order to share in the spiritual and material good works of the community. An Oblate does not live within the monastic community, nor take vows, but carries out the usual duties of one’s particular state in life, wherever one is, continuing whatever profession or occupation in life one has by caring for family, friends, and others.
The purpose of affiliation with a Benedictine community is to receive direction for living a Christian life and to realize more completely the teachings of Christ as set down and interpreted by St. Benedict in his Rule for monastics. Being an Oblate can allow one to live a fuller Christian life.
For centuries many have chosen to follow Benedict as Oblates—men and women who live and work in the world and who strive to live according to the Rule of Benedict to the best of their ability as single or married Christians of various traditions.
The Oblate’s Place in the Church
St. Paul tells us, as members of the body of Christ, the Church, that each of us has a special function to perform. For some this may mean being a priest, a monk, or a nun. Others are called to the married or to the single life in the world. Thus, a person lives out the call received at Baptism to bring the world to God by being a witness of Christ by word and example.
Oblates of St. Benedict rank as a lay Institute in the Church, as do the various Third Orders of the Church. The term Third Order is not used since St. Benedict never wrote a second rule for nuns, nor a third rule for the laity. The one Rule that St. Benedict wrote for monks is so flexible that it is adapted for all calls of life.
Oblates do not take on a new set of religious practices, prayers, or devotions. An Oblate promises to be concerned about striving to be a daughter or son of God and a temple of the Holy Spirit. This means that an Oblate offers oneself (the meaning of the word “oblate”) for the service of God and others to the best of one’s ability.