“Benedict’s way is the way of Christ, who welcomed without distinction and
set before people a vision of what they might become.” (Elizabeth Canham)
You have discovered the web site of the Oblate community of the Holy Family, a
Chapter of the Order of St. Benedict, attached to Christ the Saviour Monastery
in upstate New York and under the pastoral care of Christ the King Orthodox
Church in Tullytown, PA. In these pages you will find information about Oblate life in general,
our Chapter in particular and how you can come to visit or join our Chapter family, should
God be calling you to do so.
Who are Benedictine Oblates?
Oblates of St. Benedict are everyday people with jobs, families, and other
responsibilities and come from a variety of faith traditions. They associate
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. They seek God by striving to become holy in their chosen way of
life and, by integrating their prayer and work, manifesting Christ’s presence
in today's hectic, changing world. Being an oblate offers a rich spiritual
connection to the stability and wisdom of an established monastic community.
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. The role of Oblates is to
live in the world, becoming holy in their life circumstances and to do what they can to bring the
world to God by being witnesses of Christ by word and example to those around
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 for the service of God and neighbor
to the best of their ability (that is the meaning of the word oblate). Oblates
do not live in a traditional religious community or take vows, but they do make
A Brief History of Oblates
Saint Benedict lived in the sixth century. He came to Rome for his education,
but before long he abandoned his studies and lived as a hermit for several
years. In time he acquired a reputation for holiness and miracles. Attracting
many followers, Benedict established several monastic communities. St. Benedict
wrote his Rule roughly between 530 and 540 AD, during the decline of the Roman
Empire. Despite the chaos of the invading tribes, St. Benedict produced a
classic statement on the monastic life, 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 centers of prayer, culture, and education.
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.
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 the Benedict who are dedicated to the
monastic life by vow. 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.
Oblate Spirituality and the benefits of being an Oblate of Saint Benedict
Benedictine Oblates seek God in association with a monastic community: as
individuals and as members of a body (a Chapter), they grow in love of God, neighbor and
self. They are persons whose lives are shaped by Benedictine spirituality. They
follow the Rule of St. Benedict in their daily lives as far as their way of life
Oblates are able to enrich their Christian way of life by following the wisdom
and example of Saint Benedict. His spirituality reflects gospel values such as
stability and fidelity, humility and conversion, obedience and a reverence for
all human persons. Oblates adopt values that are part of the very fabric of
Christian spirituality, such as spending time daily reflecting in the Sacred
Scriptures, cultivating an awareness of the presence of God in silence, devoting
time to the praise of God, performing acts of mortification.
As one who sought peace in a world of conflict, community in a place of
isolation, and God in a time of empty ambitions, Saint Benedict still has much
to say to us.