Benedictine Oblates of the Benedictine Sisters of St. Mary Monastery
Welcome, Oblates and Inquirers. These pages offer news, writings and information about and by Benedictine Oblates. Benedictine Oblates are lay people – women and men, married and single, Christian but not necessarily Catholic – who affiliate themselves with a particular Benedictine community in order to follow the Rule of St. Benedict in their lives outside the monastery. In the story below, 4 Oblates reflect on how they do that.
4 Oblates Reflect on the Rule of Benedict
What happened to me has no doubt happened to many unsuspecting souls in the fifteen-hundred-plus years that Benedictines have existed. Quite simply, the Rule spoke to me. … Persevere, bear one another’s burdens, be patient with one another’s infirmities of body or behavior. And when the ‘thorns of contention’ arise in daily life, daily forgive, and be willing to accept forgiveness. Remember that you are not the center of the universe but, to use Benedict’s words, ‘keep death daily before your eyes.’ – Kathleen Norris, “The Cloister Walk”
Ask Benedictine Oblates how the Rule of Benedict affects their daily lives and you’re likely to hear a variation on the reflection written by Kathleen Norris, above. Written more than 1500 years ago, the Rule helped establish a way of life that still thrives both within and outside the monastery walls.
“The Rule of Benedict begins with, ‘Listen with the ear of the heart,’” Oblate Marion Lardner, Rock Island, Ill., says. “It calls me to be deliberate in my actions and thoughts. It reminds me that whatever I do or think or wonder I should do intentionally, continually paying attention. I try to live intentionally this way.”
Intentionality is a Benedictine practice that promotes presence, to God, to others, to the moment.
“Studying the Rule and sharing its wisdom with the Sisters has been a huge cosmic explosion,” Marion says, listing everyday things - from the face of a pansy to a loaf of steaming hot bread - as being worthy of attention.
“At 75 years of age, my everyday reward is finding all of the beauty that surrounds me,” Marion says, “...in the faces of folks in the grocery store, in the enthusiasm of the dog who lives with us, in the sunlight that causes the icicle to drip in rainbow colors from the greenhouse gutter, in the beauty of each morning, in the quiet of each evening.”
Deacon Timothy Granet says the Rule helps him in his job as a counselor at Alleman High School in Rock Island, Ill. “I really try to see Christ in others,” he says. “I invite Christ in with me, as I open my office door, to work with me during the day. As people come into the office, I offer a silent prayer of ‘Peace be with you,’ and as they leave, I offer a similar prayer.”
Sharon Dodd, who works as a parish religious education coordinator in Moline, Ill., echoes people everywhere when she references her need for balance. As an Oblate, she finds help in the Rule. “Somehow, the Rule has given me the courage to continue to do the many things that I do, but to take time for prayer and meditation and enjoyment,” she says.
With the Sisters of St. Benedict, Oblates embrace prayer as their most important ministry. “Prayer is the cornerstone of Benedictinism,” Deacon Timothy says. “It helps me to maintain a Benedictine attitude during the day in the work I do and in the relationships I have.”