Christian lay men and women, single or married, and living outside the monastery, dedicate their lives to Christ by following the Holy Rule of St. Benedict in as far as their state in life allows. They are admitted into a spiritual union and affiliation with a specific Benedictine community so that they may share in the spiritual life, prayers and good works of that community.
These Oblates do not live in the monastic house. They strive to lead full Christian lives within the framework of their daily lives in the world. Their lives should be enlightened by personal efforts to understand Christ's teaching in the Scriptures as interpreted by St. Benedict in his Rule for monks as well as participating in Christ's life as expressed through the Church's liturgy. Oblates are a "spiritual arm" of the Benedictine community and, by their example, they hope to bring St. Benedict's ideal of service to God and mankind into the world where they live and work so that "in all things God may be glorified." -- Holy Rule, Ch. 58
On the technical side, the Oblation is a promise, not a vow. Oblates are affiliated with one monastery and must obtain permission to transfer their oblation and affiliation to another Benedictine monastery.
Before becoming a candidate for the Oblate program at Prince of Peace Abbey, a person needs to be a faithful, practicing Christian. We invite the potential candidate to "come and see" what the meetings are all about and join in the Divine Office with the monastic community. This gives one the time to discern what the Lord is calling him to do.
If it appears that the individual is being called to the Benedictine life of service as a lay person then a meeting is scheduled with the Oblate Director. Together they will make a plan of prayer, reading and other spiritual activities to help in discernment.
An introduction to the Benedictine life begins. Candidates attend the Oblate meetings and meet with the Oblate Director as scheduled. The length of time in this stage varies with the individual.
With the approval of the Oblate Director, the individual is permitted to enter the Oblate Novitiate. The Novice formally enters the Novitiate with a ceremony in which he or she makes a promise to try to follow the Holy Rule of St. Benedict. The Novitiate lasts for a period of one year, but may be longer. This is the time for the Novice to study the Holy Rule of St. Benedict and to receive direction from the Oblate Director. The Novice attends meetings, retreats, and the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office). One also begins to make Lectio Divina a habit. It is a time to meet the Oblates, too.
After one year as a Novice, the individual may request permission from the Oblate Director to become an Oblate. During the Oblation ceremony the new Oblate receives a "new name." This name is the name of a saint which the Oblate would like to emulate, a patron saint to call on as intercessor for God's help, wisdom and mercy.
At our abbey, the Oblate program is primarily contemplative, rather than active. When possible, the Oblates join the monks at Mass and in praying the Divine Office. It is hoped that while at the abbey the Oblate will become spiritually rejuvenated through prayer, retreats and the sacraments so that he can continue to be Christ's light in the world. There are over 300 Oblates associated with Prince of Peace Abbey. About 60 to 80 attend the monthly meetings. There is no special garb that is worn by the Oblate.
Meetings are held once a month on the second Sunday from September through April and on the third Sunday in May. Beginning this September, we plan to have our meetings held in the large conference room in the retreat house rather than in the library. The meetings will begin at 2 p.m. as usual. About two weeks after each meeting, the Oblate Director often shows a video on some spiritual or personally edifying topic. The Oblates have their own Oblate Library filled with books and tapes for loan.
Before each Lent, the Oblates write down their " Bona Opera " detailing their plan of doing good works during Lent. This is submitted to the Oblate Director or Abbot for approval and a blessing. At our January meeting we have our annual Epiphany Program in which monks and Oblates share the joy of the Christmas season together. Those wishing more information are invited to contact the Oblate Director at (760) 430-1305 ext. 302.