Monday evening I followed the thunderstorms down I94 to St. Johns. I arrived just before 7 p.m. just in time for evening prayer at the Abbey Church. Suprisingly, the choir was quite full which made for a rich, full sound as we all chanted the psalms. Following evening prayer I met with the Director of Oblates for the Abbey. I'd heard about oblates a while ago, but always just assumed that you needed to be R.C. to become one. I've since learned otherwise and as my interest in the Rule of St. Benedict has blossomed so did my interest in oblation. So, for the last month or so, I've been mulling over this path and last week decided that it was something I wanted to pursue. There are a number of reasons, including a continued bond with St. John's; no matter where I end up with my theological studies I'll be forever bound to the the St. John's community. I've also found the Rule fascinating and wish to delve into it at a much greater level which will require some assistance.
The ceremony was short, and simple. A couple of my instructors, who happen to be monks, stuck around as did some folks that are already Oblates (the Feast of St. Benedict is this week, as is the Annual Oblate Retreat). I received my St. Benedict's Medal, a guide to Benedictine study, and a series of questions about the Rule that I need to discern and write about. The entire candidacy period lasts at least a year, in which I'll need to write about 9 aspects of the Rule. I'll try to post those on here as I do.
The one part of the Rule that drew me into this path deals with hospitality. At its root, Benedictine hospitality requires one to treat everyone they encounter as though that person is Christ. I've found it valuable to frequently ask myself "Did I see Christ in that person and did that person see Christ in me?"