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Anglican Benedictine Community of St Mary at the Cross
94A, Priory Field Drive, Edgware HA8 9PU
Registered Charity 209261
The Oblate Life
Benedictine Oblates, unlike say, Franciscan Tertiaries, are not an autonomous group but are affiliated to a particular Benedictine Monastery and its Community. Although not living with the Community they are part of the Community and make an Oblation, an offering of themselves to the Community to support it by prayer but also in practical ways.
Unlike some monasteries, Edgware Abbey has only a small number of Oblates (fourteen), for it was only in 1998 that the Abbess and Chapter acceded to a request from several friends to establish the Oblate Life within the community. We do feel very much like a small family and very much part of the Community. While we enjoy the benefits of being a small group we are also keen to grow and welcome new enquirers.
In our Oblate handbook we read:
“The desire to become an Oblate must originate in a call from God. It is a call to a deeper commitment; rooted in a generous response to the living out of Baptismal vows. The Oblate is drawn to a Benedictine Spirituality as lived out in a particular monastery, and feels a growing desire to share in its life and prayer, within the context of life ‘in the world’.”
If you are interested in becoming an oblate it is important to have some understanding of Benedictine spirituality and there are numerous books on this but first of all read the Rule of St Benedict in conjunction with a good up-to-date commentary, in order to imbibe the wisdom teaching of St Benedict and relate it to everyday life. Then come and visit the community, perhaps attending one of the Quiet Days, so that you can get to know how this community lives out the Rule.
When the community finds an applicant sincere and knows the person well, they will be invited to meet with the Abbess and\or the Oblate Director from time to time, to discern together whether there is a genuine call to the Oblate life.
There are various stages of commitment: becoming a Novice oblate after about a year, and then after a reasonable time, making a full promise of Oblation.
A Novice Oblate is asked to produce a Rule of Life to be agreed with the Abbess; it may include the daily offering of some part of the Divine Office, a period of private prayer and holy reading, regular attendance at the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation.
Twice a year, Oblates are invited to join with the community for a time of worship, study, reflection and prayer together, as well as fellowship and sharing. Where possible this involves spending two nights at the Abbey.
If, after prayer and learning more about St Benedict you think that this might be the way for you to live out your baptismal promises, please contact Mother Abbess at the Abbey.