How to Be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job: An Invitation to Oblate Life (Voices from the Monastery)

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9781557254498: How to Be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job: An Invitation to Oblate Life (Voices from the Monastery)

Dorothy Day was an oblate while she lived in the heart of New York City. So was the French poet, Paul Claudel. Kathleen Norris is an oblate, and so was Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman in Europe to earn a Ph.D. What connects them all? There are at least ten thousand oblates in the United States today (no one knows for sure how many), and each of them is connected in meaningful ways to a monastery or abbey. Most oblates are ordinary lay people from various Christian traditions. They are linked together by common appreciation for the Rule of St. Benedict. Originally written for monks, the principles in the Rule may be applied by everyone else---and in today's hectic, changing world, being an oblate offers a rich spiritual connection to the stability and wisdom of monastic life. This essential guide explains how people who live and work in "the world" are still invited to balance work with prayer, cultivate interdependence with others, practice hospitality, and otherwise practice their spirituality like monks.

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About the Author:

Brother Benet Tvedten entered the Blue Cloud Abbey in Marvin, South Dakota in 1958. He has been his community's Director of Oblates for nearly thirty years, and held the position of Coordinator of the North American Association of Oblate Directors between 1995 and 1999. He is also the author of A View from a Monastery.

Review:

IN RECENT YEARS I've seen a number of new books on monastic life, prayer and the application of Benedictine spirituality in the workplace. How to Be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day job and Oblation, two of seven titles incorporating those principles that are currently available from Paraclete Press, specifically address the oblate vocation. As expressed in Brother Benet's title, the road to holiness traveled by vowed religious is open to anyone, and can be found wherever we are, regardless of age, race, sex, occupation (or lack thereof) or even marital status. Benedictine oblates are Christian men and women who affiliate with a specific Benedictine community. Through oblate programs organized by almost every monastery, these mostly laypeople learn from professional monastics (monks and nuns) how to apply the Rule of St. Benedict to their daily lives. Brother Benet, a monk of Blue Cloud Abbey in South Dakota and director of its oblate program, combines explanations of what is meant by Benedictine spirituality with practical examples of its implementation, contributed by oblates of various monasteries. "Christ is the chain that binds us," he says, "and we are all bound to one another." Section one on Benedictine spirituality shows how prayer, holy reading, work and relationships figure in the life of every monastic. Prominent among the spirituality Benedictine values for daily living in section two are peace and justice, and hospitality. Two uniquely Benedictine vows conversion of life and stability of heart-are discussed in section three on being an oblate. Although oblates do not take vows, we promise to practice these concepts. Also found in this section are a helpful history of the oblate movement and five simple guidelines for oblates, prepared over 30 years ago by a group of oblate directors. St. Anthony's Messenger November 1, 2006

These two books [Oblation: Meditations on St. Benedict's Rule by Rachel M. Srubas and How To Be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job: An Invitation to Oblate Life by Brother Benet Tvedten] deserve dual consideration. Both issued by Paraclete, they make a powerful case for the revival of one of the less well known monastic traditions of the West, the "oblates," who, while remaining laypeople in a lay life, are affiliated with a monastic house by their adherence to some of the basic tenets of the Benedictine rule. Tvedten (director, Oblates, Blue Cloud Abbey, SD) explains the history of Benedictine monasticism simply but in some detail as well as the history of oblates and their place in contemporary monastic houses, both Catholic and non-Catholic Benedictine. Srubas, herself both a Benedictine oblate and a Presbyterian clergywoman, has written a collection of poem-like prayers and meditations directed at oblates and inspired by the Benedictine rule. These volumes cast fresh light on a little-known practice and should interest many readers. For most collections. Graham Christian Library Journal January 1, 2006

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