We did not have an oblate class this month; instead we joined the sisters for evening prayer, which had a theme of joining a family. Those of us in oblate formation sat in the first row of chorus 1, and each of our sponsors sat behind us. The hymn, Psalms and passage from Isaiah followed this pattern. First, a hymn about union with Christ. Second, a prayer about God and his people as bride and groom. Third, a prayer about the blessing of family and children. Fourth, a prayer about coming to Jerusalem as one family of God.
At this point we broke from the prayer of the hours for our candidate enrollment. We were all called up by name, and stood as a group behind the altar. The prioress then asked us if we desired to be oblate candidates, to which we replied, “I do.” Next our sponsors stood and were asked by the prioress if they were ready to support us in this, to which they replied, “We are.” We then each received a copy of The Rule of St. Benedict from a completed oblate. Finally, the entire congregation stood, raised their right hands over us, and gave us a blessing. We then returned to our seats, and completed the evening prayers. I am now officially a Benedictine oblate candidate at St. Paul’s Monastery.
After the evening prayers concluded, we had some time to speak one on one with our sponsors for the first time. My sponsor is Sister Mary, and she’d be right at home in The Wesleyan Church. Her ministry area is Outreach. She goes to people who wouldn’t or can’t come to a monastery. Using her degrees in both social work and divinity, she does prison ministry, fights human trafficking, and works for immigrant justice. We had quite a good talk, and we will likely be working together on more than just my oblate formation.
The next class is The Heart of the Prologue (of The Rule of St. Benedict).