Here is Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog on my typical experience at an oblate Sunday at the abbey.
The abbey gives oblates and visitors a great gift by allowing us to meet at the abbey each month. My wife and I remind ourselves that we are being allowed into someone’s home when we go to the abbey — it is the monks’ home.
My wife and I attend the two oblate classes held at the monastery on oblate Sunday. One class is for oblate novices and the other is for oblates. But it is OK for anyone (including visitors) to go to both classes. Many oblate novices and oblates attend both classes.
In the oblate novice class we are going through the Rule of St. Benedict and in the oblate class we going through Sacred Reading, by Mike Casey.
As a Protestant for many years, I have been in many excellent Bible studies. But I have changed my approach to such religious “studies” as a result of oblate Sundays. I am looking at them less and less as academic instructions — less as something new to learn. (Old dogs probably view new tricks the same way.)
In the past I viewed classes as a way to acquire the correct knowledge, but now I attend oblate classes seeking how to live life as a Benedictine oblate. I am looking for insight rather than information.
For me this new approach to a class setting takes more effort and concentration than acquiring knowledge. An analogy is that I may use several ways of thinking and comparisons to see all the meanings in a poem, while reading the same poem simply to know the facts is a less complex task. Certainly there are overlaps when we try to understand a poem or a set of facts, and neither method of thinking or evaluation is exclusive of the other.
Because I approach oblate classes differently than an academic-type class, I spend more time trying to link ideas to other ideas. I also find myself resting in new insights.
But in addition to resting in some insight acquired on oblate Sunday, I also find that my life is carried along through the coming weeks by what happens in the oblate class. And it is not only what happens in the classes — it is the entire oblate Sunday. It is one Benedictine experience.
I am already looking forward to the next oblate Sunday when we will be invited back to the monks’ home.