My wife and I attended the oblate Christmas party Sunday at the monastery. At last month’s oblate meeting we drew a monk’s name so we could buy a gift for that monk and give it to him at the party. We drew the same name we drew last year — how about that?
One of the most enjoyable parts of getting the gift is that the gift for “our” monk is the first Christmas gift we buy, give, and see opened.
We wrapped his gift Saturday night — by itself — that small gift is on its own track through our house. Saturday night it was the time to wrap one gift for one monk and deliver it Sunday at the party.
We enjoy talking with the other oblates (oblate defined) at the Christmas party because we have much in common with them and those common interests are about the most important parts of our lives — seeking God in prayer. That creates a strong bond.
It was also good that all the gifts are for the monks. They do so much for us and the community in which they live — not the least of which is their daily prayers of the divine office they have been saying during each day, every day, for the past 119 years at this location and for about 1,500 years at other monasteries in the world. Their continuing gift to us is that they preserve an essential part of the Church — their monasteries and their conversatio morum (fidelity to the monastic life).
Pope Benedict XVI called monasteries “places of spiritual power.” We are most aware of that gift to us every time we visit. We were welcomed as Christ (from ch. 53 of the Rule). Thanks Benedictine monks.