This Least of Rules Written for Beginners

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St Benedict in the Sacro Speco, Sodoma.jpg

Whoever, therefore, thou art that hasteneth to thy heavenly country, fulfil by the help of Christ this least of Rules which we have written for beginners; and then at length thou shalt arrive, under God's protection, at the lofty summits of doctrine and virtue of which we have spoken above. (Chapter 73, Rule of Saint Benedict)

In Pursuit of Holiness

My last two posts addressed the particular needs of Oblates who are married men and women, fathers and mothers. There are still other souls who find themselves drawn to the Oblateship; among these are widows; young single men and women; people living alone; retired people; the elderly; and those living with infirmities, or with a chronic illness. People in all these conditions and states of life can find in the Oblateship a stimulus and a support in the pursuit of the holiness that God wills for them.

Widows

The widow becomes an Oblate in order to embrace the hard and sweet grace of solitude. The Oblateship encourages and assists her to order her life according to a rhythm of prayer that will fill her days and her nights with the presence of Christ.

Young People

The young single man or woman becomes an Oblate in order to train his or her energies in the straight way of sacrificial love; in order to open his or her heart to the love of Christ and to the joy that comes from the Holy Ghost; and in order to discover the delights and the discipline of liturgical prayer.

Single Adults

One living alone becomes an Oblate because one longs to live at every moment in the company of Christ, seeking His Face and contemplating it; tending the ear of the heart to the sound of His voice, and hearing His Word.

Retired and Elderly Men and People

Retired and older people become Oblates because Benedictine life is the best practice on earth for what we will all do, please God, eternally in heaven. There we will bless God and praise Him; there we will love Him who first loved us. There we will enjoy the companionship of the saints and angels.

The Sick

People who suffer, especially those living with a chronic illness become Oblates because they want, through Saint Benedict's Twelve Steps of Humility, to arrive at the perfect charity that casts out fear; because they want to be identified with Christ, Priest and Victim, in offering themselves and in being offered, with the absolute assurance that not a drop of their suffering will be wasted, and not a single tear forgotten in the kingdom.

Schooling in the Christian Life

One becomes an Oblate because one recognizes in one's own life the need for a continuous schooling in the Christian life. Saint Benedict, in writing his "little Rule for beginners" intended to establish a school for the service of the Lord. The Rule is this school's text book.

Becoming Familiar with the Rule

One must learn, nonetheless, to read it, to ponder it, to search it out patiently, perseveringly, one little bit at a time. The Oblate who tries to read and take in the Rule all at once will suffer a very unbenedictine case of spiritual indigestion. The monastic tradition is to read a page of the Rule each day according to a calendar that allows the entire Rule to be read through three times in the course of one year.

The Rule does not reveal its secrets easily. One must learn to meditate the Rule, searching for the words, the phrases, or the expressions that light up the page. These are the great overarching principles of the Rule, and they are applicable in every state of life.

1 Comments

I really appreciate your description of the Oblateship benefiting those in each of the different states of life, Father. Thank you for these insights.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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