My husband and I have only been living the Benedictine lifestyle for a few months, but already I’m realizing that this way of life is much different than I imagined it would be. You see, when I became an oblate, I thought that I would be denying the world for the sake of growing closer to God. I thought that by shutting everything out, my spiritual life would blossom. Yet, this is not what being an oblate is about at all.
Being an oblate is about dedicating your life to serving God and living a life of prayer. As an oblate, you are obligated to formally pray every three hours. It doesn’t matter what you are in the middle of doing when that prayer time comes around, you must pause and lift up your heart with the millions of other people throughout the world who are also reciting those exact same prayers, at that exact same moment. The prayer schedule is ancient, communal, and salvific.
In the past, when I’ve visited monasteries, I was always blown away by the peaceful atmosphere, slow pace, and the constant prayer. The beauty is always so overwhelming that my chest burns. I have always left the monastery grounds wishing that I could live that kind of life. Wishing that I too could escape from the world, so that I could focus all of my attention on God alone. (At least, that’s what I thought the monks did)
Now I realize that I was completely wrong about the monastery. The beauty of the monastery isn’t found in it being an oasis from the world. It is that the men who live there live a life that recognizes God’s Presence in the world. That’s why the monastery is filled with beauty and peace. The monks consecrate the mundane. Those men still clean toilets, lose sleep when stressed, work hard each day, and get discouraged. They haven’t escaped the world at all. They just see the world as it was created to be seen.
This is what I’m learning. Thanks be to God for the slow conversion of my soul.