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The Oblate Life

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Book Review

“What’s dad reading?  It looks weird – something to do with oblates. Is he is reading about the occult?”

No, but I am reading something from the Dayspring library again, and I’d better start by telling you what an oblate is, or you might be like my children and think it is something weird too!

As Notker Wolf, Abbot Primate of Rome, defines it in the Foreword of The Oblate Life:

Oblates are men and women who through association with a specific monastic community place their lives at the service of God while remaining at home in the world, fulfilling their obligations to their families and in their working lives. (ix)

oblatelifeThis book by Gervase Holdaway (OSB) is a compilation of short articles on different aspects of what it means to be a Benedictine oblate. It covers such diverse topics as the Benedictine heritage, Lectio Divina, prayer, stability, cyberspace, service in the church and community, life in the workplace and in the home, leisure, aging and death. Many of the contributors are oblates, but some are monks or nuns, such as Michael Casey, a Cistercian monk from Tarrawarra Abbey in Victoria.

The majority of the worldwide oblates are Roman Catholic, but many are also Protestant, as are some of the contributors, such as Esther de Waal (an Anglican oblate and writer on the monastic tradition), Maxwell Johnson (a Lutheran oblate and minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church) and Kathleen Norris (a Presbyterian oblate and author). While the contributors come from a great range of professions and backgrounds, all are committed to living out, as best they can, the Rule of Benedict in daily life.

So, far from being a strange book about an outlandish topic, this book can provide small snatches of wisdom for you to ruminate and meditate on in the unpredictable world of everyday life.

The Oblate Life, Holdaway, Gervase (OSB), Canterbury Press, Norwich, 2008. Available in the Dayspring library.

– Brian Holliday

Image: Fr Gervase Holdaway (Douai Abbey)

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