Benedictine Conversatio morum

By conversatio morum Oblates make use of all means at their disposal to welcome God's grace to purify and transform them. Just as the monk's corresponding vow commits him "to grow in perfect charity through a monastic manner of life," so the Oblate promises to surrender more and more of his or her life to Christ amidst daily vicissitudes; thus every moment becomes an opportunity for firmer rejection of self-will and deeper abiding in the love of Christ.

Other values in the Rule include silence, humility, peace, "glorifying God in all things," and community. Living in a noisy and unfocused world, Oblates nurture both external and internal silence as a necessary condition for hearing the call of God and responding to Him. Humility involves both an honest admission of one's own limitations, weaknesses, and sinfulness and also a reverent mindfulness of God's greatness, expressed most fully in the all-forgiving love of Jesus Christ.

"Pax," the peace of Christ which is meant to pervade every aspect of Christian life, has become a Benedictine motto; thus Oblates seek to dwell with peace in their hearts, to work for healing and reconciliation within family and community, and to join with other peacemakers to bring about a world of peace and justice.

"Glorifying God" (RB 57:9) means bringing out God's goodness, in Christ, in every person and situation; it means nurturing hope-filled attitudes; it means avoiding murmuring, gossip, and all that destroys or tears down what should rather be healed and redeemed. Since the whole Rule is written in the context of community, Oblates necessarily live in a spirit of community; even if living alone, they strive to nurture loving communion with others who seek God in Christ and ultimately with all people. Oblates show high respect for family life and community life as essential vehicles for transmitting life in Christ.

Benedictine spirituality also summons monks and Oblates to reverence, devotion to the Eucharist, praying of the Liturgy of the Hours, hospitality, special concern for the poor and underprivileged, stewardship for God's creation, and prophetic witness. Oblates develop an attentiveness to the Word of God wherever and however it may speak to them, but especially in the practice of lectio divina, a slow, gentle savoring of the words of the Bible.

Oblates also treasure the living presence of Christ in liturgy, particularly in the Holy Eucharist. They seek to sanctify all the hours of the day by praying some part of the Liturgy of Hours, or "Divine Office," in union with the monks of the Archabbey; this prayer of the Church is meant to extend the effects of the Eucharist to all moments. Just as they come to find Christ in the Eucharist and in Scripture, Oblates likewise learn to welcome Christ in the stranger, as well as in all guests, as an act of faith.

This hospitality will overflow to a heartfelt concern for all those in whom Christ suffers — the poor and oppressed of one's neighborhood and the world. The Rule challenges Benedictines to regard all material things "as sacred vessels of the altar" (RB 31:12), and so Oblates nurture an informed care for the environment as a gift of God to be shared by all people. Finally, just as the monks of Saint Benedict's time witnessed to Christian values that were often contrary to the norms of their society, so also today's monks and Oblates have a prophetic vocation to proclaim the primacy of God and the sacredness of all life in a world that is often deluded by self-centered, materialistic concerns.

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