Once again it was a Lent of loopholes, of minor sacrifices deferred by family travels and travails and of minor irritations unredeemed, so that as Palm Sunday drew near it caught me in need of a new beginning, in want of a jump start.
In our noisy and technologically correct secular society, mystery and silence are as absent as they are secretly craved. Two of the most austere Western monastic orders to distill this countercultural craving are the Carthusians and Trappists.
Becoming an oblate—literally “one who is offered”—means joining a particular Christian monastic community as a kind of lay associate. An oblate takes no vows but does affirm the intention to live by a modified version of the order’s rule, while continuing one’s “ordinary life.”
Here is a lesson in monastic stability, transposed to a domestic key: I am invited to give a talk to a general chapter of Benedictine monastic communities, meeting at a historic abbey in Italy. Such occasions, which take place only once every eight years, normally are private affairs involving intramural matters like the election of an abbot president and revision of monastic statutes.
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