Whenever we try to rigidly define an experience or a call we often come up short. Words fail and sometimes a little confusion enters into our awareness. These days I am reading in the School of Community (the weekly catechesis of Communion and Liberation) Luigi Giussani’s Generating Traces in the History of the World (2010) and there he writes of Baptism’s character: the birth of a new creature. This particular section is quite good and hopeful. Giussani reminds us that beginning with Christ we have baptism leading to a companionship. Noting what Paul VI said (realize that Paul was formerly Giussani’s bishop in Milan) that with Baptism we become a “People that make history” and in another place he says we are a “new people who make history…” The event of Baptism “implies the participation of my person in the Mystery of Christ’s person –my person is incorporated into the Mystery of Christ’s person.”
Coupled with St John Henry Newman’s teaching that each of us given a mission, a work that is non-transferable and unique to each person, I was thinking of the Oblate vocation and the following paragraph came to mind on place of oblates in the witness of the Benedictine monastery. Several years ago, the English Benedictines formed their thinking of how to understand the vocation of the laity in relation to monastic way of life.
“Lay oblates are a particular way in which a monastic community is able to share the fraternal communion of its life with lay people who seek to leaven the dough of their ordinary lives and their service of the mission of the local church with the yeast of Benedictine wisdom. They have responded to a call, been through a process of discernment and formation, and have made a promise to witness to Benedictine life in their homes, at work and in the local church. The part that oblates play in the individual communities where they make their oblation varies, but the mutual witness of prayer and the sharing of the testimony of lives that look to the Rule to support them is an encouragement to the monastic communities, and is a sign of the vitality of Benedictine life in the local churches.”
Excerpt from TO PREFER NOTHING TO CHRIST, paragraph 116
The Monastic Mission of the English Benedictine Congregation
The Catholic Truth Society, Publishers to the Holy See, London 2015