ora pro nobis
Well, I did it. Honestly, I kind of went kicking and screaming. Or at least, sort of moaning and complaining and fretting. But I did it.
On Easter Tuesday, after Vespers, my friend Maria and I were received by the Monastery of San Benedetto as Oblates, after a year mainly spent being a slacker. I told Br. Oblate Master that I was a slacker, and presented credible evidence, but he kept just smiling and saying encouraging things like, "Oh, you can't wait to be perfect before you dive in and make a commitment. If I'd waited until I was ready, I'd still not be a monk," ... and stuff like that.
Even when we realised that in the last year we hadn't even really read the entire Rule... Well yes, bits of it, of course, but the whole thing? Ermmm... well... I meant to...I really did... Then when we got the little booklet of the ceremony, and read, "You have already sufficiently learned the rule under which you wish to serve, not only by reading but also by much practice during the time that has elapsed since becoming an Oblate novice..." I figured we would need to cram a bit.
Fortunately, our friend Julie - who is clearly much holier than either of us useless lay-abouts - read the entire thing to us out loud on Monday. It took more or less the whole day, but we got it all. We looked things up we didn't know, and everything.
I tried to convince them of my complete suckitude, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears. I guess they'll just take pretty much anyone.
Anyway, it was Tuesday, and I had to go back to work that day, so I spent the morning after Mass working, and when I was done, Julie helped me reorganise all my book shelves, and then it was time to go to Vespers... I think the book-reorganising was a distraction on Julie's part to keep me from getting cold feet.
Off we went down the hill, and into destiny. Or something.
The ceremony was rather cool, and though I had hoped we could be down in the nice quiet crypt, it was upstairs in the Basilica and there happened to be a humungous whack of people there. Mainly priests, seminarians and religious who had come for the Triduum and were staying for retreats.
First there was a bunch of stuff in Latin, invoking the Holy Spirit and whatnot... I don't have translations...
Prior: "Quid Petis?"
Us: "Misericordiam Dei, et participationem Oblatorum Sancti Benedicti."
Then the bit about how well we've already been living the Rule, then...
Prior: "If then, you are ready and willing to observe the salutary teachings of our holy father Benedict, according as your state in in life permits, and are resolved to persevere in your holy resolution, you may now make your Final Oblation.
Then one at a time we went through the promises and statement:
Prior: "Do you renounce the vanities and pomps of the world?"
Us: "I do."
Prior: "Will you undertake the reformation of your life according to the spirit of the Rule of our holy father Benedict?"
Us: "I will."
Prior: "will you persevere in your holy resolution until death?"
Us: "With the help of God's grace, I will."
Prior: "Thanks be to God. Since God has given you the good will, and you trust in His help, you may now make your act of Final Oblation."
Then we each read aloud the charter we'd copied out by hand and which the monastery will keep in their archives for all eternity.
"In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
I ____, of (your home town) ____, offer myself to Almighty God, to Mary Seat of wisdom, to our holy father Benedict, for the Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia, and I do promise before God and all the Saints, the reformation of my life according to the spirit of the Rule of the same most holy father, Benedict, as an Oblate of this monastery.
In testimony of which, I have written this oblation chart with my own hand and now sign it, on this ____ day of _____, in the year of Our Lord, 2015.
Then there was a bit of Gregorian which we did rather badly, some nice liturgical concluding prayers, all in Latin, and a general "Amen."
All the monks came and gave us the Pax, and there was generally glowy feeling all 'round, many congratulations, and lots of grilled pork and beer after.
Of course, now the marriage starts, and the reality of it hasn't quite sunk in.
I haven't belonged to anything in anything approaching an ontological, familial way since I was 15. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do.
I suppose I'll figure it out. With the help of God's grace...