A Benedictine oblate is a man or women from any Christian background who makes a promise to a monastery to live a spiritual life patterned after the Rule of St. Benedict. Male monasteries often have men and women oblates. Oblates do not live at the monastery. Oblates wear regular clothes, and often have a spouse and a job. Some people think if they become oblates their spouse will be required to take a vow of silence, but this is not the case. Benedictine oblates do not take any vows. An oblate makes a promise, not a vow. Vows are made by those who become monks (brothers) or sisters (and nuns). Oblates are "admitted into spiritual union and affiliation with a Benedictine community of monks or sisters, so that they may share in the spiritual life, prayers, and good works of the community." The quote is from, and for an in-depth description see: "Guidelines For Oblates Of St. Benedict," 1971, Prepared by Benedictine Oblate Directors.
Typically, to become an oblate you: Step 1. SENSE THAT YOU ARE DRAWN BY GOD. You know/feel that you are drawn to a deeper spirituality of prayer, meditation, and silence. Step 2. WANT A MONASTIC PATH. Many lifestyles and practices can lead to a closer relationship with God. One way is to live a life inspired by the ancient monastic traditions. You find that you are drawn by the Spirit to a monastic path, even though you continue to live in the wider world. Step 3. LEARN ABOUT OBLATE MONASTICISM. You learn about and enjoy meditation and silent contemplation because it brings you closer to God. You enjoy praying the Divine Office (also called the Liturgy of the Hours or Opus Dei — Work of God) at a monastery or in your home or with a group at a Benedictine gathering of oblates at someone's home. Step 4. FIND A MONASTERY. If you haven't done so previously, you find and learn about a monastery that has an oblate program. You communicate with and attend usually monthly oblate meetings at the monastery and you may be assigned a Spiritual Director to help you decide if you should become an oblate. An "oblation" is an offering or gift to God. Oblates are men and women who offer their lives to God. Benedictine oblates maintain a stable and life-long spiritual union with one monastery. Oblates live outside a monastery, wear regular clothes, and often have a spouse and job. Benedictine oblates draw on deep spirituality by praying the Divine Office and following the 1,500 year old Rule of St. Benedict as their schedule permits. Benedictine oblates pursue lectio divina (divine reading), and silent contemplative prayer, and oblates strive for the monastic lifestyle as their state in life allows. Benedictine oblates prefer nothing to the love of Christ and oblates support a spirit of gentle community among themselves in their Oblate program at the monastery. Many monasteries have such Oblate programs.