What is an Oblate?


The following is taken from the Constitutions of our Order concerning Oblates: The “Oblature” as a gift of oneself to God and to a monastery. This state of life is lived out in the midst of a particular community where the Oblate shares in the life and prayer of the monks. The Oblate is a member of the community to which he belongs without being canonically a member of the Order. The Oblature has the character of a promise of mutual fidelity on the part of both the Oblate and the community but does not itself imply any vow. The Oblate embraces the monastic life according to the spirit of the vows of obedience, conversion of manners, and stability. This mutual agreement is revocable on either side, but only for serious reasons.

The Oblate retains ownership of his goods but is invited to free himself as soon as possible from their administration. Where this is not possible, he administers these goods in agreement with the Abbot who watches over the interests of the Oblate and acts in such a way as to avoid anything that could be prejudicial to the community. After an initial time of probation, the Oblate is admitted to a two year period of probation, followed by a three year period of probation, after which, at the discretion of the abbot and community, the Oblate may be allowed to make a definitive and permanent engagement. During this time, the Oblate would receive formation in Cistercian spirituality, liturgy and monastic tradition.

So an Oblate is essentially a person who lives the life of a monk or nun within the monastic community but without taking vows.  As can be imagined this arrangement is not common.  Each monastery makes its own determination about whether they will receive canonical Oblates and under what conditions.

I should mention that St. Rafael Arnaiz Baron was an Oblate of our monastery of St. Isidoro in Spain.  I hope this is helpful!