The External Oblate of Assumption Abbey and the monastic community enjoy a mutually supportive and nourishing relationship. The External Oblate finds participation in the monastic life-style for a limited time to be a significant part of his response to the Divine call. The monastic community feels the joy and satisfaction of sharing its heritage, while benefiting from the presence and services of the Oblate.
Here is a link to an article entitled New Identity by Richard A. Ortez that describes the External Oblate vocation.
Way of Life
The External Oblate will live within the monastic community for periods of at least 4 days and no more than 7 days at least 10 months per year.
During these live-in periods, the Participant:
Attends all the monastic offices and Masses
Takes his meals in the refectory
Wears the External Oblate smock in Church and at the noon meal
Works where and when assigned
Observes the Grand Silence and stability
Does not engage in prolonged conversations, or spend time, with brothers in formation
Sees his monastic mentor and the Abbot at least once each
May have a carrel in the Chapter Room for lectio after Vigils and other times
Attends Sunday and Wednesday Chapters, and other meetings when invited.
May be assigned to such services as: Mass server, Mass reader, Refectory Reader
The External Oblate may visit the monastery at other times as a regular guest in the Guest House. During these visits he may join the monks in choir.
Apart from meals and basic necessities during his live-in periods, the External Oblate is responsible for his own financial support and material maintenance, including medical and health needs. There is no financial or material compensation involved in the External Oblate/Abbey relationship.
The External Oblate may withdraw from this program whenever he wishes. Also, with just cause that will be clearly explained, he may be asked to withdraw.
Discernment and Acceptance
A person will be moved to request to be an External Oblate of Assumption Abbey after a prolonged period of visits to the Abbey during which time the candidate has come to know the brothers and to feel a spiritual identity with the Cistercian way of life as expressed by them.
A suitable candidate will have a personal lifestyle that is free from behaviors or associations contrary to gospel and monastic values and that could cause scandal to the candidate or to the Abbey.
If the Abbot with the consent of the Monastic Council accepts the candidate's request, the candidate begins a period of probation.
He will be entrusted to a monastic mentor, the liaison between him and the community. In most cases this will be the prior of the monastery. He will begin living according to the program laid out above, but without wearing distinctive garb.
During this time of probation, the candidate will be offered some form of orientation to monastic spirituality and practice.
At a time agreed upon by the candidate, his monastic mentor, and the abbot, the candidate will renew his request to be accepted as a External Oblate of the Abbey. The request is accepted by the abbot with the consent of the Council and after consulting the Conventual Chapter.
The candidate makes an act of oblation before the abbot and community of his intention to live as an External Oblate. He will receive a blessing from the abbot and the External Oblate's smock at the time of his oblation. This oblation will be renewed annually, after a period of evaluation involving the Abbot, the monastic mentor and the External Oblate himself. After three annual renewals, the renewal can be made for five-year periods.