Jodi Blazek Gehr, Being Benedictine Blogger

What is an oblate?

Benedictine Oblates are ordinary people: men and women, married and single, lay and
ordained; Catholic and non-Catholic Christians; retired, working in the home and the community. Members of the Oblate community at Christ the King Priory, where I am an oblate (lay member) are from Schuyler, Omaha, Lincoln, benedict-vowsMissouri, South Dakota — even as far away as New York and Louisiana. What they have in common is a deep desire to live as members of the Body of Christ in a special way — according to the principles of the Rule of Saint Benedict.

Oblates desire to live as a monk in the world,  seeking God by striving to become holy in their everyday life, in their family, and in their workplace. Oblates are associated with a monastic community, offering their lives to God through prayer and service. Faithfully participating in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church, Oblates promise to practice a prayerful life in their particular denomination.

“The Oblates are Christians who desire, for a more secure realization of their personal perfection, to draw near the monks, participate in their life and be pervaded with their spirit.” -Dom Paul Chauvin

Living as a monk in the world

Being Benedictine is a way of life. Being Benedictine—practicing stability, obedience, and conversion of life—is my commitment to live as a monk in the world. In 2013, I promised as an Oblate of a monastic community to learn from the wisdom of St. Benedict and to apply these values in all aspects of my life.

Men and women who have made monastic vows, called monks, practice stability by committing to a specific monastery and staying put. “The monk is an archetype, whether we live in a monastery or not, we have a sense of what it means to be a monk. We long to be together with God in solitude.” (Fr. Mauritius Wilde, OSB)

Although I do not live in a monastery, I seek God right where I am. I am grateful to have learned about the value of practicing stability, being committed to, and growing in my marriage (since 1985) and my profession as a teacher (since 1997.) Growth only happens by planting roots, standing firm, and practicing patient endurance.  A marriage will not survive without adapting to, enduring, and celebrating the change of seasons—the spring of new life and hope, the summer of comfort and security, the autumn of changes and letting go, and the winter of sadness and despair. I believe more each day that it is only in the stability of marriage, enduring the weather of every season, that one can reap the true benefits of a life lived together.

My commitment to teaching is a lot like my marriage. Practicing stability has given me the courage to stay in teaching, and to learn valuable lessons that can only be learned slowly and over time. It takes work. I give. I get. It is (too) hard sometimes. I want to quit. I recommit. There are days, weeks, months, and sometimes years, that don’t seem very rewarding. But there are moments that are so affirming; it is then that the reward is revealed. It is only over time that the fruits of the labor can be truly appreciated, and the work of the Divine is evident.

Practicing stability is not stagnation, though; there is movement and growth by committing to consersatio morium, a conversion of life. I am not the same person who said, “I do,” thirty-seven years ago; and thank God, I am not that first-year teacher struggling to manage a classroom of 8th-grade students. While staying faithful, if there is a challenge, I try to learn new ways to approach it including professional learning, counseling, spiritual direction, reading, and listening. With a growth mindset, I am open to being converted again and again.

The third promise of the monk is obedience, to listen—the first word of the Rule of St. Benedict. To “listen with the ear of the heart” requires silence. Listening also includes seeing in new ways, recognizing the sacred in the ordinary, practicing gratitude, and growing in compassion. Listening is the center of my spiritual practice which includes spiritual reading, Lectio Divina, creative expression including writing reflections on my blog, Being Benedictine, and practicing SoulCollage®.

Practicing SoulCollage®, the perfect expression of the inner artist and monk archetypes, is a powerful form of self-reflection and prayer. “The monk, a universal archetype of the search for the divine, represents everything in you that leans toward the sacred, all that reaches for what is eternal…The artist speaks to that part of you that yearns for beauty and creativity.” (Macrina Wiedekehr). By creatively and prayerfully cutting and pasting images onto cards, one can have a new awareness and deeper levels of thought and feeling. Cultivating our inner monk and artist is a response to the joy and suffering we experience in our personal lives and in the world. It is a spiritual practice of seeking the Divine while learning about parts of myself, a place of mystery.

One of my greatest joys is to learn something new, explore ideas, gather information, and then share it with others (Learning and Input, if you are a fan of Clifton Strengths.) Planning two or three retreats a year on specific themes, while actively participating with a group of spiritual playmates in these settings, feeds my soul. With others, while “image bathing” and creating cards, there is a unique opportunity to share parts of our spiritual journey. The friendships that have been forged have become a community of women who support each other in our spiritual journey.

Being Benedictine is an ongoing spiritual journey. Becoming an Oblate, a monk in the world, is a commitment to grow in understanding of how stability, conversion of life, and obedience reveals the Divine in my daily life—in my roles as wife, mother, friend, teacher, retreat leader, monk, and artist!

Where can you get involved?

Most Benedictine monasteries have an Oblate program, some even offer long-distance participation. I made my act of Final Oblation at Christ the King Priory, promising “before God and all the saints in my state in life permits, stability of heart, fidelity to the spirit of the monastic life and obedience to the will of God.”  Christ the King Priory is the monastery affiliated with St. Benedict Center, an oasis of peace, where our meetings are held and those who choose can stay overnight, plan a personal retreat or attend a sponsored program or retreat.


“To be an oblate is to live with one foot in the world and one foot in the monastery.” ~Ursula Dipple, obl OSB

When do Oblates Meet?

Join us every second Saturday of the month from 9:45 am -3:30 pm.  After monastery announcements, we have Lectio Divina, Mass, midday prayers, lunch, and book/text discussion (with time to visit the bookstore as well).  For more information email  For more info see the Mission Monks website.


© Jodi Blazek Gehr, Being Benedictine Blogger