Who are the Oblates of Saint Michael?
The Oblates of Saint Michael is an international, Roman Catholic, fraternal, lay apostolate
composed of single, married, or clerics (priests, deacons or brothers) living their faith by balancing the duties of their own state in life with a commitment to a personal daily rule of prayer
in the spirit of pragmatic monasticism.
The Oblates of Saint Michael is a virtual monastic community of men devoting part of their day to God in an intimate and meaningful way. They are men seeking a deeper relationship with God by freely choosing to take greater strides in their faith towards that goal by utilizing a structured set of Catholic prayers and practices.
The Oblates of Saint Michael are normal men living in today’s busy world. They are working in any position, in any industry – even religious order – who decide to make a personal commitment to grow in their relationship with God by observing a rule of prayer in their daily lives that follows five tenets:
1) Holy Mass and Reconciliation
2) Eucharistic Adoration
3) Reading Holy Scripture
4) Praying the Holy Rosary
5) Practicing Lectio Divina
What do members of this community do?
of Saint Michael personally commit themselves to core Catholic practices, including regular attendance at Holy Mass on Sundays, frequent use of the Sacraments especially frequent Confession and daily Communion (if possible), Eucharistic Adoration (if possible), contemplating Jesus’ Passion by praying The Stations of the Cross, contemplating Sacred Scripture (Lectio Divina), devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary by the daily recitation of the Rosary, and personal devotions ... all done in the style of pragmatic monasticism.
What is a ‘lay apostolate’?
A lay apostolate is simply a group of people, usually lay people although it may include consecrated religious, who exercise a ministry in cooperation with the Catholic Church. See the Guiding Principles of the Lay Apostolate
written by His Holiness Pope Pius XII for more information.
What is an ‘oblate’?
By definition, an oblate is simply a person dedicated to living a religious life. It does not necessarily mean this is a person who must solely live within a religious order in the traditional sense, such as a monastery or convent. A religious life means placing your faith at the center of your life and living accordingly. The pursuit of holiness is an open invitation from Christ. It is far more than a mere responsibility. It is our ultimate destiny in life – regardless of our state in life.
What exactly is ‘Pragmatic Monasticism’?
Pragmatic Monasticism describes men (or women) living in the world and yet not being a part of the world who balance a fervent ascetic prayer life, use of the Sacraments, and practice of Christian values within a faith-centered secular life in a practical and realistic way.
Monasticism is a spiritual pathway dedicated to the total pursuit of God. Monastics are people who live their entire life centered in God. One does not need to be a priest or deacon to follow that pathway. The monastic life is simply the Christian life, lived in a single-minded and intentional way. It is about deepening and enriching one’s spiritual life by strengthening one’s relationship with God.
The monastic life, as much as we are able, is the angelic life here on earth; it is marked by prayer, sacrificial love, and service to one another and to our families and communities. A pragmatic monastic life means having individual autonomy. To live in the world, and yet, not be a part of the world. To maintain an independent rule of prayer and hold oneself accountable to that rule – but ultimately to God.
Although a monastic life is, by strict definition, a secluded and contemplative life, it does not exclusively pertain to religious orders. Religious orders are normally the places where such austere life is usually exercised.
However, the term ‘monastic’ means ‘adherence to a structured, disciplined and regimented life of ascetic simplicity’. By this definition, we can think of the monastic life as being available to a much broader audience. Anyone can pray and devote time to God. Anyone can practice self-control and charity. Anyone can practice self-denial from unnecessary things. Anyone can be contemplative. These practices are not limited to a few “select” devout souls. These practices define a level of spirituality obtainable by all souls.
Monks live in seclusion and take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Who would want to do that?
First, it is true that traditional monasticism
is normally men or women in a religious order. Monastic communities of men (monasteries) or women (contemplatives
) dates back centuries and continues to the present day.
However, modern monasticism
allows for the principles of monastic life adapted to the present secular world without compromising the sacred traditions of the past. Amongst other things, it provides the laity with an opportunity to join together in community – even a virtual community – in a similar fashion as the traditional religious community.
Is this a religious order or a ‘Third Order’ of an existing religious order?
Neither. The Oblates of Saint Michael is a lay apostolate
founded in 2012 and operated by the laity. It was designed to provide men with a framework for the purpose of growing in their faith and relationship with God by personal commitment with a sense of accountability to a structured organization.
However, there are 'novice' oblates and 'professed' oblates which are similar to their religious order counterparts.
What is a the difference between a ‘Novice’ and a ‘Professed’ member?
Novices are new members of the apostolate who have been received for a period of probation while contemplating God’s call to greater devotion and deeper relationship before taking vows. Novices practice the rule of prayer for one year prior to taking simple vows.
Professed are former novices who have remained faithfully consistent to the apostolate by practicing the rule of prayer for one year and have taken simple vows.
What are ‘simple vows’ exactly and why would I have to take vows?
Simple vows are temporary, renewable promises phrased in simple terms which are stated by the novice oblate either by themselves interiorly, or, if desired, can be said in the presence of one’s parish priest.
The purpose for simple vows is to make a serious commitment to God. In return, the novice should know that God's grace will be ever-present to aid in that commitment.
What is the difference between traditional vows and the vows of the Oblates of Saint Michael?
In alignment with the practice of pragmatic monasticism, the adaptation of core traditions to modern times, the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience may blend into secular society without losing their original intention or importance.
Poverty to the traditional monastic means zero material wealth and goods. To the pragmatic monastic, poverty means the absence of excessive wealth and the vain pursuit of wealth out of mere greed. Instead, it means to have sufficient income or enterprise to own what is necessary to support oneself or one’s family and provide for one’s needs out of responsibility, rather than to excess for the mere pleasure of having more belongings.
Chastity to the traditional monastic means celibacy - the complete absence of sexual experiences. To the pragmatic monastic who may be single or married, this means preserving the moral fiber of one’s state in life. It is not only restricted to sexuality within marriage alone, but also, the moral responsibility for our thoughts, actions and speech. For all men, we are called to purify our thoughts in every sense of the word (sexuality, intentions, motives) which is directly reflected in our speech and actions. For married men, in addition to the forementioned calling, they are also called to exclusive fidelity to their spouse.
Obedience to the traditional monastic means doing what one is told by a superior without question. To the pragmatic monastic, this means two things, 1) obeying the ten commandments, and 2) surrendering our will to God. Jesus Himself provided this example when He said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” - Luke 22:42. By surrendering our will in favor of God's will we practice obedience in cooperation with God's grace.
The Oblates of Saint Michael observe simple vows with the same fervor as if they were taken in the rite of a religious order. The three traditional monastic vows have clear relevance in our modern society.
I do not like making commitments that I am not sure I can keep. What are these simple vows?
I desire to build a deeper and more meaningful relationship with You and Your Blessed Mother.
I desire to be the Catholic man You intend me to be and to live my life the way you want me to live it.
I pray these spiritual exercises will provide me with the spiritual growth necessary to obtain the degree of holiness
that you have designed for me.
For this purpose, I wish to make a commitment to the Oblates of Saint Michael Rule of Prayer and follow it faithfully
to the best of my abilities and circumstances.
Lord, I hereby promise:
1) I shall incorporate this Rule of Prayer into my daily routine to the extent that I am capable of considering my duties and responsibilities.
2) I shall follow this Rule of Prayer for one full year at which time I may renew these vows.
3) I shall pray all my prayers slowly, thoughtfully and fervently while avoiding any distractions or interruptions as much as possible.
Lord, you know me better than I know myself. Help me to find the time and
place each day to pray my prayers and to pray them well. Light the path for me to follow and help me to stay on that path.
Strengthen me in my state in life. Help me know and fulfill Your Will. May only Your will be done. Do with me as you wish.
For, as of this day, I am yours. Amen.
I don’t think this is for me. What kind of people are you looking for?
Men who would benefit from a structured community that provides guidance to build their relationship with God.
Men who may not know God as well as they would like to.
Men who may love God but are not especially passionate about their love for God.
Men who may not know God or even believe in God at all.
Men who may not realize how much God loves them and do not know where to begin.
Men who have not yet reached their spiritual "potential", the spiritual level of growth and holiness which God intends for them personally.
Men seeking to do God’s Will.
Men who deep down in their hearts want to become saints.
Men who are anything but saints, and, are afraid to even approach God.
Men who think they do not need God.
Men who know they cannot exist for a single moment without God.
I don’t want to make any promises. Why do members need to take vows?
The purpose of taking a vow is to be held accountable to a promise. There must be something at stake, otherwise, there is no motivation to take the time.
As men, we pride ourselves on ‘keeping our word’. There has never been a man that enjoyed being told he did not keep his word. A vow is a promise. Promising to tell the truth if one was on trial in a courtroom is a type of vow, albeit a temporary one. Promising to take your child to get an ice cream is a vow. Promising to love, honor, and cherish one’s wife all the days of your life is certainly a very serious vow.
In short, if we say we are going to do something, we do it. No excuses.
This sounds like too much for me. What is the time commitment?
In our society. the precious commodity of time is always at a premium. Often, we are asked to do more and our free time becomes less. The more time we spend with activities and other commitments, the less time we spend with God. We need to dedicate some time, even a small part of our day, solely for God.
Novice Oblates commit to approximately 30 minutes of flexible prayer time per day and another 90 minutes per month.
Professed Oblates commit to approximately 60 minutes of flexible prayer time per day and another 90 minutes per week.
We invite you to prayerfully reflect on your current responsibilities and prior commitments before considering the time commitment of becoming an Oblate of Saint Michael.
Why is this lay apostolate only for men?
To keep men focused on building their relationship with God and concentrating on the spiritual practices of the apostolate in the spirit of pragmatic monasticism.
What does ‘COHORS FRATRUM DEVOTA DEO’ mean?
The English translation of this Latin phrase is ‘Band of Brothers Devoted to God’.
Why did you choose Saint Michael as your namesake?
Saint Michael the Archangel is our champion in these challenging times to live a truly Catholic life. Christian tradition gives to Saint Michael four offices:
1) To fight against Satan
2) To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death
3) To be the champion of God’s people
4) To call away from earth and bring men’s souls to judgment
Oblates venerate Saint Michael by fraternal devotion to his rank as the leading warrior of the faith who leads the defense of our faith and our daily battles against Satan. Devotion to Saint Michael is an innate component of the rule of prayer.
What is Lectio Divina?
The classical practice of Lectio Divina can be divided into two forms: the monastic and the scholastic. The scholastic form divides the process into stages or steps in a hierarchical pattern. Following the reading of a passage of scripture, the first step was to allow a phrase or word to arise out of the text and to focus on it. This was called Lectio. The second was the reflective part, pondering upon the words of the sacred text, and was called meditatio "meditation." The spontaneous movement of the will in response to these reflections was called oratio, "affective prayer." And as these reflections and acts of will simplified, one moved from time to time to a state of resting in the presence of God, and that was called contemplatio "contemplation." This way of doing Lectio Divina developed in the Middle Ages at the beginning of the scholastic period with its tendency to compartmentalize the spiritual life and to rely on rational analysis in theology to the virtual exclusion of personal experience.
Is this apostolate approved by the Catholic Church?
We are neither approved nor rejected by the Catholic Church. Lay apostolates are not required to be approved by the Catholic Church. The Oblates of Saint Michael began in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In prudence, they will not give official approval of any website due to the fact website content is neither permanent nor under their control.
How do I know that lay apostolates are supported by the Catholic Church?
You can read the Decree of the Apostolate of the Laity
written by His Holiness Pope Paul VI. The Holy Father fully explains the role of the apostolate in our culture.
Why was this lay apostolate formed?
As with any human endeavor, we all need encouragement and support to remain steadfast in the pursuit of any goal. Whether we are beginning a new exercise program, a new curriculum at a college, or a new level of commitment to our spiritual growth, we will more likely form new, long-term habits with daily practice once there are expectations placed on us. The element of holding ourselves personally accountable before God is the key. By having this structured community in place, with the use of modern technologies that guide us towards that accountability for our successful practice, we stand a far greater chance of successfully growing in our faith.
How many lay apostolates are there in the world?
There are 122 international associations of the laity in the world today which are recognized by the Catholic Church. Here, you can review this list of associations
and see that lay people have been very active in the church for many decades.
I am not Catholic. Can I still join?
Absolutely. We invite men from any faith to consider joining the Oblates of Saint Michael. Although we are an ecumenical organization, the Oblates of Saint Michael is a Roman Catholic organization that views ecumenism as unity in one faith without compromise.