Oblates’ Day at the Monastery

Yesterday, the feast of All Benedictine Saints, was our annual Oblates’ Day at the monastery. A few of us gathered for Mass at Belmont then returned to the monastery at Howton Grove for a day of prayer and reflection during the course of which we had the joy of affiliating Margaret to our community. She lives in Canada so we did so online, with participation from oblates in the U.S.A. and elsewhere in the U.K.  There were a few glitches caused by our not all having the latest version of the necessary software, but on the whole it worked well, enabling us to see, hear and interact with one another in real time.

During the subsequent oblate chapter meeting, we discussed the way in which oblates and home community interact. One of the problems we have, as a very small community, is meeting the demands on our time. We do our best, but we just aren’t able to do everything we’d like, and people are sometimes very disappointed. We therefore discussed what we can give our oblates, and were surprised and pleased to hear that they also wanted to discuss what they, as oblates, can give to the community. It was encouraging to hear our oblates say that, just as much of our hospitality is conducted online, so much of our oblate interaction needs to be online, too. There was ready acceptance that the amount of input we provide by means of this blog, Facebook, podcasts and so on made it unnecessary, indeed impossible, for us to think in terms of regular oblate newsletters and the like. However, we shall be initiating a regular series of online meetings (using group video-call software such as Skype) during which we hope that some of the input will be contributed by the oblates themselves (after all, who wants to hear Digitalnun and Quietnun doing all the talking?). Roughly half our oblates live in Canada, the U.S.A., France and Italy, so negotiating suitable times will be a challenge (but, of course the software exists to help with that, too). I shall be emailing all the oblates who weren’t present with details.

All in all, it was a most enjoyable day, much of it spent in front of the logburner in the calefactory — a novel experience for our oblates, who are used to the rather colder and damper conditions at Hendred. We ended with the Oblate Dinner. Some things cannot be transferred to virtual space, and roast lamb, I’m happy to say, is one of them.


9 thoughts on “Oblates’ Day at the Monastery”

  1. I agree the monastery’s online outreach is already considerable.

    Are the online oblate meetings considered chapter meetings?

    And I wonder if there was a special significance to the roast of lamb at the Oblate Dinner. Pity it could not be served virtually… 😉

    Lastly, does the use of the calefactory signify cooler rooms elsewhere in the monastery?

    • The online meetings for oblates will be open to our oblates only: I’ll send you more details when I email round everyone.

      Roast lamb was served at the Oblate Dinner because three of those present like lamb very much and we wanted to give people a little treat for the feast.

      The calefactory is actually the coolest room in the house, but it has a logburner so can be warmed very nicely. The calefactory was originally the only place in a monastery where a fire was allowed the brethren, and it’s the only place here where we have a stove, so seemed a suitable choice of name.

  2. It was a lovely day, and I felt went on to emphasise what a family we are. Those of us physically present were comfortable with each other, and the excitement of meeting others virtually was equally tangible.

    A good day had by all I should say!


  3. It was a very enjoyable day and I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to join the community for the first Oblate Day at Howton Grove Priory.  A big thank you for the thought and planning that went into making the day possible and of course the wonderful hospitality.

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