Notes to Oblates of Mount Angel Abbey

Fr John Paul Le O.S.B.Fr. John Paul Le, OSB, director of the oblates of Mount Angel Abbey, writes frequent notes to the oblates of Mount Angel Abbey. The oblates are a vibrant and active community of lay people and priests who strive to live the Holy Rule of St. Benedict in the spirit of Mount Angel Abbey, as far as their state in life permits. The notes are a mix of spiritual reflection, instruction, and updates on current events within the community of monks and oblates.

February 17, 2024

Dear Oblates,

“The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
– Gospel for the Friday after Ash Wednesday

When I was doing my mission work in East Timor, I had the experience of visiting a blind community. I was moved by their kindness, inspired by their innovation, and edified by their support of one another period but the thing that really stood out, surprisingly, was their ability to speak English. While I was in East Timor, I taught many students English, and so I knew how difficult it was for them to properly pronounce English words, but within this blind community, their pronunciation was nearly perfect. If I were blind, I would have thought that I was speaking to an American. Why was this so? I believe that being deprived of their sense of sight, their auditory sense was heightened and intensified. In order to survive, they needed to listen more carefully than the average person.

I think this concept can be applied to fasting as it relates to the spiritual life by fasting, we deprive ourselves of a material sense, so that our spiritual sense can be heightened. If we are satiated from images, words and food, what room do we have for God? Therefore, we can fast from the number of images we take in with our eyes, so that with the eyes of the heart we can focus on him in whose image we are made. We fast from a cacophony of words and noise, so that with the ears of our heart we can listen more carefully to the quiet voice of God. Also, we fast from the amount of food we filled ourselves with, so that we can fill the hunger of our heart with Him who is the Bread of Life.

What may God be calling you to fast from this Lenten season? How can this practice make room for God in your heart?

I encourage you to attend our Lenten Meditation with sacred music and sacred images. It will be on Saturday, February 24, from 9-10 am in the library auditorium. The cantor will be Catherine Schneider. Please register by clicking here. See below for more details.

FYI, 8 oblates have already signed up for the Oblate pilgrimage.

Prayer request. Please pray for the men on discernment retreat with us this weekend. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Super Bowl Sunday 2024 Br Matthew Fr John Paul and Br Ambrose celebrate

(L-R) Br. Matthew, Fr. John Paul and Br. Ambrose celebrate Kansas City Chiefs 2024 win!

Lenten Meditation with Sacred Music and Sacred Art, February 24, 2024

Please register by clicking here


Oblate Calendar

February
24 – Lenten Meditation with Sacred Music and Sacred Images by Catherine Schneider. Library Auditorium, 9-10am.
March
9 – St. Frances of Rome (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
10 – Oblate Sunday (9am-Noon): Br. Matthew on Silence, Part II.
21 – Passing of St. Benedict (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
April
14 – Oblate Sunday
May
12 – Oblate Sunday
24-26 – Oblate Retreat: Br. Isaiah on the Prophet Isaiah.
June
9 – Oblate Sunday
13-16 – Oblate Study Days: Christin McIntyre – Marian Mental Health and Spiritual Warfare.
16 – Oblate Picnic


A Note to Oblates - February 9, 2024

February 9, 2024

Dear Oblates,

“We hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome.”
– Prologue 46

If you ask, “why is it that the Rule of Benedict came to trump all other rules,” I would have to say that one of the main reasons was that it was a way of life that was neither harsh nor burdensome for monks. Saint Benedict’s way stands in sharp contrast to the severity to which some monks of the desert practiced their monasticism. Saint Benedict moderated the amount of food, the amount of sleep and the amount of prayer to manageable amounts. Throughout the rule, we see this principle of nothing harsh, nothing burdensome being employed. A few examples shall suffice. In chapter 39, Saint Benedict says that there should be “two kinds of cooked food” because of individual weaknesses (39:1). In another chapter he writes that the amount of manual labor should be done with “moderation on account of the faint hearted” (48:9). In speaking about the proper amount of rest, he says that after their meal “they may rest on their beds and complete silence,” aka, take a nap (48:5).

Saint Benedict was very much aware of human weakness and limitation. The quality he sought for in a monk was zeal in seeking God. If he had this, then that was sufficient. He did not have to have a heroism of a desert father, but merely had to have the desire to seek God and be willing to live a moderate life of prayer, work, discipline and reading. Now, doesn’t that sound more appealing than simply living on bread or staying up all night to pray vigils? The Benedictine way should give us great joy, for it tells us that in order to grow close to God, there is a way that is neither harsh nor burdensome. It is the humble way of this little rule.

Do you find life harsh or burdensome? How can you apply the principles and values in the holy rule to make your life a little less harsh and a little less burdensome?

Dr. Pamela Patnode (oblate) will be giving a talk entitled, “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.” It will be on February 11th in the library auditorium at 10:30am.

Prayer request. Please pray for Holy Mother Church as she begins the solemn Lenten season this Wednesday. Pray especially for those who will be baptized and confirmed. We have two oblate novices, who will experience this during the Easter season. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

New Oblates, February 2024

New Oblates

New Novices, February 2024

New Novices

New Novices

New Novices

Mount Angel Institute presentation by Dr Pamela Patnode, February 11, 2024


Oblate Calendar

February
10 – St. Scholastica (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
11 – Oblate Speaker: Dr. Pamela Patnode. (Library Auditorium 10:30am). “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.”
24 – Lenten Meditation with Sacred Music and Sacred Images by Catherine Schneider. Library Auditorium, 9-10am.
March
9 – St. Frances of Rome (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
10 – Oblate Sunday (9am-Noon): Br. Matthew on Silence, Part II.
21 – Passing of St. Benedict (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
April
14 – Oblate Sunday
May
12 – Oblate Sunday
24-26 – Oblate Retreat: Br. Isaiah on the Prophet Isaiah.
June
9 – Oblate Sunday
13-16 – Oblate Study Days: Christin McIntyre – Marian Mental Health and Spiritual Warfare.
16 – Oblate Picnic


A Note to Oblates - February 2, 2024

February 2, 2024

Dear Oblates,

“The Presentation of the Lord.”

Today is the 40th day after the Nativity of the Lord. In some way, we see this as the end of the Christmas season. On this day, Mary and Joseph present the child Jesus in the temple to be held in the arms of the aged man Simeon. This is a very ancient feast in the church. It was already celebrated in Jerusalem in the 5th century and in Rome in the 7th century. In the east, it is known as the feast of the Encounter, and for many centuries in the West it was called the Purification in reference to Our Lady’s purification. This feast is also known as Candlemas because on this day candles were blessed during holy Mass.

If we think about it, we soon realize that candles are present at the major events in our life. We receive a candle when we are baptized; there is a candle that is lit on our wedding day; and when we die, the Easter candle is lit as it is placed near our coffin. One spiritual image that the candle evokes is that of our Lord. Saint Anselm explains, “the wax produced by the virginal bee represents Christ spotless body; the wick, enclosed in the wax and forming one with it, images his soul; while the ruddy flame crowning and completing the union of wax and wick, typifies the divine nature.” Therefore, when we see the candle burning at Mass or even in our room, let us call to mind the presence of Christ who on this day appeared in the temple; and having been graced to be in the Lord’s presence, let us with Simeon be at peace.

Prayer tip. Place a little candle in your prayer space and light it when you pray. Take a moment and recall that God is present to you as the candle is present to you.

Dr. Pamela Patnode (oblate) will be giving a talk entitled, “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.” It will be on February 11th in the library auditorium at 10:30am.

Please continue sending in your Lenten Bona Operas (Good Works). If you did not get one or have lost it, you can let me know by email what you plan on doing. Reading through Chapter 4 of the Holy Rule can be a good way to prepare. Thank you for engaging in this wonderful Lenten practice with the monastery. During this season, I encourage you to attend our Lenten Meditation with sacred music and sacred images. It will be on Saturday, February 24, from 9-10 am in the library auditorium. The cantor will be Catherine Schneider. Please register by clicking here.

Prayer request. Please pray for the oblates on retreat this weekend, especially for the seven, who will be making final oblation on Sunday. Pray also for all religious priests, brothers and sisters as this feast day is a special feast for all of us. Pray also for two of the Queen of Angels sisters, who passed away last week, Sr. Mechtilde Fennimore and Sr. Theresa Henscheid.

Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Abbot Jeremy in Rome for the plenaria meeting of the Dicastery of Divine Worship in the Vatican. In Sant'Anselmo he received the title of Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Theology.

Abbot Jeremy in Rome for the plenaria meeting of the Dicastery of Divine Worship in the Vatican. In Sant’Anselmo he received the title of Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Theology.

 


Oblate Calendar

February
2-4 – Oblate Retreat. Br. Anselm: In Heaven as it is on Earth: Learning to Live the Trinity.
10 – St. Scholastica (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
11 – Oblate Speaker: Dr. Pamela Patnode. (Library Auditorium 10:30am). “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.”
March
9 – St. Frances of Rome (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
10 – Oblate Sunday (9am-Noon): Br. Matthew on Silence, Part II.
21 – Passing of St. Benedict (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
April
14 – Oblate Sunday
May
12 – Oblate Sunday
24-26 – Oblate Retreat: Br. Isaiah on the Prophet Isaiah.
June
9 – Oblate Sunday
13-16 – Oblate Study Days: Christin McIntyre – Marian Mental Health and Spiritual Warfare.
16 – Oblate Picnic


A Note to Oblates - January 26, 2024

January 26, 2024

Dear Oblates,

“Therefore we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.”
Prologue 45

The Benedictine way is a school of learning. Indeed, regardless of the number of years we have been following the rule, there is always room for improvement, and we will never graduate from this school.

The idea of school also brings to mind the fact that there are teachers and students. When we begin, we not only need to read the rule, we need teachers to help us understand it and live it out. Having a good mentor or a good commentary on the rule can be something quite helpful in ones early stages. As we grow and mature in years, we will be asked to be teachers. I have noticed this in my own life, as well as in the life of oblates. This is a pattern of how God acts. One’s growth in virtue is not meant simply for oneself, but for others as well.

The concept of school also reminds us that none of us are perfect students, and that we will make mistakes along the way. We will fall short of the rules, but we need the rules as a standard and goal for us. We need to be patient with ourselves and learn from our mistakes and simply move forward.

Lastly, we can ask, “what are we learning in this school?” Some monastics have said that the monastery is a school of Christ, that is, it is a place where we learn from Christ about Christ. I like that way of thinking, for our Lord is the good and patient teacher. Throughout the gospels, he is always teaching his apostles, and along the way, they are becoming more like him in thought, word and deed.

How do you see Christ as your teacher? What lesson has he been teaching you recently?

Dr. Pamela Patnode (oblate) will be giving a talk entitled, “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.” It will be on February 11th in the library auditorium at 10:30am.

A little over a week ago, the Lenten Bona Operas were mailed out. I have received a few back already. Thank you for engaging in this wonderful Lenten practice with the monastery. During this season, I encourage you to attend our Lenten Meditation with sacred music and sacred images. It will be on Saturday, February 24, from 9-10 am in the library auditorium. The cantor will be Catherine Schneider. Please register by clicking here.

Also attached is the Oblate Events Flyer for 2024. I hope you can attend one or a few of these events. The February Oblate retreat is already full.

Br. Ambrose’s latest article entitiled, “Wee Sir Gibbie and Saint Antony the Great (Or: Snapshots of Scriptural Spirituality)” can now be viewed on the oblate page.

Prayer request. Please pray for Abbot Jeremy and for meeting he is attending in Rome on the Sacred Liturgy. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Snow day at the Abbey, January 2024, sliding down the hill

Abbey Church on Snow Day January 2024

Abbey Church on Snow Day January 2024

Snow Day at the Abbey January 2024


Oblate Events 2024

February
Feb 2-4Oblate Retreat* with Br. Anselm Flores. In Heaven as it is on Earth: Learning to Live the Trinity.
Feb 11Dr. Pamela Patnode – “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.” Library auditorium 10:30-11:45 am.
Feb 24Lenten Meditation with Sacred Music and Sacred Images: Cantor: Catherine Schneider. Library auditorium 9-10 am.

March
Mar 29Stations of the Cross. 9:30 -11:30 am. Led by Hispanic Oblates.
May 24-26Oblate Retreat* with Br. Isaiah. New heavens and a new earth – Isaiah’s message of Hope.

June
June 13-16 – Oblate Study Days – Christin McIntyre – Marian Mental Health and Spiritual Warfare. $385 single occupancy; $570 double occupancy. Early arrivals (evening before) – $440 single occupancy; $660 double occupancy. $145 commuter.
June 16 – Oblate Picnic. $15, free for children under 18.

September
Sept 20-22Oblate Retreat* with Br. Ambrose. Luminous Darkness: Encountering Christ in Uncomfortable Scriptures.

November
Nov 10-12Oblate Retreat* with Br. Matthew. Listening with the Ear of Your Heart: Meditations on the Prologue of the Holy Rule.

Oblate Sundays in 2024: Jan 14, Feb 11, Mar 10, Apr 14, May 12, Jun 9, Aug 11, Sep 8, Oct 13, Nov 10, Dec 15.

* Oblate Retreat Rates – $220 single occupancy; $330 double occupancy; $115 Commuter.

Visit our web page for oblates for more information.


Oblate Calendar

February
2-4 – Oblate Retreat. Br. Anselm: In Heaven as it is on Earth: Learning to Live the Trinity.
10 – St. Scholastica (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
11 – Oblate Speaker: Dr. Pamela Patnode. (Library Auditorium 10:30am). “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.”
March
9 – St. Frances of Rome (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
10 – Oblate Sunday (9am-Noon): Br. Matthew on Silence, Part II.
21 – Passing of St. Benedict (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
April
14 – Oblate Sunday
May
12 – Oblate Sunday
24-26 – Oblate Retreat: Br. Isaiah on the Prophet Isaiah.
June
9 – Oblate Sunday
13-16: Oblate Study Days: Christin McIntyre – Marian Mental Health and Spiritual Warfare.
16 – Oblate Picnic


A Note to Oblates - January 19, 2024

January 19, 2024

Dear Oblates,

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”
Prologue 40

This verse of Saint Benedict takes into consideration the two-fold nature of spiritual growth, our effort and God’s grace. First, we must do what we can to cooperate with God in our own personal and spiritual growth. This takes time, effort, sacrifice and perseverance. The temptation is to give in to acedia, sloth and laziness. We do not want to do what we know is good for us. At the same time, we have to be weary of trying too hard, believing that by our own efforts we can advance to spiritual perfection. While we need to do our part, we also need to acknowledge that no matter how hard we try, we are still dependent upon God’s grace.

Therefore, Saint Benedict advises us to ask the Lord for this grace. We must pray daily for this grace to come more fully into our lives. Jesus says, “ask and you shall receive” (Matthew 7:7). What grace do you need from God? Ask for it every day. What virtue are you trying to cultivate or vice are you trying to overcome? Pray to the Lord that he may help you. God can do all things; He can supply the grace, help and support we need to grow in our spiritual life. Ask, pray and wait for God’s timing. The important thing is not to lose hope or give up but to persevere to the end.

Prayer request. Please pray with our nation and Church this week for the protection of life through all its stages and for Christian unity. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Snow Day at the Abbey January 2024

Snow day at the Abbey, January 2024, sliding down the hill

Abbey Church on Snow Day January 2024

Abbey Church on Snow Day January 2024


Oblate Calendar

February
2-4 – Oblate Retreat. Br. Anselm: In Heaven as it is on Earth: Learning to Live the Trinity.
10 – St. Scholastica (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
11 – Oblate Speaker: Dr. Pamela Patnode. (Library Auditorium 10:30am). “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.”
March
9 – St. Frances of Rome (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
10 – Oblate Sunday (9am-Noon): Br. Matthew on Silence, Part II.
21 – Passing of St. Benedict (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
April
14 – Oblate Sunday
May
12 – Oblate Sunday
24-26 – Oblate Retreat: Br. Isaiah on the Prophet Isaiah.
June
9 – Oblate Sunday
13-16: Oblate Study Days: Christin McIntyre – Marian Mental Health and Spiritual Warfare.
16 – Oblate Picnic


A Note to Oblates - January 12, 2024

January 12, 2024

Dear Oblates,

“On the Prior and the Subprior”

After last week’s email I received a number of responses asking about the duties of the prior and the subprior. I presume that you know more or less that the Abbot is the one in charge of everything. St. Benedict says that the Abbot holds the place of Christ in the community, and therefore, he is the one that leads, guides and gives the vision for the whole monastic community. However, the Abbot is just one man, and he needs other leaders within the community to help him in his work. The holy rule speaks about the prior in chapter 65. Perhaps, the most important verse is verse 16, which reads, “the prior for his part is to carry out respectfully what his Abbot assigns to him, and do nothing contrary to the Abbot’s wishes or arrangements.” St. Benedict is very concerned that there are not competing agendas in the monastery, and therefore the prior is to be an Abbot’s monk. The same can be said of the subprior.

What does the prior do? In short, he deals with the day-to-day activity of the monastery. If the Abbot is like the father to the community, then the prior is like the mom. Therefore, he is in charge of the work schedule, giving out blessings, giving permissions, giving out car keys and tending to the hundreds of other little things that come up with living in a community of 50 men. What does the subprior do? The subprior does very little. He basically fills in when the prior is away. He is like the eldest child, who is entrusted with more responsibilities than the other children and is in charge when dad and mom are away. In the two weeks since I have been appointed as subprior, I have already filled in for the Abbot and prior a few times. However, probably more important than this is the role of the prior and subprior in supporting the Abbot. St. Benedict speaks about the deans as men “with whom the Abbot can confidently share the burdens of his office” (21: 3). It is no secret the Abbot has very heavy burdens, which he has to carry. St. Benedict does not wish for him to carry this burden alone, but wishes for other leaders within the community to help him carry his cross. So that in short is what the prior and the subprior do. Thank you for your prayers for our community.

If you would like to listen to my next homily, please tune in to the Abbey livestream on Sunday at 9am, where I am the Mass presider, or you can access it later on our YouTube channel.

I was asked to make this announcement. Due to inclement weather, the Christian in the World talk scheduled for January 13th has been postponed to January 27th.

Prayer request. Please pray for our students, teachers and faculty as we begin a new semester on Monday. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Oblate Calendar

January
14 – Oblate Sunday (9am-Noon): Br. Matthew on Silence, Part I
15 – Feast of St. Maurus and Placid (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
February
2-4 – Oblate Retreat. Br. Anselm: In Heaven as it is on Earth: Learning to Live the Trinity.
10 – St. Scholastica (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
11 – Oblate Speaker: Dr. Pamela Patnode. (Library Auditorium 10:30am). “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.”
March
9 – St. Frances of Rome (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
10 – Oblate Sunday (9am-Noon): Br. Matthew on Silence, Part II.
21 – Passing of St. Benedict (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
April
14 – Oblate Sunday
May
12 – Oblate Sunday
24-26 – Oblate Retreat: Br. Isaiah on the Prophet Isaiah.
June
9 – Oblate Sunday
13-16: Oblate Study Days: Christin McIntyre – Marian Mental Health and Spiritual Warfare.
16 – Oblate Picnic


A Note to Oblates - January 5, 2024

January 5, 2024

Dear Oblates,

The Holy Name of Jesus

Happy New Year everybody! As many of you know the Christmas season is not yet over. We still have a few days left of this wonderful season in which we celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation. A few days ago (Jan 3) the Church celebrated the optional memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus. This feast recalls the historical event of Jesus being named eight days after he was born (see Luke 2:21). Names were quite important in the Bible. It signified a mission given by God to that person, and the name Jesus means savior. By his death and resurrection, Jesus has saved us from our sins.

The night of this feast day, I went over to the manger scene in the Abbey church, and I had a little insight as I was praying before the statues of Jesus and Mary. I thought to myself, how often Our Lady would have uttered the Holy Name of Jesus in her life. I imagined her with the little child Jesus, with the adolescent Jesus and with the adult Jesus. Throughout these different scenes I could hear Mary say phrases such as, “Jesus, where are you?” or “Jesus, you are my everything.” As Jesus grew up, Our Lady could have said phrases such as, “Jesus, please help me” or “Jesus, I want to tell you something.” What about after St. Joseph passed away? Our Lady could have said, “Jesus, I have nobody but you” or “Jesus, I am afraid.” And at the end of his life, she could have said, “Jesus, I will follow you even unto death” or simply “Jesus, I love you.” Yes, the Holy Name of Jesus would have often been on the lips of Our Lady throughout her life. She would have said that Holy Name with such faith and love, the faith and love with which all of us are called to call upon the name of Jesus.

Even though we do not see Our Lord in the flesh as Our Lady did, the phrases above can easily be used for our own personal prayer to Jesus. So for the next few days, I encourage you to simply begin your prayer with the holy name of Jesus, and then speak whatever comes to your heart. It may be a prayer request, or what you are feeling or very simply to say you love him.

Our next Oblate Sunday is January 14, 2024, and Br. Matthew will be giving the 1st of two talks on Silence entitled, “The Theological Foundation.” He writes, “In this first of two talks on silence, taking our cue from RB 6, we will begin to unpack what Benedict means by silence, and draw further implications from this teaching to our own lives.” To register for in person, please click here; for remote option, click here.

Prayer request. Please pray for for me and for Fr. William. I was recently appointed to be the new Subprior, and Fr. William is the new Prior. Pray that we may support and assist Abbot Jeremy in leading our monastic community together unto everlasting life. Please pray also for the Benedictine sisters in Mt. Angel. They just sold their property last week to Catholic Community Services. Pray also for all our seminarians, who will be on retreat next week. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates


Oblate Calendar

January
14 – Oblate Sunday (9 am-noon): Br. Matthew on Silence, Part I

February
2 – 4 – Oblate Retreat, Br. Anselm: In Heaven as it is on Earth: Learning to Live the Trinity.
11 – Oblate Speaker: Dr. Pamela Patnode. (Library auditorium 10:30 am). “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.”


A Note to Oblates - December 23, 2023

December 23, 2023

Dear Oblates,

A very special early Merry Christmas to you all. We just finished decorating the Abbey church yesterday, and in 24 hours we will be celebrating I Vespers of the Nativity of Our Lord.

“So that through them [promises] you may come to share in the divine nature.”
– 2 Peter 1:4

This quote sums up the wonderful effect of the Christmas mystery. Through the Incarnation of Christ, humanity has elevated its nature; we become by grace what Christ is by nature. Because the Eternal Son of God became man, man may now become children of the Father.

This process of theosis, or deification, was spoken often of in the early church. Today, in the West, it is less spoken about but in the catechism we read: “The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”: “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.” “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods” (CCC 460).

Therefore life is not simply about being a good person, doing nice things and saying kind words, but more about who we are to become in Christ. Through Christ we can share once more in the divine likeness lost through original sin. Yes, it is wonderful to reflect on the nativity with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and give thanks, but when God intervenes in human history, he does so precisely for our sake. And the purpose of the Incarnation is no less than our deification.

Questions for reflection: Do I think about becoming like God? What does this look like? How does Christ teach me to be both human and divine?

The videos for the Study Days and fall retreat are now available on the oblate video webpage.

Br. Ambrose’s latest article, entitled “O…! Come…!”, is now available on our webpage. He writes, “Note: this article is all about the ‘O Antiphons.’ Even if people don’t see it until after the Church stops chanting these texts (on December 24), I think they’re still an eminently fitting invitation to lectio divina during the Christmas season (or any time, really).”

Prayer request: Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates


Abbot Jeremy O.S.B. and Archbishop Sample with newly ordained Deacon Ambrose Flores, O.S.B.

Archbishop Sample, Abbot Jeremy with newly ordained Deacon Ambrose Flores O.S.B. and family

Madonna and Child, Christmas 2023

Christmas 2023 decorations


Oblate Calendar

2024

January
14 – Oblate Sunday (9 am-noon): Br. Matthew on Silence, Part I

February
2 – 4 – Oblate Retreat, Br. Anselm: In Heaven as it is on Earth: Learning to Live the Trinity.
11 – Oblate Speaker: Dr. Pamela Patnode. (Library auditorium 10:30 am). “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.”


A Note to Oblates - December 15, 2023

December 15, 2023

Dear Oblates,

“He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.”
– Gospel reading for the third Sunday of Advent

The figure of John the Baptist looms large in the Advent season. Last Sunday and this Sunday’s reading are precisely about him. Saint John the Evangelist says something very important in regard to Saint John the Baptist. He says that John the Baptist came to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. Although God does not need our testimony or witnesses, in his providential plan, he uses other people to bring us closer to him. Saint John the Baptist testifies to Christ both in his actions and in his words. In his actions, we see that he lived a simple and austere life. He wore clothing made of camel’s hair and he ate locusts and wild honey. He is a reminder for us that material possessions and worldly pleasures do not make us happy. We may have been thinking a lot about what we want for Christmas and there are probably things on our shopping cart that we are looking forward to buy. But just wait a week to see if you really need that item. St. John reminds us that only a heart committed to doing the will of God can lead to true and lasting happiness.

In regard to his words, Saint John the Baptist preached the necessity of repentance. Only when we recognize our own sinfulness, can we open our hearts fully to receive the love and mercy of God. In this Advent season, we wait with longing and holy desire for the God who will save us. When we acknowledge our sins, we also acknowledge the one who takes away the sins of the world, Christ the Lamb of God. And placing our trust in him, and him alone, we know that our souls can be at peace. Yes, we are hurt and broken, but if this can lead us to recognize our need for God, then this can be a good thing. Therefore, let us during this last week of Advent imitate St. John the Baptist in his simplicity and poverty. Let us also heed his words and repent of our sins and take the opportunity to go to confession. In doing so, we can make room in our hearts to receive the greatest gift of all.

Prayer request. Please pray for Brother Anselm who will be ordained as a Deacon tomorrow. Please pray also for oblate Dr. Ursula “Gabrielle” Tabor, who passed away recently. She used to teach in our seminary. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates


Br. Isaiah's Painting

Br. Isaiah’s Painting


Dr. Ursula Tabor

Dr. Ursula Tabor


Oblate Calendar

2024

January
14 – Oblate Sunday (9 am-noon): Br. Matthew on Silence, Part I

February
2 – 4 – Oblate Retreat, Br. Anselm: In Heaven as it is on Earth: Learning to Live the Trinity.
11 – Oblate Speaker: Dr. Pamela Patnode. (Library auditorium 10:30 am). “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.”


A Note to Oblates - December 1, 2023

December 1, 2023

Dear Oblates,

“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down.”
1st Reading for the First Sunday of Advent

The holy season of Advent is a period of waiting in joyful expectation for the coming of the Lord. This aspect of the Advent season, perhaps, is more intense this year than in years past. We have witnessed nation rising against nation; destruction caused by plague, fire and other natural disasters; divisions in our nation, church and even homes; and the everyday suffering caused by sin. The words of the prophet Isaiah echo a longing of our hearts “rend the heavens and come down” oh Lord. Delay no longer; we are in need of your saving help, your grace and your love. Come down from heaven and teach us your way, teach us how to be kind and patient with one another, teach us how to carry our burdens and crosses, teacher us how to pray.

Yes, I believe there is a deep longing for Jesus to come more fully into our world, and this is the heart of the Advent season. As the Israelites longed for God to come down and save them, we too, beg God to come down and free us from this present darkness. And as we wait, we wait with hope because we know that Christ HAS come into the world, and the more we welcome him into our hearts, the more his love and his presence can pervade the world. Therefore, may this Advent season be a time of opening our hearts and our lives to Christ and his love.

If you are looking for a recommendation for advent reading, there is a book entitled, “Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting,” by Mother Mary Francis, which I would recommend.

Our next Oblate Sunday will be on Sunday, December 10th (conference at 11 am). Br. Anselm will be giving the conference on the last of the three rich ways. To sign up in person, please click here; for remote option, click here.

Michael Casey’s talk last Sunday on Qoheleh (Ecclesiastes) can be listened to here.

Prayer request. Please pray for all those attending the John Paul Healing retreat. It started yesterday and will continue to Saturday. There were a number of monks that attended, and it is wonderful to see the Holy Spirit working through this program. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates


Oblate Calendar

2023

December
10 – Oblate Sunday: Br. Anselm on the 7 Rich Ways, Part IV
10 – Hispanic Oblate – Posada
January
14 – Oblate Sunday (9 am-noon): Br. Matthew on Silence, Part I
February
2 – 4 – Oblate Retreat, Br. Anselm: In Heaven as it is on Earth: Learning to Live the Trinity.
11 – Oblate Speaker: Dr. Pamela Patnode. (Library auditorium 10:30 am). “The Rule of St. Benedict: The Joy of Practicing Benedictine Spirituality Within the Lay Person’s Life.”


For more information about the oblate program at Mount Angel Abbey, email oblates@mtangel.edu.