Letter to the Oblates
From the desk of Fr. Elijah…
Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ and in the Divine Will,
Peace of Christ!
Mother Gabrielle Marie and I are grateful to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary for the enthusiasm and interest that many of you have shown in our little project here in Italy, the Benedictines of Divine Will. We are grateful for your prayers and ask that you would continue to pray for us, as we pray for you, so that all of us may be effective and docile instruments in the hands of Christ the King and Mary the Queen, as they continue to establish God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We also are very joyful that many of you have expressed an ardent interest in sharing in our charism as Benedictine Oblates of Divine Will. To this end, we would like to clarify what we feel it means to be a Benedictine Oblate of Divine Will.
The first thing that we would say is that our community is little. We see ourselves and will always strive to be a little family. It may be that with time our numbers will grow. That is God’s concern. But even if we do grow, we will always be little. Our model is the Holy Family of Nazareth. The Holy Family was very hidden and very simple. They did not have great, worldwide apostolates. Rather, they lived daily life with extraordinary love: divine love. I like to imagine Mary sewing by the hearth-fire as St. Joseph plays with the Child Jesus on the floor. I imagine too the neighbors who probably loved to visit their house and taste Mary’s homemade bread. I doubt the neighbors knew that the child playing on the floor was the Eternal Word Incarnate. I’d bet, though, they knew there was amazing love and peace in that holy place.
This is what the Benedictines of Divine Will are. We are a little family of Nazareth. Therefore it is impossible for us to undertake any great works, like for example, organizing a world-wide apostolate of oblates! Mother Gabrielle Marie has her little contemplative family in Talamello and I have mine in Carpegna. In fact, sometimes, we are so busy with the many little concerns of our individual houses, that even we find it difficult to be in contact every day. I think every good mother and father who has ever taken care of a family will immediately know what I am saying. That is our primary responsibility and if we lose sight of that, we will have nothing to offer anyone.
It seems to us that there are a wide range of Oblate communities in the world. Some are highly organized with sophisticated formation programs. Others are much more loosely organized, private, hidden, and personal in nature. The Benedictine Oblates of Divine Will are more like this second type. They are, in a word: LITTLE. It would make us very happy, in fact, if they were the littlest of all oblate communities in the world! Let us pray for that.
In this sense, our oblation is very similar to a simple consecration. Many of you will be familiar with St. Louis Marie De Montfort’s Total Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. While this consecration is powerful, serious, and even life-changing, it also is hidden and simple, and can be done privately without anyone knowing about it. That is how I did it the first time. I read De Montfort’s book, “True Devotion to Mary,” prayed about it, and decided to do it. Then I did a thirty-three day preparation with prayers and litanies, hand-wrote the consecration prayer and signed it in an empty church before a statue of Mary. Then I bought seven roses and placed them at the feet of seven statues of Mary that I found at various churches and sanctuaries in the New York area where I was living! I include all of this detail because it is exactly what Mother Gabrielle Marie and I have in mind for the Benedictine Oblate Consecration to the Divine Will.
The main thing that an oblate needs is a fervent desire and commitment to live in God’s Most Holy and Divine Will on earth as it is in heaven. To this end they should live a faithful Catholic life in loving obedience to Holy Mother Church. This would include:
- Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation (daily Mass when possible)
- Regular confession (monthly when possible)
- Faithful and loving obedience to Holy Mother Church in all matters of faith and morals
- Prayerful study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Sacred Scripture
- Respect and filial submission to the Pope, Bishops, and Pastors
Additionally, they should:
- Read the Divine Will writings of the Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta for at least one half-hour a day (exceptions to this should be made only when absolutely necessary)
- Pray the Rosary daily
- Participate in Eucharistic Adoration whenever possible
- Cultivate a fervent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph as well as to St. Benedict, St. Scholastica, St. Annibale di Francia, and the Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta
- Learn about the Benedictine life, especially the Holy Rule
- BE LITTLE!
Finally, we have a few little suggestions:
- It is helpful to have some guidance when reading the Divine Will writings, either from a priest who reads the Divine Will or is open to it, or someone with some theological training. Remember these are mystical writings and must always be interpreted in the light of the Deposit of Faith and any interpretations that go against it are to be avoided! The Benedictines of Divine Will do not espouse any particular theological interpretation of the Divine Will writings. Instead, we insist only on the fact that the interpretations must be solidly and authentically Catholic.
- As St. Francis so eloquently put it, “Preach always, and if necessary, use words.” Concentrate on living
in the Divine Will and leave the teaching to those that are properly trained and called by God to teach it.
- Be humble and charitable, especially to those who, like you, are striving to live in God’s Most Holy Will on
earth as it is in heaven.
Therefore, with these guidelines in mind, if you would like to consecrate yourself to being a Benedictine Oblate of Divine Will, all that is required is that you faithfully live the above practices for one year, and then sign the oblation that is included at the end of this letter in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Every year on the same date your consecration can be renewed. We also suggest that you wear a blessed Benedictine Cross as a sign of your consecration. It does not need to be visible, but it can be if you prefer.
As simple as this may sound, this is what it means to be a Benedictine Oblate of Divine Will! While we can not offer anyone an elaborate formation program or a formal canonical connection with our community, we can joyfully share the gift of our charism with all those that would like to unite themselves with us spiritually. We also can pray for and with each of you that we may all live more deeply in God’s Most Holy and Divine Will, and that the Kingdom of Divine Will in its fullness on earth as it is in heaven may come quickly!
In union with my Bishop, I extend my priestly blessing to all those that faithfully live this little consecration. We entrust this letter to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and allow Them to do with it what they would want.
With much love,
Fr. Elijah John Joseph of Our Lady of Guadalupe