We thank you for your interest in Camaldolese Benedictine Oblature. We ask you to read our short Oblate Rule (the full text is available by clicking the Oblate Rule button above) and meditate on it, pondering whether it can, with its basic guidelines and practices, help you in your spiritual journey. We do not interpret the Oblate Rule as “written in stone,” but are ready to dialogue regarding possible personal modifications of one element or another. This because there is such diversity in our large Oblate family. For instance, some are retired and have much time for prayer, etc., whereas others might be raising families, very busy with jobs, etc. Some find the full Liturgy of the Hours to be particularly helpful, others less so, etc.
If and when it becomes apparent that you would like to begin the postulancy period of a year, please prepare a two-page spiritual autobiography indicating what it is about the Camaldolese charism and the Oblate Rule that calls you. Then please download the PDF of the Request to begin Postulancy and submit both to Fr. Andrew or Fr. Robert or (for Australia and New Zealand) Fr. Daniel. At that point the one year postulancy period will be considered by the oblate chaplains. The main thing in that period is to practice living the Oblate Rule, pondering possible personal adaptations, so that at the end of the year you will have an experience of the real advantage to you, or not, of living daily by the Rule. We hope that during this year period you will also familiarize yourself more thoroughly with our spiritual heritage through the suggested readings below. Our Oblate family has grown to such an extent that it is unfortunately not possible for us to assume the ongoing responsibility for directing your spiritual growth. We do suggest a good director, and regular spiritual reading, and visits to our community and or other retreat facilities whenever possible.
If at the end of the year postulancy you are certain you wish to make your Oblature, just contact Fr. Robert or Fr. Andrew. The little rite can be celebrated, usually in the context of Eucharist or Vespers, in either of our houses. Or if distance is a problem, we can delegate a monastic of another order, or a parish priest or spiritual director to witness your Oblature. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of us. Please do pray for us, and we for you.
Fr. Andrew Colnaghi, OSB, Cam; Fr. Robert Hale, OSB, Cam
The Camaldolese emblem, which in its own way sums up our spirituality, is very ancient, predating our order. It can be found, in interesting variations, in the Ravenna church mosaics, in the catacombs of Rome, and even in non-Christian art. It thus has an “archetypal” depth and power. The Camaldolese form includes the chalice and cross at the center, representing Christ in our midst, especially in his paschal and eucharistic presence. The peacocks, ancient symbols of eternal life, represent the community of faith being nourished from the life of Christ. In their twofold presence they can represent the solitary and communal dimensions of Camaldolese monasticism (the hermitage and cenobium), and they can also stand for the monk and the oblate united in the one nourishing experience of Christ. Another variation of the emblem includes the motto, “I am yours, you are Mine”, which sums up the biblical experience of covenant bondedness with God, also in its culminating image of spousal love, expressed in the Canticle and experienced by contemplatives down through the ages.
The emblem in its simpler form is represented on the oblate medallion, and can thus be an ongoing reminder of our call to union with Christ, and thus with one another, in the bonding love of his life poured out for all.
Recommended Readings for Camaldolese Benedictine Oblature
The following books are recommended (but not required!) for those candidates discerning Oblature, and for Oblates as they continue their spiritual journey.
- Above all the Holy Bible, read meditatively and prayerfully. We recommend the NRSV translation, but there are now several splendid translations available.
- Then, The Rule of St. Benedict, also available in various translations and editions. We recommend the “RB 1980” translation, in either its larger format, with splendid introductions, notes, indices, or the smaller, pocket edition.
- Then, The Privilege of Love: Camaldolese Benedictine Spirituality, Edited by Peter-Damian Belisle (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2002). This very helpful volume consists of various articles written by our own Camaldolese monastics; the chapter on “The Camaldolese Oblate Program,” co-authored by a lay Oblate woman, is particularly helpful.
- Then, Camaldoli: A Journey into its History and Spirituality by Lino Vigilucci (California: Source Books, 1995). Fr. Vigilucci, now deceased, was the Order’s historian and traced in this book the long, rich Camaldolese tradition. There is a helpful Glossary in the back.
- Then, The Mystery of Romuald and the Five Brothers: Stories from the Benedictines and Camaldolese by Fr. Thomas Matus (California: Source Books, 1994). The book includes Fr. Matus’ translation of two early Camaldolese classic texts: The Life of Blessed Romuald by St. Peter Damian and The Life of the Five Brothers by St. Bruno of Querfurt, one of the first disciples of St. Romuald, as well as Fr. Matus’ own Camaldolese experience and reflection.
- Then, Love on the Mountain: The Chronicle Journal of a Camaldolese Monk by Fr. Robert Hale (California: Source Books, 1999). The book offers a glimpse into the day-to-day life of the Hermitage monks, and reflections on Camaldolese spirituality.
For those able to visit New Camaldoli Hermitage or Incarnation Monastery, the above books are available there, along with several other books, tapes, and CDs in the specific area of Camaldolese spirituality, along with other titles in the broader area of spirituality.
One should also be able to order any or all of the above books through one’s local bookstore, or through www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, etc.
See also the website of the Camaldolese in North America: www.contemplation.com, as well as the Italian Camaldolese website (with English language option): www.camaldoli.it .
Request to begin Postulancy
If, having read our cover letter and meditated on the Oblate Rule you discern that you do wish to begin the one year postulancy period to discern Oblature, please click here to download a PDF of our Request Form and mail, fax or email it to Fr. Robert or Fr. Andrew. This information is necessary for our files and for you to receive communications. It is only after returning this completed form together with the spiritual autobiography that the one year postulancy period will be considerered by the oblate chaplains.
Saint Romuald’s Brief Rule
Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish. The path you must follow is in the Psalms—never leave it.
If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind.
And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.
Realize above all that you are in God’s presence, and stand there with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor.
Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him.
Saint Romuald’s Brief Rule is taken from Saint Bruno of Qerfurt’s Lives of the Five Brothers (Chapter nineteen). It was written around AD 1006—about twenty years before Saint Romuald’s death—and is based on reports from Saint John, one of the “five brothers”, who, like Saint Bruno, knew Saint Romuald well. We can therefore be certain we have here an authentic version of Saint Romuald’s teaching and spirit.