31 December 2015

Are Camaldolese Oblates Consecrated?

[[Dear Sister, are Camaldolese Oblates consecrated? Do you wear a Camaldolese cowl?]]

Thanks for your questions. I am assuming you mean do persons who become Camaldolese Oblates also become consecrated persons in the act of oblature? Do these persons become members of the consecrated state through their gift of self in this way? The simple answer is no, one does not enter the consecrated state of life in this way. One does not become a religious, does not make public vows, and remains in whatever state of life into which they were already initiated. If they were already consecrated before becoming oblates then yes, they are consecrated, but not because they are oblates.

While oblature in most Benedictine congregations is limited to lay people, the Camaldolese also accept religious, priests and consecrated virgins and diocesan hermits as oblates. However, lay persons who make oblature remain lay persons and are committed to live the Camaldolese Oblate Rule in their everyday lay life --- a very significant commitment in a world challenged to see that God comes to us in the realm of the ordinary. Clerics do not become clerics in the Camaldolese Order upon oblature, nor do religious become professed Camaldolese when they become oblates. All oblates are members of the extended Camaldolese family but again,  they are oblates who remain in their original state of life upon making oblature.

Also, while the process of oblature (this is not a profession of vows) involves both a commit-ment and reception of this commit-ment by a representative of the congregation, this is a private commitment. It is not public and does not have public rights and obligations (that is, the rights and obligations are those that obtain within the Camaldolese family alone). Nor does anyone acting in the name of the Church mediate God's own consecration of the person. As I have noted here a number of times, initiation into the consecrated state is a public act of the whole Church. A legitimate superior or other authorized person receives the person's profession or other commitment and mediates divine consecration in the name of the Church. The intention to do this must be present but so must the ecclesiastical authority. Camaldolese monks and nuns admitting others to oblature have neither the intention nor the authority to admit these specific persons to the consecrated state. (For instance, under specific  circumstances the Sister that received my commitment/oblature had the authority to admit Sisters in her own monastery to the consecrated state as part of her role as Prioress but she had no authority (nor did she have the intention) to admit ME to this state. She did have the authority (and intention) to receive my oblature.)

Regarding my cowl, please be aware that oblates, insofar as they are oblates, do not wear cowls. I wear a cowl because it is a symbol of solemn monastic or eremitical profession and I am a consecrated hermit; it was canonically granted at my perpetual profession and consecration under c 603. Because I am also a Camaldolese oblate, and because Camaldolese monks and nuns wear a cowl, it was important to make sure that the hood of my own cowl not be cut in the unique elongated Camaldolese style lest I give someone the impression that I am professed as a Camaldolese nun. (Mine is cut in more of a Carthusian or a Cistercian style with visible differences from these as well.)   In any case, no, I do not wear a Camaldolese cowl nor does any oblate as oblate.