At the time of the first Oblates' World Congress in 2005, there were over 25,000 Benedictine oblates worldwide. There are many in other monastic orders as well. These servants of God started out as passive recipients of formation and teachings offered by monastics but now share in the ministries and devotional life of the communities. They observe the Rule of Benedictine and strive to adhere to the principles he laid out so many years ago. Gervase Holdaway serves as editor of this collection of essays on the oblate life.
As Judith Sutera notes in her essay, the oblate is a person committed to the spiritual practices of the monastery while carrying on his/her own life in the locale. They present themselves as a gift to God and to the service of others. Bestselling author and poet Kathleen Norris, one of the most visible oblates, acknowledges the important role that Benedictine men and women have played in her faith journey and in her appreciation of community. Other authors cover subjects such as the importance of the Psalms as a devotional tool, the contemplative practice of Lectio Divina, the cultivation of silence, the great gift of intercessory prayer, the shaping of holy lives, moderation as the key to permanence, and the practice of hospitality. The remaining essays deal with the oblate in the world, the church, and the home. There is an appendix which has a list of monasteries with oblate programs.