The eighth degree of humility is that a monk do nothing except what is commended by the common Rule of the monastery and the example of the elders.
Today’s reading doesn’t seem, in my opinion, to have a literal application for the lay oblate. What do I take from this step then? That our spiritual practices be in the spirit of our priory; that I not give myself to flights of fancy, imagining all sorts of exotic practices (I say “I” here, and not “we”, as of the two of us I am the one who has a natural “liturgical curiosity”). No, if we are sons and daughters of our priory, if we are being guided down that path by the monastic family that adopted us, then our prayer life should mirror theirs as much as possible.
I am quite familiar with our priory’s charism and their practices. Does that mean that we should adopt everything? No; humilty demands that we submit to our spiritual father’s guidance – he will tell us what is ok for us to adopt, lest in our initial zeal we overburden ourselves and fall short as soon as we start off. Fasting for penitential seasons, as well as spiritual reading during these, how much of the Office – all this is at his discretion.
We are still trying to work out how to stick with our prayer routines when we have visitors staying for several days, or when we go on holiday. For some reason, we are never able to adapt them, and everything just falls apart for that period.
Adopting monastic practices shouldn’t be a source of vainglory. If anything, they should be a humble reminder that a monastic family has been merciful enough to adopt us. They are not something to flaunt, but not necessarily to hide either. As oblates connected to a priory we cannot escape them. In their proper context they may even be edifying to others who happen to catch a glimpse. These practices should help bring us closer in spirit as well to our extended family, so that we may pray with one heart.