The Rule in Practice
The Rule in the daily life of an ObTSJ is designed to act as a rudder, to help steer and direct the individual and commual spiritual journey, rather than an immovable rail upon which this spiritual vocation can only move along one track.
The freedom it affords is intentionally designed to reflect and expand upon the Statement of Principles of the Apostolic Johannite Church in a way that takes the Principles off the page and into one’s practice. While the laity of the Apostolic Johannite Church are not bound, required or obligated to give their individual assent to all of the Principles, the Oblate, choosing to deepen their commitment and practice within the Church, takes the Principles as vows, and as such, more is expected in terms of obligations to their fellow Oblates and to the Apostolic Johannite Church.
Oblates retain significant latitude with their own personal daily practice, but are expected to participate and work with Order-wide spiritual practices as a part of their communal spiritual journey.
Oblates are also expected to meet monthly with their mentor and quarterly with their fellow Oblates. This reflection and participation is essential to the spiritual life of the Rule and the health of the Order and those who cannot fulfill these obligations without prior arrangement or emergency, are released from their vows and removed from the Order.
The Path of Gnosticism as explored in the Johannite Church, finds its foundation in the direct experience of the Divine and this path is equally one of engagement and direct experience with oneself.
This is enshrined in the Second Principle of the Apostolic Johannite Church:
We affirm that every Being contains the ‘Sacred Flame,’ a Spark of the Divine and that Awareness of the Sacred Flame within constitutes the highest level of Self-Knowledge and the Experience of God simultaneously. This act of Awareness, which is held to be liberating, transcendent and experiential, is called Gnosis.
This principle is present not because it is an expectation or an ideal but because it reflects the collective experience of the community.
Many people who feel called to the Johannite path are here because they have already begun to live out this principle through contemplation, reflection, active spiritual practice and self-examination.
The Oblates of St. John were born out of a recognition of radical self-responsibility, providing a means where those who are called beyond the lay state to a vowed pursuit of self-knowledge, may express and live out this vocation in a supporting environment with the recognition of the Apostolic Johannite Church
The word Oblate comes from Oblation, ‘a thing presented or offered to God’. The Oblate gives of her or himself to the path of the Divine, and here, we recognize that path and the Divine as being seen in the face of our fellow humanity. Thus, the Oblate offers their service to their path and the Divine in the person of the community- working to better each other and themselves thereby.
Like the oldest traditions of Christianity, the Oblates of St. John are vowed to follow a Rule, a codified way or guide of spiritual life. The Apostolic Johannite Church has no better rule than its Statement of Principles itself.