Although ritual participation in Christian churches is decreasing in the Netherlands, one of the most secularised countries in the world, monasteries are increasingly attractive to people not committed to a life in an abbey, but who rather transfer monastic practices to their personal life. Guesthouses are full, reading groups conduct meditative reading, and monastic time management is applied in professional arenas. Obviously, the ritual practices conducted beyond abbey walls have a different character than the ritual repertoire of monks and nuns. The ritual transfer is a challenge, as monasteries are secluded spaces, separated from the world. In its history, monasticism has turned out to be especially capable of this process. What does the transfer from one context to the other imply when people ritualise prayer, reading and everyday practices without being monastic? A specific group of people who conduct this transfer intensively are Benedictine oblates, laypersons affiliated to a particular monastery. This article addresses the following main question: which monastic ritual practices do Benedictine oblates in the Netherlands perform, and how do they transfer these to their personal context? To explore this question, the results of a qualitative research among 53 respondents are presented—oblates of three Benedictine abbeys in the Netherlands. The results demonstrate experiences on a new ritual field, with practices that seem to be ‘out of place’ but are highly vivid to the practitioners.
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