The Order of St. Willibrord is a religious order for clergy and laity who wish to commit themselves more deeply to Christ and the Church through the promise of obedience in which one’s secular life is commingled with the religious life of the Order. As such, membership in the Order is directed toward the glory of God through the sanctification of one’s whole life under the Rule of St. Benedict.
As our Constitution states, in Title I, article 2: "The purpose of the Order is the promotion of the glory of God through the sanctification of its members and the promotion of the Christian faith and culture through education...The members of the Order are dedicated to a life of contemplation, study and teaching, which expresses the spiritual, intellectual and apostolic life of the Order."
The Promise of Obedience
The Order of St. Willibrord has two classes of membership acknowledging the ontological and spiritual aspiration for God within various life callings. Thus, the Order understands Christian perfection is open to all of us, ordained and non-ordained, married or celibate. Further, the Order of St. Willibrord does not make a canonical distinction between conventual and so-called "secular" oblates. Aside from Associates, all of the Oblate brothers of the Order are bound together by their promise of obedience, where even those "living in the world" are full members of the Order.
In fact, it is through our obedience that we enter into the religious life of the Order. As our spiritual father, St. Benedict writes in his Rule, “The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all. Because of the holy service they have professed, or because of dread of hell and for the glory of everlasting life, they carry out the superior’s order as promptly as if the command came from God himself. The Lord says of men like this: No sooner did he hear than he obeyed me (Psalm 17 :45); again, he tells teachers: Whoever listens to you, listens to me (Luke 10:16).” For the Order, as for any Christian, obedience first applies to the teaching of our Lord, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Gospel of St. Matthew 22: 36-40). In fulfillment of the Great Commandment of Christ, the Order has a special devotion to the practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Contemplation, Study and Teaching
Inspired by the Benedictine tradition and the life of St. Willibrord himself, the spirituality of the Order is founded upon a life of contemplation, study and teaching. Our Constitution states, in Title II, article 7, " As such, the members of the Order should strive to integrate the Benedictine ideal of “ora et labora” (prayer and work) into their spirituality and way of life." Thus, as “active contemplatives,” the apostolic life of the Order in teaching requires a life of prayer and scholarship. As a community of scholars, the spirituality of the Order aspires to the contemplation of God as well as the intellectual engagement with the modern world.
The Abbey of Echternach and its Cultural Legacy
The Order of St. Willibrord has a spiritual and cultural affiliation with the former Imperial Benedictine Abbey of Echternach in present-day Luxembourg, which was founded by St. Willibrord in A.D. 698.
Having enjoyed the royal patronage of the Carolingian dynasty and Charlemagne himself, the Abbey made significant contributions toward the development of the Carolingian Renaissance during the Middle Ages. Since the time of his death in A.D. 739, the body of St. Willibrord has been entombed in Echternach Abbey church and is a pilgrimage site of the Order.