Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Being United Methodist and Benedictine

by Rev. Dr. William H. Wilson

Spirituality Main

There are two certificates on my wall near my office door as a reminder of my faith journey - my baptismal certificate from Dr. John L. Wolfe, First Methodist Church, Parkersburg, in 1951 and my Certificate of Final Oblation, Saint Meinrad Archabbey, Indiana, in 2002.

We are all on a journey of Christ-like holiness discovering how we relate to God and share our faith with others. My journey has been formed by the teachings and tradition of John Wesley, founder of Methodist tradition (1703-1793) and St. Benedict of Nursia (480-547).

In September 2000, I was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. This chronic heart situation threw me into a period of spiritual struggle. I was drawn back to my faith as experienced from the time of my baptism and to an early interest in Benedictine spirituality (teachings about faith through the writing and life of Benedict).

My experience of Benedictine daily prayer and Scripture reading (especially praying daily the Psalms) occupied and centered me in the days, weeks and months as I struggled with my weakened heart and changing lifestyle. My chronic heart condition continues to be a part of who I am and what my faith journey is all about.

On December 12, 2001, during a personal retreat at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana, I joined with the monks of the monastery and other oblates in my investiture as an oblate novice. A yearlong journey as a novice involved changing my lifestyle to live by the Rule of Benedict as I prayed and discerned what God intended for my life.

On December 10, 2002, I made my final oblation as an oblate of Saint Meinrad Archabbey. Oblation is a promise, renewed annually, to live the Benedictine life in the secular world. My promise to God, through oblation, is to center my life in God as a follower of Jesus Christ through Benedict's teachings, be obedient to God's will, and be faithful to the Benedictine way of life in daily prayer, Scripture reading, and service as I am attentive in serving God and others.

John Wesley's "General Rules of Methodism" teach us to avoid evil, do good and use the means of grace (UM Book of Discipline). St. Benedict of Nursia counsels: avoid evil, use "tools for good works" - pray, study and serve (Rule of Benedict).

Although I have some Protestant faith differences with Roman Catholic theology, I have found as a Benedictine Oblate a way to live out my Wesleyan theology and be a faithful United Methodist Christian. I am thankful for my spiritual relationship with the monks of Saint Meinrad monastery in Indiana. The journey keeps me centered in the midst of my chronic heart condition, as I know Christ's ongoing healing.

I offer this blessing, adapted from the Rule of Benedict: "Listen. Prefer nothing whatever to the love of Christ. Never lose hope in God's mercy. In all things, may God be glorified. Peace be to all!"

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.