We first became familiar with the Order of St. Benedict (Benedictines) through Katharine's writing of the books Chant and The Benedictine Gift to Music. At first the attraction was definitely through the magnificent Gregorian chant practiced so faithfully for fifteen hundred years as part of the Benedictine's Liturgy of the Hours. Later, when Katharine had done much more research and we both had had the joy of meeting more "real live" Benedictine monastics, the idea of Benedictinism as a way of life for us based on the Rule of St. Benedict began to take form.
In this adventure we were very much helped by Abbot Patrick Barry, OSB who graciously acted as mentor for Katharine's second book and Srs. Donald Corcoran, OSB (Cam.) and Jeanne Marie Pearse, OSB (Cam.) who shared with us their life of work and prayer (the Benedictine motto is "Ora et Labora" - "Pray and Work") at Transfiguration Monastery in Windsor, New York. We also made visits to St. Louis Abbey in St. Louis, Missouri, where we met Fr. Ralph Wright, OSB and many of the other members of that community and to Conception Monastery, also in Missouri, the home abbey of Marcel Rooney, OSB, former Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation, with whom we had been in close contact during the days of the Benedictine project for the millennium described elsewhere on this site.
Now we are both oblates of St. Benedict, meaning that we are lay persons who try to live life under the guidance of the Rule of St. Benedict and are associated with a particular monastery, offering it our prayers and support. Transfiguration Monastery is part of the international Benedictine Order and belongs to the Italian Congregation of Camaldolese Benedictines. St. Romuald, its patron, was an early eleventh-century Benedictine who had a special charism for blending life in community with solitary monastic life.
In The Rule, written in the 6th century by St. Benedict, we see a document that was written before the unfortunate schisms that have divided the Church over the years. It is a book that has weathered well over the centuries and is still capable of providing new insights related to living a balanced, wholesome life, where prayer is central and humility, obedience, and "listening with the ear of the heart" are very important.