I have followed the Rule of St. Benedict for several years. A few years ago I made a formal commitment to keeping the Rule by becoming an Oblate of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Indiana. I had looked for a Monastery nearer my home with which to be associated, but as God would have it, this place of community, an easy two hour flight from an airport thirty minutes from the Rectory, is the place where I have made vows of stability, conversion, and obedience.
Each year the Oblates who are unable to come to the monthly meetings are invited to return for a week "intensive". We live in community at the Benedict Inn, worship three to four times each day with the Sisters, and have classes each morning and evening. Evenings are spent in fellowship with the Sisters, the other Oblates, and Inquirers who are discerning if they are called to make vows to follow the Rule.
I missed the first session in order to attend Vestry at St. Mary's Monday night. My plane did arrive in time to pray Noonday Prayers with the Sisters. I've worshipped in that chapel hundreds of times, and it is a place of great joy to sink into their sacred rhythm of prayer, song, the Psalms, a brief reading from Scripture, silence, and blessing.
At Evening Worship we were invited to renew our vows of Oblation. Signing a brief statement of intent, prayer by the Prioress, an oral declaration, and a blessing from the Sisters--simply, but deeply felt, I promised to make the Rule of St. Benedict part of my personal Rule of Life for the year ahead.
Of course, in a community that values a balanced life, after a day of work, prayer, and study, it was time for recreation. Tables filled with Sisters and Oblates and Inquirers, we played games, ate pumpkin pie, and drank mulled cider. No one knows how to laugh and have fun more than the Sisters.
Our day compete, with a night of rest ahead, we prayed Compline.
Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us asleeping, that awake and asleep we may watch with Christ.