To many non-Catholics, and almost as many Catholics, the question that comes to mind upon learning that someone has become a priest in a monastery is, ""But why a This is usually followed by wonder how the monastic life started and what it consists of today. Answers to these questions are to be found in Father Daly's thorough, simply told, interesting history of Benedictine monasticism. After a section in which he describes how a Roman Empire that ruled the world could rule neither itself nor keep out barbarians, he describes how early Christian ascetics appeared. These men lived a Christ-like life alone in their own way. But eventually Benedict of was to found the organization with a Rule that ""was the one continuing and force, unchanging and secure in the monastic life of the sixth to the centuries."" The organization continued to grow, and others patterned on it -- or with similarities to it -- began their own development. In the early twelfth century, however , the system became more human than God-like. The time had come for a change, and it came in the persons of St. Stephen Harding and St. Bernard of Clairvaux who established far more strict monastic rules. The book ends with a description of the reforms of III under whose regime the Benedictines become an actual Order.