Oratories of Prayer
June 27, 1993
Brother John Raymond
Some families are not able to pray everyday in the church. But
every family should make it a point to pray everyday at home. One
great help in fostering prayer in our homes is to set up an oratory
for prayer. Ideally one should find a quiet room in the house and
set it aside as a place of prayer. Arrange the room in such a way as
to be conducive to prayer - maybe a crucifix on the wall, statues,
holy pictures, a kneeler if possible, etc.
By setting up an oratory in our home we show Jesus Who is the
center and King of our home. It may be a nice idea, being the month
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to formally consecrate one's oratory
by enthroning an image of the Sacred Heart in the room. To do this
one can write to:
National Enthronement Center
3 Adams St.
Fairhaven, MA 02719
Imagine the graces drawn down on one's family by dedicating one
room or part of it to God. What a witness to those who visit our
homes. What a reminder to put God and prayer first in our family
life. Many houses have a TV room. Put the TV in the closet and
dedicate the room to the Lord!
Before entering the monastery I set up an oratory in the
apartment I was renting. It so happened that I only had my bedroom
to use as the oratory. So I placed a picture of the Holy Face of
Jesus on my dresser along with other holy pictures. I even managed
to buy vigil candles from my local parish to put on my dresser. What
a reminder it was for me, after spending a hard day at work, to come
into my room and just rest before the peaceful gaze of Jesus.
The practice of setting up a little oratory in one's room has
been practiced by the saints. St. Aloysius Gonzaga drew a monstrance
on the wall of his room in the direction of the nearest church. Then
he could in spirit adore our Eucharistic Lord from his room. It
might be nice to arrange one's oratory in such a way that one prayed
in the direction of the nearest tabernacle. Certainly Our Lord will
be very appreciative of this beautiful act of piety.
Leon Dupont, who lived in Tours, France during the last century,
set up an oratory in his home that has become a beautiful shrine of
pilgrimage to this day. He set up an oratory with an image of the
Holy Face of Jesus surrounded by burning oil lamps. The oil from
these lamps brought about miraculous cures of the sick. Leon Dupont,
even during his life, became known as the "Holy Man of Tours."
Devout Russian and Ukrainian Christians have a beautiful custom
of setting up oratories for prayer in their homes. Upon entering
their homes one can find in the corner of some room of the house
several icons surrounded by candles. Here family members pray.
Visitors who stop by spend some moments venerating these icons.
This Eastern custom is the basis for a wonderful little story
called the "Kitchen Madonna" by Rummer Godden. In this story a
little English boy makes an icon of Mary with the Child Jesus for
the family's Czechoslovakian cook. This was in response to the cook
who one day explained that in the kitchen there was no "good place."
(Good place was the way the cook referred to an icon oratory.)
So let us find a "good place" in our homes. Let us turn our
houses into homes dedicated to God. Then God's peace will settle
over our families and make them the living and loving imitation of
the Holy Family.