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The Little Oratory: A Beginner's Guide to Praying in the Home Paperback – April 25, 2014
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen. How I wish I had it when I first became a Catholic, not just for myself, as a husband and father, but for my family, too. If one book has the potential to transform the Catholic family (and society), this is it." - Scott Hahn
"This book is a rare treasure." - Thomas Howard
"The Little Oratory will help you discover a pattern of daily prayer that truly fits your family life while creating a place of beauty in the heart of your home." - Daria Sockey, author of The Everyday Catholic s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours
"An indispensable resource for anyone seeking to make their home a breeding ground for holiness." - Andreas Widmer, author of The Pope and the CEO
"A superb guide to making that encounter of thirsts a lived experience in the home." - Christopher West
"Leila Lawler and David Clayton offer wisdom and grace to Catholics seeking to make their homes a holy shelter." - Elizabeth Foss, Founder of In the Heart of My Home
"Wonderful, inspiring, and deeply practical." - Joseph Pearce, Editor of The Saint Austin Review
"A great blessing to Catholic families." - Stratford Caldecott, an editor of Magnificat UK
"A perfect guide for any family striving to make their home a place to experience the majesty and beauty of the Divine." - Father Robert Reed, CatholicTV Network --Personal Endorsements
About the Author
David Clayton is an internationally known artist, teacher, writer and broadcaster. He serves as Artist-in-Residence at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. His artistic training is both in the sacred art traditions of Byzantine iconography and as a portrait painter in the style of Western classical naturalism, which he studied in Florence, Italy.
Leila M. Lawler is a wife of one, mother of seven, and grandmother of five (and counting), living in central Massachusetts. Leila practices "kitchen-sink philosophy" at Like Mother, Like Daughter, a website offering practical and theoretical insight into all aspects of daily life.
Deirdre Folley contributed the illustrations for this book from her home in the Washington, DC, metro area. Primarily instructed in art by her grandmother, Elizabeth Edwards, Deirdre also studied art under John Schmitt, son of artist Carl Schmitt, as well as at the Catholic University of America, where she majored in philosophy.
Top customer reviews
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With that out of the way--
I liked this book. I do not like the icons in the back, which saddens me a bit as Mr. Clayton seems a lovely man in all other respects, but I personally do not like that art. For icons, I prefer things like the Theotokos of Vladmir or the Jesus icon from St. Catherine's Monastery. Deidre Folley's illustrations are talented and homey though, and I liked those very much, and I thought they added a wonderful touch to the book. Further, even though I personally do not like the icons in the back for my own home, I own a lot of icons and very much like the charitable and practical idea that the authors had to put some icons in there that people can immediately use to get started on their own in-home practice. After all, as they say, there is no accounting for taste, and I am sure there will be many who will love those icons. Perhaps I am not a fan of the more Catholic/Western style of icon?
I bought this book for two main reasons: 1) I read "Like Mother, Like Daughter" which is the blog Mrs. Fowler refers to and I pretty much want Leila to be MY Auntie Leila. :) 2) I am a sucker for any book that might help me implement the beauty of prayer and the liturgy in my own home with my own family.
Some of my favorite aspects of this book were the specifics. They go through considerations that my husband would find tiresome, but that I always like in these matters. What sorts of fabric? Where to get it? etc. Far from being too strict or fussy in attention to detail, the book seeks to calm the reader's anxieties and questions and to eliminate aspects of practicality that could keep one from implementing these ideas. These are areas the book really shines, but then I also liked the "theory" parts as well! I greatly benefited from the discussion in the book about seven as the number of completion, eight the number of the new covenant, etc. The thought about time and how it is marked was one that I am still mulling over in my spiritual thoughts.
As a non-Catholic, but as an Orthodox Christian, I found it refreshing how that there was not any hint of animosity toward other groups, like Orthodox or Protestants, even though this seems to be a book focused on a largely Catholic audience. The acknowledgment of different iconographic styles and preferences, and the mention of the Jesus Prayer was something I appreciated. There is a lot that carries back and forth between the two traditions, and I found I could make helpful connections with my own faith by translating some of this into Orthodoxy.
Again, as a non-Catholic, I learned a lot about some basic Catholic practices such as saying the rosary, which I found very interesting to get a good explanation of this. In my hometown, there were not many Catholics, and the ones who were, I found did not know a lot about such things and did not practice them at home.
I liked this book a lot. If you are looking for a book that will help you to continue your life as a Christian into your home, this is an excellent addition to your library. I would go get your own icons, but otherwise, I loved this book.
And if you like the Little Oratory, I suggest you also consider my own Rosary Flip Books, which were likewise developed to assist Catholic families in devotion and which Leila herself has reviewed and endorsed at her Like Mother Like Daughter blog. There's also The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John to help both children and adults prayerfully read the Scriptures.
Large Rosary Flip Book: Sacred Art Series Large Rosary Flip Book (7" x 8.75") with Desktop Easel
Small Rosary Flip Book: Sacred Art Series Rosary Flip Book (4" x 5") with Desktop Easel
Luminous Mysteries Rosary Flip Book: Sacred Art Series Luminous Mysteries Rosary Flip Book (6" x 6") with Desktop Easel
The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John: Sacred Art Series - The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John
This book could have easily been titled "Reintroducing Catholic Culture at a Personal Level". There are many inspirations and great ideas. Now I have a few more scared or religious objects prepared to make my own little oratory. Also, it got me thinking about how my culture can affect the culture of the world. Personal prayer and life habits are now all the more important.
The only thing I found disappointing was the lack of guidance on discerning what should be done. What should you put in your prayer life and how go about discernment?
The book provides guidelines of beauty, order and simplicity to set up, maintain, and use the oratory regularly for individual and family prayer. After establishing the prayer space, the authors continue with ways to pray with the Universal Church through the Liturgy of the Hours. They also discuss other devotions, such as the liturgical year, rosary, dedication of days and months and more.
Each author brings their expertise and their combined thoughts are wonderful. David Clayton shares aspects from the Byzantine or Eastern tradition. As an icon painter, he shares the spirituality and symbolism of icons and how they relate to prayer. The book contains several of his beautiful color icons to frame and use, or line drawings that can be colored.
Leila Lawler shares her experience as a wife, mother of seven and grandmother living her Faith with her practical "kitchen sink philosophy."
Her daughter, Deirdre Folley, has wonderful line drawings throughout which really relate a peaceful domesticity.
This does not need to be read straight through, but each chapter can stand alone. After reading the rich content of the chapters, the authors continue with an extensive appendix with wonderful information on different devotions and how to bring an oratory into other places, like a Veteran's home.
The reader is not weighed down with obligations and guilt, but will find the subject is presented in a joyful practical manner. The authors take into account the different stages of life and needs of a family, and share some practical advice on implementing their ideas.
This book is not just directed at families of all ages and sizes, but also single parents and singles and especially helpful for converts. (There are even suggestions on how to bring prayer into the office.)
The book is a treasure trove and destined to become a "Catholic classic." But it shouldn't just sit on a shelf with others, but read and used often. Setting aside a place in the home and heart for prayer and establishing a prayer life in union with the Liturgy is a universal essential.