- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Sophia Institute Press (April 25, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1622821769
- ISBN-13: 978-1622821761
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Little Oratory: A Beginner's Guide to Praying in the Home Paperback – April 25, 2014
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"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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Googled the word to know that it means a sacred space for prayer and private worship. Before telling us how to build this little oratory, the book first expounds on the Christian life and the importance of family life in the home.
The authors then give advice on how to order and organize the house, room by room. For example, the master bedroom is meant to be ordered and neat. It is okay to have a crib in it, but all the items for the baby including diapers and toys must be in a certain place, and not strewn about. That's nice in a magazine, but not always practical. I do agree with the authors when they say that the living room or den need not be centered around the television, and I also agree that shelves provide great assistance no matter what room of the house. We then begin the chapter of making and placing the home altar. Included in the chapter on "Making the Little Oratory at Home" is tips for linens, candles, prayerbooks, etc. All of these tips are fine, but I disagree with their section on iconography. The author's equate iconography to just another form of art and put it on equal ground with Western art, like Michaelangelo. Iconography is more than art, and it is not even about creating "beautiful art." Icons are prayer and designed to aid in worship. That is why they have specific rules when being written. They should also never be framed, as suggested by the authors. So yes icons are better than Western art and different than Western art.
The next few chapters deal with praying and reading Scripture. We are given an overview of the Liturgical Year and each individual season in one chapter. In the next chapter, the reader receives a crash course on praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Included in this chapter are the importance of the Liturgy of the Hours, as well as versions one can use online or buy. Unfortunately, there is no instruction on how to actually pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and this is not a prayer rule you can just pick up and figure out on your own. It's a bit complicated, and I would recommend the book The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours if you are serious about learning how to pray it. Chapter 7, "Devotion," details each month of the year and the special devotion associated with each, i.e., May being devoted to Mary. Chapter 8 discusses praying the Rosary and the value of it.
There are some closing chapters, which include difficulties you may encounter as well as encouragement to not only transform your home life, but to transform the world. The book then contains eight appendices. Some of them I found very helpful like "Devotion to Mary" and "The Sacred Heart." However, I found the appendix on the "Jesus Prayer" a bit troublesome. The authors were correct in what the prayer is and how the prayer is prayed, but they don't demonstrate knowledge otherwise in this prayer. There is a passing clause about people praying this prayer a set number of times, under guidance of a spiritual elder. However, they flippantly mention the breathing exercises associated with this prayer. This prayer can be very dangerous without supervision from a spiritual elder, especially when trying to adapt the breathing and postures that are associated with it.
Overall, I am very conflicted by this book. I found myself disagreeing with as much as I agreed with. There are parts that are absolutely brilliant and parts that I absolutely object to. So I guess I would recommend you to read this book carefully. You do not have to adopt everything mentioned in this book. If you find a section troubling or if something seems impractical to you, discuss it with your spiritual advisor.