(All Summer in the Little Oratory posts can be found here)
This is just a list of options/suggestions; by no means do you have to do them all. Monks and nuns don’t do them all!
“Lived in its simple way,” the authors write, “the little oratory provides a place to say morning and night prayers, framing the day, and to live the seasons in ways that are traditional and worth knowing about.” (87)
- The Morning Offering, which exists in many forms (like this one and this one) , is a way of offering the whole day to God at the beginning of the day. When we say the “whole day”, we mean the whole day–these prayers usually contain some formulation such as “I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day”. If the day gets away from you, and you forget to pray for long periods of time, this is a good way to offer your day before it even begins. If you’re saying Lauds in the Divine Office, you don’t need to say an offering as well.
- Nightly examination of conscience. This is something I’ve just started adding. It’s like what you do before confession, except every day. The Jesuits have a good formula, which I use, even though I’m not a Jesuit at all. 🙂 You can say this with the family, individually with each child, or just by yourself, like I do. Sometimes it’s good to write down these things in a small notebook so you can review it before confession. Don’t forget to have firm purpose of amendment–you are going to change. Even if you fall the next day and do the same things over and over, if you are trying, it makes all the difference, and if you’re aware of your particular tendencies, this helps root them out. As with goal setting, it helps to be specific–not just “I’m going to be better tomorrow”, but “I will, with Your help, try to be generous with my toys.” (That example is from the book, hence the kid specificness.)
These are both good things to do with children at the oratory, if you have them, or other family members, such as your spouse.
The authors also give us a list of devotions that are traditionally assigned to the days of the week, like the rosary mysteries are (more on that next week). Each day has a particular emphasis or flavor. Here’s the list they give:
- Sunday: The Resurrection, the Trinity
- Monday: The Holy Spirit, the Souls in Purgatory.
- Tuesday: The Angels (it’s also helpful to say the prayer to your guardian angel in the morning and at night!)
- Wednesday: St. Joseph. He represents fatherhood, care, protection, a happy death, and sanctified work, and is the Patron of the Universal Church.
- Thursday: The Blessed Sacrament.
- Friday: Christ’s Passion and the Sacred Heart.
- Saturday: The Blessed Virgin
A way to work these in–you could, for example, pray a decade of the rosary for the Souls in Purgatory on Monday; say a prayer to St. Joseph on Wednesday; make a holy hour on Thursday, if at all possible, etc.
There are also certain devotions for each month, or, as above, “flavors”:
- January: The Holy Name of Jesus, which is celebrated on January 3.
- February: The Holy Family.
- March: St. Joseph, whose feast day is March 19. The Litany of St. Joseph can be said on each of the seven Sundays preceding his feast day.
- April: The Blessed Sacrament.
- May: Our Lady.
- June: The Sacred Heart
- July: The Precious Blood of Jesus
- August: The Immaculate Heart of Mary
- September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary (Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated on September 15)
- October: The Holy Rosary
- November: All saints and all souls
- December: The Immaculate Conception, which is also a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States, celebrated on December 8.
And finally, if you have saints’ name days to celebrate, or family feast days, do it! For example, as a Dominican I celebrate the feast days of our Dominican saints, especially St. Dominic on August 8. My middle name is Michele, which is derived from St. Michael, so I celebrate his feast day on September 29 as my “name day.” My confirmation saint, St. Therese, is celebrated on October 1. There are many ways to celebrate the saints of the church and our various devotions. The key is to find what ones you love and what works for you and your family.