How to Start an Oratory
If you would like to begin an Oratory of Divine Love Bible Study, have already begun one, or have a pre-existing prayer group that you want to affiliate with Oratory, please follow the following procedures.
Gather some devout Catholic friends, at least six who will pledge themselves to come together to pray for an hour once a week, or at least once every two weeks. Usually an oratory should have at least six members. However, homebound friends who cannot get to a group can register as affiliates. They will be able to pick up the meditations on this website or the Confraternity of Penitents can email them the reflections. If the group grows beyond fifteen or so, it loses its personal touch, and it will be necessary to start a second Oratory from the existing one. It is perfectly acceptable to limit the membership to a particular age group or parish, or even to a specific occupation, such as teachers or health care workers.
Explain the requirements beyond attending the meeting (see the Procedures Link for details on how to conduct an Oratory Gathering):
To pray fervently and reverently every day. Daily Mass attendance is highly recommended but is not required.
To show reverence, prayerfulness and silence in church, and especially before the presence of Christ in the Eucharist (whether exposed or in the tabernacle).
To work regularly at hands-on work for the poor and needy.
To be available to help in one’s parish, especially with religious education, ministry to the sick, and other parish work.
To carefully read the Holy Bible, especially the Gospels every day (use solid commentaries).
To give a devoted example of a good Christian life at all times, and to speak up in a responsible way for the observance of the Gospel by Christians, and for a moral life for all of society. The members try to live up to their responsibility to confess Christ before all the world.
Be sure not to use the name of the Oratory in any action other than the weekly or bi-weekly prayer meeting. Members are encouraged to join all good programs, but the Oratory itself is a prayer movement.
Devout Christians who are not Catholics can be invited to the prayer meetings, even regularly, but with the understanding that this is a Catholic movement, loyal to the teaching of the Catholic Church and the Holy Father. While non-Catholic Christians are most welcome it would detract from the purpose of the Oratory if these were accommodated by diluting the principles and practices of the group, which is loyal to the teachings of the Church and to the Holy Father.
Have the person starting the Oratory Group, referred to as the group Coordinator, register the Oratory with the Confraternity of Penitents on the Contact form. If the Oratory disbands, the coordinator is the person responsible to notify the Oratory of Divine Love Office.
Procedures for an Oratory Bible Study
Detailed Outline of an Oratory Prayer Gathering
Gathering should be limited to 1 hour. Refreshments may be served afterwards if desired.
1) All remain quiet for a few minutes of recollection, then all stand.
2) The person chosen to lead this particular meeting invokes the help of the Holy Spirit by leading the singing of “Come Holy Ghost”, or by this prayer:
Come Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of the faithful,
and enkindle in us the fire of Your Love;
send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created
and You will renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray:
O God who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the heart of the faithful, grant us by that same Spirit to be truly wise and ever to rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord, Amen.
3) Then there is a reading from the New Testament which is part of the weekly meditation. This should be read aloud by one reader and listened to by the remainder of the Oratory. Then all sit.
4) After a few quiet minutes for reflection on the Scripture passage, the meditation is read aloud. A period of reflection (approximately two minutes) should follow. Then the Quote from a Saint is read aloud followed by a minute for reflection. The Prayer should be prayed together, either by all Oratorians praying simultaneously or by having one Oratorian pray a line and the rest prayerfully repeat it. A minute of silent meditation follows. Then, using the Questions for Reflection as a guide, for about 20-25 minutes the members discuss how the passage applies to them as the members of the group or to devout Christians in our time. The discussion should focus on how to grow in love of God and neighbor and how to achieve the spiritual growth discussed in the meditation. Then the leader calls the discussion to an end.
5) At the end of the discussion, spontaneous prayer may be held, or some prayers or Psalms may be read that are pertinent to the reading. So that all Catholics feel comfortable at the Oratory gathering, no special prayers to the saints, private revelations, or prayers specific to special groups in the Church like the Charismatic Renewal should be used at this time. The prayer should invoke God, and using approved prayers of the Church, prayers written by the saints, or prayers from Scripture would be most appropriate. At the end of this prayer the personal petitions of the members may be given in this form:
That (so and so) may be restored to health;
Let us pray to the Lord.
All respond: Lord hear our prayer (or some similar form may be used).
6) (All stand) The meeting ends with the “Lord’s Prayer” and such aspirations as:
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Yours; or,
O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee.
At this point if a priest is present he will give the blessing. The meeting should not last for more than an hour.
7) The meeting ends with a hymn that the group knows – for example,
“Holy God We Praise Thy Name”.
Other hymns may be learned and practiced after the meeting. Any business like the time and plan of the next meeting is done after the hymn. The Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, or a novena prayer may be added for those who wish to stay beyond the hour for discussion and prayer.
Members may also want to discuss how they are fulfilling the other requirements of the oratory like the care of the poor and needy, parish assistance or apostolic work.
In the course of time spiritual books may be suggested and these can be discussed at the optional “social” after the meeting. This social time is suggested and can be accompanied by simple refreshments.
Whatever is done beyond the actual Oratory Prayer and sharing is optional. Oratorians should not be compelled to stay beyond the hour designated for the Oratory itself.