I have posted here on various occasions about the domestic church: the way in which a family draws close to God in the family home. Such a spiritual dimension of a family’s home life is absolutely necessary if the children will ever learn how to pray, internalize their faith, and bring it with them as they leave the home when they are older. And it is necessary also for the parents, so that they have the strength and wisdom to bring up their families according to the plan of God, and not the easy and deceptive plans of the world.
In this regard, I have had my eye on a new book for a while now, but won’t be able to read it myself until I go home. (This is not one that I want to get on Kindle: I want to have a hard-copy in hand). That book is The Little Oratory by Leila Marie Lawler and David Clayton. Until I can read it myself, however, I direct you to an excellent and thorough review just published by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski: Book Review: The Little Oratory
A few excerpts from this review, which either resonate with my own experience or anticipate some of my own questions about the book —
On its practicality:
To put it simply, this is a must-have book for parents trying to build up a genuine Catholic culture in their homes. As a father and husband, I have had the experience of picking up books of this genre (“how to make your home more Christian/Catholic”) and putting them down with some impatience as I realize how idealistic or ambitious or remote or dated or abstract they were. What I love about The Little Oratory is that it never loses the reader in abstractions or unrealistic expectations.
On how it ties in the Domestic Church with the Universal Church, rooted in the Holy Eucharist:
The bedrock concept is that it is Eucharistic worship, the “source and summit of the Christian life,” that needs to be extended into the household, into the family circle. The Mass needs to spill over into daily life, so that we are reminded of our Lord, prepared for Him, living from Him.
On how it anticipates difficulties – i.e., it is not a “one size fits all” approach, but takes into account the fact that each family is different:
It’s hard to convey in a short review all the riches found in this book, and the utterly practical, down-to-earth way in which the authors unfold their ideas. The humble, reasonable, and flexible tone fills the reader with a sense of eagerness and hope. […] If you are new to this enterprise, or even if you’re more experienced, the book is just chock-full of great ideas. Chapter 10, “Difficulties You May Have,” is abundant proof that the authors did not write this during a sabbatical in an ivory tower.
I note as well that the publisher has set up a web page where you can download and print the images that are in the book – a great idea for coloring activities with the little ones or to print out the beautiful icons that the book provides! Click here for that page.
I conclude with a question: Have you ever known of a family that had a chapel in their home? I have been to a few homes with private chapels. There was no reservation of the Blessed Sacrament there – which would absolutely require the permission of the Bishop and would probably not be granted; it was just a separate room, set up as a chapel, so as to provide a more suitable place for prayer. Books like these speak of setting up prayer corners and prayer spaces to help focus the family’s devotion, but I say: if the family has the means and the space to do so, go ahead and designate an entire (smallish) room for the purpose, and make it a family project to adorn the room in the most beautiful way possible for the honor of God. I would be interested to know if you have known or know currently anyone who has a home chapel (no names, just yes or no!).