At the heart of our domestic life are two periods of prayer, called morning and evening ‘oratory’, each lasting half an hour, in which the whole community comes together to pray silently and also (in the evening) vocally.
From the beginning, both practising and reflecting upon the classical forms of Christian spirituality, especially meditation, have been essential to forming and maintaining our sense of ourselves as Oratorians: St Philip, after all, insisted that above all his houses be houses of prayer. The habit of prayer, and of thinking and speaking about prayer, has also been essential to our pastoral vocation: to our hearing confessions, spiritual direction, preaching and teaching. Retrieving and communicating the riches of Catholic spirituality – knowing something of what prayer is and can be, why it matters, and above all learning to practise it perseveringly – is accordingly an essential strand in our understanding of the unity and purpose of Oratorian life.
Meals (except breakfast, taken individually, in silence and ad libitum) are communal. At lunch we talk, but dinner (following evening oratory) is in silence, with reading and service at table, after the monastic pattern; afterwards there is a period of recreation in which the whole community joins. Recreation and lunch are the occasions each day when the community comes together socially, the complement, as it were, to the gathering for prayer at morning and evening oratory. Conversation between members of the community of course takes place throughout the day, but the times when the community as a whole comes together have a special significance.