When we begin our day with the Daily Offering or end our day with an examination of conscience, we will pray in a specific location. This place of our prayer is sometimes called an “oratory.” The word “oratory” comes from the Latin word “orare,” meaning, “to pray” and is most commonly used to refer to a small chapel.
The most typical location for a layperson to pray in is the home. The average American does not live across the street from a church or chapel and does not have the luxury of stopping by the church on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, praying in the home or “the little oratory,” can be challenging. The ability to have a dedicated room for prayer is extremely rare, which means that prayer usually happens in the bedroom or a common living space.
The primary challenges of praying at home are staying focused and getting into a disposition of prayer. It is not easy to pray when you sit down on the couch and stare at the turned-off TV or look around and see all the children’s toys scattered about the floor.
That is why it is important to dedicate a part of your home, apartment or room for prayer. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “For personal prayer, this can be a ‘prayer corner’ with the Sacred Scriptures and icons, in order to be there, in secret, before our Father. In a Christian family, this kind of little oratory fosters prayer in common.” (CCC 1691)
Your “prayer corner” can physically be a corner in one of your rooms or simply be a place that is somewhat removed from the hustle and bustle of the house. When planning to dedicate a specific part of your house for prayer, consider placing a prominent image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, or possibly the Divine Mercy image to help facilitate your prayer, keeping it focused on our loving and merciful God.
When planning your “little oratory,” it is important to be deliberate about it. Think of it as way of inviting God into your home.