April 3, August 3, December 3
Chapter 52: On the Oratory of the Monastery
Let the oratory be what it is called, a place of prayer;
and let nothing else be done there or kept there.
When the Work of God is ended,
let all go out in perfect silence,
and let reverence for God be observed,
so that any sister who may wish to pray privately
will not be hindered by another's misconduct.
And at other times also,
if anyone should want to pray by herself,
let her go in simply and pray,
not in a loud voice but with tears and fervor of heart.
She who does not say her prayers in this way, therefore,
shall not be permitted to remain in the oratory
when the Work of God is ended,
lest another be hindered, as we have said.
"...let nothing else be done there or kept there." Don't think for a
moment this refers to only furniture, storage or other activities. It
refers to our hearts, too. We must be terribly careful of what we
take into the oratory, what we carry in our hearts, because it not
only colors our prayer, but often the prayer of those around us as
Even half-aware people who live together for years can spot
trouble immediately. They may not know what is wrong, but they are
themselves disquieted by it. Often one never finds out what is
troubling another, so one just prays for them. But the empathy, the
sympathy that moves one to do so by observation has colored the
oratory experience ever so slightly from one of untrammeled peace.
Sometimes we honestly cannot help what we carry in our hearts. I know
that all too well. There have been times when I could scarcely calm
the cacophonic roar of anxiety and hurt. For me, as I am sure for some
others, too, it is all but impossible to pray at such times, through
no fault of our own.
I resolve to be a bit more careful to try to empty my heart whenever
I can, but I sometimes cannot. Nothing seems clear or right. So I
just say: "Look, maybe what I am offering You really is nothing at
all, maybe I shouldn't even dare. If it is nothing, please forgive
me. If it's not, please take it for whatever it is worth." Sometimes
that's the best we can do.
Love and prayers,