The Oratory of the Good Shepherd (1913)

 

The Oratory of the Good Shepherd

The Seven Notes

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Introduction:

The aim of the Oratory is the adoration of God in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the imitation of his most holy life. Its fellowship and discipline are intended to encourage and direct its members in achieving this aim. Their membership will remind them that they can carry out their vocation of worship and service only in communion with the Good Shepherd and in the power of the Holy Spirit, They will seek in the Oratory these blessings for themselves and will order their lives for the strengthening of their brethren in accordance with the Notes which follow.

Commemorative plaque, Little Gidding chapel

1. Fellowship:

The first note of its life is fellowship. Individual members will endeavour to merge their lives in the corporate life of the Oratory, so that they will feel incomplete without it and the Oratory incomplete without them. Brethren will find and maintain in the Oratory a true Christian family in love and mutual service. Each member's work will be an element in the work of the whole. Members will seek the advice of the Oratory in meeting personal problems and difficulties; and in undertaking additional or new work, the corporate life of the Oratory and the College will be taken into account. Brethren must be prepared for criticism as well as encouragement when they ask for advice.

The corporate life of the Oratory will be expressed in the common observance of the Rule, in the sympathy of common work and in the daily fellowship of prayer and sacrament. This fellowship will be deepened by understanding and affection between the Colleges, so that the whole Oratory may grow into a holy temple in the Lord.

2. Liberty:

The Oratory will allow full scope for the development of individual talents while insisting on fellowship as the first note of its life. It will encourage its members to develop their personal gifts and thus to enrich the offering laid at the feet of Christ. The same liberty will be claimed for an Oratory College as for an individual.

3. Stewardship:

Members of the Oratory will always strive to regard material possessions, as well as spiritual and personal gifts, as a stewardship of wealth to be consecrated to the service of God. Brethren are not required to renounce worldly possessions or to surrender positions of influence or moderate comfort, but they are required to render an account of their stewardship, and if necessary the Oratory will criticize or condemn.

4. Labour of the Mind:

Its birth in a University and the learned tradition in religious communities give the Oratory a duty of thought and study. Members will endeavour to worship God with their minds as well as with heart and soul. They will be fearless in following truth, and will constantly try to express it, so that Christ may be fully presented as thought and word allow. They will have a private rule of reading. Each brother will seek according to his ability to bring new thought and knowledge under the discipline of Christ, and to interpret them to a better understanding of the loving purposes of God.

5. The Love that makes for Peace:

The foundation of Oratory life will be that mutual love which has always been the essence of community life in the Catholic Church. The unfailing love of its members one towards another will be increased by extending this love to all men, whether within the Church or without it. Members will have a concern for living interests and problems in Church and State, and in discussing opinions which differ from their own will avoid harsh judgments. Brethren must try to understand these differing opinions , in the hope that they may help to restore the unity of all Christian people in the spirit of charity and peace. They will recognise in all men those for whom Christ died, and will treat them with the courtesy and reverence due to his great love.

The Nicholas Ferrar memorial window at Little Gidding.
"It is the right good old way you are in; keep in it." - Nicholas Ferar window, Little Gidding Chapel

6. Discipline:

Members of the Oratory are men under authority, pledged to assist in maintaining its common discipline. They will be particularly careful in the practice of internal discipline and surrender to the will of God, which it is the purpose of the Oratory to assist them to attain, and in submitting to the degree of corporate control demanded by the Oratory and their College. Each brother will have a share in the formation of that common mind, and will accept it in a spirit of love and loyalty, and in confidence in the combined experience of the whole fellowship. It is his duty to see that his own contribution to the corporate mind of the Oratory will strengthen the authority of the whole society over individual members.

7. Joy:

Members of the Oratory will regularly make thanksgiving to God for his love until thanksgiving be spontaneous and perpetual. They will be regular in recreation; they will avoid anxiety and fuss; they will disown discouragement and depression, and check all complaint and bitterness as destructive of the brethren's joy as well of their own. They will accept gladly their share of weariness and sorrow in the joyful spirit of the saints, and the faithful following of him who for the joy that was set before him endured the Cross. They will welcome any labour or sacrifice which will minister to the joy of others, looking toward that most blessed voice, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."