How did the Oratory begin?
With laymen gathered for prayer and spiritual reading, for conversation and recreation, and for the care of those in need.
Saint Philip was at the heart of the group, of course. Yet how unobtrusive he was! He desired to bring his friends to Christ, not to himself. Christ was to be found in the sacraments, in Holy Scripture, in the lives of the saints and the history of the Church – and also in other people, especially the poor and the sick, to care for whom is to care for Christ.
The Oratory was not particularly dramatic or especially demanding. All sorts belonged, each drawn simply by his sense that here, from Saint Philip, he could learn how to make progress in knowing and loving our Lord.
The Brothers of the Little Oratory in Birmingham are among their successors. It is a special blessing for our Brothers to receive Saint Philip’s spirit from the hands of Cardinal Newman. Newman understood that spirit; he knew that in our relations with God and with each other, we must try to leave behind all that is wrong, false and pretentious, so that, in all simplicity, heart can speak to heart.
This is what Saint Philip wants for his sons: simply and intimately, to know Christ. It is the aim of our Brothers of the Little Oratory, each one as far as he can, to seek that knowledge in Saint Philip’s way and Newman’s: in prayer and devotion, through the bonds of Christian friendship and in works of practical charity.
Father Philip Cleevely