Your Own Home Oratory — A Place
For Stillness and Reverence
“And they shall make me a sanctuary
and I will dwell in the midst of them.”(Exodus 25: 8)
Some commentators insist the above verse should be translated, “And they shall make me a sanctuary and I will dwell in (or within) them”. It is actually important not to emphasise one translation to the exclusion of the other since, in the nature of the Hebrew language, both are correct. God dwelt both in each individual and in their midst — the latter really denoting that by establishing their orderly encampment around God’s Tent of Presence, they dwelt in His midst. This beautiful concept of mutual indwelling is a constant theme throughout the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and reached a very special high point in our Lord’s final dialogue with His disciples a short time before His arrest.
(John 14: 19 — 20 and 17: 22 — 23)
God’s Presence in and among His people is a topic which is very widely interpreted and which receives a lot of attention. Most people reading this will be aware of the many levels or modes of God’s Presence, and it is not our intention of supporting some and rejecting others. We believe God sanctifies both time and space. What matters to us is that we encourage you to develop your own sense of God’s Presence, and to reverence that in a sincere and genuine manner. Let this be reflected in the use of times and places which are significant for you.
It is not difficult to find books, pamphlets, Internet articles and all manner of publications condemning one or other aspects of what people consider to be holy. Many commentators wax eloquently about how God must not be reduced to presence within a specific place or occasion. Almost always such discourses are based on quite significant misunderstanding of other traditions they are discussing; their comments are valid only within their own restricted field and culture.
The Church, from its earliest times, has encouraged respect for God’s Presence in a variety of “modes”:
- present throughout time and space;
- present within each person;
- present in gathered communities;
- present in occasions of worship;
- present in specific places, e.g. a Tabernacle holding the Blessed Sacrament;
- present in your holy place — your oratory;
- present in your home and in the gatherings and celebrations of your friends and family.
We therefore encourage you to continue developing in an on-going and relaxed way, your growing sense of God’s Presence in the world, in your life, and in your own self. Each of us is called to do this as best we know how, according to our own culture, and in ways we find authentic — that “ring true” for us. If we pursue this course, God will bless us richly.