“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47
The Brighton Oratory is a Western i.e. Latin Rite Orthodox community made up of ordinary men and women committed to establishing and developing a Traditional Catholic Faith community modelled on the experience of the Apostles and the Early Church described in Acts 2:42-47. The Brighton Oratory is not a religious order but a network of localised prayer groups and communities of varying sizes numbering as few as two/three members to a fellowship of any size able to maintain a real sense of community among its members [Romans 14:19].
The Brighton Oratory seeks to enable and encourage its members to live in love with God and neighbour in fulfilment of the Divine Command of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” [Matthew 22:34-40] The Oratory seeks to do this by endeavouring to become a “school of saints” by discerning, encouraging and developing the vocations of individual members [Ephesians 4:11-13] to serve God together and by instruction in the revelation of the Divine Caritas in Scripture and the Apostles’ teaching [John 15:1-11, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, 2 Timothy 3:16 & Jude 1:3].
Fundamental to the concept of the Brighton Oratory is the desire for each local fellowship to be a community at both “prayer” and “work” [Acts 2:42, 46 & James 2:24]. While members of the Oratory community may share a common life, the mission of the community is given emphasis and is expressed by a foundation in daily gathering for prayer/worship and active apostolates within the local community by assenting to God’s truth [1 Thessalonians 2:13], in obedience to Him [Romans 1:5, 16:26], and by working in love [Galatians 5:6].
PRAY: the Oratory’s members meet together everyday for prayer and/or worship. In smaller groups, this may mean a prayer meeting at a mutually convenient time to the members in an individual’s home and may or may not be a formal offering e.g. of the Divine Office or an informal time of prayer and meditation [Acts 2:46-47]. The community may meet more than once daily and may be able to offer a variety of opportunities for both formal and informal acts of worship. The ideal is for a group to offer gathering opportunities in the morning and evening and at one of these or in addition to these, to offer a Mass or Holy Communion service [Acts 2:42].
WORK: as an extension from and expression of the foundation of prayer and ideally the Eucharist [Ephesians 4:12], the Oratory community endeavours to express their faith in active apostolates within the local community e.g. voluntary or charitable work [Matthew 25:31-46 & James 2:24]. This work may be carried out individually, in teams, in conjunction or partnership with other churches or Christian groups but it must reflect the virtue and practice of true charity i.e. selfless and not self-serving and ideally work that will benefit the immediate local community of the Oratory or by extension thereby.
The Rule of Life is a simple set of principles to which all members are beholden:
to love God
to love neighbour
to love one’s soul
to love the Church
to love the Scriptures
to love the Sacraments
The first three rules are Divine Commands given us by God in the Old Covenant [Deut 6:4-5, Lev 19:18] and affirmed by Christ in the New Covenant [Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34 & Luke 10:25-28]; the latter three are the means by which we have received the Divine Commands from God in Christ through the Apostles [Jude 1:3] and the means by which we can live, learn and receive God’s grace for our salvation by the faithful observance of them.
The Rule of Life is lived in common, that is that all members adhere to it and are instructed by it within the fellowship of the Oratory. Through daily homilies, lectio divina, regular personal and group Bible study and catechism lessons, the faithful learn how to apply the Rule to their lives both as individuals and as a community.