The Oxford Oratory is a vibrant centre of Catholic life. Our church is open every day: join us for Mass, pop in for some quiet prayer, or come and discover more at one of our groups. Our historic church of St Aloysius has been a key feature in the lives of the city’s Catholics for 150 years, attracting people of all ages and from every walk of life. We use beauty to raise hearts and minds to God, faithful to the traditions of St Philip Neri and St John Henry Newman.

Thursday 13 June 2024

Extraordinary Time

It seems as though we have been riding on an extraordinary wave of liturgical drama for a few months now. We have followed Our Lord through his Passion, Death, and Resurrection with Holy Week. We have looked up as he goes to prepare a place for us at his Ascension. And Pentecost then found us praying with Mary, his Mother, and the Apostles as the Holy Spirit descended and we were sent forth once more, on fire with the love of God to proclaim the Good News to all peoples. But the fun did not end there! We had the joy, which is ours year after year, to prepare for, and celebrate, the great feast of Our Holy Father Saint Philip ‘choicest of priests’ and then to return to the source and summit of our Christian life with the feast of Corpus Christi and the splendid procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the heart of our city. A few days after we had the glorious feast of the Sacred Heart — that annual reminder that God really does love us, and to commit ourselves again to try each day to love him back. In our parish we have had the baptism and reception of a good number of converts just last Saturday, our second ‘batch’ this year, and with more to come. Looking ahead there is still the feast of St Aloysius, as well as First Holy Communions. But just for now we find ourselves in the not-very-inspiringly-named Ordinary Time: the feasts are memory, albeit living ones, and the future awaits, but it seems just for now we are all of a sudden ‘back to normal’, whatever normal is.

In our city and university too change is afoot. The streets filled no longer with nervous-looking students wearing white carnations and hurriedly reading their notes before heading into their first exams. Now rather, there are only a few red carnations to be seen of the unlucky few who have to wait until the very end of term before the glorious freedom which comes with the much-anticipated final visit to Exam Schools. Now the roads are full of parents dutifully packing away the belongings of those who will always be children for them as the full expanse of summer stretches before us. The students will soon be replaced by the hoards of tourists who come from all over the world to look at their telephone screens in different locations, and so Oxford summer begins…

For us, as Christians, there is really very little in our life that is humdrum and ordinary. Every day is filled with the miracle of God’s grace at work in the sacraments and every time we lift our mind and heart to him in prayer. Every day is filled with nigh-on hundreds of opportunities to learn from the school of God’s love and then for us to be the instruments of his love to all those we meet each and every day. There are opportunities so often for charity, for gratitude, for simple kindness and consideration — as well as the times and moments which test us and help us to become saints, to be people who are patient, and pure, and compassionate, and all those things in which we seek to imitate Christ.

Here at the Oratory each and everyday is filled with the extraordinary — even when the vestments are green. There are the hundreds of people who come each week to receive the miracle of God’s mercy in the confessional. Three times, often more, each day, God himself comes down from Heaven as the Mass is celebrated — so truly, wonderfully, totally amongst us, and thence to feed hundreds with the Bread of Life in Communion. There he dwells, Love awaiting love, in the tabernacle as each day so many people come to him in our open church (7am-7pm each day) seeking consolation, blessings for themselves and for others, or simply to be with him, knowing he IS there. Children and converts are instructed and so the Good News takes root in hearts made new by the hearing of the Word, minds and hearts are nourished with the Truths of the Faith and go out, to our city and beyond with the joy of the Gospel in the School of St Philip to bid others, ‘Come and See’.

So you see, there is never a time that is ordinary for Catholics. It is often repeated (and rightly so because it is true) that we do not pray so much for miracles but for the grace to have the eyes to see them when they come. And here they are, here for each one of us, just waiting for us to see them and experience them and from thence to live each day in the supernatural life and love of God, in whose service all are kings.


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Saturday 8 June 2024

Today we confirmed ten adults, including four newly baptised and three received into Full Communion with the Catholic Church. Congratulations to them all, and a warm welcome to our new members of the Church! Our newly confirmed have been preparing since February in our second round of classes for adults this year.

Today’s feast of Mary’s Immaculate Heart is a celebration of the purity of her will. When the angel told her God’s plan for her, she said, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” And that was the summary of her life — she only ever wanted what God wanted. On this day, and for the rest of our lives, may she inspire us through her example and help us with her prayers to do the same ourselves, as some of us begin — and all of us continue — to do what she was privileged to do for longer than anyone else — to live with her Son here on earth.

Please pray for those who received the sacraments today, and those who are still on their way. Our next series of classes will begin in October. #oxfordoratory

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Saturday 8 June 2024

That thou would defend, pacify, keep, preserve, and bless this city,
we beseech thee, hear us.

#oxfordoratory

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Saturday 8 June 2024

A Prayer of St Cajetan for the City

Look down, O Lord, from thy sanctuary,
from thy dwelling in heaven on high,
and behold this sacred Victim which our great High Priest,
thy holy Son our Lord Jesus Christ,
offers up to thee for the sins of his brethren
and be appeased despite the multitude of our transgressions.
Behold, the voice of the Blood of Jesus, our Brother,
cries to thee from the cross.

Give ear, O Lord. Be appeased, O Lord.
Hearken and do not delay for thine own sake, O my God;
for thy Name is invoked upon this city and upon thy people
and deal with us according to thy mercy. Amen.

#oxfordoratory

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Friday 7 June 2024

I adore Thee, O my Saviour, present here as God and man, in soul and body, in true flesh and blood. I acknowledge and confess that I kneel before that Sacred Humanity, which was conceived in Mary's womb, and lay in Mary's bosom; which grew up to man's estate, and by the Sea of Galilee called the Twelve, wrought miracles, and spoke words of wisdom and peace; which in due season hung on the cross, lay in the tomb, rose from the dead, and now reigns in heaven. I praise, and bless, and give myself wholly to Him, who is the true Bread of my soul, and my everlasting joy. (St John Henry Newman)

#oxfordoratory

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Friday 7 June 2024

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

#oxfordoratory

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Thursday 6 June 2024

The procession was led by members of the University in their doctoral gowns.

#oxfordoratory

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Thursday 6 June 2024

Adoremus in æternum Sanctissimum Sacramentum.

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Wednesday 5 June 2024

A wonderful display of devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament on Sunday. We couldn’t fit everyone into church at the start of the procession.

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Wednesday 5 June 2024

June Music

Sunday 2 June Solemn Mass 11:00
Corpus Christi
Missa Lauda Sion Palestrina
Lauda Sion Victoria
O sacrum convivium Tallis
Grand Choeur Dialogué Gigout

Friday 7 June Solemn Mass 18:00
The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Le Roy Kyrie Taverner
Mass for four voices Tallis
Improperium Palestrina
Sancte Deus Tallis
Contrapunctus IX Bach

Sunday 9 June Solemn Mass 11:00
10th Sunday of the Year
Missae Papae Marcelli Anerio
Illumina oculos meos Lassus
Sacris solemnis Anerio
Master Tallis’ Testament Howells

Sunday 16 June Solemn Mass 11:00
11th Sunday of the Year
Missa Puisque j’ay perdu Lassus
Pulchra es Monteverdi
O bone Jesu Anchieta
‘Gigue’ Fugue in G BWV 577 Bach

Friday 21 June Solemn Mass 18:00
St Aloysius Gonzaga
Missa O quam gloriosum Victoria
O quam gloriosum Victoria
Sicut cervus Palestrina
Prelude in D Schmidt

Sunday 23 June Solemn Mass 11:00
12th Sunday of the Year
Missa Aeterna Christi munera Palestrina
Beati omnes qui timent Dominum Purcell
O sacrum convivum Croce
Contrapunctus XI Bach

Sunday 30 June Solemn Mass 11:00
St Peter and St Paul
Missa Bell’ Amfitrit’ altera Lassus
Tu es Petrus Palestrina
Petre ego pro te rogavi Guerrero
Allegro vivace from Symphonie V Widor

Wednesday 5 June 2024

“You can only see properly with your heart.”

The Feast of the Sacred Heart, which we keep this Friday, is a much-loved day for Catholics celebrating a much-loved devotion. At times, the Sacred Heart has been looked on as too emotional or sentimental and as a distraction from the purity of the liturgy or intellectual theology (and both views are nonsense), but the Sacred heart has had a treasured place in our Catholic life for centuries. It has a treasured place because it goes to the heart (if you will) of our faith in Christ.

But what is the heart? Often we think of it as the seat of our emotions or a way of talking about our affections and it is both these things. But it is also much more. In the Bible and in the Fathers of the Church the heart signified the totality of man — it represents the whole person, all of what it is to be us. It is the whole of one’s being. When we then look at the Sacred Heart of Jesus we are looking at the sign of his human love for us and his boundless divine love for us, and these ways of loving are who he is in himself — he is love. When we talk about the Sacred Heart we are talking about the totality of Christ, all that he is. And so when we look at that image of the Sacred Heart, pierced through for our sins, and yet ablaze with the fire of charity for us, we are given a marvellous look into who Jesus is. His heart speaks to our heart.

In his little book on this devotion, Pope Benedict XVI once wrote that “you can only see properly with your heart.” Our Lord sees us with his heart. He sees our wounds and our fragility and he loves us with an inexhaustible love because he knows that is what we need. His heart — pierced and bruised in his Passion — is able to identify with us and love us all the more. And we must learn to see him with our heart. We must learn to see him with our whole life, with all that it is to be us. If we can make him our constant companion, we will see him through all the moments and experiences that make up our life and he will know he is with us to love us through them. It gives new meaning to our prayer too. When we remember the words of that old man to the Curé d’Ars, when he asked him what he did when he prayed, and the old man responded, “I look at him and he looks at me.” It is a lovely kind of prayer that is looking to God, seeing him with our heart and knowing that he sees us with his.

Pope Pius XII in his letter on the Sacred Heart reminds us that that heart of Jesus, wounded for our sins and loving us, is not something in the past, like a memory, but just as Jesus’ body still exists, that heart carries on loving us in reality. The sign of the Sacred Heart contains all the mysteries of Jesus — his becoming one of us in the Incarnation, his Passion and Death and his Resurrection and Ascension. And because of this, the sign if the Sacred Heart is a sign of joy.

Our Lord speaks of remaining in his love so that our joy may be complete, indeed, so that his own joy may be in us (Jn 15:10–12). He says this just after he says that we are to be his friends, and so the fulfilment of our devotion to him, to his Sacred Heart is joy. Dom Paul Delatte, the great Benedictine monk, once wrote that the message of Christianity may be summed up in “joy”. He wrote, “It is a remarkable religion in which joy is a precept, in which the command is to be happy, in which cheerfulness is a duty.” For Dom Delatte, joy is the “distinguishing atmosphere of the Christian life” on account of all that we have received. That Sacred Heart of Jesus is not a sorrowful one, and so we must have great confidence in it because the love that it has for us is unbounded. We can be certain that through thick and thin, that Heart burns with love for us and so we can rejoice that he loves us still and that has saved us.


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Monday 3 June 2024

This is the Saint of gentleness and kindness,
Cheerful in penance, and in precept winning;
Patiently healing of their pride and blindness,
Souls that are sinning.

This is the Saint, who, when the world allures us,
Cries her false wares and opes her magic coffers,
Points to a better city, and secures us
With richer offers.

Love is his bond, he knows no other fetter,
Asks not our all, but takes whate’er we spare him,
Willing to draw us on from good to better,
As we can bear him.

When he comes near to teach us and to bless us,
Prayer is so sweet that hours are but a minute,
Mirth is so pure, though freely it possess us,
Sin is not in it.

Thus he conducts, by holy paths and pleasant,
Innocent souls, and sinful souls forgiven,
Towards the bright palace, where our God is present,
Throned in high heaven.

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Monday 3 June 2024

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Monday 3 June 2024

The more important a bishop is, the more assistants he needs to celebrate Mass.

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Sunday 2 June 2024

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Sunday 2 June 2024

The Apostolic Nuncio celebrated a Pontifical Mass at the throne for St Philip’s Day.

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Saturday 1 June 2024

We welcomed His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio to celebrate St Philip’s Day with us.

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Friday 31 May 2024

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Thursday 30 May 2024

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Wednesday 29 May 2024

St Philip & Corpus Christi

Today we find ourselves sandwiched between two great feasts: of Our Holy Father St Philip yesterday and of Corpus Christi tomorrow. Even by the standards of any saintly priest, St Philip’s devotion to the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament were extraordinary. God seems to have recognised this feature of his spirituality by calling him to heaven on the feast of Corpus Christi itself.

St Philip’s devotion to the Eucharist was not complicated or unique. It was simply the logical consequence of the faith we all share. We believe that when Christ said, “This is my body,” he meant it. St Philip said, “Our sweet Jesus, through the excess of his love and generosity, has left himself to us in the Most Holy Sacrament.” God has given us everything that we have, but he still wanted to give us something more.

Christ’s presence on the altar during the Mass transforms the church into a small piece of heaven on earth. If we really believe that Christ himself is present, where else could we want to be? And so St Philip taught his spiritual children, “In order to begin well, and to finish better, it is quite necessary to hear Mass every day, unless there be some lawful hindrance in the way.”

Most people at the time received Communion just once a year (which is still the all the Church asks of us). But Philip encouraged people to receive Communion more often, so that they could grow even closer to Christ. One of the most important ways that he prepared people for this was by hearing their confession first, to ensure they would welcome their Lord with a clean conscience and a pure heart.

In his later years, St Philip’s devotion grew so great that it could be seen when he was saying Mass. When he elevated the Host after the consecration, he would sometimes be lifted up off the floor. And before he received Communion, the server had to extinguish the candles for safety, and leave him alone in silent prayer. A sign would be left on the door, “Silence! The Father is saying Mass.” The server would return when Philip had come back down to earth — sometimes as much as two hours later — and the Mass would continue.

We come to share in this Eucharistic faith ourselves through our exterior actions. We may know that the Church teaches that bread becomes Christ’s body, and we may accept that teaching happily. But if we do not respond to that with our actions, we will struggle to believe it. It is only by treating Christ’s Body as the most important and most precious thing in our lives that we will actually believe this to be so. This is, after all, how the Church has taught the faithful for hundreds of years — not by explaining the theology of transubstantiation endlessly, but simply by being treating the the Blessed Sacrament with the reverence that Our Lord deserves.

That is why we genuflect and kneel, to show with our bodies what at times we may forget in our minds. That is why for most of her history, the Church has allowed only the priest to touch the Sacred Host, and asked him to handle it as little as possible. That is why we expose the Blessed Sacrament with great solemnity for holy hours, benediction, and for the Forty Hours’ Devotion. That is why we will carry the Blessed Sacrament with great honour through the streets of our city this Sunday in our Corpus Christi procession, and why hundreds of people will turn out to show the world that this is not bread. That’s why we are asked to fast before receiving Communion so that when we approach the altar rail, we are hungry and thirsty for God himself. As St Philip said, “Let all go to the Eucharistic Table with a great desire for that Sacred Food. Thirsting! Thirsting!”

If we look forward to receiving Holy Communion — however often that may be — we have a real practical way of making Christ the centre of our lives. Then we may share some of St Philip’s appreciation for the greatest gift Christ has given us — himself.


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