✢ Consecration to Jesus Christ
Being consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus means that we are driven by his love - for us and for others - shown to us by his Precious Blood given in the Upper Room and poured out on the Cross. Therefore, our service to others, our liturgical devotion and prayer, our community life, our celebration of the Sacraments, and anything else we do, is not motivated out of obligation or fear. Instead, everything we do is a response of gratitude to Our Lord who has first loved us. From his pierced side and wounded heart flows a deep and ever-abiding love which forever changes us.
Saint Paul writes, "For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Oratorians, in making their promises (note, we make promises and not vows), make and renew annually an Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As a reminder of that consecration, Oratorians pray the prayer of the Society at each of the Daily Offices and pray the Litany on most Fridays.
✢ A desire to evangelize, showing all the world the love of the Crucified Lord
Our commitment does not end at forming our own lives around the love of Jesus pouring forth from his Sacred Heart. Because we are persons marked by this love, we want others to know and experience that love for themselves. We are people of Good News, commissioned by Jesus to proclaim that to a world in need of grace.
And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ - Matthew 16:18-20
The words 'evangelize' and 'evangelical' have their root in the Greek word meaning 'good message' or 'good news.' Even 'angel' comes from this word. In our current context, especially our North American context, 'evangelical' has come to mean something different - a political orientation, a tribe of religionists, or a statement of non-catholic religious identity. However, when used properly, the word describes the movement of the Good News about Jesus throughout humanity. That is how we use the word.
We have an evangelical desire to show the world the love that flows from the heart of Christ. Therefore, the priests of our Oratory, who are not already pastors of parishes, are directed to offer their priestly, pastoral ministry to parishes whose expression and theological identity are congruent with ours - and are directed to do so at the invitation of local bishops, particularly when requested by the bishops and synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
✢ A love for the Most Blessed Sacrament
As Catholic Christians, we understand that the epitome of the Christian life is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. This does not happen in private and Christians do not participate in the Holy Eucharist all on their own. In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus gives us his true body and precious blood for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life--but not to us alone. It is the community of baptized persons who gather to make Eucharist.
Oratorians are possessed of a strong commitment to the Lutheran understanding of the Sacrament of the Altar. In Article X of the Augsburg Confession, we confess, "Of the Supper of the Lord they teach that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed to those who eat the Supper of the Lord; and they reject those that teach otherwise." In receiving the True Body and Precious Blood of our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, we believe we receive grace, not of our own merit, but of Christ's merit, for the forgiveness of sins and for new and everlasting life.
✢ A commitment to praying and being formed by the Daily Office, also called the Liturgy of the Hours
Our Four Spiritual Pillars
Pictured above: The nave of Canterbury Cathedral, view from the Altar
In the picture above, a prominent feature of the architecture of the cathedral is the array of pillars flanking the nave. Without these pillars to support the weight of the structure, the church would not stand - or at least most assuredly it would not be able to support its roof. The same holds true for the Christian life. Without the pillars of our spirituality, we falter. To help us grow ever deeper into the mystery that is the love of Christ, flowing from his Sacred Heart, Oratorians build their lives on the Four Spiritual Pillars.