{p,h,f,r} I’m a Little Oratory Fan Girl

As promised, I’m back this week with some thoughts on Leila’s new book, ‘The Little Oratory, A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home’, co-authored with David Clayton. And a giveaway. I know y’all love a giveaway.

Icons, and other forms of religious art, have long held a place of honor in our home. Not from the very beginning of our marriage, but after moving into a small apartment in New Jersey, we officially set up a home shrine (as we called it). It is the focal point in our living room, which is where we all gather for prayers in the evening. As I read through ‘The Little Oratory’ I realized our family was already following much of Leila’s recommendations, but it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of her guide. It is such a thorough book; it really treats establishing prayer in the home as almost a user manual, not in dry text, but the wise and welcoming tone you’re used to on ‘Like Mother, Like Daughter.’ I wish I had this book handed to me 13 years ago after my entrance into the Catholic Church, or shortly thereafter when my husband and I set up our home. Even as a cradle Catholic, there were many traditions and prayers my husband was completely ignorant of. His family’s home was decorated with religious artwork but it did not reflect a family that lived a liturgical life together.


photo 1 (14)
Our little oratory, as is. No tidying or dusting was done for this photo. The crucifix candle holder was probably my best Goodwill purchase EVER. The icon of Christ Enthroned we commissioned shortly after purchasing our home. And the little dish to the right of St. Joseph is for burning incense. We have a wonderful Greek Orthodox friend who hooks us up with the best incense.

I also remember the looks people gave our family shrine as they entered our home. For our fellow Catholics, it’s a reminder of what we share in common. For non-Catholics, it may seem odd, or over the top. They might quickly turn away their eyes or, hopefully, ask us questions. My children have nonchalantly fielded questions from their friends. A home shrine, or little oratory, is something they will always remember. It’s a tradition, much like our prayer binder or nightly family prayers, I hope they continue within their own homes.

The spiritual life of our family now was many years in the making, and it’s still growing and changing. What a boost this book would have been to push us down the right path sooner! It leaves no question unanswered and it helps you feel that yes, regular personal and family prayer is attainable even with young children or a less than devout spouse. It is a complete guide that will walk you through the process step by step. As someone who falls in and out of regular prayer depending on life’s circumstances, TLO was also a good kick in the pants to start back up again.

photo 2 (14)
The piano is where we display some icons that I have yet to hang. I also have a set of laminated icons depicting parables and the life of Christ with scriptures on the back that I rotate through. No one actually plays the piano.

And as a lover of icons, I was overjoyed to see a book promoting them and giving people several ones right in the back of the book to display! I don’t know why, but early in my conversion process I was drawn to icons. Our first was actually a high quality color photocopy a priest friend made for us from an icon he had ordered.  Since then, I’ve acquired many more and I often buy patron saint icons for our godchildren.  Sometimes people don’t understand the imagery. Why is Christ’s head so tiny? Why are there several things going on at once?

The language of Holy Icons is symbolism. Without this symbolism, no artist could ever hope to depict what is shown in Holy Icons: the eternal, heavenly, realm. The symbolism used is not mysterious, nor is it difficult to grasp; but neither is it part of the school curriculum. Therefore, what is meant to be an economic, beautiful, and powerful way of communicating spiritual truth is often hidden from the majority of us today. It is hidden but not lost, because throughout the ages the language, tradition, methods, theology, and basic truth of Holy Icons have been preserved by humble, pious people. -A Reader’s Guide to Orthodox Icons

photo 3 (8)
In our bedroom is where I keep our first icon, and a few other images.

I know even Tony had a hard time understanding my love of icons until he understood what they were meant to represent. While our family also loves many Western style pieces of religious art, icons will always hold a special place in my heart. Through the beautiful books at Potamitis Publishing (whom I’ve gushed about before) we’re trying to instill in our children a love of iconography as well. We purchased several coloring and story books this Easter, and as Potamitis owner Dionysios sent along a few extra books, I wanted to offer a special giveaway to my readers.


photo 4 (4)

Fill out all the Rafflecopter who-ha and be entered to win, not only a copy of ‘The Little Oratory’ but also a Life of Christ coloring book and two small story books from Potamitis Publishing. If you already bought a copy of TLO, enter anyway as I think it would make a great gift…maybe for a belated college graduation or young couple getting married in the coming months.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks to Leila and Sophie Institute Press for allowing me to offer such a wonderful book to my readers. And of course, don’t forget to swing back to Like Mother, Like Daughter for more {pretty, happy, funny, real} posts that don’t omit the {funny} and {real} categories.

See more little oratories HERE. 

The Little Oratory


  1. I would love to win this book – I need help getting back on track in our home prayer life – between school (for me and the kids) work (for me and the older kids) and chaotic single-parent large family life in general – our prayer life has been suffering!

  2. So rad! I’m Byzantine Catholic, but formerly Roman. One of the things I love about the eastern rite is all the iconography. There really is A TON going on in the pictures that is easily missed. You should check out the Monastary Icons catalog.

  3. Would love to win this. I’m finishing a workshop this week on byzantine Iconography (with a focus on gilding – I’ve been trailing gold dust all over my car and house for the last few days). It’s given me such an appreciation for the hours of work that goes into each icon, and a desire to know more of the theology behind each image, something my kids aren’t as excited about (yet), but I’m hoping my interest will be infectious.

  4. I would so appreciate a copy of this book. I am in the process of joining the church and I would find this so helpful in learning to pray with my toddler. Thank you for the great review.

  5. This is such a lovely giveaway! Why I “need” this book: I’m really looking forward to reading The Little Oratory. We have a “prayer table” in our room with the crucifix that was blessed at our wedding, and several icons, but I’ve been wondering how we will transition to a, well, family oratory, and how we’ll manage to stay on a family praying schedule… we don’t do very well with schedules. This book would be a welcome help to our in-the-making family spirituality!

  6. I am Catholic and would love to add something more to the crucifix on the mantle. Would love to win this book!

  7. Already bought and am excited to follow the little book study on In the Heart of My Home! I will read it once the first trimester ends and I can stay awake again!
    I need a copy for my sister and her husband who are welcoming their first child in September and just starting their new home together!

  8. I have been trying to drag my family, kicking and screaming, into daily family prayer. This book is much needed to ease the process!

  9. I would love to win this book! As a long time fan of Like Mother, Like Daughter, I’ve been thinking of ordering The Little Oratory ever since it was first mentioned. Plus my husband and I have just had our first baby and are purchasing a new home soon, so what better time to set up our own prayer spot?

  10. We stumble and fall in family prayer (two introverts do not make for enthusiastic emoting), but this would be so good for us to get back on track. I’m a lover of icons myself, but we only have two small ones in the house, time to start adding to our family collection!

  11. I have that crucifix/candle holder – it’s part of an antique sick call / home Mass set that I inherited from my grandfather’s aunt. That little shell on the front is also a holy water font.

    I love icons too. One of my dreams is to take an icon class so I can make icons of all our family patrons to hang in our oratory around our San Damiano crucifix.

    Also, San Damiano crucifixes are wonderful to have in home oratories, because they’re beautiful, yet safe for small children to manipulate. David used to take ours down off the oratory table and just trace the outline when he was small, and Raphael has just started wanting to hold it.

  12. I NEED these books because we’re converts – of four years or less – and we need help in developing prayer discipline in our home. That and I just want them. 🙂

  13. I’m really focusing on starting positive prayer habits with my husband now so that we won’t have to scramble to create the right habits when we have children.

  14. My copy arrived today!! Can’t wait to get started!! I was wondering how on earth I would 1) fit such a thing into our tiny apartment and 2) keep the kids from attacking it…but a shelf!! Such a great idea!! Yours is beautiful!!

  15. Wonderful giveaway! This book has been on my short list to-buy since I first heard about it 🙂 and the coloring book looks great!

  16. I just love your icon collection. I’ve gotta couple, but now I’m aspiring to your levels. And, I’ve just started reading the book, and I’m trying hard to figure out a fitting place in our small, small, house for a little oratory. Yours looks so great, especially for no dusting!

  17. Hi, thanks for the wonderful giveaway. I actually own the book already but would LOVE a second to gift to my sister.

  18. I’d love to be able to give away another copy and for my kids to be exposed to the icons! Thanks for the giveaway!

  19. Looks wonderful, and this is totally something we could use. AND included icons?! Yes, please!!

  20. I would LOVE these books! I have two small children and have been struggling to find ways to bring us all together at least once daily for prayer. I feel like these would be good tools to help me get started! 🙂

  21. I need this book because this is the exact kind of home I need to have for my kids…and I’m too broke to buy it because, well, four kids on one income. Love love love LMLD and am so happy for all the glowing reviews of this book!

  22. I’m tired of flying by the seat of my pants. My family needs to pray and celebrate traditions more intentionally. This book sounds like it would be super helpful!

  23. Plain and simple: I’ve wanted to read it since I first saw it on Leila’s blog.(Like Mother, Like Daughter)

  24. We need this book to use in the time we have together with busy kiddos and parents. I really want to bring the richness and beauty of the faith more faithfully to our family. Thank you!

  25. I am so intrigued by this book as would love to read it before we move into our new home.

  26. This book would help us pull together a nice little oratory. As it is, our things are spread across the house, but a home altar would be lovely!

  27. I already bought a copy for myself, but there are several people in my life who could use it! The hard part would be choosing whom to give it to.

  28. I would love to win these books! I am trying to establish a better prayer time as a family with our three small children, and these would really help!

  29. LOVE my copy of TLO, and as I read, I keep thinking of people I need to give a copy to. My sister and several friends definitely need their own. Thanks for the chance!

  30. I am going to have to get this book! I just found out yesterday that, after nearly three years, my husband’s first marriage was finally declared null. I get to come into the Church! I’m coming home! So clearly, I need this book!

  31. Hello! I’m a relatively new follower on your blog, and this is my first time commenting. I absolutely love icons. Ever since I’ve known what they were, even when I was not religious, I was drawn to them. Now, I’m a closet Catholic and soon to enter the RCIA process, and I’ve grown to appreciate them even more. Last Christmas, my boyfriend bought me a Christ the Teacher necklace, and I had it blessed by my friend, an Orthodox deacon. I predict icons will always be special to me.

  32. Love Iconography!!! The book looks great and I’m sure the kids would love the coloring book!

  33. My home needs some religious sprucing up and some help in the area of family prayer. Would love to get this book for some inspiration. Great giveaway!!

  34. I need these books because I just don’t stick to a prayer routine. For a few weeks, I’ll try saying the Angelus at noon, then stop because I’m often running errands at noon . . . or I’ll say the Divine Office for a while, then stop because it takes too long and my kids hate it. I really need to learn how to find a prayer routine and STICK WITH IT.

  35. This book has been on my wish list since it became available for preorder! We have the beginnings of family shrines all over the house, but I’ve always wanted a designated place for our family worship!

  36. My favorite icon is Christ Pantocrator from Hagia Sofia. Just got it as an Etsy necklace for a confirmandi.

  37. My children both have “chapels” in their closets. They take great pride in setting them up just as they want and spend time praying there. I would love to read the Little Oratory. It has been on my wishlist for a while.

  38. I need a copy for my newly married sister and her honeymoon baby…although I might read it when she’s done 😉

  39. I’m a grandmother of 4 little boys, so would love to see this book for myself, but then pass along to my son and daughterinlaw for their domestic church!

  40. I am at the very beginning of my walk in the Catholic Faith/ conversion process. Everything is such a mystery to me right now. I am reading and reading trying to at least have a little understanding of it myself so I can explain things to my children. I think I might need these books to help me in my understanding of how to incorporate a little oratory of our own into our everyday lives. 🙂

  41. I neeeed these books because I love icons and have a few but don’t really understand the best way to incorporate them into my Prayer life.

  42. I am not sure I am even doing this correctly…but, I would really like to win this book!! I am very interested to learn how we can become a more prayerful family and an oratory sounds good too. Thank you for the giveaway. Blessings.

  43. I’ve been wanting to read the Little Oratory for a while now. Would love the books on the icons because that’s something that’s always fascinated me.
    ~Ruth Anne

  44. My husband and I are in RCIA and just had our first child. We are thinking a lot about what family prayer would look like and Leila and LMLD is my go to for advice. I would love a copy!

  45. Would love these books to gain some new ideas on family prayer and introduce our kids to icons.

  46. We need these books because… My husband and I are both converts and when it comes to building a faith life in our family home, it often feels like we are reinventing the wheel. I think a “manual” like Leila’s would be enormously helpful to us. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity.

  47. I would love a chance to learn about creating a faith space in the home…I’m a convert and my husband is not religious at all, so I’m really worried about how to incorporate faith in my home when raising my baptized kids!

  48. That crucifix-candleholder is the best thing EVER!
    I love your wee oratory and I totally relate to your love of Icons. I’ve fallen for Icons very much and now they are found all over the house 🙂
    God bless!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.