The Little Oratory– Father’s Day Giveaway


So I told Auntie Leila that I would host a giveaway of her new book. I was very, very excited to do so. But in my perpetually-bleary state I misread the details. Somehow I got it into my head that the blog post was supposed to be up by the 10th, but really the giveaway is supposed to close by the 10th. Which is Tuesday. And it’s Friday night and I’ve still not written the blog post. Nor finished reading the book either, which is what I was waiting for.

Anyway, If you’d like to win a copy of The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home, which is a beautiful little book about prayer in the home, here’s your chance. Leave a comment here and you will be entered. Since I’m posting so late, if you enter now you probably have a very, very good chance of winning. The giveaway will close Tuesday June 10.

This book is about praying in the home, which is the heart of our vocation as parents. It’s about doing in here and now in the mess and chaos and not waiting for the perfect moment. Hey, I’m kind of good at that. But I really want to be better. I’m really looking forward to reading this book.

And it’s a great book for fathers. Auntie Leila points out that often they feel on the fringes of things while prayer and such become the domain of Mother. So here’s a chance to hand this book to the father of the house, a better alternative than another tie. Auntie Leila says this book appeals very strongly to men, so give it a try. Win it for the Dad in your life. (And then read it yourself when he’s done.) Though you don’t have to give it to Dad. You don’t even have to have children or even be married to win. Because making space and time for prayer is for everyone.


And now I veer into the personal, but this is my blog and this isn’t my book review yet and anyway I’m hoping it sort of inspires you to pick up this book and give it a try.

Charlotte of Waltzing Matilda is also hosting a giveaway and hers has been up for a while.

In her introduction she says,”I’ve never felt particularly called to the movement that imposes monastic like silence and seriousness on a day when babies are crying and toddlers need help wiping.”

(My comment was way too long to leave at her blog and I’m too tired to figure out how to edit it, so I’ll just post it here for now and maybe try to post it on her blog tomorrow.)

Ahem. I’ve never felt called to that movement either, but I have been praying the Liturgy of the Hours in some slipshod form or fashion since before I was married and I’ve never completely stopped praying it even in the midst of the crying babies and attention-needing toddlers. But then I’ve never tried to make it into an imposition of monastic silence and seriousness on the home. Maybe it’s because I learned to pray it from my Dad, who is a secular Carmelite and not a monk living a highly structured contemplative life in a monastery. He already shoed me that the divinve office had a different way for laypeople living in the world.

I remember going into my parents’ bedroom to say goodnight to Dad and he’d be laying on his side in bed in his night clothes with his prayer book open and I knew he wasn’t going to engage me in conversation, but if I asid good night to him he’d look up and kiss me goodnight and then go back to his prayers. Or he’d be sitting quietly on the couch in the middle of the afternoon and reading calmly while we went about our house-y busy-ness. My first experience of the office was informal, a quiet conversation more than a formal liturgical structure. It was something you can pray in bed, not that you have to be standing or kneeling for. And no prayer shelf or icon corner. Just Dad and his book. Dad never tried to pray with us, never prayed out loud at all, at least not intentionally, sometimes he’d sort of mumble a bit. It was that thing *he* did not that thing *we* did. But seeing him pray made an impression.

And one day he sent me a copy of Christian Prayer and I started trying to figure out how to pray for myself. At the time I was in grad school and living a crazy life. I prayed only Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer and I did not pray them at the liturgically correct hours. I prayed morning prayer whatever time I woke up for the day, often well past noon. I’d sit up in bed and pull out my prayer book and pray right there before I got up for the day because I knew once I left my room I’d be distracted by my roommates. Then I prayed Evening Prayer at whatever time I stumbled to bed. Very often I was falling asleep in the middle of these prayers. If I woke up, I’d try to pick up where I left off. Just me, in bed, in my pajamas, talking to God. Not very monastic at all, at least not if what you have in your head is Cistercian Abbey.

So when I had Bella, I’d read the hours quietly to myself while she nursed or played on the floor at my feet. And when she was a toddler and trying to grab my prayer book and pull out all the holy cards, one day it occurred to me to start reading some of the psalms and prayers out loud so that she could understand that I was doing something, talking to someone else instead of her, and maybe she would sort of leave me alone. I’d hand her a stack of her own holy cards and she’d flip through them and occasionally echo back what I said. And when I first heard a few words of prayer on the mouth of my babe, I started to understand that she was capable of praying with me. So I did it more, never, ever trying to make her pray with me, but just being inviting when I was praying.

And the funny thing was my dad started to pick up on that and when he came to visit us he’d sometimes pray out loud too when the kids were snuggling up with him on the couch. He changed the way he prayed to invite them into the conversation. It’s more like letting the kids slowly learn to take part in adult conversation with house guests at the dinner table. They don’t contribute much at first, but you let them try because they also want to talk to the important guest and tell him their stories and show him their pictures. It’s not really anything like adult conversation, and it’s sometimes a bit annoying when it interrupts the important adult conversation, so you try to find a balance that lets them feel included without being too much of a disturbance.

Over the years I’ve also started supplementing my reading the prayers myself from the book with listening to them on the Divine Office podcast while making oatmeal for breakfast or chopping onions for dinner. I play it over the speakers so that everyone can hear and repeat the prayers out loud and pray along as best I can while I work and pausing to listen to requests from small children. I don’t have perfect attention span. Doing it this way, I actually actively pray maybe half or a quarter of the prayers… but I do pray a little– most of the time. Some days I don’t think I heard anything at all.

So it’s nothing at all like a monastery where the monks stop their work for hours of prayer. But it’s how it works in my domestic church where I can’t put dinner on hold most nights to sit and pray. It’s not silent and solemn at all. Sometimes it seems far from serious. But my kids are learning the structure of the hours, and are hearing and pondering the Word of God. Much of the time they ignore the prayers and go on with their wild and crazy play. Often I have to ask them to stop screaming so I can hear. Or beg them to play a bit more quietly. But sometimes they seem to ignore it, and then later come to me with a question or I hear them repeat a phrase or two while they are playing or while “pretending to pray.” I question whether it’s really pretending or it’s real prayer. I think God hears all these little prayers even the ones that seem like play.

Anyway, I’m not saying I’ve got it all down, just that maybe Charlotte– and all you other dear readers who have been scared away from trying to pray the Liturgy of the hours because you aren’t attracted to trying to remake your home into a monastery– might want to shift from thinking you need to recreate Cistercian or your local monastic community at home.

I’m very much a work in progress and still think I have much room for improvement. And am really hoping that reading and pondering The Little Oratory will help. I’d like to be a bit more focused and monastic, but I do recognize that that’s not the stage our family is at.

Perhaps there are some things I could do now. Maybe I should try to light a candle when I pray. I have never, ever done that. Maybe I should try to pray in a particular place. I have a prayer shelf, but never use it to actually pray at. It’s just a place to house some of our collection of icons, holy cards, relics, and other bits and pieces. So I’m still trying to figure out how to move toward the idea of calm, silent, reverent prayer. Meanwhile, what we have is the Liturgy of the Hours for little kids, which is very much joyful chaos and I think it makes God happy just the same and works for our sanctification.

Some of our holy spots though the years.




I love how the children spontaneously bring flowers to these spots. I really need to clean off my shelf, tidy it up, put some spring wildflowers there, and take a new picture too…

72 Responses to The Little Oratory– Father’s Day Giveaway

  1. Sue K June 7, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    Please enter me in the giveaway – thank you so much for offering this giveaway!

  2. Charlotte June 7, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

    Did you happen to get my email?

    • Melanie Bettinelli June 8, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

      I did. But it was too late to reply. I was trying to be good and get to bed at a reasonable hour because of the teething toddler of doom.

  3. Allison June 7, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

    I would like to enter the giveaway!

    I’m still figuring out how to model prayer for the littles. Never thought to pray out loud in front of them! We always make them pay attention if we do pray aloud.

  4. Meg June 7, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    Love your blog; have been reading it for years. Thought I would post for a chance to win! I need a little help in my daily prayer at home. God bless!

  5. GeekLady June 8, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    Well, I’d love a copy. πŸ™‚

  6. Becky D. June 8, 2014 at 1:06 am #

    I’d love a copy too.

  7. M. E. June 8, 2014 at 2:10 am #

    Thank you, Melanie, for providing a giveaway of “The Little Oratory” in time for Father’s Day. It would make a lovely, special gift for a great husband/father. So enjoy following your blog! Blessings on your week & Happy Feast of Pentecost to you & yours!

  8. Katy A. June 8, 2014 at 2:45 am #

    I’d love a copy, too.

  9. scotch meg June 8, 2014 at 6:32 am #

    Thank you, Melanie, for this post. I have been pondering how to get back to including more (and more formal) prayer into my crazy life. You offer a suggestion of a way that might work.

    • Jennifer Gregory Miller June 8, 2014 at 10:04 am #

      Love your post! I have similar thoughts and experiences with my parents. They pray the office daily, and so I don’t view it as just monastic prayer. I also pray it, not as regularly lately, but within the context of family chaos.

      Can I admit I skip the hymn when I pray alone?

      I would love to win a copy to give as a gift. I plan on giving this book as Christmas gift to each sibling….and that means 6 copies!

      • Melanie Bettinelli June 8, 2014 at 12:32 pm #


        I often skip the hymn when I pray alone. Though if it happens to be one I like and I’m not nursing a sleepy baby, I might belt it out. And if the kids are around and listening I might sing one they know.

  10. madlen June 8, 2014 at 7:45 am #

    I would love to read this book!

  11. Katherine June 8, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    I’d love a copy as well. Thanks.

  12. ceil June 8, 2014 at 8:17 am #

    I love reading your blog. Please enter my name in the book drawing.

  13. John Clem June 8, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    Hi Melanie,

    Lovely post about prayer at home. I was able to listen to an excellent interview with author David Clayton on Sirius/XM Catholic Channel’s show Pathways to Learning with Sister Marie Pappas. Sister Marie gave it high praises and said it is a MUST HAVE book. So Cool that you and Dom have a family connection to the co-author Leila. Would be honored to win a copy! God Bless you and your whole family and may the Holy Spirit fill you this Pentecost Sunday.

    Charlottesville, Virginia

    • Melanie Bettinelli June 8, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

      John, now that you mention a radio interview, I realize I’ve been remiss in promoting my husband’s show. Dom interviewed Leila Lawler and David Clayton for his local show, The Good Catholic Life. You can listen to it online or download the show here: Little Oratory: Good Catholic Life Interview

  14. Celeste June 8, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    I’d love a copy too!

  15. Anita June 8, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    We could really improve our family prayer life! Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.

  16. Enbrethiliel June 8, 2014 at 1:29 pm #


    I’m not entering the giveaway because I’m sure I live too far away, but I wanted to thank you for bringing this book to my attention. =) I always love your posts on prayer, Melanie!

  17. Maria J. June 8, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    I would love a copy. I’ve had my eyes on it since it was announced and have procrastinated in getting myself a copy.

  18. Kathy June 8, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Thanks for hosting a giveaway! We need to establish a planned schedule of prayer in our home. Not necessarily down to the minute, but more of a “before lunch, pray the Angelus, after dinner, pray the rosary” kind of plan. Praying whenever we can fit it in just isn’t cutting it anymore.

  19. Julia June 8, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    What a great post. I had my first child two months ago and I’ve been thinking about what prayer will look like now with him around. I like this idea of just inviting and showing your children that talking to God is a normal (but profound) part of life. I would love a copy to think more about this!

  20. Patrice June 8, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Improving my (and my family’s) prayer life is a goal for me this year. The book sounds great! Thanks for the chance

  21. Natalie June 8, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    I can’t wait to read this book!!

  22. Erin June 8, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    I really appreciate what you, Auntie Leila, and other bloggers like you do to “build the culture.” Keep it up!

  23. Heather June 8, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

    I love this! And thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of the book. It would be great to have this in time for Father’s Day, though I’m sure I would read it too πŸ™‚

  24. Rebecca June 8, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    I would love a copy!

  25. Rose June 8, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

    Please enter me in the giveaway, thanks!

  26. anne June 8, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    I’d love to win a copy of the book. I’m trying to figure out how to work more prayer into our chaos! Thank you for sharing how you pray with little ones. I certainly need to start letting my little brood hear my prayers!

  27. Cas B. June 8, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    I would love to win a copy!

  28. Donna June 8, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    Would enjoy reading this book.

  29. Rachel~ At the Butterfly Ball June 8, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    I would love to be entered! I really enjoyed reading about how you Dad prayed and what kind of impression it left on you. My dad was a lot like that, he prayed often in front of us, but he never really tried to involve us… But seeing him praying always felt peaceful and calming somehow!

  30. Colette June 9, 2014 at 12:45 am #

    This work in progress could really use this book! Thank you for the opportunity to win one πŸ™‚

  31. Elisa June 9, 2014 at 1:11 am #

    This book looks wonderful– please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!

  32. Jocelyn June 9, 2014 at 1:41 am #

    Thank-you for your inspiration and example!

  33. Ali June 9, 2014 at 3:46 am #

    Thanks, Melanie.

  34. Karen Molvar June 9, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    Thanks so much for you post. I also try to pray the office daily, not in the most perfect way. I think the prayer book would definitely be helpful for my husband and family.

  35. Patty June 9, 2014 at 7:38 am #

    I met Leila when I first started homeschooling. She lived in Dedham then. What a wonderful way to share the faith. I would love to win this book. Thanks for entering me. And thanks for the sharing you posted above, too.

  36. CAL June 9, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    What an interesting site…found it through the contest to win the Little Oratory book; joined because of the information…am planning to forward link to my kids (most out of the house with their own families now)

  37. Liz Tighe June 9, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    I would love to win this! I am desperately trying to bring more prayer into our home! I love the things you mentioned in your post and will be trying to imitate them here at home. Thank you and God bless!

  38. Susan June 9, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    Hi Melanie,

    The book sounds great. I heard an interview about it on The Good Catholic Life. Please enter me in the drawing.


  39. Kareena June 9, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Would love to win this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  40. Laura June 9, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    I keep hearing such good things about this book! Would love to win!

  41. MOB June 9, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    Thanks for the giveaway! We’d love a copy of this book at our home!

  42. Jennifer June 9, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Please enter me in the giveaway. I am sharing this giveaway on my blog

  43. Amanda June 9, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    I’d love to win a copy of this book!

  44. Regina June 9, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    I’d love to win a copy. My teenage son has recently been praying some of the liturgy of the hours – not sure which book he bought – it’s a bit daunting for the rest of the kids (and me). Would love to see how it could be done (in little pieces or as the toddler would permit).

  45. juliea June 9, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    Thank you so much! This book would be so helpful to our family.

  46. Robynn June 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    What a great opportunity. I would love this book

  47. Amy June 9, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    Please count me in with a chance at the giveaway and thank you!

  48. Marie June 9, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    Please enter me in the giveaway! Thank you as always Melanie for your rich and beautiful reflections on building up the domestic church in our homes.

  49. Emily J. June 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Put my name in, too. I’ve been hesitant to buy books since our last move until I get rid of at least a box, but this book sounds like one I would read more than once.

  50. Cassandra June 9, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    I would like to enter the giveaway! Thanks so much for hosting! πŸ™‚

  51. Sarah O June 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    This book keeps coming up in my conversations and blog readings over the past two weeks or so. I would LOVE to win a copy! I hope to read it this summer.

  52. Jennifer June 9, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    I would like to be entered. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  53. Anne June 9, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    I’d love to win a copy!

  54. ELM June 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    Lovely! Toss my name in the hat, please!!

  55. Patty V June 9, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    I’d love to win a copy of this book! It looks just lovely!

  56. Jodi June 9, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

    I would love to have a copy of this book….the perfect Father’s Day gift!

  57. Megan June 9, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    Please enter me- I’d love to win this book!

  58. Heather June 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

    Thank you for sharing the beauty of your spiritual life, what a blessing!

  59. Carolyn June 9, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    Great thoughts on making our homes places of holiness. Thanks!

  60. Michele June 9, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

    I’d love to enter! Your memory of your dad reminds me of memories I have of my Dad from when I was growing up πŸ™‚

  61. Sonja C. June 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    Waltzing Matilda sent me your way, I love coming across new Catholic blogs! I’m so excited to start reading yours and finding a kindred spirit through your testimonials πŸ™‚

    God Bless You,

  62. jennyann1126 June 9, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    How reassuring that is to hear. Thank you for sharing. I kinda gave up praying the hours bc I was so distracted and annoyed at the disturbances and it not being peaceful at ALL. I feel like I need to try again with a different attitude. Maybe this isn’t just for me anyways. I love how your family is participating. Thank you and I would love to be entered too. πŸ™‚

  63. Marie G. June 9, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    I have heard so many good things about this book and would love to get my hands on it. Thanks for the opportunity!

  64. Janice A June 10, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    It’s neat that just seeing your father pray was such a powerful influence on you — was it like that on the rest of your siblings? Thanks for the giveaway — please enter my name.

    • Melanie Bettinelli June 10, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

      My sister majored in theology and also tries to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. My brothers… are still finding their way. Families are complicated, you know?

  65. Laura D June 10, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Please enter me! I would love to win a copy of this book! Thanks!

  66. Karen June 10, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    I’d love to win a copy of this book.

  67. Melanie Bettinelli June 10, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    The giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered.

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