The sound of the Angelus bell ringing out over the School is a daily reminder of our core purpose as a Catholic foundation. We seek to offer an educational environment which draws on Catholic teaching, spirituality and particularly the religious and educational inspiration of our founder, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, and our patron St Philip Neri.
Our common life is founded on religious belief and worship, which have their focal point in the school’s Sunday celebration of Mass, the regular House Masses and School Masses on Days of Obligation and other special celebrations, which parents are very welcome to attend. Boys are encouraged to become altar servers and actively participate in the school services. Our outstanding musical tradition backs up the aim of liturgical excellence. The resident Chaplain celebrates daily Mass and is available for confessions and spiritual direction as well as moral and pastoral advice, in addition there are regular visits from non-resident priests to whom boys may go for confession or advice. Some of these are members of the Oratory Congregation.
We aim to provide both opportunities and direction for boys at a time in their development when they are most in need of good advice and firm guidance. There are a number of well-tried ways of doing this and there is no substitute for the personal approach. The Sacrament of Confession in the Catholic tradition is effectively one of the best ways to encourage regular self-appraisal. It reminds the boy that he is responsible for his own actions and at the same time offers him a way forward, once remorse has been shown and forgiveness received.
Boys are led by visual and literary sources to develop a knowledge and awareness of the rich heritage of Christian culture and piety that has evolved over the centuries and is still evident in so many parts of continental Europe and other parts of the world. Festivals, Saints’ days through the year, and popular expressions of faith and devotion form an important part of this programme. Familiarity with such well known examples of ways of praying, such as the Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration and the Stations of the Cross is also regarded as a proper aim to be diligently pursued. So that no boy is left in ignorance of an integral aspect of Catholic worship through the ages, and which is still in use today in many places. The boys regularly sing the traditional chants of the Mass and also provide musical accompaniment for settings by the best-known composers which have a long and rich history of use. We also have a wide variety of hymns used at Mass and Assembly. Morning and night prayers are said each day and led by the Chaplain in each House in turn on one day of the week. To aid familiarity with the words, each boy is given a special Prayer Book, to have and use on such occasions.
The Chaplain has a special responsibility for nurturing and sustaining the religious character of the school and for maintaining a clear focus on its life as a community. The aim is to educate and develop a pupil to his full potential as a mature and thoughtful individual. This is usually described as education for the whole person and includes social as well as personal qualities of kindness, good manners and habits of prayer and respect for God and for others. It is a noble as well as a challenging enterprise and we rely on the great traditions of faith both taught and lived by our Founder and by his spiritual mentor, St Philip Neri, the founder of the Congregation of The Oratory. It is a spirituality which does not believe that one size fits all and our school motto “Cor ad Cor Loquitur”, heart speaking to heart, both sums up and identifies the aim of the Oratory way of bringing the theory of faith and its active expression, to an individual boy.