CHAPTER 52 - The Oratory of the Monastery

The oratory ought to be what it is called, and nothing else is to be done or stored there. After the Opus Dei, all should leave in complete silence and with reverence for God, so that anyone who may wish to pray alone will not be disturbed by the insensitivity of another. Moreover, if at other times someone chooses to pray privately, s/he may simply go in and pray, not in a loud voice, but with tears and heartfelt devotion. (RB 52:1-4)

Benedict borrows the initial concept from Augustine: the oratory is a sacred place with a sacred purpose. Ruling out all other activities was meant to protect the communal and private prayer of the community. Benedict introduces a ban on praying out loud, recommending instead tears and heartfelt devotion. For Benedict true prayer comes from the heart and brings tears. The place of prayer is the inner oratory of the soul and a renewed heart into which the Holy Spirit pours love.