Hospitality: A Sacramental Grace


Our annual summer silent retreat is underway, and we are going to share it with you.

You can make this retreat at home, if you wish, by reading each reflection and taking time to reflect, journal, sit in silence or walk quietly through a beautiful place.

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Monasteries are known for their hospitality … but the word “hospitality” doesn’t adequately describe what it means.

Benedict writes:

All guest who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt. 5:35) (RB 53)

So Benedictine hospitality is more than a friendly welcome. It’s more than the material comforts of a Holiday Inn.

Rather, it’s a deep receiving and loving of others – soul to soul – where they are. No questions asked.

Benedictine hospitality is welcoming Christ, in you, in me, in strangers.

It’s a sacramental encounter, sharing the sacred space we inhabit – both our exterior space and our interior hearts – without reservation.

Benedictine hospitality is a lifestyle … and it’s not limited to monks.

It’s the way we are all called to encounter others, wherever we are.

You see Sisters in our Community Room practice it with each other:

Sister Rose Joseph pulls a chair our for Sister Norberta. Sister Janet helps Sister Martina with her walker. Sister Mary Jane places her hand on Sister Charlotte’s back and whispers “Good morning.” Hospitality is reflected in such gentle gestures of warm welcome.

Hospitality is a fundamental Christian virtue. Abraham welcomed the 3 visitors in the Old Testament. Mary, Martha and Lazarus are good examples from the New Testament.

Think of people you know who embody hospitality. They make you feel good … as if you can be who you really are around them.

Such hospitality broadens and transforms those who practice it, and those who receive it.

A sacramental grace.

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