Welcoming Guests, Welcoming Christ

It is no accident that immediately after Benedict’s brief chapter on the monastery oratory comes an extended treatment of hospitality. If we wish to welcome God into our lives, we must be ready to welcome his children, too. Sometimes, especially among those who think they have a monastic vocation but are only just beginning to understand that it is not just about the two superpowers, God and self, but about the whole Church, there can be a reluctance to accept that welcoming guests is an essential part of being a monk or nun. ‘Leave my prayer to make the tea? Dame, how could you ask such a thing?’ Very easily, as it happens, for the guest is to be treated tamquam Christus, as if Christ, and I think most of us would leave what we have in hand to welcome him, wouldn’t we?

RB 53 is  a very good chapter to use as a way of examining just how real our prayer is. If prayer makes us more selfish, more self-concerned, something is not quite right. If prayer makes us more welcoming, more generous, more selfless, something is right, even if there is still a lot that needs attention. At this stage of Lent it is easy to become disheartened. We have tried SO hard, and failed so miserably and so often. No matter. Like the old Desert Father, we fall down and get up; we fall down and get up. Only the eye of Love himself can see what is being accomplished in us. Praise him.

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6 thoughts on “Welcoming Guests, Welcoming Christ”

  1. Thanks for sharing this. Sometimes it’s easier to live this: “the guest is to be treated tamquam Christus, as if Christ” than to treat those with whom we live “tamquam Christus!”

  2. There is so much that is beautiful in this post, today. And true. And hopeful.

    “We fall down and get up …” I thank God for being a merciful God.

  3. Humbling and important for me to read this. Granted, I have not set out to folow and live the RB, but all else notwithstanding, I am truly a miserable wretch when it comes to guests and hospitality. It’s not a matter of greed or not liking people, but it’s extremely difficult for me to allow them into my literal home. I am a creature of sometimes random, arbitrary routines (so nothing like the meaningful and universally appealing Rule proposed by the founder of monasticism!), and I cannot bear a witness to that beyond the closest circle — which comes down to but one human and 2 other animals. This post challenges me in a good way on many levels. Thank you.

  4. Sr Lucy is entirely right. We can treat guests much better than we treat the brethren! One definition of ‘home’ is the place where we behave the worst but are treated the best.

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