As we monks of Christ in the Desert anticipate the return of guests in early March of next year, it was good to hear a conference by our Retreat-giver this year, Father Joel Rippinger, OSB, on the topic of hospitality.
The art of receiving others into our lives or monasteries, is a fundamental Christian and monastic value. There are many examples of it in Sacred Scripture (the Bible), such as in the Book of Genesis, chapter 18, where Abraham and Sarah receive three mysterious strangers into their own desert dwelling. And wonderful things transpire as a result.
Jesus taught the importance of treating
others well, as a clear expression and extension of our love for God.
All of us, monks or not, are called to extend hospitality to those we live with and those who enter our lives, each and every day. Saint Benedict asks his monks to receive the guests as Christ. With this in mind, a sacred obligation is at the heart of Christian hospitality.
By sharing our goods, both material and spiritual with the guests, we are enriched as well. In Saint Benedict’s mind, guests are understood as manifesting the mercy of God in our midst, as they are often ambassadors of God’s goodness and love.
Guests are pilgrims, passing through, but wishing support for the journey. They desire a “peaceful place,” and hopefully our homes and monasteries can be just that, whereby guests can truly experience what has been called, “a touch of God.”