Shortly after I came to Chicago, my mother came to visit. We were invited out to dinner one night with a couple called John and Mary. John was from my home town and he wanted to get all the latest news. Mary was a perfectionist and I knew the dinner would be special. When we got to the house the dining room table had been beautifully set with all the place settings European style. Mary explained that she did not get the opportunity to use them too often.
The dinner was lovely but Mary did a lot of fussing over details. When we left the house I said to my mother “did you enjoy that” and she replied” it was lovely but it would have been better if Mary had sat down”.
Hospitality is more than the food. It is also about presence. We must be present to one another and to God. The patron saint of Western Monasticism St Benedict whose feast we celebrated on July 11th realized that when he enjoined hospitality as part of the charisma of the Benedictines.
The monasteries in many ways became the first walk in hotels of the pilgrims and travelers. They provided clean and frugal hospitality with a spiritual dimension. The Guest master was the presence of the community and the encouragement to take part in the community prayer and Mass was the evangelizing tool and the spiritual dimension.
Part of our challenge as Christians is to rediscover those elements and make our space as welcoming as possible. The role of our greeters who every Saturday and Sunday get to Church early and welcome the community is very important. You are the face of St Francis Xavier. Thank you for you Ministry and for your welcoming smiles.
Let the Journey Continue.