the root of hospitality

“Hospitality did not begin with Howard Johnson’s and Good Housekeeping.  Hospitality, as it has been practiced from ancient days, protected people from the dangers of traveling alone.  In Saint Benedict’s day there were no safe and cheap shelters for travelers.  Along the way people could be brutalized, robbed, sounded, lost.

Monasteries saved lives when they opened their doors to strangers.  It was not about comfort and entertainment-it was about saving lives…The spirit of saving lives is still at the root of monastic hospitality.  To receive others is to expose myself to all sort of frightful dangers of attachment and rejection.

Hospitality acknowledges the vulnerability of being human, both my humanity and that of the stranger.  Travelers, too (Benedict called them pilgrims), are prone to all sort of dangers.  On Life’s journey each of us is a pilgrim. We aren’t sure where we come from and where we are going.  We are vulnerable and we need each other.

-Paraclete Book of Hospitality


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