Practicing the virtue of hospitality

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

by Sister Margie Lavonis

Each of the Holy Cross congregations of sisters, brothers and priests, founded by Father Basil Moreau, is known for wonderful hospitality. People often comment on how welcoming they are. One tends to feel “at home” in their presence. In his book on Father Moreau, author Gary MacEoin says that members of the congregations of Holy Cross are the most hospitable people he has ever met.

We are called to be welcoming people. Hospitality is a vital component of Christian love. It gives flesh to what a loving person is about. Hospitable people accept and make others feel at home regardless of who they are or where they come from. They always have room for another person in their hearts and at the table of their lives. They make others feel wanted and cared for.

I have been thinking about this virtue a lot in light of the immigration controversy in our country. Each of us who follows Christ needs to examine how open to and accepting we are of people of other cultures and from other countries. Do we make the “stranger” welcome in our presence?

Hospitality is not limited to how welcoming we are to those different from us. It may be as simple as inviting someone to sit with us during lunch, or starting a conversation with someone we have never spoken to when we go to Mass. Smiling at strangers who pass by us on a street or in a store is also a gesture of hospitality.

Even simple experiences of hospitality can affect us deeply. Many years ago my parents and visited the Methodist church where my brother, who was working his way through college, directed the church choir. I still remember how warmly the church members, who recognized it was our first time there, welcomed us and immediately made us feel right at home. Had I not been a committed member to my own church, their loving spirit might have attracted me to return again.

Extending hospitality is not just a “nice” thing to do. It is integral to what it means to be a Christian, a follower of Christ.
Perhaps we can take some prayer time to reflect on how well, or not so well, we have exercised this important virtue. Whom we welcome into the circle of our lives? Remember Jesus told us that when we welcome anyone we are welcoming him.

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