Monastic life is often thought of as “counter-cultural” and perhaps this is a radical instance of that. Monks are mysteriously able to tolerate almost anything. – Tim Backous, OSB
Hospitality ala 2010….
When I was a faculty resident living with college students, I once overheard a conversation which threw me for a loop…one of the guys had been caught with an authorized overnight guest (of the opposite sex) and she was being escorted out of the building by the resident assistant much to the chagrin and loud protests of her host. “Whatever happened to Benedictine hospitality?” he cried as his evening’s plan were drifting out into the cold Collegeville night. You have to give him a point for creativity. I’ve heard the concept of Benedictine values used as a club before but not in that way!
Hospitality is indeed something endemic to Benedictines because the Rule is pretty explicit on the matter: “Let all guests be welcomed as Christ.” The beauty of that simple directive though can mask the sometimes unexpected challenge which guests can present. Our new guesthouse at Saint John’s is a remarkable place of welcome and warmth but every so often we hear of the guest who turns the place upside down either figuratively or literally. Our staff of brothers and lay people have had to address some interesting moments. The details are not important although I’ve encouraged them to keep a record so a book can be written. What should be pointed out, however, is that unlike a hotel, where unruly guests can be turned out into the night, a monastery doesn’t have the option (unless of course there is some imminent threat of harm to self or others.) Put quite simply, a monastery is the only place in the world that I can think of where inhospitality is NOT an option even if the behavior of the guest leaves something to be desired.
Monastic life is often thought of as “counter-cultural” and perhaps this is a radical instance of that. Monks are mysteriously able to tolerate almost anything. Whether or not that is uniquely monastic or perhaps because of a twinge of “Minnesota Nice” thrown in the mix, it is certainly real.
To read more on Benedict’s notion of hospitality go here:
Posted by Timothy Backous OSB at 7:10 PM
Friday, January 8, 2010