“Saint Benedict of Nursia” by Fra Angelico
‘All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.’
Monks and nuns might stay in their monasteries, but they are not cut off from the world. Instead of going about in the world, they invite the world to them.
The doorkeeper is an important person in Benedict’s community, and hospitality is still one of the great Benedictine traditions. In the past the monasteries were also the hospitals and schools, and today most monasteries host retreats and welcome guests for any and all reasons.
The Benedictine open door is an act of obedience to the command from Scripture which says we should practice hospitality because by doing so we may be ‘entertaining angels unawares.’
Every Christian household should have a similarly open door. God has not given us homes only as secure bolt-holes. Instead the warmth and love of our home should always be offered to those in need.
Finally, the Benedictine spirit of hospitality should extend to our hearts as well as our homes. Benedict welcomes even the most unlikely person because the stranger often teaches us more than our friend. If our hearts are open to see Christ in both friend and stranger, he will thank us; for inasmuch as we welcomed the least of these we welcomed him.