As is my typical fashion, writing after having helped with a
leadership conference like "One Bread, One Cup" helps me process my
thoughts, take-aways and emotions. You'll see how my "teaching"
role quickly turned in to a learning role at the airport today.
This week, I was blessed to work very closely with two
incredible college interns in the Stewardship and Hospitality
(S&H) formation session - helping their 16 youth participants
take on a better grasp of their roles as priests, prophets and
kings. When we are baptized, the priest anoints us priests,
prophets and kings.
I told them to pay attention next time at a baptism and listen
for these titles. I suggested they remember their roles as priests,
prophets and kings with the following three words: participate,
witness and serve. In what ways are they participating, witness and
serving in/to/for/with the life of the Church?
Our roles as stewards and ministers of hospitality tied very
closely with the king role, or the service-based role. Our project
for the week was the "High 5 Project," which was in addition to
serving lunch and dinner every day, bringing up the gifts at Mass
and greeting all those who entered the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel
Through the "High 5 Project," youth from the S&H group
encouraged their peers to give up a latte, a $5 foot-long, five
soft tacos at Taco Bell, a clothing purchase, etc. in order to give
$5 five times throughout the year to our program. This financial
support will then go toward providing a scholarship for a youth
group or high school group to attend the conference in future
We looked at fundraising, not just as an answer to a crisis, but
as a ministry that needs continual cultivation and commitment from
both the giver and the receiver. As Christian faithful, we don't
raise money for our own needs, but we raise funds in order to make
that money available to God.
Finally, on our last day of formal class together, we discussed
practical ways around their parishes and high schools the students
can serve as stewards and ministers of hospitality. We also
reflected about what good, solid, Christian living looks like in
terms of stewardship and hospitality: welcoming the unwelcomed,
treating others as sacred gifts from God, treating our bodies with
Why am I sharing ALL of this with all of you? I learned a lesson
about stewardship and hospitality at the airport today.
I had my Honor Your Inner Monk t-shirt on, and the TSA agent
asked me about it. I was about 40 minutes way from my flight at a
new airport, so I didn't know what to expect as far as security
lines and gate procedures. Needless to say, I was in a hurry. I
told the TSA agent that my shirt was from a monastery in southern
She asked me if I was studying to be a monk. I told her I soon
would be in October. I think she could tell I was in a hurry, and
she wished we had more time to talk about why I was choosing this
path. Briefly, I told her that the monastic way of life right now
is where I feel closest to God. She excitedly congratulated me and
wished me well.
I really do wish I had stayed longer to chat. In hindsight, I
certainly had plenty of time to do so because the airport was not
busy at all.
I was struck by this woman's hospitality - a TSA agent of all
people, too. Stereotypically, I see them as very rigid and stoic
figures with no room for monkey business. Yet, here she was, just
as human as all of us, looking for connection, providing
hospitality to a hurried guy like me who probably should have been
honoring his inner monk a little better.
Again, I was struck by her hospitality, and it reminds me of a
homily from Archabbot Justin (for what occasion, I don't remember),
but he said often Benedictines are identified with the charism of
hospitality (and the monks of Saint Meinrad do hospitality well),
but he asked how are we being good stewards of the hospitality we
are shown? It's just as important to be a responsible guest as it
is the host.
My lesson: I was very richly blessed this week to encounter
Christ in the face of so many youth, youth and campus
ministers/teachers, interns, coworkers, catechists and monks. I
primarily focused on my role as "teacher" of stewardship and
hospitality this week, but Miss TSA Agent showed me that it's just
as important to be a dutiful recipient of hospitality as it is to
be a minister of hospitality.