Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

On the Other Side of S&H

by Tim Herrmann

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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 before Mass.

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 years.

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 respect, etc.

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 Indiana.

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.

 

Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.


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