The Importance of Practicing Hospitality

Cassie Schutzer
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Hospitality is more than just holding open doors and providing donuts after Mass. (Though these things are important!)

Hospitality is a sacred relationship between a host and a guest. It is a relationship of sacrifice and gratitude, giving and receiving, mutual trust. There is a level of vulnerability in each of the parties involved in an exchange of hospitality.

The Rule of Saint Benedict, which is near and dear to our hearts at Saint Meinrad, says, “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).” (Rule 53:1)

Christ is both host and guest. He welcomes us into His life, death, and resurrection while at the same time, knocks on the door of our heart and waits for our welcome.

This is why hospitality is so important. When we practice hospitality to others – and to ourselves – we are entering more deeply into the koinonia (the communion) for which we are created. Hospitality is a requirement for and a response to koinonia.

So what does this look like? Below, I will break down the different kinds of hospitality we practice and offer practical suggestions at the end for parishes to consider.

Hospitality to Self

We don’t often think about practicing hospitality to ourselves, but it is an important part of being a disciple. Hospitality to self can include the following practices:

  • Recognize our own dignity and cultivate our God-given gifts. We must see in ourselves the image of God and grow in the belief that we are created by Him out of love for a definite and unique purpose. In creating us, God gave each of us a unique set of gifts and a mission that is only for us. Practicing hospitality to self is realizing our own giftedness and responding through cultivation and use of our gifts.
  • Recognize that we are not God and we have limits. This practice is important, especially for us who work in ministry, raise children, or engage in another people-oriented profession. When we realize our limits, it allows us to remain grounded and humble, practice greater patience with ourselves, and increase our trust in God and His action in the world. For more on this, check out our blog post on “Who do you work for?”
  • Engage in self-reflection and lifelong formation. We are always works in progress. In fact, the life of discipleship has no finish line on earth, which means we are never done learning, growing, and changing. This is an invitation to reflect on our experiences, ask the Lord to reveal His handiwork, grow in virtue, prune bad habits, read pray with Scripture, learn new things about our faith, and really open our hearts to growth. We can never exhaust the Father or learn all there is to know about Him.
  • Celebrate, mourn, and rest. Christ gave us the model for being present to the highs and lows of life when he attended his friends’ wedding (John 2:1-11), cried at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:1-44), and went off by himself for quiet prayer and reflection (Mark 1:35, Luke 6:12, Matthew 14:13). His invitation to His disciples in Mark’s gospel is an invitation to us now: “He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31) What he is saying is this: “Make space in your life for me. Spend some time with me. Rest with me.” When we celebrate, mourn, and rest, we enter into the abundant life of Christ – following His example – and therefore become more authentically human.


Hospitality to Others

Hospitality to self prepares us for hospitality to others, and hospitality to others is an encounter with God. We can practice both interior (the disposition of our hearts) and exterior (the environments we create and actions we take) hospitality to others.

Here are some reflection questions that will help parishes and parishioners practice more intentional hospitality:

 Questions regarding interior hospitality to others:

  • Am I attentive to those around me?
  • Am I open to new encounters?
  • Do I judge or condemn others?
  • Do I withhold forgiveness?
  • Am I aware of how my actions affect others?

Questions regarding exterior hospitality to others:

  • Do I make room for others?
  • Do I invite new people?
  • Am I willing to compromise or sacrifice?
  • Do I create welcoming environments?
  • Do I enter into the “uncomfortable?”

These questions are certainly not exhaustive, but they should help get us thinking about how to be hospitable to those around us. If each is putting the needs of the other before their own, then our needs will be taken care of by the community as we care for another’s needs.

Download Resources

For the PDF slides on hospitality, click here.

For a parish hospitality inventory, click here.