All posts tagged: hospitality

The Fruitful Promise of God

“Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years, and Sarah had stopped having her menstrual periods” (Gen 18:11). This is the kind of detail that frequently perplexes my undergraduates. Why does the Bible care about Sarah’s fertility? The promise that God makes to Abraham consists of land and progeny: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen 12:2). Yet, there’s a problem. Abraham and Sarah are very old—well past the age of childbearing. If the covenant is to be fulfilled, it will be God’s miraculous intervention that is required. And of course, God acts. The LORD appears to Abraham through the mediation of three mysterious figures. And Abraham, righteous man that he is, approaches them, bringing them water in the midst of a desert. He bathes their hot and tired feet, inviting them to sit down at table. He provides not simply a bit of bread but yogurt and meat. He welcomes the stranger in …

Benedictine Hospitality as Making Space

Yesterday, I spoke at St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, IL, on Sacrosanctum Concilium. Before the talk, I was invited to pray at Mass, as well as eat dinner with the monks in the refectory. At Mass, I watched as the monks entered the Abbey Church, some using walkers to make their way to the choir. The last monk to enter was blind, moving slowly with his walker down the sloped church. The eyes of every monk was watching him not with a sense of impatience but attentive to any needs that he might have during his journey to the choir. Individual monks, unbeknowst to their aged confrere, moved slowly out of the way, making space for their brother in Christ. At dinner, the subtle dance of making space continued. The monks knew where to sit at table. They knew who was to pray, and when he was to lead prayer. They slowly told their guests what to do, never in a demanding way, but with a spirit of love. They waited for their after meal prayer …