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You're Welcome: A Reflection on Hospitality

“People need physical hospitality, spiritual hospitality and psychological hospitality, always”

–  Joan Chittister, Religious and Social Leader

Joan Chittister often reflects on Hospitality and this mindfulness gave me pause for thought.   Hospitality is one of Catholic Home’s deeply held values closely linked to Love and Joy. It sounds lovely, but what does it really mean to be hospitable?

It’s easy to say it’s about inviting those we know into our lives and homes or to welcome the things that bring us joy.   But what about the stranger or the unwelcome events in our lives such as ageing, illness and loss? What about the things that cause us shame, embarrassment or fear of being judged if we reveal them? What about the unknown future and what it might bring?  It’s not so easy to have a welcoming approach to these things and in fact we try to avoid the people, things and events that cause us discomfort.

Imagine the difference it would make if we could accept the reality of imperfections and make peace with the unknown or unwelcome.

In our complex and busy lives is it even possible to offer hospitality?  Should we?  There are times when our human vulnerability means we need to admit to our own limitations when we can’t be hospitable.

There are times when we’re drained of compassion or feel too angry, resentful, busy or tired to care. We should give ourselves permission to rest, be revived, forgiven, loved or whatever we need to be able to be present and hospitable to others. Take the time to look for the signs around us for those who might welcome us. This welcoming and loving presence should be extended to ourselves as it’s what makes us human.  

At Christmas, let us reflect on what or who we find both easy and difficult to welcome into our lives.  Let us give the gift of a welcoming presence to all that we encounter. We can never know what may come from taking an approach of hospitality to even the most unpleasant, challenging and difficult people and circumstances in our lives. They may bring unexpected grace to us. The Christmas story reminds us of this.

This Christmas may you receive and give grace and joy in unexpected places. May you have the peace of knowing that you are surrounded by hospitality and welcoming places – in nature, in relationships, in hopes and dreams for the future and in the changes that living each day brings.

May you be embraced by Love, Joy and Hospitality and may you offer these gifts to others through your presence, attitude and actions.

Wishing you all and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year!

By Bernadette Brady, Executive Manager of Mission