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Radical Hospitality – Benedict’s way of love

March 20, 2007

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From Publishers Weekly
“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.” So says the famous Rule of St. Benedict, written more than 1,500 years ago and still the operative standard for all Benedictine monasteries. This simple guide shows readers that hospitality is not reserved for the monastery only, but is an ideal for all Christians who wish to connect closely with one another. Homan, a Benedictine monk in Oxford, Mich., draws stories from monastery life, while Pratt, a freelance writer and retreat leader, transposes them nicely for the reader. They discuss some of the challenges of hospitality: guests sometimes have different values than their hosts; they can intrude upon the routines of daily life; they require intimate companionship when hosts might rather be alone. There is an element of surrender to true hospitality, of opening the heart to strangers as well as friends. “Forget about turned-down sheets, mints on the pillow and towel-warmers,” say the authors. “Monastic hospitality creates sacred space where the guest is free to be alone, to enter silence, to pray and rest.” At the heart of monastic hospitality is the discipline of listening, of allowing a guest to feel safe and loved. The book is more descriptive than prescriptive; it is not a how-to guide listing 10 steps to cultivate “deep listening” or the seven secrets of the well-laid table. It is instead a heartfelt sharing of stories, a welcome mat to enter into the spiritual discipline of hospitality.

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