Although those following the Rule of St. Benedict keep vows of conversion, stability, and obedience, central to the Rule is hospitality. Over and over the little Rule teaches from one perspective and yet another that we treat all as Christ.
I've had much to ponder about hospitality. In the parish where I serve, we've been having struggles (or perhaps I've been having struggles as the Rector) with what treating all as Christ means, particularly with those who are a step different from us. Elders with serious issues of aging, folks in emotional distress, people who see the Christian journey from unique perspectives.....hmmm, I suppose that includes almost all of us. What does it truly, truly mean to live my everyday life loving, really and truly loving, my neighbor?
I write that as the Holy Eucharist is being celebrated in the Monastery Chapel. The Prioress, who is the leader of the Monastery, not the priest, has said that we who are not Roman Catholic may come to Christ's Table. Yet, we Protestants know that this is contrary to the teaching of the Roman Church. So every time there is Mass, I struggle: do I come or do I stay away?
Yesterday, I knew that my heart required the feeding of that Holy Bread and Wine, and so I stayed for the meal. This day, pondering Hospitality, I prayed the morning office in community, and then left with most of the other Protestant Oblates.
I'll walk the labyrinth later today and continue to pray. I know that whatever God reveals, it will start with my own heart loving others as much as I love God.