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Benedictine hospitality

There are fabulous hotels and lavish restaurants in Hong Kong. Is that what hospitality means—the industry that offers luxurious comfort, entertainment, and fine dining? St. Benedict saw hospitality not as an industry but as a collective and individual responsibility, part of our everyday lives.

Hospitality is often said to be the principal charism of the Benedictine order.  In his Rule, after he has laid out his practical instructions for daily life in the monastery, St. Benedict is insistent that “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ...” (Rule of St. Benedict, chapter 53).

In scripture Christ often presents himself as a stranger, and we must be ready to see Christ in all those we meet, and to accept them as they are today. 

There is often a temptation to try to change or mold them to our way of being, but St. Benedict says we are to welcome them in humility and show them the courtesy of love. 

Hospitality as generous as this must be grounded in prayer, so that we can see others with the eyes of Christ.

  • Father Chad Boulton, OSB, is a Benedictine monk of Ampleforth Abbey and the spiritual director of Ampleforth Centre for Theology and Spirituality Hong Kong, an innovative mission to young Catholics and all who seek God: www.acts.hk or https://www.facebook.com/ACTSHongKong