I used to think that hospitality involved dinner parties, such was my limited understanding of the concept. So I thought that I didn’t show hospitality since I didn’t like dinner parties. Then a couple of months ago a fellow parishioner told me what a hospitable presence I was at church. Normally I would have brushed off this comment thinking about hospitable in the old way. But I decided that she was observing something I was oblivious to.
I actually resorted to the dictionary(we know I am a retired English professor after all) to find out the broader definition of the word. I learned that it had a much broader meaning, suggesting a welcoming attitude, especially to the stranger. It turns out that the woman at church was accurately describing my outgoing behavior at church where my husband is the head greeter and usher at our Mass.
We came to Catholicism from a large Protestant church where we were expected to greet one another and get to know one another. We even wore name tags to facilitate the fellowship. I didn’t realize that Catholics in New England often didn’t know the names of the people around them. So naturally I kept introducing myself to whoever sat down near me. By and large people were very glad to connect; they just weren’t used to it. So I was being hospitable without realizing it!
In the photo above, my beloved cousin Susan is welcoming me into her dollhouse play set. She is introducing me to the little stove and how it “cooks”. I do the same on Sundays, welcoming new attendees and showing them around our sanctuary. May we all greet the newcomer, stranger or foreigner with such tender hospitality as Susan is showing me.