The charism of hospitality empowers a Christian to be a generous channel of God’s love by warmly welcoming and caring for those in need of food, shelter, and friendship.
Since the days of Abraham, hospitality has been a sacred responsibility for the people of God. Care for the widow, the orphan, and the stranger were central to Israel’s covenant with God. And Jesus said that caring for others was caring for him. So all Christians have a role in welcoming and caring for others. But those with the charism of hospitality are empowered in a special way to notice the presence of newcomers. Guests, both family and strangers, are frequently welcomed into their homes. Their concern is not for the tidiness of their house, or the perfection of the meal, but for the comfort and nurture of their guests.
The exercise of hospitality is not limited to a person’s home. Hospitality is an essential tool for an evangelizing parish. Having parishioners with the charism of hospitality actively using this gift makes the parish a place where people experience God’s love in extraordinary ways. Visitors come to the Cathedral because of its beauty, or convenience, or because they have heard good things about us, but they will return again and again if they experience a warm and loving community.
Christians with the charism of hospitality seem to always notice newcomers and seek them out to make them feel welcome, have a strong sense of God when welcoming someone into their home or community, and feel frustrated when strangers are ignored and not made to feel part of the community. They have an amazing ability to create a warm and welcoming environment in which a person’s needs for physical nurture and personal and spiritual companionship are met.
If this describes you, you may have been specially empowered to be a channel of God’s love and mercy through the gift of hospitality. This gift can and should be used in all aspects of your life. Because we welcome so many visitors to the Cathedral, we need all parishioners to be ministers of hospitality. But if you think you have been gifted with the charism of hospitality we need you in specific ways – you would make an exceptional greeter, Alpha team member, or small group leader. Let us know if the idea in serving in those capacities is energizing and exciting. There are people just waiting for the exercise of your gift!
Vicki Compton is the Coordinator of Faith Formation and Mission at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, Illinois.