Monasteries of the Heart


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I wish I could have been the porter at a Benedictine monastery. St. Benedict’s job description requests “a wise old man, who knows how to receive and to give a message, and whose maturity will prevent him from straying about.” That’s me.

There are many books of inspiration, self-help, and rules. The Rule is the only book I know of that gives instructions on how to open a door. Benedict must have thought it important. A porter welcomes friends and strangers to come in; day or night, if we are busy or not. Enjoy our hospitality; we are here for you.

A porter was at the gate “as soon as anyone knocks or a poor man hails him.” I call out Deo gratias “Thanks be to God.” And we exchange blessings with one another. The visitor is giving something to me. Benedict asks that I attend to the visitor promptly, “with all the meekness inspired by the fear of God and with the warmth of charity.”

This is the way I should live and see the world. The world is a visitor at my gate and I welcome it with meekness and charity. The monastic heart knows that Christ (and his visitors) are received not only by soft words, but also by actions bold and clear. This is what I want to do—bring visitors to Christ— and I can do that only clean and sober and addiction-free.

Please come in. Deo gratias.

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