The Porter: At the Threshold of Hospitality
In the Rule, St. Benedict commends the role of the porter, the person stationed at the front door and responsible for greeting visitors to the Monastery. Whenever a visitor showed up, the porter was supposed to shout, “Thanks be to God!” or “Your blessing please!” (RB 66). The porter embodied the commitment to greet everyone as Christ, engaging every new arrival as a person carrying a blessing.
Members of the Benedictine Center staff and team of volunteers, often get to practice the role of “porter” at the Monastery, being entrusted with the task of greeting every guest with the “warmth of love.” We welcome people in whatever state they arrive for a time of retreat. Some people arrive full of gratitude and joy, brimming with a story they simply must share—even with a stranger. Others come primed for learning, ready to join others in conversation about how they might live out Benedictine values in their daily lives in meaningful ways. Some come seeking beauty, taking in the latest art exhibit. Still others arrive tired, weary, or worn down from life’s pressures.
However guests arrive, all guest are seeking renewal for their journey. The first sign they have come to the right place is the way the porter greets them with arms and heart wide open. At St. Paul’s Monastery, pilgrims find porters ready to listen for what a person really needs, and eager to offer the gifts the Sisters share: quiet, nourishment, rest, companions in prayer.
The privilege of the porter is to live on the edge of expectancy. The next guest to arrive is sure to bring a blessing and a faithful porter wouldn’t want to miss it. That guest might very well be reading this article now and soon to arrive for a workshop, retreat, or an opportunity to prayer. Know that a team of porters is eagerly and warmly awaiting your arrival.
Learn more about Kiely Todd Roska and upcoming retreats and workshops with her.