The Paraclete Book of Hospitality is a wonderful, little gem of a book. It’s short 117-page exposition regarding the Christian virtue of hospitality is littered with insights from Scripture, saints, and a host of experiences. While not a theological diatribe about the doctrinal status of being a hospitable person, the editors over at Paraclete Press have none the less put together a brilliant introduction to what it means to exhibit this oft overlooked spiritual discipline.
Perhaps my favorite element of this book was the frequent connections made between Christians of the past, and those living in the world today. The theme of being welcoming is clearly woven throughout Church history, and this little tome does a marvelous job of highlighting that without inundating you with dates and places and hard to pronounce names. If you’ve ever wondered it means to have an open home, or if your curious as to how monastic practices can still serve as relevant tools in this technologically addicted society we call home, this is undoubtedly the book for you!
Of all the portions in the book, there was one chapter which stood out to me.
“Everyday there are occasions, simple moments when we can show hospitality to another person by giving ourselves away. But like every valuable spiritual lesson, this one takes practice and focused attention on our part,” (p. 38).
I had always thought of hospitality as “one of those things,” which if you had a natural inclination towards, could serve God’s purposes. I did not see it something to cultivate, a habit that needed to be formed. However, after reading this book, I am convinced that this practice is essential to living the Christian faith. One does not have to join a monastery to carry about the kind of things mentioned in this book, and I think that is exactly why Jesus talked about it as often as He did. There are no geographical limits on being hospitable.