My Patron Saint for 2009 is St. Jason, who risked his own welfare for the sake of giving shelter to St. Paul and other Christians.  My prayer intention for 2009 is to pray for the virtue of hospitality.

Being single and none too wealthy, I feel that my own ability to give hospitality to others is extremely limited.  I don’t have a spare bedroom.  I don’t even have a dining room table.

Fortunately, no doubt through the help of St. Jason, I have learned that the virtue of hospitality is not bound to such things.  One lesson about hospitality caught me by surprise one night during a meeting with my Theology of the Body study group.  We were listening to a talk by Dr. Jennifer Roback-Morse, and she defined hospitality simply as a “making room for.”  That phrase has really stuck with me.

It occurred to me that “making room” doesn’t necessarily only refer to making physical room for others.  Sometimes what people need more than anything is for us to make room for them in our hearts!  In fact, it doesn’t matter if you own a huge mansion and have the finest chefs and servants at your employ–you won’t be a hospitable person until you first make room in your heart for other people.

That phrase popped up again unexpected just this morning, as I was reading Msgr. Romano Guardini’s book, The Rosary of Our Lady.  I came across another simple but profound insight, and one I found very appropriate for Easter:

To become a true believer means to receive the risen Christ within us.  To live the life of faith is to make room for Him, so that He may express Himself and grow within oneself.

To live the life of faith is to make room for Christ–for the risen Christ!  That is what being a Christian is all about… in a sense, it is all about giving hospitality to Christ.  Opening ourselves to Him, putting Him first, serving Him in love and humility.  It calls to mind the image of Christ knocking at the door.  He leaves it to each of us to open that door to Him.  And as practicing Catholics, we open that door when we pray, when we go to Mass, when we receive the Sacraments, when we do good for others.

When you think about it, all of the works of mercy to which Catholics are commanded are rooted in hospitality.  It is a most fundamental virtue, one that underlies most every good work.  In turn, hospitality appears to be very rooted in humility, ironically one of the greatest of all virtues.

All of this seems so common-sense, doesn’t it?  But several months ago, while I was extremely dismayed and worrying about the fact that I don’t own a dining room table, I had no idea how much I could learn about hospitality… and no idea how capable I was of offering it to others… even to Christ Himself!  In fact, I had already been offering it without even recognizing that I was doing so.

I am so grateful to realize that now!  I feel much less dismayed.  Although I still want a dining room table!  With St. Jason’s guidance I’m sure I can achieve that goal too somehow.  I look forward to learning and growing more in hospitality.