Hospitality: Having a Servant Heart
Editor’s Note: Our new class of DC Service Corps volunteers will each be reflecting on a way that they resonate with Franciscan Mission Service’s mission and spirituality. Matthew Hinderberger reflects on his past and present service and shares his favorite Benedictine and Franciscan value – hospitality.
I have always felt that I have been called to serve others in my life. Most people you ask may call that a servant heart. I have found that to come in many forms throughout my life. The main aspect I have found that in is the career path that I am looking to get into. I have spent the past four years (two at Erskine College and two at Ottawa University-Arizona) getting my degree in Exercise Science. My ultimate goal is to become an Athletic Trainer and serve the needs of the athletes on my team.
The main place in my life that I lived out this calling to serve others and especially the youth of the Catholic Church was at a Benedictine monastery in Southern Indiana. For the past three summers I was able to spend 8 weeks in Saint Meinrad, Indiana, in a leadership role with the One Bread One Cup program. Within this program, 19 other college aged interns and I lived in community, went through formation together, and most importantly put on three liturgical
leadership conferences for high schoolers.
Living and working alongside Benedictine monks allowed me to understand the values that they live by. They have many values but the one that I found that I could incorporate into my life when I went back out into the world is hospitality. It is Saint Benedict that teaches us to welcome all as if they are Christ. It states in Chapter 53 of the rule of St. Benedict, “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35). Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims. Once a guest has been announced, the superior and the brothers are to meet him with all the courtesy of love. First of all, they are to pray together and thus be united in peace.” The monks at Saint Meinrad live by this each day,
welcoming all those that they encounter even if they are not at their home. This form of hospitality became contagious to all of those they were around.
The one reason that I found it was important to implement having a servant heart and being hospitable to those I encounter is because in reentering the real world (as it was described when we left Saint Meinrad), I found that the world lacks hospitable people. This is not to say that there aren’t any out there, it is just that they are harder to find these days. It does not take much to be hospitable to those that you encounter each day. It can be something as simple as holding the door for someone, or giving them compliment, or even allowing them to merge lanes in busy traffic.
There were a couple of things that drew me to Franciscan Mission Service, including their values of accompaniment, mutuality, and sustainability. Being able to accompany those at my ministry site and have a mutuality between us is allowing me to stay hospitable and is teaching me more and more ways to become hospitable. I was also drawn in by the ability to combine some of the Benedictine values I have incorporated with some Franciscan values I hope to become more familiar with throughout my time with DC Service Corps.
Question for reflection: Do you greet all those that you encounter as if they were Christ? What is one way that you can grow in hospitality?