Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 66, Thanks Be To God

Chapter 66 of The Rule of St. Benedict describes how one would select the Porter for the monastery and how the Porter is to greet visitors at the entrance.

Who would make a good Porter? Benedict's recommendation: "place a sensible old man who knows how to take a message and deliver a reply, and whose age keeps him from roaming about."

We don't want those Porters wandering off.

What I find charming about Chapter 66 is how the Porter is instructed to respond to a knock on the monastery door. You'd think the response to a knock would be something like "Who's there?" or "Who is it?"

But this is what Benedict instructs:
As soon as anyone knocks, or a poor man calls out, he replies, "Thanks be to God"...
I like the implicit theology of hospitality in that reply. A stranger comes. The poor ask for help. And our response is gratitude.

"Thanks be to God."

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2 thoughts on “Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 66, Thanks Be To God”

  1. Being thankful for an opportunity to serve the poor! Wow! What a contrast to common practices in the church, many of whom view the poor as a burden, an embarrassment, or unworthy. Today, there is so much public negativity attached to the word "poor" that no politician and some preachers will never even use the word.

  2. What a beautiful greeting! And how contrary to the sort of anti-communal direction in which our culture is headed. It struck me what a joy it was to have trick or treaters on Halloween, because it is so rare for neighbors to even come to each others' door steps and knock. We're all strangely afraid of each other. This welcoming attitude seems to me to be the very heart of the embodiment of Christ's love; that upon being called on by another person we thank the Lord, rather than cursing them for inconveniencing us. In learning to utter this phrase, perhaps we could make a habit of reminding ourselves of it.

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