The Gift of Hospitality


This delightful gem from the Desert Fathers comes from Benedicta Ward’s The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers (157)

There was a saint in Egypt who dwelt in a desert place. Far away from him there was a Manichean who was a priest (at least what they call a priest). Once, when this man was going to visit one of his confederates, night overtook him in the place where the orthodox saint was living. He was in great distress, fearing to go to him to sleep there, for he knew that he was known as a Manichean, and he was afraid he would not be received. However, finding himself compelled to do so, he knocked; and the old man opened the door to him, recognized him, received him joyfully, constrained him to pray, and after having given him refreshment, he made him sleep. Thinking this over during the night, the Manichean said, “How is it that he is without any suspicions about me? Truly, this man is of God.” And he threw himself at his feet, saying, “Henceforth, I am orthodox,” and he stayed with him.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.





2 responses to “The Gift of Hospitality”

  1. Ad Orientem Avatar

    Father Bless!

    Fr. Stephen,
    I am guessing you got a visit from the Rev. Mccain as well. I will confess to some less than charitable feelings when I finished reading his post. And I also felt the need yesterday to put up a clarification on the rules for polite discourse. Trusting that you and yours are well, I remain…

    Yours in Christ

  2. dilys Avatar

    So, I’m cross-referring this to your own priest who said his business was to offer hospitality, conversion was God’s business. Quite illustrative, this.

    There are the Zen stories about the abbot who uses his cloak to cover up the drunken novice on the front stoop, rather than berating him.

    Experiencing the offer of un-self-conscious kindness, especially when I know I deserve worse and/or the other person has good reason to offer worse, melts my heart.

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