The freedom to learn and teach outside the boxed in National Curriculum gives a whole world of teaching and learning areas and opportunities that would otherwise be lost.
One area that is extremely important in any Christian home is the area of hospitality. In the commandment to love our neighbour comes the duty to both give and receive hospitality. It is tied up, overlaps and is wound around the obligation to love God first.
For the little ones, teaching them hospitality is simply about basic social skills at first; greeting visitors properly, making eye contact, speaking politely and clearly – that sort of thing. It takes a bit of time and practice for some children, while for others it comes more easily.
Then there is table manners, saying please and thank you, asking to leave the table and so on.
For Ronan who is 8 now, part of his being hospitable to visitors is that he makes the afternoon hot chocolate for all the children. One or two of our younger visitors look forward to Ronan’s hot chocolate round as he also includes a biscuits with them. (It’s not just Iona who’s the biscuit buff). Ronan serves all the children around the table, taking care of things such as those who can’t have milk, those who need extra milk for a cooler drink and so on. He manages very well. I don’t help him at all these days.
For the older ones there are proper dinners to make for their friends or sharing foods at picnics. Iona is the one in the group who makes the birthday cakes for everyone. It is lovely to see them all growing up and learning to share what they have together.
The saints have a lot to say about all of this. The theme throughout the lives of the saints was about treating people as thought they were Christ. This is nowhere near as easy as it might sound. The stories of the saint show many situations where the person at the door didn’t seem to be the sort you might want to show hospitality to at all. Sometimes the person-like-Christ was asking for something the monastery/convent/home had very little of – and it took the amazing faith of a saint (like Benedict) to ensure the sharing of meagre resources could be done.
Perhaps in some ways offering hospitality to others is the easy side of this commandment. Receiving it can be the challenge….
Day 4 Divine Mercy Novena