“Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door”
It fascinates me that one of the most influential rules of all of Christian monasticism has a chapter devoted to opening the door. In the Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 66: The Porter of the Monastery states, “At the door of the monastery, place a sensible person who knows how to take a message and deliver a reply, and whose wisdom keeps them from roaming about. The porter will need a room near the entrance so that visitors will always find someone waiting there to answer them. As soon as anyone knocks or a poor person calls out, the porter will reply, ‘Thanks be to God’ or ‘Your blessing, please,’ then, with all the gentleness that comes from the reverence of God, provide a prompt answer with the warmth of love. Let the porter be given one of the younger members if help is needed.”
While it may seem very strange that such a rule would focus on the person who answers the door it is, in fact, of critical importance. You see, the way that we answer the door is the way in which we deal with the world. If we prefer to focus on ourselves and our own needs then, when the doorbell rings, we will most likely feel bothered and annoyed. But if our focus is turned toward the needs and cares of others then, when the doorbell rings, we will be excited by the possibility that we have an opportunity to be kind and of some assistance to a person in need.
Here at the Mercy Conference and Retreat Center, we feel privileged to be the porters of this house! We are a group of crazy Christians who love to be interrupted and barged in upon. We strive to maintain a culture of welcome and hospitality. Here you will not find any “no trespassing” signs but rather, you will find a group of people ready to welcome you day and night in the spirit of Catherine McAuley – foundress of the Sisters of Mercy.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that mercy is “a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion.” I believe that we have all experienced God’s mercy in our lives and, because of that, we are compelled to be people of mercy. This is why I love being a part of the Mercy Conference and Retreat Center where we as a staff get to be a blessing to the community that we serve here in the Saint Louis Metropolitan area and beyond!
Feast of St. Benedict