Lent is a time when Christians everywhere pursue holiness with greater intention. We aim to grow in in our faith, in our relationship with God, and pay more attention to the needs of others. Jesus makes it clear in the Gospel of Matthew that one of the conditions of salvation is hospitality. Lent may seem like a time to cut back on hosting guests and spending time with others, but it’s actually a perfect season to live out the gospel virtue of hospitality. Here are five tips on how to do that during Lent…
Share a meatless meal
Some of Jesus’ greatest miracles centered around food, because offering others a place at your table allows your guests to see that you have recognized their needs and actively sought to satisfy them. Breaking bread with others fosters connection and communion among those present. Of course, offering special foods can be a little tricky with Lenten fasting and abstinence in the mix, but that doesn’t mean it it’s impossible. Invite someone to join you for pizza, fish, soup, or another simple meatless dish on a Friday.
Get to know the catechumens at your parish
Chances are your parish probably has at least one person entering the Church this Easter, and chances are that person needs some of your hospitality. Many newcomers don’t know anyone in their local church other than the people they see at RCIA. It’s the job of every Catholic to make our brothers and sisters feel like they’re truly part of the family. You can invite them out for coffee or over to your home for that meatless meal mention above. You may even want to try invite other members of the parish to join you, so they can get acquainted with the soon-to-be newest members of the community, too.
Host a Lenten Bible/book study
Open your home to friends or members of your parish as a place to study Scripture or other themes during Lent. While you can just as easily have this study in your parish hall, or at a coffee shop, there’s something special about having it in a home. Being in a comfortable environment promotes meaningful connections and allows others the freedom to be vulnerable. Opening your physical space to others is an important component of hospitality, but even more meaningful is making space for them in your heart. Walking alongside other people during their Lenten journey offers many opportunities for them to feel known and loved.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen
At the heart of hospitality is service, so what better way to practice this than by serving those in your community who need the most love? Plus, it’s a great way to give alms, which is one of the main pillars of Lent. To make this act a truly hospitable one, don’t just cook and serve the food, but take time to look into the eyes of the people you’re serving. Talk to them, ask their names and how their day was. Show them know that you not only care for their physical needs, but for their entire life.
Put your phone down
Okay, I know this one isn’t possible for the whole 40 days, but try a modified version of this. Give up your phone — or at least put it out of arm’s reach — when you’re with other people this season. Not only is this an excellent fast — putting the phone down or away helps you be more truly present to the people you’re with and communicates attention, care, and love.
As you strive to grow spiritually this Lent, be aware of the ways you might open up your heart and home through our practice of hospitality.
8 Ways to make Lent meaningful for children