To the wife’s stewardship belongs also the discharge of a most important, not to say most sacred duty—that of hospitality. It is one of the chief functions of the divine virtue of charity.
Of its nature, its necessity, and its importance we do not wish to discourse here. Few are the homes and the hearts to which hospitality is a stranger. Those to which this book may reach will easily understand what the word means without either definition or description. We can, therefore, convey our instruction by the simplest method. Whoever is received into your home as a guest—precisely because he is your guest—forget everything else to make his stay delightful.
It matters little whether persons thus hospitably received may or may not appreciate your generosity, your cordiality, and that true warmth of a welcome like yours, inspired by Christian motives much more than by worldly reasons; it matters much for you that none should ever enter your home without finding it a true Christian home, or should leave it without taking away with them the pleasant memory of their stay and a grateful recollection of you and yours.
Doubtless some will be found whom no courtesy, no kindness, no warmth of hospitality can change from what they are,—little-minded, narrow-hearted, selfish, cold, and unable to judge the conduct of others by any other standard than their own low thoughts and sentiments.
They are only like bats entering a banquet-hall by one window and passing out at the opposite, after having fluttered blindly about the lights, or clung for a few instants to the walls or the ceiling. Let them come and let them go. The social and spiritual atmosphere of the place is not for them.
Nor must you complain of the number. It is wonderful how much place a large-hearted woman can find for her company, even in a very small house!
A hospitable spirit can do wonders in its way: it can make the water on the board more delicious than the wines of Portugal, Spain, or France or Italy; it can make the bread which it places before stranger or friend as sweet as the food of the gods; it can multiply its own scanty stores—as the Master did with the loaves in the wilderness.
For God’s blessing is with the hospitable soul to increase, to multiply, and to sweeten; to fill all who sit at her board with plenty, with joy, with thanksgiving.
“There is,” says Digby, “a castle on the Loire held by a lady of ascetic piety and of noble fame, in the latest pages of French heroic annals. There one of my friends, received to hospitality, finding many guests, supposed himself surrounded by men of illustrious condition, till he was informed that they were all persons reduced to poverty, whose title to familiarity under that roof was founded precisely on their indigence and misfortunes.”
Ah, noble France, how many other homes along the Loire, the Mayenne, the Sarthe, and the Somme do we not know which are always open to the stranger and the pilgrim from other lands, while their generous masters and mistresses deem every sacrifice a blessing, because performed for Christ present in the guest of one day, or one week, or one month!
A man does not expect his wife to neglect important duty in his behalf. He is aware of the demands of her life and wants her to give each responsibility the attention it requires. He does not want his children to suffer neglect. And he knows she is entitled to other interests and diversions. But, he doesn’t want to be less important. And he doesn’t want to be regarded as a convenience, a paycheck, an escort, a social asset, a ticket to security. He would like to feel that she married him for him, and not as a means of filling her needs or reaching her objectives. -Helen Andelin, Fascinating Womanhood
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