53. The Reception of Guests
Let all the guests at their arrival be received as Christ, for he himself will one day say: “I was a guest, and you received me” (Matt 25:35). 2 So let fitting honor be shown to all, especially to the household of faith and to travelers.
3 Therefore, when a guest is announced, let him be met by the superior, or by the brothers, with every service required by love. 4 First, let them pray together, and so be joined to each other in peace. 5 The kiss of peace should not be offered before saying a prayer because of the devil’s delusions.
6 In the greeting itself, let every sign of humility be shown to all the guests as they arrive or depart. 7 With the head bowed or with the whole body cast on the ground, let Christ, who is also received, be adored in them.
8 After the guests have been received, let them be led to prayer, and afterward the superior or the one designated by him should sit with them. 9 Let the Divine Law be read in the presence of the guests for their edification, and after this, let all humanity be shown to them.
10 The superior may break the fast on account of a guest, unless perhaps it is a principal fast day which cannot be broken. 11 The brothers, however, are to follow the usual practice of fasting.
12 Let the abbot pour water on the hands of the guests; 13 then, the abbot, as well as the whole community, should wash the feet of all the guests. 14 After the washing is done, let them recite this verse,
We have received your mercy, O God,
in the midst of your temple. (Ps 48:10)
15 Let great care and concern be shown when receiving the poor and travelers, for in them is Christ more especially received, for the very fear of the rich sees to their honor.
16 Let there be a kitchen just for the abbot and the guests, who are never lacking in a monastery, so that the guests, coming as they do at unexpected times, may not disturb the brothers. 17 In this kitchen, let there be assigned for a year two brothers who can fulfill this job well. 18 Let them have help when they need it, so that they may serve without murmuring; on the other hand, when they have less work, let them go and work wherever they are ordered. 19 This should be taken into consideration not only for them, but for all with jobs in the monastery, 20 so that when they have need, they get help, and then when they are free, they should obey what they are commanded.
21 Also, let a brother with a soul possessed by the fear of God have charge of the quarters set aside for the guests, 22 and enough beds should be set up there.
Moreover, let the House of God be managed wisely by the wise.
23 Unless instructed otherwise, no one should in any way associate or talk with the guests, 24 but if someone meets or sees them, let him greet them humbly, as we have said, and having asked for a blessing, let him continue on his way, saying that he is not permitted to speak with a guest.