Monday, September 24, 2012

More on Hospitality

In the latest issue of the Houston Catholic Worker there is an essay by Carlos Diaz, "Hospitality Takes Us Beyond Our Limits." It called to mind Mark Mitchell's "The Culture of Hospitality." Alas the essay is not available at the CJD archive.
Hospitality is the virtue which permits us to break that narrowness of our fears and open our homes to the stranger with the intuition that salvation is coming to us. Hospitality transforms the weak into strong witnesses, those who are suspicious of everything into generous givers, and the fanatics whose minds are closed into recipients of new ideas and perspectives. We live in a desert with many solitary travelers who look for a moment of peace, a refreshing drink and a sign of encouragement in order to continue their mysterious search for freedom. What does hospitality require in order to become a healing power? That the one given hospitality feels as if he is in his own home, a free place without fear. Hospitality is the ability to serve the guest, something which is very difficult if our own stress impedes us from distancing ourselves from our own preoccupations.
As this was published in the HCW, one would expect that the author shares the same view on [illegal] immigration as those who run the newspaper and the organization, though this is not explicit in the article, nor does he explicit draw the implications of his view on hospitality on how we should treat illegal immigrants.
When we become conscious that we do not have to escape our suffering, but rather when we put it in movement, united with us in our shared search for meaning in life, these real sufferings change from expressions of total disillusion and discouragement into signs of hope. Thanks to this shared search, hospitality is transformed into community when it takes us so far beyond our limits. This is not because it cures, but because the scars and pains are changed into doors and open spaces and a new vision. This way, reciprocity is transformed into a mutual deepening of hope, and the weakness in anything that we remember personally and communally becomes the strength that we will receive.
For the ancient Greeks, xenia, hospitality, was linked to piety and service to the gods. While the host was obliged to take care of his guest, the guest was also under obligation to the host. He had an even greater obligation not to kill his host or steal from him than would otherwise be the case, since he was in debt to the host for his hospitality.

Would most illegals prefer to keep the freedom they now have rather than submitting to communal supervision and accountability in exchange for true hospitality (as opposed to government benefits)?

Some throw out as proof of assimilation that children of immigrants are more likely to speak English than Spanish to dismiss concerns with Hispanic immigration to the United States. Just because the children are more proficient in English than the native language of the parents does not mean that they have assimilated - culture and, more importantly, group identity and allegiance are more than the language one speaks.

Various documents have referred to the Holy Family's seeking refuge in Egypt as having some relevance for [contemporary] immigration policy (including something by Pius XII). But the Holy Family did not demand to be given citizenship or to be treated as equals to the natives in all respects or to be reckoned as Egyptians. Nor did they seek welfare assistance from the rules of Egypt. Did they blend in with the natives and other visitors (other Jews?) in a large urban area, seeking to be left alone, for the most part, while doing some labor in order to make a living and survive while they were away?

Bishops who think that Hispanic immigration is good because the Church is getting new blood should take a look at their parishes where Hispanics are the majority and judge for themselves how much assimilation is actually taking place. They should also remember that they should respect the rights of natives (i.e. non-Catholic whites) to their own culture, rather than using this strategy to effect some sort of "conversion" of the country.


Related: The Catholic Worker: A Model for Church and World

(via Casa Juan Diego)

Despite their position on immigration, I do think Catholics have much to learn from the Catholic Worker movement. As for Dorothy Day retaining leftist sympathies even after her conversion, I still have to investigate that...

Rod Dreher on Southern Xenia.

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