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Of the manner of entertaining guests.

Let all guests who come to the Monastery be entertained like Christ Himself, because He will say: “I was a stranger and ye took Me in.”187187Matth. xxv. 35. Let due honour be paid to all, especially to those who are of the household of the Faith, and to travellers. As soon, therefore, as a guest is announced, let the Prior or the Brethren go to meet him with all show of charity. First let them pray together, and so be associated to each other in peace. The kiss of peace shall not be offered till after prayer, because of the illusions of the devil. And in the salutation itself let all humility be shewn. By bowing the head or prostrating on the ground before all the guests who come or go, let Christ Who is received in their persons be also adored in them.

When the guests have been received, let them be brought to prayer, and after that, the Prior, or any one whom he shall order, shall sit with them. Let the Divine Law be read before the guest, that he may be edified, and afterwards let all courtesy be shown them. For his sake, the Prior shall break the fast ordained by the Rule, unless perchance it be one of those special days, on which it cannot be broken. The Brethren, however, shall keep their accustomed fast. Let the Abbot pour water on the hands of the guests, and let both him and the whole Community wash the feet of the same, after which they shall say this verse: “We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple.”188188Ps. xlviii. 10. But let the poor, and strangers especially, be diligently entertained with all care, because in them Christ is more truly received. For the simple fear of the rich doth beget them honour.

Let the kitchen for the Abbot and the guests stand apart, in order that the latter, who are never wanting in a monastery, may not disquiet the Brethren by their untimely arrivals. Into this kitchen let two Brothers, who can perform its duties well, enter for a year. They shall have assistance when they need it, in order that they may serve without murmuring. When they have less labour, let them go forth to work where they shall be appointed. And not only in these, but in all other offices of the Monastery, let consideration be shown them, so that when they need help, it be given, and when they are without work, they obey and do what is commanded them.

Let the care of the guest-room be entrusted to a Brother, whose soul the fear of God possesseth. Let there be a sufficient number of beds there, and let the House of God be by wise men wisely governed. By no means let any one, unless appointed thereunto, either mix with, or speak to the guests; but if he shall meet or see them, after humbly saluting and asking their blessing, he shall pass on, saying that it is not lawful for him to talk with a guest.

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