The Virtue of Hospitality and the Hooley of 2014

by | Mar 16, 2014 | It's Party Time, Liturgical Year | 18 comments

Another Hooley at the Tierneys’ is in the books. We are so grateful to our family and friends who spent the evening with us. It was the best. You rock. To those of you who were not here: You should have been. Come next year. It was really fun.

Please look at these pictures while I reflect a bit on the virtue of hospitality. As me giving a speech. In middle school.

<ahem> <tap, tap> <this is on already, right?> HOSpitality. It’s in the Bible.

<adjusts glasses> <shuffles papers> Abraham had that thing where those angels visited him. He had to bake bread and KILL SOMETHING to feed those guys. And he did it. Before he even knew they were angels. That’s hospitality.

<consults notes> Hospitality. Rebecca gave water to all those camels, so then she got to go to another country to marry some guy she hadn’t met. So that’s interesting. And it’s hospitality.

Oh. And Elijah. The widow and her son were going to eat their last little cake, then die. But she shared her food with Elijah, so it never ran out. Then Elijah brought her son back from the dead. I’ll bet she was glad she had hospitality.

We must even have hospitality towards our enemies. Proverbs 25 says: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” And heaping coals of fire on people’s heads is, um, good I guess. If they are your enemies. So, um . . . hospitality?

And then there’s the New Testament, too.
It has hospitality.
Mary went to go visit Elizabeth to help her. It was at Elizabeth’s house. But I’m sure Mary was super helpful. And she probably brought some food and stuff with her. So I think that was hospitality.
And then at the wedding feast at Cana. That was someone else’s house again. But still, Mary asked Jesus to help them so they wouldn’t run out of wine and disappoint their guests. And he listened to her and helped them. Which is hospitality.
Jesus talked about the Good Samaritan. He showed hospitality to that guy when all the other guys were just leaving him there to die. Leaving people to die is NOT hospitality.
Jesus says we should love our neighbors as ourselves. We always feed ourselves dinner and stuff, so we should, um, also, feed our neighbors dinner. Like Jesus says. And that’s hospitality.

Jesus says in the gospel of Matthew that if we have hospitality we will get to go to heaven: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, . . . Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

I don’t know about you, but *I* want to go to heaven. Hospitality.
The father throws a party for the Prodigal Son when he comes back from wasting his whole inheritance on a bunch of carrying on. Even though his son has really messed up, he still celebrates having him home. And because his dad offers him hospitality instead of a punishment, the son decides to get his act together.
Jesus goes to Zacchaeus’ house and eats with a bunch of questionable people, but because Zacchaeus offers Jesus hospitality, he — Zacchaeus I mean — decides to turn his whole life around. Because of hospitality.
So, as you can see from the Bible, hospitality is good for the people who get it AND for the people who give it.
<looks meaningfully at audience> How can we put these lessons to work in our own lives?
By having hospitality.
You could wait for some angels to come over. Or your enemies. But both of those might be kinda awkward.
So maybe just invite your family over, or some friends.
You just cook them dinner. It doesn’t have to be fancy. And you don’t have to kill it yourself. It could even be pizza or sandwiches.
If you think you can’t afford it, maybe you should think of that widow. I’m pretty sure you’re not so poor that you’re planning to eat your last cake and die.
If you think your house isn’t nice enough, well, Mary had the shepherds and the Wise Men over to her house, which was a smelly old stable. And she had just had a baby.
Besides, when you invite people over to your house, they’re going to be so happy you invited them, they won’t care if everything is super neat. And if you have some music on or play some board games they will be distracted and not notice if there are some piles of stuff places.
In conclusion, God says we should have hospitality. And it is fun to have it. So, why not give it a try?
Thank you.
Adult me back again. If you were a party to the brouhaha last week about this time, you may be wondering how that whole Lenten disciplines/fasting on Sundays thing turned out. Scott of the Catholicism page was kind enough to write me a very reassuring email and then a whole blog post explaining the history of Lent and Lenten practices. You should read it. But suffice to say, I again stand behind my first post. We plan to break our Lenten fasts of treats and screens on Sundays, but continue to try to keep our new good practices intact.

Happy Sunday!


  1. Annie

    Looks like your party was a blast, Kendra! (And your baby girl is absolutely adorable!) Thanks for your reflections on hospitality. The control freak in me can't stand the idea of welcoming guests into a messy house, and I should really just loosen up — or get better at distracting my guests from the piles of junk, as you suggest!

  2. Amy Salisbury

    Love this! My parents implemented a family virtue of hospitality when I was a kid and we loved having friends and families over every few weeks so much that us 8kids would clean up the house to get ready (and usually decorate!) many life long friendships were built at thoes gatherings!
    PS isn't the prodigal son a parable from the NEW testament?

    • Kendra

      Why yes it is. Fixed it! Thanks.

      And my kids are really on board with the parties. They are a big part of the preparations.

  3. Amelia Bentrup

    I love this. One virtue I am so glad my parents instilled in me, is the virtue of hospitality. We never had a fancy house or fancy food, but we were always having people over…even for simple meals like homemade mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, etc.

    Funny store. Pro-life Congressman Chris Smith (from NJ) was at my mom's house the DAY I WAS born. This was back many years ago when he was not a congressman, but just the head of NJ Right to Life. He and this other guy were at my mom's house planning Right to Life stuff while she was in labor with me (she kept the labor a secret from them). They ended up still being there at lunch time, so she fed them hot dogs for lunch. They left at 2 PM. I was born at 4 PM. Now THAT is hospitality!

    • Grete

      I love the idea of the virtue of hospitality. We have been trying to work on that in our family, too. We love having friends over to just spend time together. The food doesn't have to be fancy, you're right. We had a family of friends over last night for soup and salad. Simple, yes, good, also yes. And the prep work was all done in the afternoon, so when they came, we just got to visit and eat. And the kids all ran around and play together. Fun for all.
      Your mom sounds like a champion (and she must have been good at laboring quietly, too!)

    • Grete

      There we go…wanted to add my picture so I had to re-post my comment.

    • Kendra

      I'm so glad you did, now I recognize you from Behold!

  4. Micaela Darr

    You Tierneys know how to throw a mean party. Thanks for the hospitality. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. 🙂

  5. Anonymous

    First of all, that baby girl. So, so cute!!! 🙂

    Thanks for the encouragement to be hospitable. I need to just throw wide open the doors and stop apologizing for the mess. Stupid perfectionism.

    BTW, I"m glad you went back to your original "stand" on Sundays in Lent. I went ahead and told my 5/6 year olds at our homeschool retreat that Sundays are "Little Easters" when we got to them on our "Journey through Lent" and handed out an M&M per kid per Sunday. By the time we got to the end of our little Lent, we seemed to have been doing quite a bit of feasting! 😉

    Anne McD (who STILL can't figure out how to get her name and picture to show up in comments. :/)

  6. SBA

    Hi Kendra,

    This party looks like so much fun, and the fact that I caught a couple of snaps of our mutual friends the Schneirs as guests sealed the deal for me. Any event where Hope Schneir's singing bumps the thing to a whole new level in my mind. Getting to know them and folks like Blythe are what brought me and my Protestant family to learn more about – and come to greatly admire – Catholicism and living-it-out-Catholic families like yours (and theirs). And brought me to your blog.

    So… In light of this and of your "introduce yourself' recommendation in your last post, I thought I'd say that and thank you for this blog, one of my top five. Long-time reader, first time commenter. I have my own little blog over at Souls in the Sandbox, and you'll find some links to you and your stuff from time and time. I learn lots from you.


    PS. Love the socks

    • Kendra

      If you know the Schneirs AND the Fikes you don't even need me. They are the best!

      Thanks for introducing yourself and your blog. That link didn't work for me. In case anyone else wants to check it out, hopefully this will work: Souls in the Sandbox

  7. Blythe Fike

    We look forward to this party every year. I adore seeing all these faces just grow and grow and grow. Love you guys.

  8. sonja

    Hooray, I caught up with all your posts! Your St. Patrick's Day celebration looks like it was so much fun. I'm in the Philadelphia area (tons of Irish Catholics here) but originally from Texas (not so Irish) and am fascinated by the Irish dance phenomenon.

  9. Elizabeth@SuperSwellTimes

    It looks like you all had a ton of fun!

    When I was growing up, my parents used to throw the Korean Company Christmas Party at our house. My mother seriously hated it (big clash of cultures, plus a lot of preparation) but she always said that it was important that our Korean friends/colleagues had the opportunity to see how we live/entertain. That's always stuck with me because it reminds me that hospitality is incredibly important…even when you hate doing it.

    • Kendra

      That DOES sound stressful. What a great example. Fortunately, our party is very low stakes!

  10. Nanacamille

    I think this year it was bigger and better than ever. Hospitality was flowing like the green river in Chicago. So many great entertainment participants this year. The kids all playing together outside was too cute for words. All the food was delicious = your home made treats as well as those brought by others. Amazing!!!!

  11. Anonymous

    Gina here (because I'm sure I still haven't figure out how to get my name to show up). 🙂 I super love your simple way of showing how hospitality is a great thing to do. Makes me want to plan a party ASAP. 😉

  12. Susan A

    Yes, anyone who knows the Schneirs and Fikes is pretty much in amazing shape, agreed. I'm thankful.

    Appreciated your comment on my Part II, Kids and Anger post, and thanks for the heads-up about the problems on the original (part I), Kids and Anger post. Got the post part fixed; not sure what the heck happened to the comments box. Trying to get it back, so far to no avail.

    Maybe your "Things I Love About Your Blog" post should have an eighth thing about trying to keep the technology aspects of one's blog functional (perhaps also to include: effectively using html cheat sheets when commenting on YOUR blog)…! Clearly an area of improvement for me.

    But hey, I did just add a photo to my profile at your recommendation, so… Baby steps.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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