Who is Brother Porter

Who is Bro Porter?  Bro Porter is short for Brother Porter, a nom de plume (pen name, ghost writer); just as Steven King used when he began his writing career. The Truths of God, the Bible, or other church  documents are most important to learn. Bro Porter is the one to open the door to the treasure, in this podcast, the Catechism.

Bro Porter is an office rather than a pronoun. Porter is also called DOORKEEPER from ostiarius, Latin ostium, a door. Porter denoted among the Romans the slave whose duty it was to guard the entrance of the house. In the Roman period all houses of the better class had an ostiarius, or ostiary, whose duties were considered very inferior. When, from the end of the second century the Christian communities began to own houses for holding church services and for purposes of administration, church ostiaries are soon mentioned, at least for the larger cities.

According to these the ostiaries are first instructed in their duties by the archdeacon; after this he brings them before the bishop who takes the keys of the church from the altar and hands them to the candidate for ordination with the words: “Fulfil thine office to show that thou knowest that thou wilt give account to God concerning the things that are locked away under these keys.” Then follows a prayer for the candidate and a prayer for the occasion that the bishop pronounces over him. This ceremony was also at a later date adopted by the Roman Church in its liturgy and has continued with slight changes in the formula until now.

In Latin Western Europe, outside of Rome, in the late Roman era and the one following, the ostiaries were still actually employed as guardians of the church buildings and of their contents.  For Western monachism, the most striking evidence found is the Rule of St. Benedict: “Let all guests that come”, it directs, “be received like Christ Himself, for He will say ‘I was a stranger and ye took Me in.’ And let fitting honour be shown to all, especially such as are of the household of the faith and to wayfarers (peregrinis). When, therefore, a guest is announced, let him be met (occurratur ei) by the superior or the brethren, with all due charity. Let them first pray together, and thus associate with one another in peace . . . At the arrival or departure of all guests, let Christ, Who indeed is received in their persons, be adored in them by bowing the head or even prostrating on the ground . . . Let the abbot pour water on the hands of the guests, and himself as well as the whole community wash their feet . . . Let special care be taken in the reception of  the poor and of wayfarers ( peregrinorum) because in these Christ is more truly welcomed.”

So important was the duty of hospitality that it was always to be considered in the construction of the monastery. “Let the kitchen for the abbot and guests be apart by itself, so that strangers (hospites), who are never wanting in a monastery, may not disturb the brethren by coming at unlooked for hours.” This primitive text has left its stamp upon all the subsequent developments of the monastic rule while the prominence of the guest-house in all monastic buildings attests indirectly how scrupulously this tradition was respected.

The very arrangement of the houses seemed designed primarily for the entertainment of pilgrims and the poor. The lodging of both the abbot and the porter was near the main entrance, apart from the rest of the monks. The monastery gate being always kept shut, the porter lived near “that the guest on his first arriving might find someone to welcome him”. The “Liber Usuum” directs that the porter should open the door saying Deo gratias, and, after a Benedicite as a salutation, should ask the stranger who he is and what he requires. “If he wishes to be admitted, the porter kneels to him and bids him enter and sit down near the porter’s cell while he goes to fetch the abbot.” It was also for Bro Porter to deliver alms and/or food to those waiting outside at the Church door.  It was the abbot’s duty to dine with his guests rather than with his monks. The same traditions obtained in the older Benedictine and Cluniac houses; and at all periods a wonderful example has been set by the monasteries during times of famine, pestilence, etc. The usual period during which hospitality was freely provided was two complete days; and some similar restriction upon the abuse of hospitality seems to have been prescribed by most of the orders,  So I felt it to be a distraction using my real name, so I use Bro (Brother) Porter.

Thank you for allowing me to be the doorkeeper for your visit to the Catechism.


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