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By Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

This reflection, along with other Ignatian prayers, poems, reflections and art, first appeared in our free e-book, “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: Through the Year with Ignatian Spirituality.” Sign up to receive it at

Many words have been written about St. Alphonsus’ famous hospitality and humility. A man who worked as a doorman for most of his life, largely overlooked, must have been as humble as he was holy. Less has been written about the many doors closed to Alphonsus. His thriving family business failed; his wife that he adored, along with their three children, died. Even the door to the Society of Jesus was closed to him. Twice. He was not admitted entrance, deemed unfit, too old, too sickly, too uneducated.

Art by Ignasi Flores

I can’t help but think that repeated exclusion, dashed dreams and inconsolable grief inspired Alphonsus’ own ministry of mercy and hospitality. He knew what it was to be left out in the cold, to be alone, to need someone to talk to. He opened the door, and his heart, to all he met: homesick students, future saints uncertain where to go and lonely winos.

For 46 years he opened the door for all of them. He made space for them. He loved them.

God, inspired by St. Alphonsus, help me see You in all people. Help me remember what it feels like to be left out and overlooked. Remind me that all of me can be used at your service, especially my heartache and grief, to welcome in those who are easily overlooked and readily discarded.

St. Alphonsus, model of mercy and hospitality, pray for us!

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez’s feast day is October 31; read a prayer for his feast day by Cameron Bellm.

Br. Matt Wooters, SJ, lives in Chicago and works for the Midwest Jesuits Vocations Team.