Monday, November 29, 2010

"Servant of God": Blessed Dorothy Day

Among people whom I would most liked to have met in my life, Dorothy Day certainly stands out among them. I envied my late former spiritual director, Fr. Robert Lechner, C.PP.S., with whom I worked closely for two years, who had met Dorothy. Wikipedia lists her title as: "Servant of God"

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was a journalist, social activist and devout Catholic convert. She advocated the Catholic economic theory of Distributism. She was also considered to be an Christian anarchist. In the 1930s, Day worked closely with fellow activist Peter Maurin to establish the Catholic Worker movement: a nonviolent, pacifist movement which continues to combine direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf. Day's cause for canonization is open in the Catholic Church.

On the jacket of Dorothy Day's book, Loaves and Fishes, Thomas Merton wrote: "Poverty for Dorothy Day is more than a sociological problem, it is also a religious mystery." Merton was quite taken with Dorothy, and considered her an icon of what it means to genuinely take the Christian Gospel seriously and to live it: to be concerned about the poor who, as Jesus said, "are always with us", about the outcast and unloved, and about the homeless; and to unashamedly oppose war and violence. Over the span of almost 10 years Merton sent her 29 letters. He once wrote: "If there were no Catholic Worker and such forms of witness, I would never have joined the Catholic Church."

Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:
Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servant,
Dorothy Day, may persevere in running the race that is set before us,
until at last we may with her attain to your eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Amen.

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