Sunday, November 08, 2009

Remembering Dorothy Day

Today is the 112th anniversary of the birth of Dorothy Day (1897-1980), co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement.

Following is a compilation of some of her words of wisdom and inspiration that I first put together for the montage (at right) that I made in 1997 to take with me to that year’s annual protest of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.


• Silence means consent, and we cannot consent to the militarization of our country without protest.

• Our love of God is a consuming fire. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. It is a living God and a living faith that we are trying to express. We are called to be holy, that is, whole human beings.

• Nationalism has been superseded by the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ. It is the mystery of Christ in us. Because Christ lives in you and me, we are one.

• There is no nationality. The only foreigner is the one who does have Jesus Christ within. But in all human creation, there is no one that does not have Christ within. If only men and women could recognize this, there could never be war.

• That the Mystical Body [of Christ] includes only the Roman Catholic Church is heresy. The Mystical Body is the inseparable oneness of the human race.

• I believe in a personal God. I believe in Jesus Christ, truly God and truly human. And intimate; oh, how closely intimate we may desire to be. I believe we must render most reverent homage to the God who created us, and stilled the sea and told the winds to be calm, and multiplied the loaves and fishes. God is transcendent and immanent. God is closer than the air we breathe and just as vital to us.

• To see Christ in others, especially those in authority, is difficult. To see Christ and only Christ when one is following one’s conscience in what looks like defiance and disobedience is also difficult.

• True love is delicate and kind, full of gentle perception and understanding, full of beauty and grace, full of joy unutterable. Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, what God has prepared for those who love.

• The only answer in this life, to the loneliness we are all bound to feel, is community. The living together, working together, sharing together, loving God and loving our brother, and living close to him in community so we can show our love for Him.


In related news, my friend Polly sent me the following announcement from the Des Moines Catholic Worker newspaper.

Friends of Dorothy Anthology

Brendan Fay and Michael Harank are soliciting essays, letters, stories, and photographs of LGBT women and men from around whose lives and hearts have been transformed and influenced by Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker. This collection will be a unique and insightful remembering of Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and the Catholic Worker movement through the eyes of LGBT people. Up to now this has been an untold or incomplete story.

Submissions will be accepted from LGBT people who knew Dorothy in person, through her writings, or her legacy of spirit, or simply by heartfelt affection or association with Catholic Worker communities.

The essays will be a gathering of stories at that “crossroads” of encounter between personal/spiritual radicalism and LGBT humanity. This proposed book seeks to break through the historical silence in honest and heartfelt ways that soulfully reveal, some perhaps for the first time, lives of pain and joy, struggle, compassion, laughter, despair and hope.

The book intends to go beyond the idealized portraits of Catholic Worker communities and to include an inclusive range of experiences, comfort and pain, transformation and healing, rejection and hope.

Please contact Brendan Fay ( or Michael Harank (

Recommended Off-site Links:
The Dorothy Day Library
The Catholic Worker Home Page
Diaries Shed Light on Unlikely Would-Be US Saint - Daniel Burke (USA Today, May 30, 2008).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Rita Larivee on Being “Authorized by Baptism”
Remembering the “Radical Ethic” of the Catholic Worker Movement

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