Archive for the ‘Dorothy Day’ Category

Someday, today will be her feast day.

November 29, 2008

Today is the 28th anniversary of the death of Dorothy Day.  She died November 29, 1980.

I have to admit, she is a hero of mine.  The reason can’t be stated in a quick sound bite, though.  She is a remarkable example of someone who was willing to embrace the whole of what it meant to be a Catholic — the Church’s doctrine, sacramental life and devotions, a profound spiritual life, and an iron-willed committment both to helping those who are poor and changing the aspects of our society that contribute to keeping them poor.

Earlier this year, the journals that she kept for decades were finally published.  The time I spent reading their 800+ pages made me a better Catholic.  I also interviewed their editor, Robert Ellsberg, which formed the basis of a major article that will appear in the January 2009 issue of St. Anthony Messenger

In 2000, Cardinal John O’Connor (another hero of mine, and for similar reasons) took the first official steps toward opening Dorothy’s cause for canonization.  I haven’t seen much said publicly about the cause since then, but I look forward to the day when we’ll be giving her public veneration within the Church.

[Phil Runkel, archivist of the Dorothy Day Papers at the University of Marquette, notes in the comment box that this photo included here should be duly credited: it’s from the Milwaukee Journal, in February of 1968.  Thanks, Mr. Runkel.]


Dorothy’s Diaries

June 1, 2008

Finally got hold of a copy of the diaries of Dorothy Day, recently published. Very worthwhile. Here are a few nuggets from the first 200 or so pages.

“Love is a matter of the will. If you will to love someone (even the most repulsive and wicked), and try to serve him as an expression of that love, then you soon come to feel the love.”

“Thinking gloomily of the sins and shortcomings of others, and it suddenly came to me to remember my own offenses, just as heinous as those of others. If I concern myself with my own sins and lament them, if I remember my own failures and lapses, I will not be resentful of others. This was most cheering and lifted the load of gloom from my mind. It makes one unhappy to judge people and happy to love them.”

“As I came down the street a well dressed priest drove by in a big car. Then I passed another — also well dressed, comfortable….Then still another out in front of a most luxurious mansion, the parish house, playing with a dog on a leash. All of them well fed, well housed, comfortable, caring for the safe people like themselves. And where are the priests for the poor, the down and out, the sick in city hospitals, in jails. It is the little of God’s children who do not get cared for. God help them and God help the priest who is caught in the bourgeois system and cannot get out.”

“Love in practice is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”

“A sad world. We are surrounded by sadness. One must will to rejoice.”

“Oh, the cleavage between priest and people, the comfortable and the destitute!”

“To love our brother because Jesus, Son of God, gave us a picture of that love in the story of the prodigal son. That is the kind of Father we have. No judgment there. Only the madness of love, deep, profound, as profligate in its way as the son’s tawdry loves had been profligate.”

“O God, give me the grace ever to alleviate the crosses of those around me, never to add to them.”

“I will tell you personally over and over, O God, I love you, I adore you, I worship you. Make me mean it in my life. Make me show it in my choices. Make me show it from my waking thought to my sleeping.”

“I speak and write so much better than I perform. But we can never lower the ideal because we fail in living up to it.”

“God wishes us to feel His Immanence. He is near as teh breath we draw. We have Him present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, and if our faith were as a grain of mustard seed, we would be prostrate as we entered His presence. We take His Presence so much for granted!”


Insights into Dorothy

May 14, 2008

I had a fascinating telephone interview the other night with Robert Ellsberg, the editor of the newly published diaires of Dorothy Day (and who knew and worked closely with Day for the last five years of her life, too).  I’m preparing an article for St. Anthony Messenger on the diaries, which were sealed for 25 years after her death and just published last month by Marquette University Press.

My conversation with Mr. Ellsberg lasted for an hour. He had tons of fascinating things to say about Day and her diaries. Insights into her spiritual life, her experience of family life, some interesting stories about her that were unknown until now, with the publication of these diaries. It was quite a thrill.

Top of the Wish List

April 6, 2008

Here’s a new book that automatically jumps to the top of my wish list. Ordinarily, I’d wait for a new hardback I wanted to come out in paperback (especially one that costs 42 bucks!), but no chance for this one. It’s the diaries of Dorothy Day, sealed from publication since her death in 1980 until now. Dorothy rocks.