Total Pageviews

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day by Day

Dorothy Day is a fiery Catholic 20th-century social activist who protested war, supported labor strikes and lived voluntarily in poverty as she cared for the needy.   The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted this month to support Dorothy Day's cause for canonization.

New York’s archbishop, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, has embraced her cause with striking zeal the New York Times reports: speaking on the anniversaries of her birth and death, distributing Dorothy Day prayer cards to parishes and even buying roughly 100 copies of her biography to give out last year as Christmas gifts to civic officials including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

“I am convinced she is a saint for our time,” Cardinal Dolan said at the bishops’ meeting. She exemplifies, he said, “what’s best in Catholic life, that ability we have to be ‘both-and’ not ‘either-or.’ ”

Day was born in 1897 to a nonobservant Protestant family, dropped out of the University of Illinois and moved to New York to work as a journalist for leftist publications in the bohemian literary world of downtown Manhattan. She converted to Catholicism in 1927, citing a spiritual awakening that was accelerated by the joy that she felt upon the birth of a daughter, Tamar. She said she chose Catholicism for many reasons — partly because it was the religion of so many of the workers and poor people whose cause she fought for as a socialist writer, and partly because she had lived in Chicago with Catholic roommates whose faith had deeply impressed her.

She spent decades as a passionate lay Catholic, devoting her life to the principles of social justice, including pacifism and service to the poor,  that she felt were at the root of her religion’s teachings.

Though she was traditional in her religious practices and strong in her love for the church, her relationship with the church hierarchy in her lifetime was not always smooth. Not a single Catholic bishop came to her funeral in 1980, according to Robert Ellsberg, the editor of her letters and diaries.

But some bishops now say Day’s life resonates with the struggles that they are most engaged in today: the fight against abortion and their concern about government intrusion in their affairs. In her radical rejection of government — Day believed all states were inherently totalitarian — the bishops see echoes of their fight with the Obama administration over health care.

“As we struggle at this opportune moment to try to show how we are losing our freedoms in the name of individual rights, Dorothy Day is a very good woman to have on our side,” Cardinal Francis E. George, archbishop of Chicago, said recently during a discussion of Day’s sainthood cause at a meeting of bishops.

At St. Joseph House on First Street in Manhattan’s East Village on a recent Thursday, a kitchen full of volunteers rinsed down giant stockpots and bowl-size ladles after finishing the morning’s soup line for the neighborhood poor. Around 25 residents and volunteers live in the graffiti-tagged building, relying on donations for their work. More Catholic workers live two blocks away in Mary House, the refuge where Day lived the final years of her life.

As the volunteers gathered for lunch at St. Joseph House — in a simple dining hall hung with hand-drawn pictures of Day, a portrait of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a crucifix — Carmen Trotta, who has lived in the house for a quarter-century, said that while he believed Day’s message of pacifism and works of mercy should be the focus of discussions about her possible canonization, he was confident that anyone who read her writings would understand her priorities.

“None of us really have any doubt that she was a saint,” he said.
  • Invite your family and friends to Subscribe! to Homeless In America.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page and vote in the polls.
  • List yourself as a blog follower, middle right column.
  • Donate! to the poor homeless deliveries of food, water, clothing, blankets, socks, underwear, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, pocket Bibles, rosaries and prayer cards at
  • Post checks to - Servants of the Father of Mercy, Inc., P.O. Box 42001, Los Angeles, CA 90042. All Donations are Tax Deductible.

No comments: