The passages on this page are from the pen and about the heart of Dorothy Day, the great Catholic social activist. The more I read written of and written by this compassionate soul, the more I am convinced that her thoughts and life need to be shared, that they are in fact, inspired. Please visit http://www.catholicworker.org for more of her works. I would also encourage people who have the means to buy and read her books and books about her.
Dorothy Day: Her Experience, Her Wisdom
"Dorothy Day's Pro-Life Memories" is a very insightful article on the life experience of Dorothy Day. She is a wonderful example of redemption and hope through God's infinite mercy and boundless generosity. To link to this article click here.
The Marriage Union
The marriage union has always seemed to me to be an earthly shadow of the Blessed Trinity. As the love of the Father and Son is the Holy Spirit, the union of man and woman produces a child; the family is a little trinity of love. [On Pilgrimage (1948; Eerdmans, 1999) Dorothy Day Library on the Web http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/]
On The Waterfront
As I waited for the traffic light to change on my way to the Seamen's defense Committee headquarters, I was idly saying my rosary, which was handy in my pocket. The recitation was more or less automatic, when suddenly like a bright light, like a joyful thought, the words Our Father pierced my heart. To all those who were about me, to all the passersby, to the longshoremen idling about the corner, black and white, to the striking seamen I was going to see, I was akin, for we were all children of a common Father, all creatures of One Creator, and Catholic or Protestant, Jew or Christian, Communist or non-Communist, were bound together by this tie. We cannot escape the recognition of the fact that we are all brothers. Whether or not a man believes in Jesus Christ, his Incarnation, his life here with us, his Crucifixion and Resurrection; whether or not a man believes in God, the fact remains that we are all children of one Father.
Meditation on this fact makes hatred and strife between brothers the more to be opposed. The work we must do is strive for peace and concordance rather than hatred and strife. [The Catholic Worker, November 1936, Dorothy Day Library on the Web, http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/]
A Family of Eight
A deer gets trapped on a hillside and every effort is brought to bear to rescue him from his predicament. The newspapers carry daily features...Three little pigs are crowded into a too-small cage, the case is brought into court, the judge's findings in the case being that pigs should not be crowded the way subway riders are. And a family of eight children, mother and father, are crowded in three rooms and the consensus of opinion is that they're lucky to have that and why don't they practice birth control anyway. [The Catholic Worker, November 1933, Dorothy Day Library on the Web, http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/] Love
The great need of the human heart is for love, and especially do women's lives seem empty if they are deprived of their own to love. [The Catholic Worker, November 1945, Dorothy Day Library on the Web, http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/]
The Works of Mercy
Indeed, we know that the first commandment is to love, and we show our love, as St. Teresa said, for our God by our love for our fellows. And that is why a great emphasis must be placed on the works of mercy.
It is necessary to do the thing one's self. If people are hungry, how can we eat? If they are cold, how can we go clothed and sheltered? It is easy to see why the saints espoused voluntary poverty. "The coat that hangs in our closet belongs to the poor," one of the early fathers said. [The Catholic Worker, November 1945, Dorothy Day Library on the Web, http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/]
Love of God
We should rejoice that there is work for us today, that we can put forth our hands to strong things.
In these days of sore distress our happiness and our love will be in doing these things, and in doing these things we will find God and find happiness. As St. Augustine says: "It is with no doubtful knowledge, Lord, but with utter certainty that I love you. You have stricken my heart with Your word, and I have loved You. And indeed heaven and earth and all that is in them tell me wherever I look that I should love You. Not the beauty of any bodily thing, nor the order of the seasons; not the brightness of light that rejoices the eye, nor the sweet melodies of all songs, nor the sweet fragrance of flowers and ointment and spices, not manna, nor honey, not the limbs that carnal love embraces. None of these things do I love in loving my God. Yet in a sense I do love light and melody and fragrance and food and embrace when I love God--the light and the voice and the fragrance and the food, and embrace in the soul, when that shines upon my soul which no place can contain, that voice sounds which no tongue can take from me, I breathe that fragrance which no wind scatters. I eat the food which is not lessened by eating, and I lie in that embrace which satiety never comes to sunder. That is that I love, when I love my God." [The Catholic Worker, November 1945, Dorothy Day Library on the Web, http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/]
A Stir of Life Within
Advent is a time of waiting, of expectation, of silence. Waiting for our Lord to be born. A pregnant woman is so happy, so content. She lives in such a garment of silence, and it is as though she were listening to hear the stir of life within her. One always hears that stirring compared to the rustling of a bird in the hand. But the intentness with which one awaits such stirring is like nothing so much as a blanket of silence. [The Catholic Worker, December 1948, Dorothy Day Library on the Web, http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/]
The Happiest Hour
Be still. Did I hear something?
Be still and see that I am God
In silence we hear so much that is beautiful. The other day I saw a young mother who said, "The happiest hour of the day is that early morning hour when I lie and listen to the baby practicing sounds and words. She has such a gentle little voice."
St. James says, "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man." And how much more women need this gift of silence. It is something to be prayed for. Our Lady certainly had it. How little of her there is in the Gospel, and yet all generations have called her blessed
To love with understanding and without understanding. To love blindly, and to folly. To see only what is lovable. To think only on these things. To see the best in everyone around, their virtues rather than their faults. To see Christ in them. [The Catholic Worker, December 1948, Dorothy Day Library on the Web, http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/]
It is hard for a woman to be indifferent about little material things. She is a homemaker, a cook; she likes to do material things. So let her do them for others, always. Woman's job is to love. Enlarge Thou my heart, Lord, that Thou mayest enter in. [The Catholic Worker, December 1948, Dorothy Day Library on the Web, http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/]
Prayer and Fasting
It isn't such great things that our Heavenly Father is asking of us, after all. He is not hard on us. His yoke is easy and his burden light, because He is Love
We don't realize what great healings of body and soul will follow prayer and fasting, and the almsgiving that goes with fasting. It seems such a little thing to ask in the face of the threat of world war, in the face of the destitution we see of mind and body and soul. Yet if we do these things the results will follow. We shall be saved. We shall have our reward and here in this life too, a hundred-fold, pressed down and running over, a full measure. God is not to be outdone in generosity. [The Catholic Worker, April 1955, Dorothy Day Library on the Web, http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/]
Psalms and Eucharist
It is then that I turn most truly for solace, for strength to endure, to the psalms. I may read them without understanding, and mechanically at first, but I do believe they are the Word, and that Scripture on the one hand and the Eucharist, the Word made Flesh, on the other, have in them that strength which no power on earth can withstand. [The Catholic Worker, June 1972, Dorothy Day Library on the Web, http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/]
The Final Word is Love
We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know him in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone any more. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.
We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community. [The Catholic Worker, May 1980, Dorothy Day Library on the Web, http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/]