Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Prayer for Dorothy Day

Today is the birthday of Dorothy Day, who was born on November 8, 1897.

O Dorothy, I think of you and the beat people and the ones with nothing and the poor in virtue, the very poor, the ones no one can respect. I am not worthy to say I love all of you. Intercede for me, a stuffed shirt in a place of stuffed shirts and a big dumb phone, who has tried to be respectable and has succeeded. What a deception! I know, of course, that you are respected, too, but you have a right to be. You didn’t jump into the most respectable possible situation and then tell everyone about it. I am worried about all this, but I am not beating myself over the head. I just think that, for the love of God, I should say it, and that, for the love of God, you should pray for me.

-Thomas Merton, The Hidden Ground of Love, p. 137
Other posts in this blog that mention Dorothy Day are here.

Some interesting photos of Dorothy and a large search-able collection of her writings are here.

Dorothy Day, photo by Vivian Cherry


  1. Good Old Dorothy Day.

  2. Yeah - Except to those who knew her personally, her story doesn't have the charisma of someone like Therese of Lisieux, yet Therese was her guide.

    I’m not convinced that “saints” are really any more or less than any of the rest of us. They are just fulfilling their roles on earth, with their particular collection of strengths and weaknesses, like the rest of us. We follow what is before us. We become who we are. We help each other.

  3. "Become who you are" I remember that impressing me from the movie of the Mahabharata- but I can't remember who said it to whom.

    I remember Merton's surprise in "T.S.S.M." when someone told him that he thought his purpose was to become a saint.

    When I feel defensive about my lack of ability and compassion with others I often say something like "I am not a saint! I'm sorry I'm not Mother Teresa o.k.?"

  4. Very interesting this Dorothy Day. I have heard that some would like to see her canonized. I don't know too much about her. I know that Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin started the "Catholic Worker Movement." In the building where I take theology classes, they always have free copies of the Catholic Worker. The price is 1 cent. After reading it, you do get the sense that this movement is a bit "socialist"? Then again, so was the early Church.

    I have to accept that in the Body of Christ, there are all kinds of apostolates - all are valid, all are equal. Maybe Dorothy is not Mother Teresa - but if she is in heaven - they are both saints.

    ** Beth - thanks for visiting my photoblog !!!

  5. Nice article on Dorothy from St. Louis Today;

    Martin Luther's comment there on the above link- ah there's the rub! Unfortunately, the Church in the U.S. has allied itself with the powers that be to such an extent that it is often indistinguishable from the military/industrial complex. The Church with the $$$$ - they aren't going to upset their benefactors. Which is why the catholic radio station in my town does show after show after show about abortion and the evils of homosexuality and nothing on the death penalty or the military industrial complex (other than to praise it).

    Get off your soapbox Gunter!

  6. Stay on your soapbox, Gunter! Somebody has to point out the elephant in the living room ...

    Brian, You are a very talented photographer. I learn a lot when I look at good photos ... not just how to take better photos myself, but how to see.

  7. Thank you Beth - I expect a new Canon camera for Christmas (so says my wife) - so the pics should be much clearer. If you want to see the work of a REAL photographer, check out Kathleen Connally. She is awesome...

    In reply to Gunter's previous comments - I agree with the points regarding death penalty, homosexuality, Military complex - but not "abortion." I don't think we can ever speak enough about the evil of this act.

    I wonder of Fr. Louis ever spoke/wrote about it??

  8. My gosh, how does she get photos like that??!! What kind of camera is she using?

    Abortion was not a big issue during Merton's day, I don't remember him saying much about it - other than in one letter affirming that it WAS murder. In his day the big issue was artificial contraception, and he refrained from saying anything at all about it, saying that he was not qualified, theologically, to speak on the topic.

  9. I remember reading him saying something to the effect that he wondered why the mainstream Catholics were so vehement about the abortion issue while so blase about childrens' death from nuclear war.

    I agree with you about abortion Brian. I wish there were more places like Fr. Groeschel's house to provide an alternative for the poor and pregnant. I think Daniel Berrigan was correct in saying the death of the innocent by war and the death of the innocent by abortion are to sides to the same coin.

  10. dang make that "two sides"

  11. Beth, I am currently reading, "By Little and By Little. The Selected Writings of Dorothy Day". I posted a short excerpt not long ago, of something she said about Peter Maurin that just ripped my heart out. I am completely humbled on every page. A magnificent woman of God, and of the people.

  12. I read Dorothy's diary last year, Gabrielle, and was impressed by how totally surrendered she was in her inner life. I'll look for that excerpt about Peter Maurin. I still don't have a good grasp on him. He always seems to be in the background, like one of the "fools for Christ".

  13. This is all so interesting -

    I have to learn more about Dorothy Day. I am a regular volunteer at a soup kitchen, and the best part of my ministry is working with the poor - so - I do have kinship with Dorothy. I will add Dorothy's diary to my Christmas list.

    I just finished reading a good book on Fr. Solanus Casey. I am a big fan of this friar. He loved the poor. We are all called to love and serve Jesus in the poorest of the poor (MATT 25).

    Maybe someday we can all talk together around a table at a Catholic blog convention.

    God bless!

  14. Nice to this blog and the importance of Dorothy Day.
    Our blog is
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    God Bless you all



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