Day’s days: her diary reveals a spitfire saint

I’m working my way through Dorothy Day’s diaries, collected in “The Duty of Delight, and among all the mundane details of daily life —whom she met, what she prayed, when she ate—the woman being touted for sainthood by New York’s Cardinal Archbishop reveals a distaste, even a disdain, for some clergy.

There’s this, for example, from July of 1938:

Speaking of being hypocritical, while I ate this noon I remembered the set up at the Archbishop’s palace, the delicate wines, the delicious food, the abundance of delicacies and exquisite service.  And I wished the princes of the church were living voluntarily down in a place like this where the food is scarce and often bad.  Today for instance for breakfast was coffee so weak that the skim milk, slightly soured, took from it any color it had…Tomorrow, the soup line will get a concoction of turnips and parsnips and lamb fat.  God knows what kind of a concoction that will be, but not very appetizing.  I shall concentrate on the food problem and drag in the lay apostolate on that basis.  It is an insult to St. Joseph, our provider, to serve such meals…

And some weeks later, walking home after visiting a friend in jail:

As I came down the street afterward 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…

It makes for some lively and challenging reading.  Bless her.

Dorothy Day, pray for us —and for all clergy!

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