Happy Birthday, Dorothy Day!

“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
Dorothy Day

This, of course, is correct, and precisely why I have to go to confession on Saturday. I have to confess to loving Harry Reid very, very, very little and badly.

Happy Birthday to Servant of God Dorothy Day; Benedictine Oblate, fangirl of St. Therese of Lisieux; an “obedient daughter of the Church” who loved the Mass, had no time for bullshit and managed to commingle Catholic teaching about the Eucharist, the sanctity of life, the dignity of the human person, prayer, worship and social justice without hating anyone else in the process.

We have an awful lot to learn from her — she may well be a true saint for the age. I am reading, very slowly, The Duty of Delight and Day has a great deal to say that is useful, good and timely, and sometimes just so helpfully human:

“Every time I get impatient with him, he does something which arouses my admiration…”

“So often guilty of some faults I should correct in others. Wast of time, idle talk, neglect of others.”

“Our house will hold just so many, we can feed just so many, an dafter that we must say no. It makes us realize how little we can do. It is a constant grief and a humbling of our pride. One woman said to me, “if I knew how sensitive you were, I would not have told you my troubles.” So we cannot show how we suffer with them, either. We make them feel we are adding to the sum total of suffering instead of lightening it.”

“In our group of young ones, they find love in each other, somewhat in the poor, those of them who serve the line, for instance. But only [the poor] they see around them. They give up Confession but receive. They “feel” they are right, so they are right. Meanwhile, they despise the old, who have made such a mess of the world, and with the old — the ancient Church itself. They want to rebuild the Church in the shell of the old…”

And this which — in a way — may speak to all those who are struggling with recent events:

One of the objections to suffering which we do not admit is that it is undignified. It is not a wound heroically received in battle. Hay fever, colds in the head, bilious attacks, poison ivy, such like irritations which are sometimes even worse than a severe illness are to say the least petty and undignified. But in reality it takes heroic virtue to practice patience in little things, things which seem little to others but which afflict one with unrest and misery. Patience with each other and with each other’s bickerings. We can even offer up, however, our own lack of peace, our own worry. Since I offered all the distractions, turmoil and unrest I felt at things going askew a few weeks ago, my petty fretting over this one and that one, I have felt much better and more able to cope with everything.

Attagirl, Dorothy.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Kerani

    Ouch. OUCH.

    The most painful parts of ‘following the Man’ – for me – are those moments when I realize just how utterly I fail to live up to His example. Utterly, completely, and with malice aforethought.

    “Father, forgive them…”

    Christ died for Hitler, Ted Bundy, Pilate, Caiaphas, Judas, and the guards who whipped him at the pillar just as much as he did for MLK, Mother Theresa, John Paul II, and the likes of you and I. If you believe the parable of the lost sheep, (AND if it is true that I am one of ‘good’ sheep) then God would have rejoiced more over the salvation of Hitler, et al, far more than of my own remorse. I find this humbling, to say the least.

  • http://www.bede.org Stefanie

    Love that the U.S. Bishops will be meeting next week to consider furthering her canonization!

  • http://therookieevangelist.wordpress.com Jan

    I have to confess to loving Harry Reid very, very, very little and badly.

    I think people get caught up with what “love” really is. Probably if you saw Harry Reid in a ditch, cold and hungry, you’d feed him and clothe him, yes? That’s love, and that’s all you owe him.

    No doubt you are praying for him, at least in some indirect way – that’s more love than I can muster for the president right now.

  • Manny

    She should be a saint. I hope she gets to be.

  • Ann

    So much to admire and love about Dorothy Day. And yet she had some blind spots, and of the kind that might keep her from sainthood.

    For instance, the article you linked to at the Wall St. Journal (at Attagirl, Dorothy) had this 1945 quote from her:

    “We believe that Social Security legislation, now billed as a great victory for the poor and for the worker, is a great defeat for Christianity. It is an acceptance of the idea of force and compulsion.”

    But she was a great admirer of Castro. And I don’t believe she ever spoke out against Stalin. Might have had something to do with the extreme leftism of her youth, but the Church will undoubtedly take this lack of clarity on such important matters into consideration.

  • Kathleen

    Thanks for this today, as we staten islanders continue to clean up after and come to terms with the damage inflicted by Sandy.

  • Nan

    There’s no Catholic doctrine that requires belief in government redistribution so I think she’s good. In fact, if you look at gov’t services have expanded by use of tax dollars and determined that the Church can’t provide services in conjunction with gov’t, she’s absolutely right. Charity began with Christians and the Government is taking it over and excluding us.

  • http://NA Lorraine

    I just want to say that what you posted, Elizabeth Scalia, has helped me see that what I sometimes watch on tv needs to be brought into the confessional. Today, I went to confession and feel so good on the inside and yet repentant of my sins.

    Dorothy Day has helped me become a better person. I loved reading her books and finding myself in them. She loved the Lord, that to me is what is important. Whether she becomes an official Saint of the Church is irrelevant to me. She is in heaven praising God along with all the people she helped along the way. She was first a foremost in her many adult years, a woman of prayer. I like her quote at the top of this page. That to me reflects a person steeped in God’s love.


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