Ol’ Dot’s canonization is still active, and we have never needed a saint like her more: a woman at once deeply Catholic, deeply counter-cultural, and deeply American in the very best sense of the word. And she was a tough broad who didn’t hold with the celebrity stuff, as every real saint always does.
She was fierce advocate for the least of these who didn’t fall for the Judas Iscariot line about stripping the Churches of beauty and giving the few measly bucks to the poor because she understood that meant taking beauty away from every beggar who could walk into St. Patrick’s Cathedral for free and putting it in a rich man’s private collection or a museum where only the wealthy could see it.
She refused to indulge the schism between those who thought piety the core of the faith and those who thought our duty to the least of these the core of the Faith. It never occurred to her to pit going to Mass against working in a soup kitchen, or saying the Rosary against fighting for migrant workers. If she were alive today, she would be at the border with imprisoned families, washing their feet, saying the Rosary, and celebrating Mass right alongside them.
She understood that the power and the glory and riches of the Church were found where St. Lawrence found them, not in finery, gold, or silver, but in the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame. And she had a ballsy New York piety that knew how to sift pious crap from real devotion. To a friend who was putting on phony airs about her unworthiness for some honor, she wryly remarked, “Don’t be so humble. You’re not that great.”
She is one of my fave Catholics from the 20th century and a witness to the gospel on a dozen fronts to our depraved culture and our worldly American Church. Some people are nervous about canonizing a post-abortive woman. I would particularly like to see her canonized because she is a post-abortive woman. We believe in the forgiveness of sin. That’s putting our money where our mouth is. Those who fear her only demonstrate Chesterton’s remark that, “The Saint is a medicine because he is an antidote. Indeed that is why the saint is often a martyr; he is mistaken for a poison because he is an antidote.”
O God, may the Church recognize the holiness of Dorothy Day, Servant of God and Benedictine Oblate of St. Procopius Abbey, especially in her dedication to the liturgy, her desire for the justice of God’s Kingdom, and her devotion to the poor as persons in whom Christ is welcomed. Amen.