Constantly Risking Absurdity
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
 
Another Bohemian for St. Therese



It's Dorothy Day Day here at my blog. This is in part for a friend to whom I just gave The Long Loneliness as a belated birthday gift. Apparently--and surprisingly--she is liking the book.

The other day I posted about three bohemian-types who fell in love with St. Therese de Lisieux. Christopher at Against the Grain knows of another one: the Venerable Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker, the first (please correct me if I'm wrong) modern Catholic lay movement.

Stephen at Being! Or Nothingness posted a link to an article written by a friend of his, which recounts the experience of living with the Catholic Worker community in Houston, Texas, the Casa Juan Diego. This is the site of the Casa.

This reminds me of an excellent book about which I will post a lot more in the future: The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage, by Paul Elie. It's a book equal parts literary criticism and biography, and deals with Dorothy Day and also Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, and Thomas Merton.

I think it may have been in that book that I read that whenever someone would call her a saint, Dorothy would retort, "Don't dismiss me that easily." Now, some have interpreted this to mean that she would never want to be canonized. I don't agree, and anyway, I doubt she really cares about it at this point. She would make a hip addition to the liturgical calendar, no? This site has some information on the debate.

The best essay I have ever read about her is "Revolutionary of the Heart," by Geoffrey B. Gneuhs, a priest who spoke at her funeral. He writes:

"Dorothy criticized extreme capitalism and militarism (as has every modern Pope). Does that make her a leftist? She decried the welfare state and massive government for depersonalizing culture. Does that make her a rightist? Dorothy confounds those who live in the small world of politics and ideology.

For the Church, saints are people who are holy and give us a glimpse of God. That is why Joan of Arc was canonized, not for her politics, which apparently were monarchist. Like Joan, Dorothy looked heavenward, lived heavenward, loved heavenward.

In her journal she quoted Emmanuel Cardinal Suhard of Paris: 'To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda or even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery: it means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.' Dorothy Day’s life was a mystery to many, but it also made utter sense."


Santiago



 
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The intimations of a mild-mannered Paraguayan undergraduate, studying Eng. Lit. and philosophy in a small, midwestern Jesuit college.

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