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Saturday, December 01, 2012

Dorothy Day - A Saint for the Modern Woman: A Cause Worth Following

This isn't any ordinary romanticized "soon to be a saint" story.  Indeed, it's far from it. As a writer, Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was ahead of her time.  She created controversy for the purpose of raising awareness about the plight of the poor and the working poor in New York City.  As a working woman, she overcame serious challenges to her choice to become a devout Roman Catholic.

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) should be a transformational heroine for working women throughout the world because of her startling personal story. Her cause can change the way women perceive themselves and how the Roman Catholic church views working women.

I was privileged to attend a seminar at our local St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church in Brunswick Maine, several years ago, presented by advocates for the cause of the advocate for the poor, Dorothy Day. Although I expected to hear her heroic story,  I learned much more about her courage and religious faith, maintained in the face of extraordinary personal and organizational challenges.  

Although Day began her career as an ambitious journalist, her life took a totally unexpected turn following a love affair which resulted in her having an abortion.  During her recovery from the trauma of being jilted by her lover and the loss of her child, she experienced a religious conversion.

Weekend Edition host Scott Simon talks with Father James Martin sj (from America Magazine) about the cause in process for the canonization and eventual sainthood of Dorothy Day, the American born mother of the Catholic Worker Movement.

I found this feedback on Father Martin's facebook page:
Steven Karl Szmutko  By her own admission, Dorothy Day was not a person who was "saintly" throughout her entire life. Her challenges and weaknesses are well known. However, through her faith, she turned away from sin and remained faithful to the Gospel. Her humility and journey to Christ is a wonderful example to those who have not always lived as a disciple. It shows how a person can come to Christ at any time in their lives and be transformed in him. In that, she is more saintly (not that there are degrees of sainthood), more real to those who seek to turn to the Lord. In that, she is a marvelous example of sainthood to those who most need conversion and healing.

What is the Catholic Worker Movement? On May 1, 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression, The Catholic Worker newspaper made its debut with a first issue of twenty-five hundred copies. Dorothy Day and a few others hawked the paper in Union Square for a penny a copy (still the price) to passersby.

The Catholic Worker Movement is grounded in a firm belief in the God-given dignity of every human person.

Today 213 Catholic Worker communities remain committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken. Catholic Workers continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms.

Day's life was marked by controversy. The Catholic Worker lost many subscribers when it took a pacifist stance in World War II. Subscribers also decreased when Day visited Cuba and praised Castro's "social reforms" in the 1962-1963 issues of the Catholic Worker. Day seemed unaffected by Pope John XXIII's excommunication of Castro on January 3, 1962. She also ignored the request of New York Chancery officials, representing Cardinal Spellman, that she stop using "Catholic" in the title of her paper.

As a writer, I will do what little I can to support the cause for the canonization of Dorothy Day.  As a woman, I applaud her exemplary courage and religious faith.

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