Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dorothy Day

I have been a devoted reader of Dorothy Day’s books (and books about her) since I discovered them during the process of becoming Catholic, and this new book, The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, collecting and editing the material from her diaries—she began diaring soon after her work with the Catholic Worker began and continued until her death—is an extraordinary repository of her thoughts.

Though I do not agree with her on all of the positions she espoused, especially that of pacifism, she is a great example—saintly even—of the work of the social teaching of the Church in action through the laity on the streets.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction.

“For those who have studied Dorothy Day’s published writings, the voice in these diaries is mostly familiar. In her column, “On Pilgrimage,” she regularly described her travels, her activities, and her reading of the “signs of the times.” And yet certain themes stand out here, such as the intense discipline of her spiritual and sacramental life. She attended daily Mass, which usually meant rising at dawn. She prayed the monastic hours from a breviary, a practice she adopted even before becoming a Benedictine oblate in 1955. She devoted time each day to meditating on scripture, saying the rosary, or other spiritual exercises. None of this is particularly remarkable. And yet the matter-of-fact recital of such habits underscores the fact that her daily life was spent in continuous reference to God. As she writes, “Without the sacraments of the church, I certainly do not think that I could go on.” (p. xvii)