Wonder & Whimsy: Dorothy Day

This week I have been powering through Dorothy Day’s autobiography, The Long Loneliness, and there are so many good passages in it…so this week’s curation of quotes is all her.

Her response in encountering Francis Thompson’s famous poem…

“The idea of this pursuit by the Hound of Heaven fascinated me. The recurrence of it, the inevitableness of the outcome made me feel that sooner or later I would have to pause in the mad rush of living and remember my first beginning and my last end” (p.84).

On loving God…

“‘Thou wouldst not seek Him if thou hadst not already found Him,’ Pascal says, and it is true too that you love God if you want to love Him. One of the disconcerting facts about the spiritual life is that God takes you at your word. Sooner or later one is given a chance to prove his love” (p. 139).

On worship being communal…

“I had heard many say that they wanted to worship God in their own way and did not need a Church in which to praise Him, nor a body of people with whom to associate themselves. But I did not agree to this. My very experience as a radical, my whole make-up, led me to want to associate myself with others, with the masses, in loving and praising God” (p. 139).

Referencing her friend Peter Maurin on works of charity…

“But the fact remained, he always reminded me, no matter what people’s preferences, that we are our brother’s keeper, and that the unit of society is the family; that we must have a sense of personal responsibility to take care of our own, and our neighbor, at a personal sacrifice” (p. 179).

On fighting class conflict…

“And the weapons of journalism! My whole life had been in journalism and I saw the world in terms of class conflict. I did not look upon class war as something to be stirred up, as the Marxist did. I did not want to increase what was already there but to mitigate it” (p. 181).

On the importance of ritual…

“Ritual, how could we do without it! Though it may seem to be gibberish and irreverence, thought the Mass is offered up in such haste that the sacred sentence, “hoc est corpus meus” was abbreviated into “hocus-pocus” by the bitter protestor and has come down into our language meaning trickery, nevertheless there is a sureness and a conviction there. And just as a husband may embrace his wife casually as he leaves for work in the morning, and kiss her absent-mindedly in his coming and goings, still that kiss on occasion turns to rapture, a burning fire of tenderness and love. And with this to stay her she demands the “ritual” of affection shown. The little altar boy kissing the cruet of water as he hands it to the priest is performing a rite. We have too little ritual in our lives” (p. 199).

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