My Reading Challenge Pick for… “a Catholic memoir or autobiography”

We are two thirds of our way through the year already! How is your 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge going? I am continuing to share what I am reading for the challenge with you. This pick paired wonderfully with my pick for a biography of a prominent Catholic

Category: “a Catholic’s memoir or autobiography”

My Pick: The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day

I wanted to read two books about Dorothy Day this year, because she was someone about whom I previously knew very little. Toward the beginning of the year I read Jim Forest’s biography of Day, Love is the Measure. You can read my take on that book here. I finally got around to Day’s own words about her life and work. It is really interesting to read a biography and autobiography of someone in close succession. There was much repeated history of her life, but Forest’s account was certainly a more detailed history. Day doesn’t overshare when it comes to places that her story intersects with the stories of others, that are not hers to tell, as she puts it.

Her autobiography focuses on what drew her to the Catholic Church and what drew her to the work of her life; and most of the book is really an account of what that work was like and what relationships animated it and inspired it. One person who greatly influenced Dorothy’s perspective and worked along side of her was Peter Maurin. She spends much of the last third of the book recounting how his philosophies helped form her own and the direction of the The Catholic Worker, the paper she edited.

One thing I quite respect about Day is that she is a figure who can’t be put in a box. She is an enigma. It would be hard for any group — except Catholics — to “claim” her. And then, she is unlike most Catholics I know. She is unlike most people, I would say. She really was someone who lived a radical expression of her faith, and all of her work centered around acts of charity. Since before her conversion, she was drawn to those in poverty; she felt one with them. There is an element of Christ’s gospel message about the “poor in spirit” that Day seemed to be especially endowed with the grace to identify and live out authentically. Continue reading “My Reading Challenge Pick for… “a Catholic memoir or autobiography””

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).

My Reading Challenge Pick for… “A Biography of a Prominent Catholic”

The 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge is underway, and I will be sharing my picks for each category about once a month. It’s time for my first pick…

Category: “A Biography of a Prominent Catholic”

My Pick: Love is the Measure: A Biography of Dorothy Day by Jim Forest (love the cover art on this hardcover edition)

I must admit that I knew very little about Dorothy Day’s life and work before reading this captivating biography. Jim Forest, who knew and worked with her the last couple of decades of her life, does a masterful job of introducing you to a tangible person who cannot be boxed into a tidy category or stereotype. This book, especially the first half describing her early life and conversion, was a real page-turner for me. The chapters are not very long, and one propels you into the next.

Aspects of Dorothy’s life that stood out to me: Continue reading “My Reading Challenge Pick for… “A Biography of a Prominent Catholic””