four years ago
- I have been in some kind of email purgatory and was not able to send
Four years ago the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House was founded, on
the feast of St. Martha, July 29th, 1999. I spent that evening at the
hospital emergency room with Sean and prayed the Rosary while waiting.
We had a lot of ideas and plans, some things worked out, others
didn't, and I'm sure there are more new and unusual things to come.
I've been wanting to write a commemoration all week, but we are trying
to launch our *local food order delivery service, and my mind has been
preoccupied with working on those details. Plus I've been picking
elderberries, peaches, grapes, and sunflowers. And trying to finish
my book, which is an extended reflection on Catholic social teaching,
simple and frugal living, and the need for orthopraxis that reflects
our orthodoxy. I am nearing 50,000 words on the subject, and it seems
to be going well. Maybe I finally decided I knew what I wanted and
needed to say. Whether it can find a publisher is another story, but
I can always self publish it with one of these new instant publishers.
Or even just put it on the internet and give it away.
I think one thing fur sure I've learned is that in our utter and
complete failure and weakness we are nevertheless made strong in the
Lord. We are always behind, we never can do enough, if ten thousand
Catholic Workers showed up tomorrow, there wouldn't be enough to do
all that needs to be done.
Dorothy Day wrote (and I quoted this in my first email announcement of
"What we do here is very little, but it is like the little boy with a
few loaves and fishes. . .
Christ took that little and increased it; He will do the rest. What we
do is so little that we may seem to be constantly failing but, then,
so did He; He met with apparent failure on the Cross. .unless the seed
fall into the earth and die, there is not a harvest. And why must we
see the results of our giving? Our work is to sow; another generation
will be reaping the harvest."
And then I quoted these scriptures:
"Observe what is good, do what is just, for my salvation is about
to come, my justice about to be revealed. Defend the lowly and
the fatherless, render justice to the afflicted and needy. Rescue
the lowly and poor; deliver the oppressed from the hand of the
oppressor; let not justice be repugnant to you. To the fatherless
be as a father; and help their mother as a husband would; thus
will you be like a son to the Most High, and He will be more
tender to you than a mother.
"Avoid not those who weep, but mourn with those who mourn,
neglect not to visit the sick. Do not turn your face away from
any of the poor. If you have great wealth, give alms out of your
abundance; if you have but little, distribute even some of that.
But do not hesitate to give alms, you will be storing up a goodly
treasure for yourself against the day of adversity. Almsgiving
frees one from death, and are a worthy offering in the sight of
the Most High for all who give them.
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is
this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to
keep oneself unstained by the world. The one who has compassion
on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good
deed. I say to you, what you have done to one of these least
ones, you have done to Me."
I also included this "easy essay" by Peter Maurin, who with Dorothy
Day founded the Catholic Worker movement:
What the Catholic Worker Believes
An easy essay by Peter Maurin
1. The Catholic Worker believes
in the gentle personalism
of traditional Catholicism.
2. The Catholic Worker believes
in the personal obligation
of looking after
the needs of our brother.
3. The Catholic Worker believes
in the daily practice
of the Works of Mercy.
4. The Catholic Worker believes
in Houses of Hospitality
for the immediate relief
of those who are in need.
5. The Catholic Worker believes
in the establishment
of Farming Communes
where each one works
according to his ability
and gets according to his need.
6. The Catholic Worker believes
in creating a new society
within the shell of the old
with the philosophy of the new,
which is not a new philosophy
but a very old philosophy,
a philosophy so old
that it looks like new.
And you know something? Four years later, I still want to cry when I
read these words.
It's hot, really hot, usually in the summer I want to quit, hehehe,
but I know that is a foolish thought. There is a certain liberation
in knowing that you can't do everything, because when you know that,
you are free to find something, or somethings, which you can do and do
We are still making this up as we go along, and I am grateful for the
companions who are part of this journey and this community, Marcus
and Teresa Evans, Lou Ann Baty, Art and Marianne Mertens, Kathy Smith,
Becky Hardin and her kids, Phil Evans, Will Chiafino, Sean Kay, the
people at Epiphany and St. Charles parishes who give us food and money
and stuff to give away, and then of course there are friends and
supporters we know from the internet, you know who you are, and so
does God, and the folks who have stopped by for a visit, including the
heroes from Creighton who come each year during their Spring break.
Art btw was just arrested at the governor's office protesting
Oklahoma's increasingly frequent recourse to the death penalty. My
godson Joshua Thomason is in Ireland stirring up "trouble" in the name
of peace and justice. I consider him to be a "missionary" of our
and of course there are the people we help, who are also part of our
community. Steve, a man who lives on the streets in downtown OKC,
worried about radioactive rats. Pauline, an elderly woman living
alone in this neighborhood, the folks at Wesley Village, Southwood,
the Towers, the Bell Air Apartments (senior citizen and disabled
public housing projects), Geneva Williams who just had her foot
amputated, the people of Walnut Grove that we have walked with since
that very first year. There is Theresa, a single mom with a bunch of
kids, last anyone heard of her she and the kids were walking down a
street with a suitcase after being evicted. There's another Steve,
living with AIDS and a chip on his shoulder so big it bumps into
everyone he meets, the day after we started this Catholic Worker
house, he knocked on the door and asked for a meal. he's another one
we haven't heard from in a long time. So long I wonder what has
happened to him. Probably I will never know. There are a lot of
those kind of loose ends in Catholic Workerism. Things don't get
wrapped up neatly and concluded. they just go on and on and on,
sometimes they get a bit worse, sometimes they get a lot worse, and
sometimes things get a little better.
Well, we are still here, doing what we can, with what we have, where
we are. We are grateful to all for their prayers, for the many
donations of time, money, groceries, and "stuff" that make it possible
for us to do what we do. There is a lot more to be done, and it isn't
always clear what is next, but somehow we manage to muddle through,
and I expect by the grace of God we will continue to do the same. All
I can say about all this is, ad majorem Dei gloriam!
On the feast of St. Ignatius, 2003,
Oscar Romero Catholic Worker Community
1524 NW 21st
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
405 557 0436
405 613 4688
I am pretty new here but I have been lurking for a while and thought I should introduce myself. My name is Layne Adams and I have been a fan of Dorothy Day for several years. In fact, I was pretty seriously opposed to Christianity before my husband told me about her and I read The Long Loneliness. Then I saw that a faith could embody the convictions God had given me from a young age and converted to the Church. I was twenty at the time. Soon after that I heard a report about the abuses of the Ogoni people by Shell oil and decided to stop driving. It was hard but after weaning myself off over several years I have spent three years carfree and discovered the joy of moving meditation and prayer through that experience. These few things really define me as a person I guess. I am from Ft Worth and I think that I am called to start a CW house there but will know it's true and not just pride when I am in a position to start trying which may be a while because after I was diagnosed
with a chronic liver disease my husband enlisted in the army for the health insurance. So a few years later here we are, him in Baghdad, me in Germany, both praying that he not kill or injure anyone while there. It is really hard and I feel a lot of guilt over what he felt he had to do to take care of me but at this point it his his call whether to stay in or get out and all I can do is pray to find a way.
I have been reluctant to post here because of the military thing but I am a lifelong pacifist and feel that I can help share peace even on an army post so I try to volunteer for things that allow me to do that (religious ed teacher, children's storytime, etc.).
So that's me and I just wanted to say thank you for allowing me to learn from you by lurking and reading and please pray with me that my husband not harm anyone while he is where he is.
The faith not only consists of believing with the head but of giving oneself with the heart and the life.
~Monsenor Oscar Romero
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