A Pacifist Anarchist Catholic Saint
- News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
A Pacifist Anarchist Catholic Saint
February 9, 2013 By Justin Whitaker 5 Comments
Watch The Life of Dorothy Day on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics
If you don’t already subscribe to PBS’s Religion and Ethics News Weekly,
I highly recommend that you do. This story alone is worth it.
It focuses on the life of Dorothy Day, a devout Catholic, a socialist,
an anarchist, and, perhaps very soon, a Saint.
Dorothy Day has always loomed large in the back of my mind. Growing up
Catholic, to two very liberal parents (my mother marched with and had
dinner with a member of the Chicago Seven), I was drawn to the idea that
Catholics could also be radicals. My parents faded away from the Church,
sometimes recalling that the most vicious people they had ever
encountered were Catholic nuns in primary schools. And as they faded, so
did I, drawn to science, atheism and existentialism, then humanism, and
The very name of Day’s movement, the Catholic Worker Movement, clearly
echoes her Communist sympathies (or at least shared interests) - noting
that we humans are workers as much as anything and that work deserves
respect and the recognition of the dignity of each and every one of us.
Of course this is distinguished from the way we all are typically
described, as consumers. Here our value is determined by how much we
take, not by what we give.
I’m no orthodox Marxist, but I believe Day was on to something. We need
balance, and these days things seem far from balanced.
At Day’s Catholic Worker soup kitchen I am heartened to see (in the
video) that one of the volunteers interviewed openly admits to not being
a Christian. Yet his ability to work, to give, is still valued. He is
accepted based on that, on his practices rather than his beliefs.
Others, Christian and not, Socialist and not, were drawn to her
”pacifist anarchist movement” through their own conscience as much as to
holding any particular beliefs, and it has been this common conscience,
a shared sense of the rightness of helping those in need, which has kept
the movement alive for 80 years this year.
When I mentioned this on facebook, a friend reminded me of Thomas Merton
and Simone Weil, two fellow radicals and inspirations to all of us from
the 20th century.
Another friend reminded me this morning that in order to be canonized,
Day would need two miracles attributed to her. There are no miracles
attributed to her intercession mentioned in recent articles, although
the Washington Post reported in 2000 that a Sociologist named Robert
Coles, a Day admirer, said his wife prayed to Day and experienced a
healing (actually… see comment below). And in 2011 the Houston branch of
Catholic Worker published a letter from a Professor Richard Fossey of
the University of North Texas, who wrote:
In December 2009, I invoked the assistance of Dorothy Day, asking
her to cure my friend Sarah Maple of a brain tumor that doctors told
Sarah would kill her in two years…
I am writing to tell you that Sarah Maple has had a miraculous
healing of her brain tumor. She had received good MRIs through the
autumn of 2010, but in December she went for her regular visit to the
Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and the doctors told her that her brain tumor
had disappeared. One member of Sarah’s medical team, who is Catholic,
told Sarah that she had never seen anything like this and that she
believed Sarah’s remarkable recovery is a miracle.
I too believe that the disappearance of Sarah’s brain tumor is a
miracle that occurred through the intercession of Dorothy Day, whose
assistance I sought just before I wrote the Zwicks in December 2009.
If there is anything I can do to help move the canonization of
Dorothy Day forward, please let me know. I recall vividly that when I
sought Dorothy Day’s intercession, I felt a deep sense that my call for
assistance was heard.
Verification of these potential miracles is a lengthy process at the
Vatican (here is a report discussing the beatification and canonization
process for Pope John Paul II).
If you would like to pray for Day’s intercession, a website has been set
up to guide you. But keep in mind this is the woman who reportedly said,
“Don’t trivialize me by trying to make me a saint,” and in her own words
about miracles in 1934 wrote:
Our lives are made up of little miracles day by day. That splendid
globe of sun, one street wide, framed at the foot of East Fourteenth
street in early morning mists that greeted me this morning in my way out
to mass was a miracle that lifted up my heart. I was reminded of a
little song of Teresa’s, composed and sung at the age of two.
“I’ll sing a song,” (she warbled)
Of sunshine on a little house.
And the sunshine is a present for the little house.”
Sunshine in the middle of January is indeed a present.
Indeed. February too.
New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
in charge on this island?
Professor: Why, no one.
Skipper: No one?
Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
-- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"