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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Class Warrior

So we were invited to a Super Bowl party last evening, which turned out to be a party of four.  Sister St. Aloysius stayed home with Sister Mary Fiacre, and I bumbled over to be sociable.  We enjoyed the game and then, inevitably, because my neighbor is excruciatingly involved in politics at the local level, the conversation turned to neighborhood activism.  Most of the time, I have no idea what she is talking about.  I function as a sounding board in which her sound goes in and never comes back out. As I result, I have no clue as to how the topic came around to millionaires and billionaires and the quandary they have as to what to do with all that money.  I came to around the time she was saying something like, "You can only buy so many pairs of shoes."

"I don't think it's that difficult," I ventured. "They could randomly pay a year's worth of rent for  some people.  Or they could pay the Cobra payment of $400 per month for a year for a family or two so those people could use what is a lot of money to them for other necessary things.  It wouldn't be hard to find those people. The billionaires only need to walk out the door."

She was greatly taken aback.  Then we ate carrot cake.  Which brings me to today's question from a reader:

I was wondering- do you think, realistically, that Dorothy Day will ever be canonized?

(Thanks again for making a post giving me St. Nicholas as a saint of advocates of children. It has meant a lot to me)

You're welcome.

I'm not holding my breath on Ms. Day.  But never say never.  She is officially a "Servant of God", which means her cause to become a saint is being examined.  There are stumbling blocks.

To begin with, she was no saint.  She lived with a man, off again, on again, for many years, had an out of wedlock child with him and before that, she had two abortions.  She was a radical activist.


She had her daughter baptized as a Catholic and then she gave up her life of sin under the guidance of a local nun (Sister Aloysius!--a different one).  St. Monica must have had her back. So that's good. Sins are forgiven. The prodigal daughter is embraced.

Then there is that radical activist part.  I'm not sure how the words "radical" and "activist" have become so demonized, but they most certainly have been demonized.  The two radical thinkers on which Dorothy based her activities were Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi.

Let's not pretend that these two were not very, very radical.  They were indeed so radical, that few people, if anyone, have been able to keep up with their radical ideas and activities.  It's too hard.

The disciples of Jesus were continually questioning Him, warning Him to dial it back, asking Him if He really meant to say this or that.  And Jesus was continually admonishing them that, yes, not only did He really mean that, He really meant to take it much, much further. (Or do I mean farther?  Both, really.) His "consider the lilies" speech completely sums that up.  So do His last "marching orders" to His disciples.

And St. Francis of Assisi followed those marching orders to the letter.  I think we want people who have radical ideas that are superb to also be active.  Maybe it's just me.

Dorothy Day's inspiration for her radical social ideas about how to help the poor were drawn from the Doctrine of the Catholic Church, specifically Pope Leo XIII's encyclical "Rerum Novarum" (1891).

The problem, as far as I can tell, is that these ideas have become live wire political footballs (too many metaphors?)  Unions, for example, have been steadily vilified.  While I realize that the pendulum may have swung a bit far in the labor rights favor at some point,  I imagine Dorothy would like to remind us what life was like for workers before they had the right to unionize, how many people were murdered while asking for their rights and that there truly is such a thing as social justice.

She might make it yet.  If the Church can determine that she lived a life of heroic virtue and two miracles are attributed to her, she's in.  I find it difficult to imagine that will happen any time soon, in this political climate.  As we sit here today, she would assuredly be accused of "class warfare". People like Dorothy Day are always shouted down.

But so was Jesus.


dre said...

Sister, thank you about discussing Dorothy Day. I also wonder about Bishop Oscar Romero. Is is politics that is keeping his cause for canonization from further consideration?

Monica said...

re: unions - I expect she would be shocked and appalled at the los angeles teachers unions who have not stood up and spoken against those teachers molesting those students FOR YEARS, or objected to their receiving pensions and health care for life because they happened to file their 'quitting' papers before the 'your fired' papers get submitted. Makes you question unions, it does.

abishag said...

I'm a member of a Union and it has helped me and many like me be treated with respect by our Employers (it must be said that my managers have all been fabulous, but Corporate Policy is often quite abusive of employees in my business). That said, some Unions have too much power, or use their power for very selfish ends. It doesn't make them all terrible, just like my former corporate overlords being awful doesn't make all corporations awful. I'm not sure why we make politics such a team sport in the US - it's always Us vs. Them, Good vs. Evil. Like Dorothy Day or St. Augustine (grant me chastity, but not yet) it's such a contiuum of shades of grey.

Unknown said...

Very interesting... and love that (a) you went to a Super Bowl party, I often forget that nuns are people, too! and (b) Doris Day is on the radar.

I'd never really thought about Jesus hanging there with the thieves and not saying, "Oh, I don't deserve this- but you... YOU... you totally do." (I'm envisioning a little Rodney Dangerfield/Caddyshack on that-- "What? Do you get a free bowl of soup with this hat? ... But it looks good on you."

cathmom5 said...

I like Dorothy Day and what she attempted to do for the working poor. Yes, she was a sinner but she had a radical conversion comparable to St. Augustine's. I think her cause is going to have to simmer for a while. Many of the words used for her, like your said, are very negative. And her former life would give fodder to the enemies of the Church. But...someday, if God wills, it will happen. That doesn't mean she may not already be at Christ's feet as we speak.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my question! Interesting perspective- "She might make it yet". I hope so!

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope Dorothy Day is sitting at the heavenly banquet table. After her baptism she was free from the sin and all due punishment. Then she went out and loved as Christ told is to. Love covers a multitude or sins and she loved heroically.

Cady said...

What a great response to the question about Dorothy Day. A good woman to be sure, and it will be interesting to see if she will in fact be canonized in later years.
Thank you Sister, for writing this blog! I find it informative and creative. :)
Peace and good.

The Ubiquitous said...

Wasn't some of what she did done before her baptism?

Sister Mary Martha said...

Yes, all of it happened before her full conversion.

Phil Runkel said...

As archivist for the papers of Dorothy Day, I have seen no evidence that she had more than one abortion.