Monday, November 07, 2011

Love Justice

November 7, 2011

Monday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Love justice, you who judge the earth; think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in integrity of heart; Because he is found by those who test him not, and he manifests himself to those who do not disbelieve him. Wisdom 1:1-2

And the Apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." The Lord replied, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you." Luke 17:5-6


Prayer for the Intercession of Servant of God Dorothy Day

God our Creator,
your servant Dorothy Day exemplified the
Catholic faith by her conversion,
life of prayer and voluntary poverty,
works of mercy, and
witness to the justice and peace
of the Gospel.

May her life inspire people
to turn to Christ as their Savior and guide,
to see his face in the world’s poor and
to raise their voices for the justice
of God’s kingdom.

We pray that you grant the favors we ask
through her intercession so that her goodness
and holiness my be more widely recognized
and one day the Church may
proclaim her Saint.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer composed by Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of
The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York


Obedience is something we instill as a core lesson for our children. Yet as we get older, sometimes we push the envelope of obedience away. As we heard over the weekend, the Lord is looking for people who will be honest with him in small matters. He knows that they will be able to handle the added responsibility and pressure of more important issues.

We say that we believe but when we are tested like the Apostles, our faith is small. And God knows that and loves and forgives us despite of the fact. In our first reading, we are reminded that God is the witness of OUR inmost self and the sure observer of OUR heart and the listener to OUR tongue. “For the Spirit of the Lord fills the world, is all-embracing, and knows what [we say].”

There are no short-cuts on the “everlasting way.” We need a guide just as Dante needed a guide to enter in the Inferno. We need a guide just as the eager first-grader needs a teacher when entering school. We need a guide just as Jesus needed Mary as the way into the world.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of this birth of one of our society’s pre-eminent tour guides on the path to righteousness. Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, was born on November 8, 1897. She indeed loved justice and worked to make it happen in this world. She took the Gospel as all-embracing.

If she were alive today, Dorothy would be camped out in McPherson Square with the Occupy Washington protestors or in lower Manhattan with the Occupy Wall Street protestors. Yet, my bet is that she would break away to go to early morning Mass and then in the afternoon, put a loaf of bread in the oven and get dinner ready for the homeless on the streets.

Winston Churchill famously remarked, "If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart, and if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no head." There was no change like that in Dorothy’s social views. Jim Forrest writes, “Her conviction that the social order was unjust changed in no substantial way from her adolescence until her death, though she never identified herself with any political party.” Maybe Dorothy lived only from the heart.

Forrest tells us that what got Dorothy Day into the most trouble in her life was her commitment to the Gospel-based wisdom of nonviolence and pacifism.

A nonviolent way of life, as she saw it, was at the heart of the Gospel. She took as seriously as the early Church the command of Jesus to St. Peter: "Put away your sword, for whoever lives by the sword shall perish by the sword."

For many centuries the Catholic Church had accommodated itself to war. Popes had blessed armies and preached Crusades. In the thirteenth century St. Francis of Assisi had revived the pacifist way, but by the twentieth century, it was unknown for Catholics to take such a position.

On her 75th birthday the Jesuit magazine America devoted a special issue to her, finding in her the individual who best exemplified "the aspiration and action of the American Catholic community during the past forty years." Notre Dame University presented her with its Laetare Medal, thanking her for "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable."

Forrest’s essay concludes with a reminder of what Dorothy thought about all this recognition.

Long before her death November 29, 1980, Day found herself regarded by many as a saint. No words of hers are better known than her brusque response, "Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed so easily." Nonetheless, having herself treasured the memory and witness of many saints, she is a candidate for inclusion in the calendar of saints. The Claretians have launched an effort to have her canonized.


I never knew Dorothy Day. But I know here through the works of Casa Juan Diego in Houston, Texas and the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington, DC. Being able to offer gifts of time, talent and treasure to these two places has enabled the spirit of Dorothy to be my guide to Gospel-based social action.

Use this week to support the Catholic Worker house wherever you live. If you do not find one where you live or work, support those in your community doing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.