Saturday, November 08, 2014

In Every Circumstance

I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance.  In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.  I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.  Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.  Philippians 4:12-14

No servant can serve two masters.  He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.”  Luke 16:13

Prayer for the Canonization of Servant of God Dorothy Day
Merciful God, you called your servant
Dorothy Day to show us the face of
Jesus in the poor and forsaken.
By constant practice
of the works of mercy,
she embraced poverty and witnessed
steadfastly to justice and peace.
Count her among your saints
and lead us all to become friends of
the poor ones of the earth,
and to recognize you in them.
We ask this through your Son
Jesus Christ, bringer of good news
to the poor. Amen

November 8, 1897.  Brooklyn, New York.  It may come to be known as the day a saint was born.   Dorothy Day knew how to live in humble circumstance after living in abundance.  That she is now on the cloud of witnesses can be not denied although the formal process of canonization has yet to be completed. 

Her cause for sainthood was first advanced by the late John Cardinal O’Connor of her home diocese in New York City.  “Why does the Church canonize saints?” Cardinal O’Connor asked.  “In part so that their person, their works and their lives will become that much better known, and that they will encourage others to follow in their footsteps — and so the Church may say, ‘This is sanctity, this is the road to eternal life.’ ”

Dorothy’s person, works, and life epitomized the rejection of the cult of money.  She lived her last 50 plus years in a virtual vow of poverty.  She raised money for the Catholic Worker community and the people in poverty that it served, not for her personal comfort.  She did not want to be “dismissed” by being called a saint.  Instead, she has been called many other things:  an activist, a journalist, a radical, a bohemian, a mother, a convert, a mystic, a prophet, a faithful daughter of the Church.  She turned her back on the riches she might have earned in Hollywood writing movies and screenplays or as an author.  Dorothy Day accomplished what the rich young man in the Gospel could not do.  She gave up everything to serve the poor and follow Jesus.

Two stories of faith in action have struck me this week – or at least two I will relate to Dorothy Day and today’s readings.  First is the news from Broward County, Florida of a 90-year-old man who has been cited twice this week for publicly feeding the poor on the streets and beaches of Fort Lauderdale.  What knuckleheads in this Judeo-Christian culture would outlaw feeding the poor and taking care of the least among us?

Certainly Catholic Workers like Dorothy Day and those who have followed in her footsteps have often found themselves on the inside of a locked cell for their protests of this dirty rotten system, but not for their corporal works of mercy.  Yet Arnold Abbot, in his ninth decade of life, has been told to “Drop that plate!”  Has a serving of rice and beans now become a weapon of mass nutrition?   He says, "I don't do things to purposefully aggravate the situation.  I'm trying to work with the city. Any human has the right to help his fellow man."  Mr. Abbot and his charity have certainly eschewed serving mammon instead opting for serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The other story which bears reading is a column in the New York Times:  Jesus and the Modern Man by James Carroll.  Mr. Carroll tries to scale the intellectual and moral barriers erected that obscure having a closer walk with Jesus – an act familiar more to our Protestant cousins than to many Catholics (the humble readership of Your Daily Tripod excused, of course).  Carroll writes:

[R]etrieval of the centrality of Jesus can restore a long-lost simplicity of faith, which makes Catholic identity — or the faith of any other church — only a means to a larger communion not just with fellow Jesus people, but with humans everywhere. All dogmas, ordinances and accretions of tradition must be measured against the example of the man who, acting wholly as a son of Israel, eschewed power, exuded kindness, pointed to one whom he called Father, and invited those bent over in the shadowy back to come forward to his table.

Come forward to the table and find out that you belong huddled with your neighbor, Jesus, Arnold Abbot, Dorothy Day and the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina among others.

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