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Do You Make “Room for Christ”? (1st of 2 reflections)

Do You Make “Room for Christ”? (1st of 2 reflections)

Jobs, the economy, and work were hot topics leading up to recent elections.  These topics deal with real people. for that reason, these are topics that hold great interest for the Catholic Church.

When you talk about the economy, work, and workers, no better Catholic saint comes to mind than Dorothy Day.  She was born November 8, 1897, in New York City. She died November 29, 1980, in that same New York City at the age of 83. She was an American journalist, Roman Catholic reformer, and cofounder of the Catholic Worker newspaper.

She was an important lay leader in the worker activist movement. Day advocated and practiced a Catholic socioeconomic teaching known as distributism.  She saw this as a third option between socialism and capitalism.   Several Popes have referenced Dorothy Day’s engagement in the worker movement. Pope Benedict XVI used her conversion story as an example of how to “journey towards faith … in a secularized environment.” In an address before the United States Congress, Pope Francis included her in a list of four exemplary Americans who “built a better future”.

In 1927, following years of doubt and indecision, she joined the Roman Catholic Church. This act estranged her from her earlier radical associates. The Church has opened the cause for Day’s possible canonization. This has been accepted by the Holy See. For that reason, the Church refers to her with the title of Servant of God.

It seems poignant to reflect on Dorothy Day’s writings. This is especially the case during the coming Season of Christmas. St. Joseph, a craftsman who worked with his hands, is the Patron Saint of Workers. Dorothy Day encountered many people in the city streets. Like them, Mary and Joseph knew what it was like to go without proper housing that Christmas Eve.  Let’s examine some of Day’s thoughts found in Dorothy Day: Selected Writings. (Edited by Robert Ellsberg. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 10545).

It is no use saying that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts.

But now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that (Christ) speaks. He speaks with the eyes of store clerks, factory workers, and children on which he gazes. He speaks with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers, and suburban housewives. It is with the feet of soldiers and tramps that he walks, and with the heart of anyone in need that longs for shelter. And giving shelter or food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving it to Christ.

We can do now what those who knew him in the days of the flesh did. I am sure that the shepherds did not adore and then go away to leave Mary and her Child in the stable. Somehow they found room for them, even though what they had to offer might have been primitive enough. What the friends of Christ did for him in his lifetime – we can do. Peter’s mother-in-law hastened to cook a meal. If anything in the Gospels can be inferred, it surely is that she gave the very best she had. No thought was given of extravagance. Matthew made a feast for him. The future Apostle invited the whole town. The house was in an uproar of enjoyment. The straightlaced Pharisees—the good people—were scandalized.

The people of Samaria – despised and isolated – were overjoyed to give him hospitality. For days he walked and ate and slept among them. Of all the relationships in Christ’s life, (after his Mother) the loveliest was his relationship with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.  He found continual hospitality with them. It is a staggering thought. There were once two sisters and a brother whom Jesus looked on almost as his family. Here he found a second home. Martha got on with her work, bustling around in her house-proud way. Mary simply sat in silence with him. 

Are there examples from Catholic tradition that reflect Dorothy Day’s writing? We will examine that next time.

[Blessings and Peace to you as we journey together in Encountering Christ in Word, Liturgy, Charity, and Community. From a Saint Monica Sojourner]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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