The radical and orthodox faith of Dorothy Day

Terrence Wright’s recent book demonstrates that Day was a radical in her political and social views because she was first a truly radical Catholic in her appropriation of the deepest currents in the Church’s ancient Tradition.

Dorothy Day (Image: Ignatius Press)

As someone who is involved in the Catholic Worker movement, I am always on the lookout for new texts on the life and work of Dorothy Day, even though a certain redundancy has begun to creep into the secondary literature that has gotten more than a bit tiresome.

There are already, of course, many fine books on Dorothy Day stretching back several decades now, most of which are quite good as expositions of her life and thought. Therefore, at first glance one wonders why yet another text on Dorothy Day is necessary. After all, we know pretty much all there is out there to know about her biography, which is by now well documented with source materials from the people who knew her best, as well as her own autobiographical books and her personal diaries.

Likewise, the same is true with regard to her political and social views, as well as the basic religious motivations she brought to bear on those realities. The only remaining project (one which my wife and brother in law are involved in) is the transcribing of the hundreds of surviving letters she wrote to her many friends and interlocutors. But short of some startling new revelation in that correspondence there really isn’t much more that can be “added” to what has already been written that will actually deepen our understanding of her life, work, and thought.

Nevertheless, I have long thought that there are two major voids in the literature on Dorothy Day—voids that need no new information in order to be filled, but which do require a different emphasis and perspective. Fortunately, the recent book by Terrence Wright fills in those voids admirably.

The first void has to do with Day’s Catholic faith. While it is true that all of the texts on her life make mention of her conversion to Catholicism and the important role played by her faith in the development of her movement (how could they not?), they rarely place her deep obedience to the teaching magisterium of the Church front and center. They might mention that her Catholicism was of an orthodox and “conservative” type but do so without “connecting the dots” between that fact and everything else she wrote and accomplished. In other words, there is a lack of insight into the synthetic nature of the deep orthodoxy of her faith and her work for the poor.

Therefore, there is precious little development in the direction of using her radical obedience to the magisterium as the hermeneutical key for understanding her radical commitment to the grace-filled “regime”of charity and justice. However, Wright corrects this oversight and foregrounds her deep obedience to the Church, as well as the profoundly orthodox nature of her theology. He notes that both “progressive” and “conservative” Catholics think Day was a “dissenting” Catholic, the former citing this with approval, the latter with dismissive disdain. But, as Wright demonstrates clearly in every chapter of his book, they are both wrong. Her orthodox Catholicism was not an ornamentation or a superficial piety, but the very “food” of her soul. Wright concludes, therefore, that if one ignores the central role played by her deep orthodoxy, one simply does not understand Dorothy Day on even the most rudimentary level. Full stop. If you don’t get this right about her, then you get nothing right about her.

This is also an unbelievably important point with regard to the ongoing Catholicity of the movement she founded. Wright notes in the last paragraph of the text that there are many Catholic Worker houses and farms still in existence. But he also notes that, sadly, many of them really no longer identify as Catholic in any meaningful way. They continue to invoke the legacy of Dorothy, but in a very theologically attenuated form. Her work for “social justice” is viewed as something separate from her unfortunate Catholicism, which is precisely why I eschew the use of the term “social justice” as a descriptor for her life and work, since it is now a term that has been co-opted by secularized Leftists and used as code for an antinomian individualism, especially in matters of human sexuality.

As a Catholic Worker I encounter other Catholic Workers from time to time and inevitably the topic of Day’s Catholicism comes up in conversation. And more often than not, the morally and theologically conservative nature of her Catholicism is dismissed as merely the result of her inculturation into the form of Catholicism that was dominant at that time. “But,” so the narrative continues, “if she were alive today she would be more liberal and progressive in her theology.” Thus does her Catholicism get mentioned but only to the extent that it can be quickly domesticated through careful transposition into the safe bromides of modern Leftist piety. But Dorothy Day is in good company on that score since they make the same domesticating move with regard to Christ himself.

Viewed through the lens of this context, therefore, one can see that the great merit of Wright’s text is that he shows that he understands this sad state of affairs and is writing this book, not just to “correct the record” in a disinterested historical sense, but to recover Day’s orthodox Catholicism for the sake of helping to save the movement she founded. And, as a Catholic Worker, I am deeply grateful for his efforts in this regard since the movement is indeed at a crossroads, with a deep divide between Catholic Workers who share Day’s theological orthodoxy and those who don’t. It should also be pointed out that Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin both presciently foresaw and advocated for a theological orthodoxy that was much more ancient and far more faithful to the Tradition than was the neo-scholastic manualist theology of their time. They thus anticipated much of the theological, pastoral, and liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. And whatever one thinks of the mixed legacy of some of those reforms (e.g. I think the liturgical reforms were an abomination) the fact still stands that the orthodoxy that Dorothy stood for, was not a stuffy and stale theology of dry syllogisms, stifling dogmatism, and bloodless abstractions, but an orthodoxy rooted in the profound ressourcement intellectual revival of people including Henri de Lubac, Romano Guardini, Etienne Gilson, Jacques Maritain, Virgil Michele, George Bernanos, Charles Péguy, and Maurice Blondel.

All of which underscores the fact that the divide in the modern Catholic Worker movement is not between progressives on the one hand and arch traditionalist scholastics on the other. Dorothy Day was a radical in her political and social views because she was first a truly radical Catholic in her appropriation of the deepest currents in the Church’s ancient Tradition. Day’s obedience to the magisterium, in other words, was so deep, that it allowed her to critique that very same magisterium when it failed to live up to its own teachings. Much as the ressourcement thinkers did in their day, for which they too paid a price and were labeled “heretics” only to be vindicated by that very same magisterium during and after the Council.

Therefore, given this broader debate and context, it must be pointed out that Wright’s text is one of the most important and timely texts on Dorothy Day to come out in a long time. What Wright gets correct is that Dorothy’s orthodoxy gave her more freedom, not less, which was the catalyst for her creative fidelity to the Church that impelled her to “push the envelope”. For example, while remaining totally faithful to the traditional distinction between “counsels and commandments”, she nevertheless pushed for a de-clericalizing of the counsels and a greater emphasis on the universal call to holiness (the perfection of the way of the counsels). Likewise, she totally submitted to the authority of the Church with regard to “just war theory”, but pushed for a deeper awareness of the horrors of modern war in order to call into doubt whether any modern war could be just. Her views on such matters, as Wright notes, cost her dearly during World War II, but it was precisely her obedience to the truth of Christ as enshrined in the Sermon on the Mount, that drove her opposition to war. Wright notes as well that her views on conscientious objection made their way into Gaudium et Spes, showing the extent to which her steady commitment to a set of theological principles were determinative.

The second void in the literature on Dorothy Day that Wright’s text fills has to do with style more than theological substance. Simply put, the text is wonderfully written in a style of prose that should be easily accessible to any moderately educated person. As such, it would make a wonderful introductory text for any adult education course on the parish level, but also a great text for an introduction to theology course on high school or collegiate level, and certainly as a text in any course dealing specifically with the Catholic Worker movement. I have taught such a course and used the text by Mark and Louise Zwick on the Catholic Worker Movement. They too take her theological orthodoxy seriously. But that text is often redundant, overly verbose, and has audience confusion insofar as it mixes a more popular exposition of Day and Maurin with a more erudite analysis in a deeply philosophical and theological register.

Wright’s text has no such verbosity or audience confusion. It is direct and clear, with all specialized theological jargon immediately explained, but in a manner that does full justice to the theological truths at stake. One can tell, in other words, from both the profundity and the clarity of this text, that Wright is a true educator as well as a scholar.

It isn’t often that I write a review and say that a text is “perfect” for such introductory courses. But this one is and I cannot recommend it more highly to educators on all levels.

Dorothy Day: An Introduction to Her Life and Thought
By Terrence C. Wright
Ignatius Press, 2018
Paperback, 162 pages

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About Larry Chapp 61 Articles
Dr. Larry Chapp is a retired professor of theology. He taught for twenty years at DeSales University near Allentown, Pennsylvania. He now owns and manages, with his wife, the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Farm in Harveys Lake, Pennsylvania. Dr. Chapp received his doctorate from Fordham University in 1994 with a specialization in the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar. He can be visited online at "Gaudium et Spes 22".


  1. Excellent article, like St. Oscar Romero, Day has been hijacked by certain segments in the Church. Both Romero and Day were solid, orthodox (and holy) Catholics. For example, the day St. Oscar was martyred he had spent that morning attending an Opus Dei recollection (Romero has also entrusted the spiritual direction of his priests to Opus Dei and was an advocate for the beatification of St. Josemaria Escriva). He was no liberal. It’s rather telling that Romero fans often leave this fact out.

    Dorothy Day also adhered to traditional Catholic teaching and defended it zealously in her personal life and apostolate. She also found great solace in the traditional Mass, Rosary and other traditional practices. She was no liberal either and I bet she would be scandalized by those who co-opt her into various ecclesial battles. Orthodox Catholics should get to know these great saints better and not let them be appropriated by others.

  2. I admire Day’s commitment to the poor. I abhor communism in any form. She was supposedly a “former communist” but as late as the 1960’s she was still praising Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh. How do I know this? I had a friend who lived in Cuba and met Dorothy Day there. Communism and Catholicism are not compatible but mortal enemies.

  3. Last year my friend Mr. Geoffrey Gneuhs sent a letter to America magazine calling attention to some distortions and misstatements of fact regarding Dorothy Day in an article. America ignored Geoff’s letter. I should point out that Geoff was chaplain to Dorothy Day and the New York Catholic Worker, and he gave the homily at her funeral in December 1980. He serves on the board of the Dorothy Day Guild, and is a founding member of the interfaith Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ). Here is Geoff’s letter as sent to America, and subsequently published on my blog, The Just Third Way:

    Dear Editors:

    May I offer some “clarifying notes,” to use Dean Dettloff’s words, to his lengthy and rather quaint attempt in his article, “The Catholic Case for Communism,” [America magazine, July 23, 2019] to present Dorothy Day, Catholicism, and communism as compatible.

    First, he never defines communism, big “C” or little “c” communism, other than with the slogans, e.g., “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” (Karl Marx, The Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875), which sounds like some of the current political cant.

    Thomas Aquinas taught, “seldom affirm, never deny, but always distinguish.” Distinguishing and nuancing are grossly lacking in his article. Dettloff quotes, “Communists are attracted to communism by their goodness,” a rather elliptical and not very nuanced statement. He is quick to dismiss “bourgeois capitalists,” ignoring the fact that most religious orders (I was a member of one, the Dominicans), including the Jesuits, and other groups, the New York Catholic Worker, for instance, have been and are supported by kind and generous “bourgeois capitalists”!

    Second he states, “that goodness drives so many communists then and now.” NOW? Really, like Nicolas Maduro and Venezuela, Communist China, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Kim in North Korea. In the twentieth century millions experienced communist “goodness” under Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, among others. Strangely he refers to “colonial capitalism” in America; yet capitalism is a nineteenth-century term and system.

    Third, he tries to address the issue of private property and the communist insistence on the abolition of private property. And here he totally misunderstands and distorts Dorothy Day. As Dorothy used to quote, “property is proper to man.” In her memoir, The Long Loneliness (1952), she also explained that what she and her mentor Peter Maurin advocated was in line with Thomas Jefferson: “That government governs best that governs least.” She was influenced by the Southern Agrarians, like Allen Tate, Robert, Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks, and later Wendell Berry.

    The only way Marx, Engels, and the other communists could get their theories tried was by the power of the State. Yet Dorothy derided “Holy Mother the State.” She pointed out that it destroyed true liberty, personal responsibility, and community. (Louis Budenz, editor of the Daily Worker, and Bella Dodd, major Communist leaders in the last century in America, came to this same realization. They rejected the Communist Party and its materialist view, and they returned to their spiritual roots in the Catholic Church. This is something ignored by the author in his very limited and selective “historical” analysis.

    Writing in the February 1945 issue of the Catholic Worker newspaper in a front page article Dorothy wrote,

    “We believe that social security legislation now hailed as a great victory for the poor and the worker is a great defeat for Christianity. It is the acceptance of the idea of force and compulsion [communism, the State] . . . The state [under Franklin Roosevelt] entered in to settle problems by dole and work relief.”

    She deplored the “inefficiency and waste of bureaucracies.” Like Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, and others she was against the centralized, powerful Servile State.

    She knew that Christ never told Caesar to care for the poor. She quoted St. Hilary of Poitiers: “The less we ask of Caesar, the less we will have to render to Caesar.” She said: “I did not look upon class war as something to be stirred up, as the Marxists did . . . when we went to strike, we went to perform the works of mercy.”

    Hannah Arendt in her Crises of the Republic (1972) pithily focused today’s situation, which Mr. Detlloff never succinctly or even clearly states: “Our problem today is not how to expropriate the expropriators, but rather how to arrange matters so that the masses, dispossessed in industrialist society in the capitalist and socialist systems, can regain property . . . the alternative between capitalism and socialism is false, because neither really exists in its pure state anyhow, but because we have here twins each wearing a different hat.”

    Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in their respective encyclicals, Laborem Exercens and Caritas in Veritate, addressed these issues from a Christian perspective, as did Dorothy, and not from an ideological, communist, materialist point of view. Christ had no political or economic ideology. The communist ideology, so-called scientific materialism, is ontologically opposed to the Christ-centered understanding of the human person and creation, an orientation found in John Paul II’s Thomist personalism.

    Neither Mr. Dettloff nor the communists offer a solution to the dilemma posed by Arendt, other than State-enforced bureaucratic policies that destroy liberty and personal creativity. I would, however, suggest that there is a Just Third Way, a doable, practical tool to help create a personalist social order. The interfaith Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ) in Arlington, Virginia, of which I am a founding member, promotes what are called Capital Homesteading Accounts (CHAs) that would be for every child, woman, and man in America, and that could be adapted — and adopted — by every country in the world.

    Co-founded in 1984 by Dr. Norman Kurland (who was instrumental in the passage through Congress of the initial enabling legislation for Employee Stock Ownership Plans in 1973), CESJ recognizes the sovereignty, freedom, and dignity of the human person, the right to private property, and the free market. It is a strong critic of “rigid capitalism” to use Pope John Paul II’s term.

    CHAs are inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s Homestead Act in 1862 that offered land to those who would work it with eventual ownership, but extends the concept to all other forms of capital.

    For Dorothy, Christ was the beginning and the end — not ideology, politics, or materialism.


    Geoffrey Gneuhs

    • Mr. Geoffrey Gneuhs, do your Capital Homesteading Accounts, as meritorious, innovative, beneficial and person-respecting as they may be, somehow provide the “holy anointing” to make Dorothy Day a True CATHOLIC Saint? No, they do not. Great as they may be, they do not lead people directly to JESUS Absolute Primacy in their lives, the absolute goal of all REAL, AUTHENTIC Sainthood. Does Dorothy Day’s ACTUAL life facts make for that “holy anointing” to make her a TRUE Saint, and to say as you say at the end: “For Dorothy, Christ was the beginning and the end — not ideology, politics, or materialism”? No, they do not. Not at all. She wavered plenty and her wavering was not ever done for and crucified with Christ, as it should have been to be a Saint.

      Instead, she could be considered a kindred spirit and direct precursor of Pope Francis’ Weaponized Ambiguity, not any REAL Sainthood. I invite you and everyone here to read the article: “Is Dorothy Day Suitable for Canonization?” by Father Brandon O’Brien in the He makes a very fair, balanced, mature and level-headed assessment of Day’s merits and demerits and here are some of his conclusions: “However, what I would argue is that Day is neither the “ideal American sainthood candidate in the Francis era” nor the ideal American candidate for sainthood in any other era. This is because decades before her protest of the Vietnam War, Day was arguing that all sides in the Second World War were equally culpable for its outbreak” [thus making Nazi Germany totally innocent by personal POLITICAL fiat].

      “Dorothy Day’s cause is different. In light of Day’s positions concerning some of the most horrific and deadly events of the twentieth century, she is anything but an “attractive possibility” for sainthood. In her lifetime, Day publically advocated various Communist regimes linked to the Soviet Union. Western intellectuals who supported these regimes knew that they consisted of anti-Catholic, atheist governments whose public policy was the firing squad.”

      “At best, these positions must be addressed and explained by anyone who is willing to advance her cause for canonization. At worst, her two-faced pacifism (Catholics must be docile while socialists and the poor can be violent) and her relativist position concerning culpability for the Second World War completely disqualify her candidacy. Even Auden, one of her most staunch and ardent advocates, saw this as the one blemish on an otherwise exemplary life of public service. Unfortunately it is a severe blemish and one that can’t be glossed over by Mr. Allen or anyone else.”

      Making Dorothy Day a “saint” would be illegitimate and a direct insult to all legitimate Saints and the God who made them so, cheapening and lowering the bar to make the mediocrity of willful partial surrender to Jesus as “holy” (The Forced Hybrid of Good and Evil As One), and which is the direct antithesis of True Catholicism and the very core of heartless Socialism and Communism.

      • Catholics are bound with Matthew 25th.

        Mrs. Day, on the other hand, preferred rulers of this world like Fidel Castro – wealthy farmer who seized whole island and cast ancient-like slavery upon people.

        This directly contradicts individual parts of Matthew 25th and/or assumptions upon which are these parts built.

  4. Andrew ,
    Thank you so much for your comments. I didn’t know that about St. Oscar Romero.
    That’s very interesting & you make a good point.
    God bless!

  5. I am no authority on Dorthy Day, but any number of sites and articles mention her pacifism. So, I don’t understand the comment that she totally submitted herself to the Church’s Just War Theory.

    • Wright states in his book:”Dorothy Day’s pacifism was perhaps her most controversial position.” And then he has a detailed chapter on that very topic, titled “Peacemaker”. It’s worth reading.

    • She accepted the legitimacy of Just War theory on the grounds that charity sometimes demands that police action might need to be used to protect the weak from the strong. That said, with regard to wars in the modern world, she believed that the weaponry is now so destructive, and our various systems of government so corrupted by greed and power, that there can be no just wars by the criteria of the Just War theory itself.

      Furthermore, she never said that her pacifist views should be adopted by the Church as a norm to be imposed on all by the Church. She was arguing instead, as she always did, from the perspective of personal action. In this context, what she is advocating is widespread conscientious objection by individuals seeking to follow a path of radical peace making. And the Church does indeed allow for conscientious objection in this regard. This is why I mentioned Gaudium et Spes in my review, which endorses the idea. So she is not a “dissenter” from Church teaching even in this matter.

  6. “Dorothy Day is the ideal American sainthood candidate in the Francis era.”
    — John L. Allen Jr.

    This quote says it all.

  7. Since I was a little child, I have greatly admired workers and throughout my life, I’ve considered myself primarily a Worker for God with great devotion to St. Joseph The Worker. I even see all the famous historical monuments much more as great monuments to the workers who built them than to the rulers. As a child, I would watch workers in the neighborhood with total amazement, singing as they worked and I was so proud to “help” them by carrying a single cinder block at a time in my then small arms. As a teacher, I inspired great respect in my students, both regular civilian and inmates, for janitors and all workers. Remarkably, none of those workers were socialists/communists/etc.

    Socialism/Communism/etc. are nothing but caricatures of the respect and admiration that our workers so greatly deserve, instead using them as human shields for some of the most heartless and murderous ideologies on Earth. It all starts by FRACTURING the Faith. The “catholic” Mafia has had a very Protestant approach to their Catholicism, with faith separated from behavior. As a former Protestant, I am very familiar with the work of Pastors Ray Comfort and John McArthur, who have sounded the alarm about “Believism”, the total separation of faith and behavior, which opens the doors wide to merely human, political, PERSONAL IDEOLOGIES.

    What Martin Luther did with the false Reformation was to mediocri-tize the Faith, to glorify human mediocrity and stubborn selfish failure to fully respond to God’s Almighty Grace. Thanks to that, now we are cunningly being molded to the image of Karl Marx with only a Jesus loving-the-poor-and-workers façade. Were Dorothy Day and Arnulfo Romero good Catholics? Yes, as far as we can see through all the romanticizing and continual revision of their lives.

    Were they actual Saints? Not so much so (yes, today’s infiltrated Church has made mistakes there too). Did they convert very hardened, aggressive socialists/communists/atheists/etc. to the True Catholic Faith while totally renouncing Marx, etc., or were they themselves in some way partially-converted or emotionally deceived into those radical, destructive ideologies? Hmm? Do their followers give Absolute Primacy to Jesus or to Marx or a hybrid Marx-Jesus? (2 Corinthians 6:14). Are we asking too much of them (so did God with all the Saints)? If we indeed are, it is because True Sainthood is much more than being “good”, “nice”, attentive to workers and the poor or attending the Latin Mass, etc. Disguises are easy, True Holiness is not. ONLY JESUS!!

    Holiness is very demanding out of TRUE Divine Love, not mediocre out of false love. With Day and Romero as “saints”, we are facing the Protestantization, therefore Mediocritizing of Holiness, cunningly opening the doors to the infiltration of socialism/communism/etc. in the Catholic Church. It’s incredibly remarkable that even though fierce arch-enemies, both Radical Liberals and Radical Catholic Traditionalists are BOTH right about these two so-called “saints”. That’s the Worker Holy Spirit of the Worker Jesus sounding the alarm for all workers at God’s Vineyard!! (Matthew 21:40-41).

  8. “neo-scholastic manualist theology of their time… a stuffy and stale theology of dry syllogisms, stifling dogmatism, and bloodless abstractions,”

    I found this online:

    “A Neo-Scholastic revival?
    by Edward Feser

    Neo-Scholasticism was a movement within philosophy and theology which sought to revive, develop, and defend Scholastic thought in general and Thomism in particular as an alternative to the various schools of modern thought. It flourished from the years just prior to Pope Leo XIII’s 1879 encyclical Aeterni Patris to the close of Vatican II in 1965…

    “A great many silly things have been said about this tradition by its critics. For example, within Roman Catholic circles, Neo-Scholasticism is often disparaged as “manualist,” because of the way in which Neo-Scholastic thought was often transmitted through manuals or textbooks of philosophy, theology, and ethics, usually for use in seminary education. Yet why such “manualism” is objectionable is a question to which no one has ever given a satisfying answer. We are told, for instance, that the teaching of the manuals was too “constricting” and pre-packaged, that the systematic and rigorous character of Scholastic thought stifles “creativity.” But of course, you could say the same thing about textbooks of physics or chemistry, and no one would suggest that this shows that what is taught in such textbooks is wrong. Physics and chemistry are what they are, and if that makes it more difficult for would-be physicists or chemists to show their “creativity,” that’s just tough luck for them. Similarly, if the teaching of the Neo-Scholastic manuals is correct, then complaining that it cramps one’s style is simply juvenile and frivolous, and certainly beside the point.

    “To be sure, one might object that that teaching is not correct. But it is amazing how infrequently this charge is actually made. People do object, of course, to this or that specific doctrine, especially in moral theology, but by and large the critics do not allege that the central philosophical and theological claims of Neo-Scholasticism are false, much less bother to put forward arguments against them. Instead they say that the manualist tradition is “outdated” or “doesn’t speak to the concerns of modern man.” Given that no attempt is made to refute that tradition, such claims thus turn out to entail little more than that Neo-Scholasticism isn’t fashionable. Again, one wants to ask: So what?”

    I’m not a philosopher or a theologian. I’m just fed to the teeth with the constant insults about how baaaaaaaaaad things were – at a time when far more people were faithful than now.

    • Excellent work, Leslie! Thank you! All promoters of false heroes or those who will use good Catholics “dancing with the world” as their IDEOLOGY “saints”, will always give a subtle or not so subtle kick to the face of those faithful ones that in the past, with all their deficiencies, transmitted to us through 2,000 years the Most Precious Pearl of Great Price, the Authentic Catholic Faith. Indeed, I give God thanks for that 10 cents, question-answer, simplistic Catechism I grew up with, as people around me were LIVING it! Later, that Faithfulness brought me back from Protestantism and all the other false stuff I got myself in.

      All anti-Jesus movements love to put down the past in order to look all high and mighty, like they are the “new-and-improved” Catholic Church, so they can vampire false legitimacy and false authority for themselves. Not everyone was faithful in the past and the unfaithful have always fought against “the Woman and her Child” (Revelation 12:13), but those who were faithful in the past, like you said, were very strongly faithful through that very fight. That’s what we need now, strong Faithfulness to God in the Fight, as that Holy Faithfulness eventually destroys fear (1 John 4:18), the same deep, dark, poisonous, Faith-robbing fear that the unfaithful promote through their confusion, compromise, sophisticated language trickery and “holier-than-thou” treason.

      “New-and-Improved” is very often Old, Recycled and Deadly. Scholasticism is TRULY new, just like Jesus is the Eternally Young, and that’s why it’s so brought down. When you don’t have or appreciate the truly original (“creative”), authentically true and faithfully Catholic, how could you even begin to discern what’s FALSE? When all the diamonds are plastic, you begin to believe in all plastic diamonds as real. That’s why Legitimate Holy Spirit Empowered Tradition is SO defamed! It is the REAL Diamond!

  9. Dorothy Day’s obedience to the authority of the “magisterium” is precisely the problem with her thinking. When the magisterium goes astray, so do many Catholics like Day. A little exercise of private judgment would be a good thing now and then.

  10. Despite her conversion to Catholicism, Day remained a communist or communist sympathizer for her entire life. More than just a pacifist, she supported a communist government in Spain that was responsible for the murder of many priests and sisters. Later on, she admired Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh. I consider the USCCB’s promotion of her cause for sainthood to be a great scandal.

    • Indeed, Dorothy Day was willing to sell out the Vietnamese Catholics, just as Francis has sold out the Chinese Catholics. So yes, she would be the perfect candidate for “sainthood” in the Francis church.

  11. Good review of a very good book that renewed my affection for Dorothy Day.

    She was a large influence in my own journey towards the Church.

    Although I think the enthusiasm to canonize her is misplaced, I also think she is a stirring example of faith. We all have our blind spots and misplaced loyalties.

    As an aside, she was a strong friend of Maisie Ward and Frank Sheed during the couple’s later years (even if FJS also found her at times over-the-top)

    Another aside: Robert Cole’s “Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion” is another very good and revealing profile.

  12. It is shocking and appalling that Ignatius Press would devote a volume to Dorothy Day. She was informed of the Castro regime’s murder of dissidents, including Catholic priests and religious, and SHE EXCUSED IT. She was no saint. She was a crusading liberal. That was her religion. It would not surprise me if the Francis church “beatified” her. But it would merely testify to the illegitimacy of both parties.

    • Timothy,
      I hadn’t heard that about Dorothy Day before. Do you have any sources to share that confirm she knew of Castro’s political assassinations and she excused them?
      I think many people back in the day were naive about communism and were accomplices to dictatorships more as useful idiots than knowing agents. But I really don’t know the facts in Dorothy Day’s case. I would like to assume the best until proven otherwise.
      I think that’s a good plan for Christians in general.

      • “[Day] did not deny that Castro had made much use of firing squads, but she excused him on the grounds that his revolution had been for the poor, and if one had to choose between the violence done [to] the poor by the acquisitive bourgeois spirit of many Americans and the violence of Castro, which was aimed at helping the poor, then she would take the latter.” W.H. Auden: (Auden was an admirer of Dorothy Day, who knew her personally.)

        The false dichotomy of Day’s judgement in the above quote is typical of her fundamental dishonesty. And yes, she was extremely dishonest in her unwavering defense of violent, leftist revolutions, as well as her attacks on what she stupidly termed the “bourgeois” in a Marxist dialectic that stopped having any meaning long before she was politically active. For illustrating the naiveté and shear stupidity of Dorothy Day’s beliefs, there is nothing that beats her own writings:

        And here is an article – by the very favorably inclined NY Times – that reveals just how corrupt the “Catholic Worker” movement became with a few years of Day’s death. (And it is much, much worse now.) But if you read it carefully, you will see that SHE, in fact, planted the seeds of its corruption.

        • Thank you Timothy for providing those links. There was a lot to read & the first NY Books link wouldn’t let me see the full article but while the information you kindly provided didn’t raise Dorothy Day’s esteem much-(at least to me)- I wasn’t seeing evidence that she had knowledge of Castro’s murders & excused them. But then again, there was a lot to read & I could easily have missed that.
          I’m old enough to remember the foolishness that went on in the late 1960’s & ’70’s. And perhaps because I was growing up during that era it gave me a different perspective as a child & teenager.I saw adults behaving in ridiculous ways & eventually figured out that I wanted no part of it.
          I guess Dorothy Day didn’t have my advantage & she lived through a different period. The fact that she remained a Catholic throughout all that commotion seems a miracle in itself.

        • And just a PS Timothy,
          I did read that quote about Castro from W.H. Auden & took that into account but doesn’t that fall under “hearsay”? If there’s a direct quote or writing by Dorothy Day stating the same thing, I think it would confirm what Auden said.

      • USCCB doesn’t care about “agents” or “useful idiots”. Though it is quite possible Day was both. Day was of the Left and that fits the USCCB agenda, perfectly.

      • It would be better to have serious treatment of Day’s spirituality. Since being fooled about some crazy dictator says only little or nothing at all. On the other hand there are indicies that her involvement in various pietism-like spirituality, her activism, and so on brought her outside of the faith of the Church.

        But I doubt that “American Church” has abilities to do so. If one look upon confusion surrounding Matthew Fox, translation of Catechism, USCCB, …

  13. Mother Angelica, Fr John Hardon SJ and Archbishop Fulton Sheen would be far better and more worthy choices for beatification in my opinion when talking the Catholic Church in America.

  14. Sainthood should represent at least a general consensus as to virtue and holiness. In this instance, I think all should agree that the final determination be left to the Highest Authority.

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