Robert Ellsberg and George Horton ’67 on “Dorothy Day: A Saint for Today”

Robert Ellsberg and George Horton ’67 on “Dorothy Day: A Saint for Today”


– Few people could offer us
better insight on Dorothy Day and her case for canonization than the two speakers I’m delighted to introduce to you today. Robert Ellsberg is
editor-in-chief and publisher of Orbis Books, the publishing arm of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, and leader in religious publishing. At age 19, Ellsberg
dropped out of college. I’m not suggesting that for others. Dropped out of college and went to work at the Catholic Worker
House in New York City alongside Dorothy Day for the
last five years of her life. During those years, he became managing editor of the
Catholic Worker newspaper and, like Day, he
converted to Catholicism. After Dorothy Day’s death, he edited her selected writings, “Little By Little By Little.” “By Little By Little.” “By Little and By Little,” got it. (laughter) – [Voiceover] Is that the sequel? – No, the sequel is, more recently, “The Duty of Duty.” “The Duty of Delight.”
(laughter) I’m sick, I swear this
is why this is happening. “The Duty of Delight: The
Diaries of Dorothy Day,” and her letters in “All the Way to Heaven: “The Selected Letters of Dorothy Day.” He’s also an author in other contexts. His books include “All
Saints: Daily Reflections “on Saints, Prophets, and
Witnesses for Our Time,” “The Saint’s Guide to Happiness: “Practical Lessons in
the Life of the Spirit,” and “Blessed Among All Women: “Reflections on Women Saints, Prophets, “and Witnesses in Our Time.” And not to let it stop there, he has a forthcoming book
called “Blessed Among Us,” which is coming out this summer. Today he’ll speak to us on Dorothy Day, and following that talk
he’ll take a few questions and we’ll also hear from
another Holy Cross alumnus, George Horton, the class of 1967, who will speak to us on
Dorothy’s case for canonization. George is Director of Catholic Charities, Department of Social and
Community Development for the Archdiocese of New York. He was the recipient of the
2013 Servant of Justice Award by the Round Table, the National Catholic Association of Diocesan
Social Action Directors in 2013. He contributes to the
Archdiocesan newspaper “Catholic New York” and serves as a guest host for
the “Just Love” radio program aired on the Catholic channel on Sirius satellite radio. George is working on Dorothy’s case on behalf of the Archdiocese of New York and doing many event interviews for the canonization process, so he’ll talk a little about that. Dave O’Brian will moderate a little bit. Anyway, thank you, Robert, for coming. I’m looking forward to hearing you. (applause) – Thank you very much. I took this off so you
wouldn’t hear me sneeze. You hear me now all right, it’s good? I feel like a rock star. Thank you. It’s a real pleasure to be here and especially to be
invited by my old friend, one of my authors, David O’Brien, who I’ve known for decades. I also am very honored
to be here today with many people who have spent a lifetime in the Catholic Worker in service of the ideals that Dorothy represented, and I am very humbled to be talking on this subject before them. I’m also aware, however, that
there are probably lots of younger people, students here, who maybe are just
learning about Dorothy Day for the first time, and it’s a little difficult to speak for such a diverse audience. I didn’t know exactly who would be here. You probably picked up the themes of the books that I
have written or edited. Dorothy Day and saints have been my two kind of big interests, and they converge in the question of the
canonization of Dorothy Day, which is something I’ve
been very interested in, and that really is going
to be more the focus of what I’m talking about today. I hadn’t intended to give
kind of an introductory overview of Dorothy Day,
her life and spirituality, which I often do, but for the sake of those who are wondering exactly who she is and if you came into the right place, I’ll give just a quick
little improvised synopsis of who we’re talking about. Dorothy Day died in 1980 at the age of 83. She was born in Brooklyn. She grew up in California,
Chicago, and New York. She dropped out of college
herself at a young age and moved to New York because she wanted to commit herself to the poor and the
struggles for social justice. She worked on various radical newspapers, socialist, labor papers. She took part in anti-war demonstrations. This is all around 1916, 1918, that kind of period. Her friends were radicals, both literary bohemians,
anarchists, communists, that sort of thing. She was arrested a couple of times, the first time for protesting on behalf of women’s
suffrage in Washington, D.C. She went through some very
difficult times in her life. She had a tragic love affair that resulted in abortion. She kind of went through a very, a time of wandering and questioning. There was something inside of her, a kind of yearning for the transcendent, though she didn’t really
have a name for that. She had not really grown up
in a religious household, and she had rejected
Christianity in her youth, thinking that the church seemed irrelevant to the social issues of her day. And then in the 1920s, she’s living with a man
she’s really in love with in Staten Island. She gets pregnant. She’s not married to him, and she undergoes this
religious conversion. She decides that she wants
to have her child baptized and that she will follow that herself, even though it means separating from the father of her child because he did not believe in getting married. He was an anarchist. Didn’t believe in marriage. So she separates from him, raises this child on her
own as a single mother, as a Catholic, and goes through this
lonely period of searching for how she is going to connect her faith and her commitment to the poor and the oppressed, and in 1932 she’s covering a march of the unemployed in Washington, D.C., and she goes and prays in the shrine of the Immaculate Conception for some sign of how she can put these things together, and when she comes back home to New York, she finds a Frenchman
there named Peter Morin, 20 years her senior, he was born 1877, who had been kind of tramping around as a kind of Franciscan troubadour, New York and around the East Coast, trying to find somebody who would help him put into motion this synthesis,
this vision that he had for a lay Catholic movement that would live out the radical social
teachings of the Gospel, and Dorothy sees in him
the answer to her prayers, and together they found a newspaper, “The Catholic Worker,” she called it, which then became this kind of seed of a community and a movement, which many of the fruit
are in this room today. It started with what she
called a house of hospitality in New York City, and that tradition continues there in New York and around the world, and here in Worcester itself, where they practice the works of mercy, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, living in voluntary poverty in community with those that they served, but combining that with a radical social
critique of the system that produced so much poverty. This was, after all, 1933. It was the heart of the depression. Millions of people
unemployed, looking for work. And she said The Catholic Worker was a newspaper for those, you know, looking for work, out of work, hungry, who believed that perhaps, to show them that there were Catholics who were on their side. And the Catholic Worker kind
of develops into a big thing, and a lot of people are attracted to this. The circulation of the paper expands. Before you know it, she’s the leader of a lay Catholic movement, and then takes an even more radical turn in the later 1930s, with the Spanish Civil War and then with World War II, when she connected this commitment to seeing
Christ in our neighbor with the imperative not
to kill our neighbor, and she takes a pacifist position, which is very, to say
the least, unpopular, and she maintained that
all through that time, and then after the war, with the dropping of the atomic bomb, when she was a prophetic
figure in leading protests against preparations for nuclear war and was arrested numerous times, and the Catholic Worker
all this time was sort of a marginal little operation. It had a sort of circulation, but on Catholic circles,
it was considered kind of way out there somewhere. In the 1960s, you know, with
the kind of peace movement, and she became kind of the godmother of a rising kind of new
generation of protest for peace and social justice. She was arrested at the age of 75 with the United Farm
Workers in California. She opened a house for homeless women in her last years in New York City, and that’s where she died in 1980 at the age of 83. That’s sort of the story. That’s the preamble to my talk. I’ll take it up from there. Dorothy Day has been called many things. After her death in 1980, our own David O’Brien, as I’m
sure you know, many of you, called her “the most important,
interesting, and influental “figure in the history
of American Catholicism.” Possibly in the whole
corpus of your work, David, that’s the line for which
you’ll be best remembered. (laughter) And if so, it’s a good line, but it was an audacious claim
in 1980, you have to admit. It’s, after all, hard to
measure the significance of a life at such close range. And yet it was amazingly prescient. 36 years later, it seems not just plausible but indisputably true. There have obviously been
many other interesting and influential American
Catholics in the last 200 years, founders of Catholic orders, educators, pioneers, charismatic bishops, writers, politicians, entertainers, but we’d be hard to think
of another American Catholic who so radically recalled the church to its gospel origins and who exactly anticipated the course and the
agenda that Pope Francis recently has outlined for the church. In the platform he laid out before the 2012 conclave, Cardinal Bergoglio spoke of the need for the church to step outside of itself, to go to the margins, to the peripheries, to touch the wounds of Christ. He has shown that that means a church that takes on the social
structures of sin, that works for peace, for ecological wholeness, that embodies the spirit of
mercy and reconciliation. That is the vision of church
that Dorothy embodied. And in his address to Congress last year, Pope Francis went beyond even
the encomium of David O’Brien, calling her not just the
most important, interesting, and influential figure in the history of American Catholicism. He included her in the
ranks of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., as one of the four great Americans around whom he organized his remarks. “In these times when social
concerns are so important,” he stated, “I cannot fail to mention the
servant of God Dorothy Day, “who founded the Catholic Worker movement. “Her social activism,
her passion for justice “and for the cause of the oppressed “were inspired by the gospel, her faith, “and the example of the saints.” I was standing up and cheering when I heard this, but I can imagine maybe a
little bit of head-scratching in Congress and beyond. After all, the two Catholics he invoked, not by coincidence, close
friends and associates, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, are hardly household names, even among contemporary Catholics. Thomas who? And why was the Pope invoking Doris Day? (laughter) Students here don’t even know that joke. (laughter) Those in Congress who
did recognize her name might have been aware
that she had been called many other things
besides a great American, such as traitor, heretic, subversive, and, of course, communist. This never fazed her. I recall how amused she was to hear these words from J. Edgar Hoover, which I discovered in her
declassified FBI file. This is my best J. Edgar Hoover voice. “Dorothy Day is a very erratic
and irresponsible person. “She has engaged in activities
which strongly suggest “that she is consciously or unconsciously “being used by communist groups. “From past experience with her,
it is obvious she maintains “a very hostile and belligerent
attitude toward the Bureau,” that is to say, the FBI, “and makes every effort
to castigate the FBI “whenever she feels so inclined.” I remember reading this
aloud to her in her room in Mary House, and she laughed and said, “He makes me sound like a mean old woman. “Read it again.” (laughter) When Dorothy’s cause for
canonization was endorsed by the U.S. bishops a few years ago, a state senator from Virginia wrote Pope Benedict to say he was revolted by the thought that a person
of such loathsome character might be considered a saint. Welcome to Pope Francis, senator. She took such criticism in stride. I was told of a time when she was speaking at a Catholic college, which may well have
actually been Holy Cross, and a young man got up to denounce her as a communist, a traitor, a heretic, and a long list of other names. She listened patiently and said, “You neglected to mention
that I was once arrested “on a morals charge in Chicago.” (laughter) Which is true. On the other hand, even while she lived, there were those who called her a saint, and that was another matter. “Don’t call me a saint,” she was quoted as saying. “I don’t want to be
dismissed that easily.” Now, when I say she was quoted, I may well mean quoted by me. I used this line in 1984 in the introduction to my edition of her selected writings,
whatever it’s called, though I have no recollection
of the original source, and yet I’m, frankly, constantly surprised to discover that this is one line of Dorothy Day’s which everyone is able somehow to quote. It’s even the title of
a documentary about her, and I have some regrets about this, because it gives the impression
that Dorothy was somehow cynical about the naming
and veneration of saints, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. What Dorothy opposed was
being put on a pedestal, fitted to some preconceived
model of holiness that would strip of her of her humanity and at the same time
blunt the radical edge of the gospel. After all, people might say, “Well, Dorothy Day, she
can do such things,” whether live in poverty or feed the hungry or go to jail for the cause of peace, “because, after all, Dorothy’s a saint.” The implication was that such actions which would be unthinkable
for normal people must have come easily for her, but nothing came easily for Dorothy. As she said of her vocation, “Neither revolutions nor faith “is one without keen suffering. “For me, Christ was not to be
bought for 30 pieces of silver “but with my heart’s blood.” And yet in 2000, Cardinal John O’Connor initiated the cause for her canonization, and with the approval of
the Vatican for this cause, she was named a servant of God. Today that process is advancing through the work of the
Archdiocese of New York and the Dorothy Day
Guild, which George Horton will describe later, and I’ve supported this cause, above all because I
believe Dorothy embodied the type of holiness most
necessary for our time, a holiness that is not
concerned with its own purity but empties itself to confront the burning issues of our time, poverty, violence, the
desecration of nature, the meaning of work, the
yearning for community, freedom, and peace. To be sure, as I’ve probably suggested, Dorothy’s life departs in many ways from the usual mold of Catholic saints, as someone who had renounced
Christianity in her youth, who spent her early life
as a radical activist and journalist in the company of communists, anarchists, and literary bohemians, as someone who underwent an abortion in the aftermath of a failed love affair, and who subsequently bore
a child out of wedlock. If she is named a saint, she will certainly be one
with an unusual back story. There are those who feel all this and even more what happened after her conversion, her pacifism, her rejection of capitalism, her repeated arrests for
acts of civil disobedience, her avowed anarchism, all that and more put her beyond the pale for canonization, but I’m more interested in a
different kind of criticism. The criticism that has come from many deep admirers and
followers of Dorothy Day, perhaps here today, who are nevertheless
skeptical or suspicious of the canonization process. While it’s not uncommon
to question the worthiness of a candidate for canonization, as Ken Woodward noted many years ago, “The question in this
case is just the opposite. “Is the process worthy of the candidate?” There are those who feel
that canonizing Dorothy Day would represent a
co-optation of her message. It would shift the tension
from imitation to veneration, a preoccupation with
miracles and so forth. It would cost money that
could be spent on the poor. It would put too much
emphasis on one person, rather than the community she was part of. Inevitably, church officials
would try to emphasize her wonderful work with the poor or her piety, her spirit of obedience, her respect for the magisterium, and perhaps filter out
the problematic areas of her life and witness, particularly her radical pacifism and her prophetic resistance to the state. Coleman McCarthy, the journalist, is someone who has expressed this position with particular vigor. Writing in The National Catholic Reporter, he argued putting a halo on Dorothy Day shows her no love. On the contrary, he says, the American hierarchy’s
endorsement of this cause, quote, “is little more than
a self-serving gesture.” The process of canonization, he argues, is part of a sick process to
defang Day’s radical witness by putting her on a pedestal
she would have rejected. These sentiments, shared by many people I know and admire, are
not easily dismissed, but before addressing
them, I’d like to begin by reflecting on what
saints meant to Dorothy and what I think the
process of saintmaking means for the church. Simply put, it would be very
hard to exaggerate the role that saints played in
the life of Dorothy Day and the origins of the Catholic Worker. Peter Morin told Dorothy that the best way to study Catholic history
was through the saints, and it was by reading
the lives of the saints that Dorothy first conceived the idea of initiating the Catholic Worker. From the saints, she was inspired to begin with the means at hand, not waiting for any official approval. Constantly, she invoked the saints as patrons and intercessors, what she called “picketing”
before St. Joseph when funds ran dry, calling on the assistance
of the Blessed Mother in dealing with the
problems in her CW family. The saints cropped up constantly
in her speech and writing, almost as if they were
personal acquaintances. She would speak always of the
perfect joy of St. Francis, the exuberance of St. Theresa, who used to cheer up her sisters by dancing on the table with castanets, the mystical ardor of
St. John of the Cross, who said, “Where there
is no love, put love, “and you will draw love out.” In the early years of the Catholic Worker, the newspaper was almost
entirely illustrated by pictures of the saints, either by Ade Bethune or,
later, Fritz Eichenberg. Depicted in modern dress, engaged in the works of mercy, these figures literally illustrated what the editors were
trying to communicate through words and actions. The saints as Dorothy spoke of them were our friends and companions, examples of the gospel in action. She devoted many years
to writing a biography of her favorite saint, Therese of Lisieux, exalting in the incredible speed with which she was canonized, a sign that she was
truly the people’s saint. In discussing the saints, Dorothy always acknowledged
their humanity, their capacity for
discouragement and sorrow, their mistakes and failures along with their courage and faithfulness. There is no doubt that she wished to take them off their pedestals, to show them as human
beings who nevertheless represented in their time the ideals and spirit of the gospel. She was quite aware of the dangers of sentimental hagiography, what she called the “pious pap” that made saints seem somehow
less than fully human. She quoted a text about the eating habits of the saints which read, “Blessed de Montfort sometimes shed tears “and sobbed bitterly when
sitting at table to eat.” To this, she commented, “No wonder no one wants to be a saint.” She felt it was important
that we tell the stories of, quote, “saints as they really were,” as the effect of the lives of their times. It was also important to understand their radical challenge, how St. Catherine of
Siena challenged the Pope, how St. Benedict promoted
a civilization of peace, how St. Francis met with the sultan on a mission of reconciliation. When our friend Gordon
Zahn, the great peacemaker, wrote about his discouragement with the bishops and their failures to address the Vietnam War, she wrote, “In all history, popes and
bishops and father abbots “seem to have been blind
and power-loving and greedy. “I never expected leadership from them. “It is the saints that keep
appearing all through history “that keep things going.” Above all, Dorothy believed
that the canonized saints were those who reminded us that we are all called to holiness. She said, “We are all called to be saints, “and we might as well get over “our bourgeois fear of the name. “We might also get used
to recognizing the fact “that there is some of
the saint in all of us. “Inasmuch as we are growing, “putting off the old man
and putting on Christ, “there is some of the saint, the holy, “the divine right there.” In other words, for Dorothy,
the task of being a Christian is a process of sanctification, a process of being conformed
to the pattern of Christ. It was a process that was never completed ’cause there was always
more to be accomplished. So not called to be canonized saints, but called to be saints. One of the things that
attracted her to St. Therese was that in her little way, she showed a way of holiness available to all people and in all circumstances. From Therese, Dorothy learned that each sacrifice endured in love, each work of mercy might
increase the balance of love in the world, and she extended this principle to the social sphere, each
protester witness for peace, though apparently foolish and ineffective, no more than a pebble in a pond, might send forth ripples that
could transform the world. Her diaries make it clear how faithfully she applied this teaching
in her everyday life, the daily efforts to be more
patient, more forgiving, the little decisions to
sacrifice her own time, privacy, and comfort
for the sake of others. It was the practice of
these small, daily choices that equipped her for the
extraordinary and heroic actions she performed on a wider stage. Well, if that’s what
saints meant for Dorothy, what is the meaning of
saints for the church? It’s important to recognize that in canonizing a saint, the
church is not bestowing a kind of posthumous honor, like a nomination to the
Hall of Fame or something. Canonization does not benefit the saint. It is intended to benefit the church. Dorothy understood this. When a saint is canonized, it represents the church’s solemn declaration that, at least in the life
of this servant of God, or message and witness, you may find a true and reliable guidepost for our own path of
Christian discipleship. Through recognition of
certain individuals, a very tiny number
compared to all the saints, many of them known to God alone, the church enlarges our
understanding of the gospel. It provides new models
that people can relate to, examples who demonstrated the challenge of discipleship in their time and so challenge us to
do the same in our own. Now, as Simone Vey said, “It is not nearly enough to be saints,” but, quote, “We must have the saintliness “demanded by the present moment.” Early in her life, Dorothy recognized the need for a new kind of saint. Even as a child, she
noted how moved she was by the stories of saints
who cared for the poor, the sick, the leper, but another question rose in her mind, quote, “Where were the saints
to change the social order, “not just to minister to the slaves, “but to do away with slavery?” In effect, her vocation
took root in that question. In 1932, in her faithful prayer at the Basilica of the
Immaculate Conception, Dorothy sought an answer about
how to integrate her faith and her commitment to justice and the cause of the oppressed. She prayed to make a synthesis of, quote, “body and soul,
this world and the next.” In effect, she was in search of a model of how to minister to the slaves while doing away with slavery. Many saints have performed
the works of mercy, poured themselves out in charity. Dorothy did the same, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked,
sheltering the homeless, and it’s ironic to reflect
that had she confined herself to this kind of work, her cause of sanctification might be much farther along by now, but she went further. She set herself, quote,
“against a social order “which made so much charity “in the present sense
of the word necessary.” In pursuing this path,
she created a new model of discipleship, a new model of holiness, a new way of being a saint. Dorothy did more than anyone to win credibility for
this path and in so doing, she left an enormous gift to the church. For one thing, no one coming afterward would have to imagine what
such a saint might look like. But there was more. The second great gift of
Dorothy Day to the church was undoubtedly her commitment to the ideal of radical
gospel nonviolence. This ideal was widely
recognized in the early church, but after the conversion of Constantine, it was effectively replaced
by just war teaching. For many years, in season and out, Dorothy was a solitary prophet insisting on the literal
meaning of Jesus’ words, “Love your enemies, do good
to them that persecute you.” No doubt her position was true folly in the eyes of the world. Her position was considered unreasonable, weak, dangerous, and irrelevant. “We confess to being fool,” she said, “and we wish that we were more so.” Now in the early days
there were lots of people who applauded her work with the poor, and even in the heart of the Depression there were also those who sympathized when she questioned the economic system that produced so much
poverty and desperation. There were only a few who joined her in the
conviction that the way of Jesus was incompatible with any kind of killing. In 1955, when she was arrested in New York City during the city’s first
annual civil defense drill, the number of Catholics who agreed that such preparation for nuclear war was a crime against God and humanity could evidently fit beside
her in a single police wagon, but for Day, it all went together. The Catholic Worker was
an effort to live out the radical implications
of the teaching of Christ, that what we do to the least
of our brothers and sisters, whether we feed them, torture them, or subject them to nuclear explosions, we do directly to him. By maintaining this witness
through one war after another, Dorothy challenged and enlarged the conscience of the church. Successive popes,
culminating in Pope Francis, have grown steadily into
the vision she upheld, but in the purity of that vision, she continues to stand ahead, beckoning the church to follow. All this might be enough, but I would like to cite
another significant gift that Dorothy makes to the church. By far the overwhelming
majority of saints, both in history and in recent times, have been priests and
members of religious orders. Of the 1000 or so saints
beatified or canonized under Pope John Paul II, the majority, apart from martyrs, have been founders or
members of religious orders. Arguably, this helps
reinforce a stereotype, reinforcing the notion that religious life is a prerequisite for holiness. As a layperson, as the founder and
leader of a lay movement that has always operated
without any official authorization from the church, as the publisher of a
newspaper that presumed to take social positions far in advance of the magisterium of her time, Dorothy Day represents quite an unusual and highly significant
candidate for canonization. Her whole life was
founded on the conviction that none of us requires
any special authorization or permission or mandate to live out the implications of the gospel to follow Jesus, but another point deserves emphasis here. When the church does
occasionally canonize laypeople, these are often men or women who in their life experience and spirituality were virtually indistinguishable
from monks or nuns. In Dorothy Day, we have a saint who truly experienced the joys and sorrows of family life, of motherhood, life in a somewhat raucous
and mixed community. This is a saint whose
conversion was prompted by the experience of pregnancy and the joy of love. She wrote, “I had known enough of love to know that “a good, healthy family
life was as near to heaven “as one could get in this life.” There was another sample of heaven, of the enjoyment of God. The very sexual act itself was used again and again in Scripture as a figure of the beatific vision. “It was not because I was tired of sex, “satiated, or disillusioned
that I turned to God. “Radical friends used to insinuate this. “It was because through a whole love, “both physical and spiritual, “I came to know God.” Here, too, she represented that synthesis between body and soul, a fully human embodied
form of spirituality and being in the world. Her contribution to the
apostolate of the laity is another way in which she exemplified a kind of saintliness demanded
by the present moment. Still there is worry that canonizing Dorothy Day,
the church will try to water her down or, as Coleman put it, “defang her radical message.” Why canonize her? Why not just let her
remain a people’s saint? There are inevitably
symbolic, if you will, political considerations associated with certain canonizations. There is always the question, what lesson or message does the church wish to impart through this canonization? The recent, though belated, recognition of Oscar Romero as a genuine martyr and
not just a pious churchman is a significant example. Naming Archbishop Romero a martryr who died in hatred of the faith, the church acknowledges
that he did not die for getting himself mixed up in politics, as his ecclesial critics charged, but because he faithfully
followed the gospel. Perhaps it is meaningful
that this pronouncement awaited the pontificate of Pope Francis. In this context, Romero walks ahead, beckoning us to fulfill the
Pope’s vision of a church that is poor and for the poor. By the same token, I believe this particular ecclesial season provides a very special context for promoting the
canonization of Dorothy Day. Pope Francis, it seems to me, is the fulfillment of Dorothy’s dream. If she had let her imagination run free, she might have conceived of a pope who took the name of St. Francis, from St. Francis, who set out to renew the
church in the image of Jesus, promoting the centrality of mercy, reconciliation, peace, and solidarity with those on the margins. So often, she criticized
ecclesial trappings of power and privilege. How she would have delighted in Francis’ gestures of humility, his call for shepherds who
have the smell of the sheep, his washing the feet of prisoners, including women and Muslims, his tears on the island of Lampedusa as he contemplated the
deaths of nameless immigrants and lambasted the culture of indifference. How moved she would be to learn of his deep friendship with a Jewish rabbi, his love for opera and Dostoevsky, and his exhortation to
spread the joy of the gospel. It has been said that the new
atmosphere under Pope Francis has put wind in the sails
of Dorothy’s canonization, but I would rather put it in another way. I think the cause of
Dorothy’s canonization helps put wind in the
sails of the Pope’s agenda. Support for her cause in this context means more than keeping her memory alive. It contributes to the ongoing program of renewal of the church,
not for its own sake, but for the sake of a wounded world. What of the concerns that
canonization will cause her witness to be watered
down and homogenized? In the end, I would argue that canonization is
actually the best insurance that the distinctive
features of her holiness will be remembered, not just in our time and the next few years, but long from now in the future. Just as the beatification
of Franz Jagerstatter, who was an Austrian peasant who was the single layperson executed by the Nazis in Austria for refusing to serve in Hitler’s army and
take an oath of obedience to the Fuhrer. I believe the beatification
of Franz Jagerstatter lifts up the memory of
his solitary witness. So I believe the canonization
process for Dorothy Day will spread the story of her going to jail to protest civil defense drills and the blasphemy of
preparations for nuclear war. It will move her witness from the margins to the center of the church’s memory. Of course, it commonly happens that prophets and radicals
are ostracized in life only to be honored after death. It was thus for St. Francis, the patron saint of birdbaths. Martin Luther King is widely lauded for his dream of a post-racial America, but not for his radical criticism of militarism and capitalism. Dorothy Day is hardly
exempt from this danger. Even as she lived, she had to confront pious legend-making. She upbraided Catherine Dehuick Dougherty for promoting the myth
that she shared her bed with a syphilitic homeless woman. Dorothy retorted, “I can’t
even sleep with my daughter, “she wiggles too much.” She was exasperated with
people who asked her if she had the stigmata
or if she had visions. “Just visions of dirty dishes
and unpaid bills,” she said. Some people will always prefer the myth. The answer, I think, is not
to reject her canonization, but to assume the task
of proclaiming her story with all its radical edges, making sure that nothing of her humanity is discarded. But finally, didn’t Dorothy say,
“Don’t call me a saint, “I don’t want to be dismissed so easily”? Of course, a real saint could
hardly have said otherwise. Try to picture a different answer. “By all means, call me a saint.” (laughter) “Say it again, I like the sound of that.” St. Francis said that God had chosen him because of all creatures,
he was the most miserable. Pope Francis, asked to
describe himself, said, “I am a sinner whom the
Lord has looked upon.” But in Dorothy’s case, this was more than a matter of humility. Dorothy did indeed worry that people would put her on a pedestal, that they would believe
her to be without fault, that they would imagine
that if she performed seemingly difficult things, it was because they were not really difficult for her, she, after all, being a saint. This was a way for people
to dismiss her witness and let themselves off the hook, and she didn’t believe she
was better than other people. She didn’t believe people should set out to imitate her. They should look to Christ as their model. All Christians were called
to put off the old person and put on Christ, to conform their lives to
the pattern of the gospel, to respond to their own call to holiness, whatever form that might take. I once heard her say, “When they call you a
saint it means basically “that you’re not to be taken seriously.” But when Dorothy used the word saint, she certainly wasn’t indicating someone to be dismissed easily. On the contrary, a saint was someone to be taken with the utmost seriousness. We may stand aloof from her canonization on the grounds that she is
too good for this process, but if we do, I wonder if it isn’t we who are the ones putting her on the pedestal
she would have disdained. Certainly she challenged the church and its capacity for
failure and corruption. The church, she liked to
say, quoting Guardini, “is the cross on which
Christ was crucified,” but for her the church was also the mystical body of Christ, which she was also a part. She had enough knowledge of
her own sins and failings to include herself among all those called to penance and conversion. The story of Dorothy is becoming better known around the world. In the church of the United States, she’s undoubtedly more
widely known and respected than at any time since her death or even in her life, but ultimately the question
of her canonization is not about drawing
greater attention to her but whether through her witness more attention will be drawn to Jesus and his message of radical love. I’d like to conclude by returning again to Pope Francis’ words to Congress last year, the speech he organized with reference to four great Americans, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton. Naturally, Dorothy would be
humbled by such attention. I don’t know if she’d say, “Don’t call me a great American. “I don’t want to be
dismissed that easily.” (laughter) Not only to be mentioned by the Pope, but in the company of national icons such as Abraham Lincoln
and Martin Luther King. She would have appreciated
this ecumenical assembly. Only she and her friend
Thomas Merton were Catholics, and both of them were prophetic figures who were also pushing toward the margins. Of these four, only Dorothy is
a candidate for canonization, but I think the Pope’s words
invite us to think anew about the meaning of saints, witnesses, and other great souls. Such men and women,
according to the Pope, quote, “offer us a new way of seeing “and interpreting reality.” We’re accustomed to
thinking of saints as people who stand out for their heroic faith and their witness to the gospel values. Perhaps we are indeed inclined
to put them on a pedestal, to imagine that we could
never do what they did. But before their bold
and courageous actions, perhaps what distinguished such people was their way of seeing and interpreting reality. They looked at the world
through a gospel lens, and in doing so saw things according to a new scale of value. What would it mean if we saw
in the poor and homeless, as Dorothy Day did, the face of Christ? We might not immediately open our homes as she did at the Catholic Worker, but perhaps we would not be so susceptible to what Pope Francis calls
the culture of indifference. What would it mean if we shared
the vision of Thomas Merton when he ventured into downtown Louisville after years as a trappist monk and was suddenly overwhelmed
with the realization that he loved all the
people in the street, quote, “that they were mine and I theirs, “that we could not be alien to one another “even though we were total strangers”? In the four Americans he extolled, Pope Francis also focused on
the power of their dreams. Quote, “For Lincoln, liberty, “Martin Luther King, Jr., liberty “and plurality and nonexclusion. “Dorothy Day, social justice
and the rights of persons. “And Thomas Merton, the
capacity for dialogue “and openness to God.” Along with their role of helping us to see and interpret reality in a new way, perhaps we might consider
how such men and women invite us to share their dreams. Rather than disconnecting us from reality, such dreams actually awaken us from illusions of separateness, from the slumber of indifference, from false conceptions of greatness that prevent us from seeing just how much we are all connected. It is by the greatness of its dreams, according to the Pope,
that a people is measured. The same is true for the people of God. Those who help us to see
and to enlarge our dreams may not always meet the bar
of official canonization, but in honoring their memories, Pope Francis observed, quote, “We are inspired even amid conflicts “and in the here and now of each day “to draw upon our deepest
cultural reserves.” Thank you very much. (applause) Let me first back up a little bit. If she was not canonized, does that mean that her spirit runs free and we can all start
Catholic Worker houses without asking permission from the church? Because, in fact, her canonization won’t impact that in any way. People will still be able to pursue her vision and even go beyond it, but drawing inspiration
from the same sources that inspired her, so again, we’re talking about, let’s say, 100 years from now, what is going to make it more likely that people are going to know
about her story, her goodness? I think of someone like Franz
Jagerstatter, for instance. He died all alone in 1942, maybe, I’m not sure, 44? In Austria, he died
without any expectation that anyone would ever
know of his witness. He didn’t do it in order that he might be a statue in a church someday, but because he was
following his conscience and he couldn’t do otherwise, and it was because of
our friend Gordon Zahn who wrote a biography of him
many years later in the 60s that his story became
known, and many years later he was beatified by the church. I think an extraordinary, a person like that for me, rather than being hemmed
in and squeezed in by this oppressive institution actually carves out an opening and a space for other people to operate in to be able to claim the full authority of the gospel and now also the church. Now, your second question,
what would she think of it? Happily, I think she
would ask in the same way, when she was getting old and people said, “What’s going to happen to the
Catholic Worker after you die?” And she said, “Doesn’t matter.” (laughing) It was not her problem. “That’s for the young
people,” she would call them. That’s for the next generation. She didn’t establish
a kind of a foundation to support the Catholic
Worker indefinitely. She and Peter Morin put out their ideas. They planted seeds, and she left the freedom of people to plant those and let them
blossom in any way they might, but she knew it was out of her hands and she didn’t try to
control that in any way. She didn’t name her successor
or anything like that. I think if you asked
her while she was alive, “Would you like to be a saint someday?” that’s, again, a meaningless thing. Her whole ambition in her
whole life was to be a saint, and whether that was
recognized through canonization was not up to her and not her concern, and I think in the same way, I think she recognized,
as I’ve tried to suggest, the value and the role that saints play, and, again, not call attention to them or preserve their memory, but to help people live
out more authentically the challenge of the gospel. If this process, which, she
had respect for the church, she was not cynical about
the church in that way. She knew it had its
processes, its corruption. I think she’d be very glad, in a way, that it waited decades and that it was not some
santo subito after she died, a rush of enthusiasm, but that the church in some ways would catch up with, I think it’s a sign of how much the church has grown into her vision, and I hope that her canonization, my hope would be that it would be one of
the forces that would help that process of growth in
the new order of the church. I want to say, again, that people that I love
and know and respect disagree with me about this, and I recognize them as people who have every bit as much claim or more, in many cases, to their
loyalty and faithfulness in living out Dorothy’s vision, so I’m speaking for myself here, why I think it’s
nevertheless still valuable. – [Voiceover] Thank you for coming. This is really welcome as a talk and a beautiful environment too. – I’m curious about the emotional tones and experience of her life in the last few years of her life. I was always struck by a sense of, an undercurrent of depression or unfulfillment of one form or another. The title of her autobiography “The Long Loneliness.” I’m just curious, in what ways, knowing her well, in
what ways would you say she was very satisfied
with the work she’d done and in what ways she
might have experienced an emotional loss or
deprivation or specification because of the sacrifices
and choices she made? – Dorothy’s vocation
was rooted in sacrifice. From the very beginning, her choice that she would be baptized and raise her child as a Catholic, even though that meant separation from the man she loved. It was only when I edited her letters and saw the five years of love letters that she wrote to
Forrester after that time, pleading with him to change his mind and give up his pigheadedness and agree to marry her, that I realized what a sacrifice that was. On the other hand, it
revealed to me a lot about her spirituality and her, which was, she felt that she had paid a price for her faith. As she said, it didn’t come easily. She had given, in a way, everything, and I think she felt in many ways, you know, as the gospel texts say, those who have given up home and family and all those kind of things will be given back
abundantly, a thousandfold. She had this one daughter. I think she felt by the end of her life that she had thousands of children. Now, (laughing) she also had to come
very early to the idea that to incorporate
the idea that weakness, vulnerability, seeming failure, in the eyes of the world, was actually the kind of fuel of the Catholic Worker enterprise, so she did not measure the success or the meaning of her life by whether they had enough money to pay the bills or whether she had put an end to war or that sort of thing. She believed utterly in the idea that faithfulness was the only
thing in our control. We had no control
whatsoever in the outcome, and if she had felt otherwise, I think she would have felt
fantastically depressed. Of course, she had to deal with fights and arguments in the Worker, and people, you know, laying into her and betraying her and being
mad at her and leaving and all kinds of stuff like that, so she experienced all kinds of human loss and frustration, but she, I think, never had a moment of doubting that she was on the path that God had set her on and
that she was faithful to that to the end, so, yes, I would say that, they put on her gravestone, not
like, “Phew, it’s all over!” (laughter) “The long loneliness is over.” But her motto, you
know, on her gravestone, is “Deo grazias,” thanks to God. I think that she was one
of the most grateful people I’ve ever known, and she had this capacity for just acknowledging
grace in all different kinds of ways, and she had her moments of depression. She had her moments of dejection, but then she would say, “But
then on the other hand,” just the sight of some kind of
love or generosity or sharing or when brothers and sisters
break bread together, pray together, her
spirit would be renewed. It took very little to bring her back. It might have even just
been listening to the opera, reading a favorite book, looking at one of her grandchildren, looking at a trumpet vine growing on the fire escape outside her room. All these things could
bring her back to God. So in that sense, never far from God, and in that sense, never could feel alone or failure. -[Voiceover] We’ll let Robert sit for a moment. -and ask George Horton of the Class of 1967 to come forward. George can tell us a little bit about the canonization process,
and then we’ll open it up for questions for both of them. Thank you, George. – Thank you, David. It’s good to be back here at Holy Cross, and it’s good to be here
with Robert Ellsberg. Robert’s been a member of our Dorothy Day Guild Advisory
Board for many years, and as you can see, his brilliant defense and discussion of Dorothy
as a saint is very powerful. As he was speaking, I wanted to say to Robert, “You know, you have the easy part. “Dorothy Day is a saint, “and you make the arguments for her.” We have to deal with the canonical process in the diocese, so I want you all to begin
to feel very badly for me. (laughter) David O’Brien, David and I
both grew up in the same town, Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We went to the same high school. David’s been a leading
light to people like myself who have been doing justice
and peace work in dioceses, and after today, in listening
to the workers talk, the only regret I have, David, is that I wasn’t here when you were teaching. It’s so good for me to see Holy Cross honoring justice and peace. When I was here, it was that way too, except my best memory is of Monday mornings, when the line from confession would stretch from the chapel all the way to Fenwick, and the line, after the weekend, would only be in front
of one confessional, and that was, do you know? Since how long it is, I heard someone. Father Hart. That’s your gymnasium. He was a one-Hail-Mary person. (laughter) And even though the chapel, all of the confessional boxes were open, only Father Hart had the
line that stretched out. Just let me say one other
thing about this morning. We spent the day talking about the Catholic Worker in Worcester, and it was an amazing experience. I felt awe in the presence
of the people there. The stories, the commitment to the faith, to poverty, to people
who are poor, to peace, all of the aspects we know of Dorothy Day, and at one moment, someone talked about the contemporaneity of Jesus, and there was kind of an agreement in the room that it still continues. I want to thank the workers, it was marvelous this morning, for the richness of that experience. Let me touch on three things. One, a little bit of the history of the canonization process, some of the obstacles/challenges we face, and then we’ll have a
little bit of a discussion of what’s going on now. First of all, a little bit of the history. Shortly after her death in 1980, people began to speak
about her being canonized and being a saint. The colorations in
Chicago began a movement. They developed a prayer card, began gathering documents. Then in the late 90s,
Cardinal John O’Connor, who was the Archbishop of New York, began to explore a formal
initiation of her cause, and Cardinal O’Connor had a wonderful way of listening to people, so what he did was convene a meeting of people who knew Dorothy very well, and some of the names
are in the Hall of Fame. They’re Nina Paulson Moore, Frank Donovan, Janie Sanlan, Ade Bethune, Eileen Egan, Robert was there, Pat and Kathleen Jordan, Tom Cornell, and we met for two hours twice, and his question to them was, “Should we go ahead in the church “to make her a saint?” Two things happened in that meeting. One, it was almost unanimous to go ahead. There were a couple
reservations expressed. One had to do with the cost. Should we spend all this money on a canonization process when
it could be spent on the poor? And that discussion kind of moved along, and the second concern, how will the true story be kept? The question of the
young man earlier today. I am a bureaucrat. I work for Catholic charities. I was asked to do this because our office is involved in social action, but the people from the
Worker were new to me. I had convened them and
brought them together, and as I sat in that room, something happened. I felt the spirit move through that room in a way I had never felt before. We have an august cardinal over here and the workers here, and in our divided times,
there was a communion, a community in that room. I walked out so grateful
for that opportunity. I’m going to tell you a little story about something that happened that day that I think captures some of the, maybe, difficulties we have experienced with
the canonization process. Through Cardinal O’Connor’s efforts, shortly before he died, she was named a servant of God in the year 2000. Monseigneur Gregory Mustaciuolo, who was Cardinal O’Connor’s secretary and is now the Vicar
General of the Archdiocese, was appointed postulator. In 2005, a guild was established which is is necessary to demonstrate grassroots support for the cause. There’s a website, DorothyDayGuild.org. My wife Carolyn, who is here, oversees the website and
produces the newsletter, and we have a mass in
St. Patrick’s Cathedral monthly to pray for her cause. I’d ask you before you leave to pick up some documents on the table in the back so that you might become
a member of the guild. We also have a prayer card there. And a petition. I’m glad Carolyn came along. (laughter) And in November 2012, as Robert mentioned, the current Archbishop, Timothy Dolan, received the unanimous
support of the U.S. bishops for the cause. I want to discuss just a little bit what I consider to be a loss of momentum that we’ve had or did have after the death of Cardinal O’Connor, and in this way kind of demonstrate some of the challenges. As I mentioned to you
before, the cost of this. The number that is batted
around is $1 million. We just didn’t have it. If you think about some saints, they have the backing
of a religious order, so they’re able to
bring resources together for developing the cause for that. The people who knew Dorothy, by and large, did not have deep pockets, so, by and large, we were
not looking to a place to bring in resources. Second, as we’ve mentioned,
who’s going to tell the story? How will her story be kept? One of the things I think we’ve done well is to have an advisory board that was made up of many of the people that were with Cardinal O’Connor
at those initial meetings and continue, in my view, to have a major role in how this cause progresses. But there has been some conflict, some creative tension, and, again, I think that
there are many reasons why we may have lost momentum. One of them, I think, is the Archdiocese. We dropped the ball for awhile, but there was an undercurrent, an undercurrent of tension, of conflict, in the church, and even though it wasn’t
spoken of, it was there, and the story that I
want to tell you quickly is a story that happened at that meeting with Cardinal O’Connor that, in my mind, embodied some of the tensions, and I would say creative dynamic tension that we need today was in that room. Cardinal O’Connor was a great churchman. I don’t know if many people knew him. He cared about the poor. He cared about working people. He defended life, and he believed in Dorothy Day, and at this meeting, he was waiting for all the people that I mentioned, Eileen Egan, Ade Bethune, to come in, and I’m the young bureaucrat thinking, “Boy, I hope this meeting goes well.” Cardinal O’Connor had a
way of kind of lolling, kind of like a prince of the church, and he was kind of lolling that way, and people were coming in, and, again, the warmth
of people in the Worker greeting each other, and all of a sudden, Ade Bethune appears at the door and Cardinal O’Connor says, “Ade! “Do you still have your
coffin in your house?” Now he had known Ade from Newport. He had been the chief of naval chaplains. He was an admiral. He’d been in Vietnam in two tours. He had written a book about Vietnam, but he had become friends
with her in Newport. This little woman, who you knew
when she walked in the room that she packed tremendous power, raised her finger and
said, “John O’Connor, “you’ve come a long way. “You were an awful hawk.” And that’s how the meeting began, and I thought, “Well, it’s
got to go uphill from here.” But in fact, Ade had seen
some movement in this prelic. He had been one of the writers of the 1983 Challenge for Peace, and he did other things for
peace that I knew about, but that moment typified to me the tensions in our church but also the fact that
we can have relationship, right relationship, and
respect each other’s thinking. These were two different worlds, but in that moment, there
was something precious which took place, and I say that that needs,
in a sense, to be continued. Robert says that Pope
Francis needs Dorothy, the church needs Dorothy. So, just let me mention a few things that I think helped us gain momentum. Again, there was that undercurrent of people not too sure,
the Worker not too sure, the archdiocese not too sure, and three or four years
ago there was a conference in Miami at St. Thomas, and which many of you
were there gathering, and the question was asked, “What’s happening with the cause?” That gave us a great impetus, and in particular a
man named David Mueller was very helpful in that. Robert’s article, and I would urge you to find the Catholic Worker article. Do you remember the date, Robert? – [Robert] It’s online. – It’s online, in which he makes the
case for her canonization, and it was made for the
people of the Worker. It was written for them. It generated a lot of discussion that has been critical in
getting the momentum going again. The diocese put some money into
this, which is a big thing. We’re finally able,
during all those years, we had no staff, really. It was Catholic charity staff. Myself and another person
were trying to pick this up. We hired Jeff Corgan, who is a part-time worker for the staff, on the staff, and, again, the coming of
Pope Francis hasn’t hurt. It’s created an atmosphere which I think allows us to sail along better. I often think he’s an elderly man and we’d better move quickly and we’d better hurry up. So then, let me say a little bit about where we are today. One way of understanding
the canonization process, and I’m not a canon lawyer, is there’s a Roman phase
and a diocesan phase. We’re deeply into the diocesan phase. Within the next nine months, we hope to interview 50
witnesses to Dorothy Day’s life, some people who knew her very well, some who knew her in passing, but we’re going to get testimony with the promoter of justice
and the Archbishop’s delegate and transcribers and seals
and all of those things. We will have 50 testimonies which will be ready to be sent to Rome. We’re gathering all her documents, and, you know, we could say to Dorothy, “You could have made
it a little easier with “your published writings and
your unpublished writings.” We’re gathering those. They have to be reviewed
by theological censors and also a historical commission. We hope to do that within
the next two years. That’s our hope, to get all of that done, signed, sealed, and delivered to Rome. Then we will have to face the Roman phase. I don’t know if you saw recently, but the Holy Father Pope Francis has kind of raised some questions about the cost of the
canonization process, and I think there is, we have some hope. Many of the major expenses were in Rome, as you might imagine, so we’re hoping that
might help a little bit. Again, we hope to have this
done in two years, the process. Let me conclude with something that just happened last weekend. Again, it’s, to me, how
the church needs Dorothy. There are many reasons
for her to be canonized, but for me, this is one
that’s close to my heart. On Friday night, I went
down to the Catholic Worker. Martha Hennessy, Dorothy
Day’s granddaughter, is on our advisory board
and has been very helpful in promoting the cause, and she had brought a priest from Korea, an activist priest who had spent his life in and out of jail in South Korea protesting human rights in Korea and the U.S. military presence in Korea on Jeju Island, where we have just, the United States has just
created a very large naval base. So she brought the priest in, and it was a wonderful evening, a typical Catholic Worker evening. We walked into the Worker. The Worker hasn’t changed very much, although the neighborhood has. There’s a high-end coffee shop at the end of the street. But the clarification of thought
that took place that night, and in the middle of it, 15 young women from Loyola, Loyola in Chicago, walked in and sat down in the front row to listen to this, and I think of being here at Holy Cross today, how important it is that we speak. Again, I don’t know how many Americans are aware of the base in Jeju, and here was a full discussion
of our military presence. The next day, Martha, Father Mun, who was the Korean priest, and a couple other Catholic Workers, came to the cathedral for mass. It doesn’t take much to be struck by the difference in these two venues. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
has just been renovated to the tune of about, should I say? $160 million. It’s beautiful, it’s gorgeous. When Father Mun came in, I said to him, I said, “Well, Father,” this is the South Korean priest, “you know that St. Patrick’s
has been renovated.” He said, “I see, I see.” It was just two different worlds, but there we were, there we were, the Worker Friday night, St. Patrick’s Cathedral
on Saturday morning, and to me, that is part of the tension. That’s part of what we need, to have relationship and
to have right relationship, respectfully caring about each other, but listening to the
message of Dorothy Day. We need her, she’s a saint for our time, and we’ve got to do all
we can to accomplish that. Thank you. (applause) – [Voiceover] Two things come to mind. One is, it seems to me that John Cardinal O’Connor,
was particularly appropriate to introduce the cause of Dorothy Day, because not only had he
played an instrumental role at the guiding council in promoting the ban on weapons of mass destruction and recognizing the right of conscientious objecting, but by the time he called that meeting, he had, according to
him, become a pacifist and said, “I don’t know
why I never saw it.” This was after the military
chaplain in between. The second thought is,
I think it’s important, this is something that
has come to me slowly, but I think it’s important to realize that Dorothy was relentless, and when Forrester refused to marry her, she didn’t just give up and
say, “Well, now I’m a martyr, “and I’m going to live it
out for the rest of my life.” I was at Tivoli between 1972 and 1977. She died in 1980, and
she was at (mumbling) during that period, and I only realized it in retrospect, but a great deal of her energy was going to family. She was regularly
visiting her granddaughter and grandchildren, but she was also weekly visiting Forrester (mumbling). (loud cough) As I understand it, by
the time that she died, she was sequestered at Mary House I think had some major heart attacks, and he was visiting her there and watching television
with her and their daughter, and I saw him at the wake after her death. He was a shrunken little
man, as I remember him, and I am told that the
next day at the funeral, oh, I should say before I
tell you this last thing, she had said to me, “I
believe that he will “come to the faith one day.” And at her funeral what I am told, he received communion. What that signified for him, I don’t know, but to me, it signifies that Dorothy got her man. (laughter) (mumbling) (laughter) (applause) – I have a question
maybe for you (mumbling). In this process, they have to
produce all these documents (mumbling), writing and
journals and letters. Is there anything that the process has the potential to find
in there in terms of, you know, (mumbling)? – I was interested to hear
that that’s going to take a couple of years. I’ve read all that stuff. I’ve actually probably spent more years than that doing it. Aside from all of her published
writings, which I’ve read, and I was invited to be the editor of her diaries and letters. Now, I read all the letters
that were available, and that’s a very small percentage of all the letters that she wrote. She probably wrote thousands of letters a year. She spent probably, it was a big surprise to me that with all the Catholic Worker
and with all the protests and all that kind of thing, probably, if you added it up, what did
Dorothy spend her life doing, it was writing letters. Hours every day. She’d write in her diary for
maybe just a few minutes, but hours writing letters, so those are all over the place. I was able to just work with the letters that people had kept or preserved or donated to the
Catholic Worker archives. I never really worried that I might come across something and say, “Oh my god. “Maybe I’ll lose this letter,”
or something like that. Same thing with her diaries. They’re very frank. They’re not dealing
with theological issues. They’re dealing with what’s in her heart, and she’s very honest about her failings, about her own sins. I mean, she really practiced kind of an examination of conscience, of really reviewing
all the ways that she’d hurt people during the day
and try to make up for it and pray for a better temperament and that sort of thing, so I think that for me it was a
deeply moving experience to see that other side of her that I had never really known, the private side, where she was just writing for God alone or for individual friends. As for her books, it’s not like these have been
gathering dust somewhere. They’ve been in print
for 50 years or whatever. They’re being reprinted. All of her writings in the Catholic Worker are an open book. At one point early on, the archdiocese suggested that she have a censor that would be available to her, and she agreed with that. She didn’t mind having a priest who would look over her shoulder. She was a convert, she had
no theological education. She didn’t mind being corrected
if she made some gaffe, but she made it very clear, “My writings about social justice, “about capitalism, about the poor, “about labor, about peace, “that’s none of his business,” and the church never intervened
or overruled her on that, and eventually, I don’t know
what happened to the censor. He kind of drifted away, but, so, no, I think that, certainly, in the 1950s and the 1960s and more recent times, there’ll be many that it would depend on who you gave it, read this stuff, plenty of things that
a Catholic theologian must have said, “My gosh,
this is terrible stuff.” Here’s an interesting
story that’s little known. In World War II, I only
discovered this recently. World War II, someone from
the Justice Department writes to Archbishop, Cardinal Spellman, and says, “Dorothy Day is writing
all this pacifist stuff. “Is this really kosher?” He didn’t say that word, but, “Is this really OK Catholic stuff? “Is she a Catholic in good standing?” And he appointed this Jesuit
who taught in the seminary, a moral theologian, to go over it and come up with a response, and he came up with
this argument that said, “Yes, what she’s saying is not common. “It’s out of the mainstream, “but it has a very dignified and authentic “place within the Catholic tradition.” That was good enough for Spellman. He passed that on, said, “She’s OK,” even though they couldn’t have disagreed more on that subject, so I think that, in fact, anybody looking back on her, rather than saying, “Oh my gosh, she was “way outside the norm,” they’ll say, “On all these subjects, like humanism, “the rites of conscience,
opposing anti-Semitism, “and option for the poor “and ecology and solidarity “and liturgical renewal
and reading the Bible “and all these kinds of ways, “the apostolate of the laity, “she was so far ahead of all the others, “and the church is just
catching up with her now.” So I’m not too worried. I think she’ll get a passing grade. – [Voiceover] I was going
to say, first of all, thank you very much for your talk. It seemed, and you sort
of answered my question, which is, it seems to me that anybody, there were 1000 people canonized during John Paul II (mumbling). Probably not one of them
left a written record close to what she’s written. It seems to me that the
fear that maybe initially people in the Catholic
Worker community had, that she’d be put up on a pedestal in the wrong sense, no one who has left a
written record like she has could possibly be put on a pedestal in any sense, and that is to say, of not being really human. That’s one sense, and in another sense, whose radical message about society, about (mumbling), about our militarism. So I guess that what that says to me is there’s a special, the burden going forward for the next decades and century or so, for the future, is on Catholic publishers and educators to make sure that her whole message stays out there, that we don’t try to shrink it like, in some way,
Arthur McCain’s message. We don’t hear about the
Riverside Church sermon that Martin Luther King gave
in 1967 against the war, you know what I’m saying? We hear about the “I Have a Dream” speech, and so that’s the kind of challenge that Catholic publishers
and Catholic (mumbling). – I’ve done my little part. – [Voiceover] I was at the gathering today with all of the Catholic Workers, and, I think, for me, as a woman who grew up in the 50s and went to an all-girls Catholic high school was a product of Catholic education, Dorothy Day represents,
although she didn’t call herself a feminist, she made an advancement in consciousness for women in the church, and although she never really said anything about women’s ordination and being for it or against it, I know that in 1976, an incredible document
was signed by many women, theologians, that (mumbling)
gave to me in the 80s, saying that nothing existed Scripturally speaking on behalf of all
the Scripture’s followers that would prevent women from becoming ordained priests, so I think within the
context in talking about Dorothy, we have to bring up some of the roles and the ways in which we women still work with
oppression within the church, with ways in which clerical (mumbling) does still have a momentum in how we view ourselves, and so to welcome young
women at Holy Cross and any college and any university, we have to welcome that that was in Dorothy Day,
perhaps never spoken, but I believe in my deep
Catholic feminist heart probably was there in some context, waiting to emerge even in the 90s. So on behalf of all
the women of Holy Cross and all the women who are a part of this effort for canonization and knowing Martha Hennessy very well, we women in the Catholic Worker movement really feel strongly that the Dorothy Day who speaks for women and the continued oppression of women, not only in the church through clericalism, but in all the ways we know about war and rape as a vehicle of war and all the other contexts in which women are the sufferers of (mumbling). This is the way I, as a woman, claim Dorothy Day as my saint. (applause) – Two quick questions for George. You said the archdiocesan phase would be wrapped up in two years. How long would it take to
wrap up the Roman phase? And then, secondly, is there a requirement of multiple miracles for
the canonization process, and if so, can you answer? – So I say two years because there’s a little plotting
that will take place. By the time we get the censors, each one of her writings has to be read by two theological censors. The historians, we don’t
have to have a number of them do each writing. It’s probably going to take two years. In terms of the Roman phase, I’m afraid I don’t know
very much about that. My understanding is that we need a miracle for beatification. One of the things that the guild does is take prayer requests. Theoretically, she’s not at a stage where we can pray for her intercession. It’s a little bit of a catch-22, right? Because people are praying to her, and so they send us the prayer requests. We keep a record. Some of that may have impact, but I believe, I believe, and there seems to be some thinking among the people in the diocese that if we can get the local phase done, because when the Pope was here and spoke before Congress
and came to New York, she was at the top of his attention, and there was some question raised, how far along is the process? And if we were further
along in the local phase, who knows? But I think if we get that done, then we’ll have pretty
smooth sailing in Rome. I also think with the Pope’s concern about the cost that that’s
going to change things too. Again, I think we need to hurry. Does that answer you, Sean? (audience member mumbling off-mic) – Yes. (audience member mumbling off-mic) Dorothy D ay first used that term in the post-script for her book, her autobiography, “The Long Loneliness.” She says, “It’s sometimes hard to remember “the duty of delight.” She doesn’t attribute it there. So I came across that in her diaries, where she had come across
this line from John Ruskin, and it became one of
these little shorthand almost mantras that she would invoke at different times. Sometimes she would refer to it to get, at one point she even said, “I’ve come up with, that’s going to be “the title for my next book. “It’s going to be The Duty of Delight,” and I was very glad
that she hadn’t used it. The book that became “Loaves and Fishes” was going to be “The Duty of Delight.” Apparently, the publisher
didn’t want that. It would come, sometimes she’d list all these things that had
happened during the day, and then she’d just say, “The
duty of delight” at the end. She didn’t have to explain it to herself. She knew what it meant. For her it meant, I think, that delight, like love,
is a matter of discipline. It’s a matter of will. It’s a matter of a decision. It’s easy to be delighted
when things are delightful, but to remember delight,
remember to be grateful, to remember to find God in all things, even the things that are hard, even the things that are onerous, the things that wear you down. It was the same thing
as one of the very key themes in her spirituality, was that idea, “Where
there is no love, put love, “and you will find love.” It’s one thing to love
people who are lovable, but she said, she believed
that if you could make a conscious decision, this person is anything but lovable on their own natural terms, but if I make the decision to love them, a kind of magic will happen. Eventually I’ll be able to kind of see the image of God in them, despite all that deforms that image. So I think it was a very,
very central theme for her, and the funny thing is that toward the end of her life, there were certain kind
of formula like that that she liked to repeat all the time, and you see it even in the
very last pages of her diary, saying something like,
“The duty of delight. “Where did that phrase come from again?” Couldn’t even remember where it came from, but it was one thing that she had kind of pinned to her heart. What does it mean for me? I think that it was reading those diaries that made me really understand
the heart of Dorothy Day. It was easy when I was a young person to think, “Oh, these
are the real Christians. “They’re out there picketing. “They’re out there getting arrested “and going to jail and fasting “and all that kind of stuff, “getting beaten or whatever.” And I think that, you know, but I burned out pretty fast. Some of these people have
been here for 30 years. You’ll notice I didn’t stay there. It was not my vocation to
remain at the Catholic Worker. But reading her diaries, it was more than just understanding, OK, she was a Catholic, and that was the
foundation of her vocation, but to understand the kind
of key to her spirituality, which came very much through Therese and the little flower, that idea that these are
decisions that you make. These are choices that I’m
going to make every day. I’m going to make a
choice to be more loving. I’m going to make a choice
to be more forgiving. Not ’cause Dorothy was
just naturally like that. Somebody once told her,
“Hold your temper, Dorothy.” She said, “I hold more
temper in one minute “than you will in your entire lifetime.” (laughter) She could be kind of cussed. She could be sarcastic. She could hold a grudge, believe me. Something that Thomas
Merton did that bugged her, and 30 years later, if
you’d mention Thomas Merton, she’d say, “I remember the time he did,” and I’d say, “Well, Dorothy,
didn’t he apologize for that?” “Well, if he did, I don’t
remember that,” she’d say. (laughter) She could be judgmental. She could write really harsh things. There’s a letter, this is
not going to disqualify her from canonization, but it might take her out of the running
for mother of the year. There’s some of the letters
to her daughter Tamar in All the Way to Heaven where you see that Dorothy,
just like any other human parent, struggling between this
tension between trying to, your kids have to be free but you want to, kind of, you know best for them
and that sort of thing, and a letter where she
just lays into Tamar. You think, “Oh my god,” you know? Now, I could have said,
“That’s a letter I could lose,” but I thought it shows her humanity. It shows she’s a real human being. She was not this blessed de Montfort weeping over his food
or something like that. She was a person who got angry, who lost her temper, but what makes a saint is somebody, not that they have no human failings, not that they never fail
or have a weakness or sins, but that they reflect on that and they try
to incorporate the lessons, they try to amend their
behavior, their hearts. They examine their conscience, and that was what was so striking to me in reading Dorothy’s diaries. That’s what made her a saint, not the fact that she went to
jail and that sort of thing, the fact that she lived
her life on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, in the presence of God. That was a deeply (mumbling). – The journals are very
much worth reading. Just a wonderful, wonderful introduction (mumbling). One of the, we talked today about the Catholic Worker in Worcester. One of my favorite letters
she wrote to Mary Paulson. Mary Paulson’s daughter was living at the Catholic Worker in New York, And the Catholic Worker people in New York were young people not
behaving properly at all, and she just let it all out that these people down here, they don’t understand anything about love, much less sex. It was great, it was great. (laughter) Let me just say that Robert was kind enough to quote my statement about Dorothy. At the end of that essay that
was published when she died, I said that one of the things would be to kind of imagine Dorothy
at the center of the church, not at the extreme of the church. To talk about gratitude
to the Holy Spirit, in a very real sense, when you
read the joy of the gospel, when you listen to Pope
Francis say that in Congress, you say, “Yes, yes, yes!” What will the church look like
when Dorothy is at the center and the rest of us are
trying to get there, too? – David called it. 1980. (laughter) (applause)

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