To be honest, I am not much one for book reviews. I tend to assume I can figure out if I will like a book or not, and I am usually right. I can only think of one exception, so I am not going to rave or wave on this book, but I did want to share a few "Aha!" moments that I felt while reading Dorothy Day's autobiography, because wow. I am still thinking about them.
This passage just grabs me. Often, I find myself struggling in my faith: not understanding, trying to understand, forgetting what I thought I understood. Reading this and being reminded that we humans are not just "one dimension" is refreshing. We have bodies and minds and souls. So often our society focuses just on the physical and yet there is so much more to our existence.
Day's incredibly brave and difficult decision to choose Catholicism over the love of her life RIPS ME UP. She says, "To become Catholic meant for me to give up a mate with whom I was much in love. It got to the point where it was a simple question of whether I chose God or man." Wow. Not going to lie. I teared up thinking about whether or not I could have made that decision. Sure, I made the decision time and time again while dating, but what if I would have had to make that choice when it was THE man?
Day beautifully described the ambivalence a Catholic like me sometimes feels about the human Church when she wrote about her feelings on the Church during her conversion. "'The worst enemies would be those of our own household.'" To hear that the struggle of loving the faith and being frustrated with how we practice our faith is so timeless gives me some hope.
Dorothy Day also describes a peculiar, yet familiar scene under a section she titled, "Community."
One of the great German Protestant theologians said after the end of the last war that what the world needed was community and liturgy.
The desire for liturgy, and I suppose he meant sacrifice, worship, a sense of reverence, is being awakened in great masses of people throughout the world by the new revolutionary leaders. A sense of individual worth and dignity is the first result of the call made on them to enlist their physical and spiritual capacities in the struggle for a life more in keeping with the dignity of man. One might also say that the need to worship grows in them with the sense of reverence, so the sad result is giant-sized posters of Lenin and Stalin, Tito and Mao. The dictator becomes divine.Does history repeat itself? Do we acknowledge it is repeating itself while it is happening? I am struck by the similarities between what Day describes and our current political climate and affiliations. Large posters of our President and other candidates. Social media clamoring with a near worship-level of allegiance to parties instead of the needs of our fellow men and women.
"Every Catholic faced with great need starts a novena."
I am so glad that I read this book. My interest in all things Catholic and feminist is growing, and to read about Dorothy Day's life in her own words was refreshing and motivating. Because she fits today's definition of feminist, but she really just believes in the equal and inherent dignity with which ALL humans are created. So, go add it to your list. Or at least read a bunch of quotes from her or look her up on Wikipedia. She pretty much is amazing.
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