What Makes A Saint Tick? : Lessons from the heart of Dorothy Day

by Faith & Life, Pope Francis, Saints, Social Justice

In his apostolic visit to the United States, Pope Francis mentioned several people who, through hard work and sacrifice, have been able to build a better future. People who, “shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people.”  True cultural game-changers. Among the names that he mentioned is the controversial activist and Servant of God, Dorothy Day. If you want to to know the full story of her life, her autobiography, The Long Loneliness, is a real treat, and her biographical movie, Entertaining Angels, is just as good… But for now, in order to uncover the foundation of her truly impressive apostolic action, what “makes her tick”, I´d like to take a look at a few things she said throughout her life.

“The mystery of the poor is this: That they are Jesus, and what you do for them you do for Him. It is the only way we have of knowing and believing in our love. The mystery of poverty is that by sharing in it, making ourselves poor in giving to others, we increase our knowledge of and belief in love.”

Christocentrism — taking God seriously

To many, Dorothy Day is known for her political activism and for sharing many communist principles throughout her life, but these facets of her person don´t allow us to see why she lived as she did. For Dorothy, Christ was not just an idea, but was  really a person to follow, a steady guide worthy of love and complete dedication. The reason behind her service and self-sacrifice for the poorest of the poor only becomes clear by acknowledging that she placed another at the center of her existence, Christ.

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?”

Conversion — You say you want a revolution?

Dorothy wanted to change the world, she wanted to start a revolution. She was arrested 11 times throughout her life for protesting different causes. Even though she maintained a very outspoken and active style, her attention to the deepest and most fundamental issue was unwavering: she looked to address the human heart. Dorothy´s life is a story of conversion in which her own heart is transformed by God and placed at the service of those whose lives are most in need of change.

“As for ourselves, yes, we must be meek, bear injustice, malice, rash judgment. We must turn the other cheek, give up our cloak, go a second mile.”

Magnanimity — living Matthew 25

Dorothy looked to style her life according to the Gospel. Enough said.


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