From reader Sue Hayes. Sue lives in Northern California and has been married for thirty-three years to a Catholic Worker:

“In regard to the canonization of Dorothy Day, it amuses me that both the Catholic Left AND the Right are trying to CLAIM her, when she is NOT claimable… she was incapable of being drawn into petty squabbles of either stripe…she spoke Truth to power, strove to conform herself to the Living, Dying, Rising of true discipleship in Christ, and lived the Gospel with no interest in carving out some niche for herself as “special or admirable,” nor did she like it when people called her “a living saint” because then it was ” too easy to dismiss her.”

There’s a story (you can’t be married to a quintessential Catholic Worker for 33 years, as I have been, and not know STORIES) that Dorothy, in her seventies, was arrested after a peace protest and they put her in a holding cell. After a bit, they opened the door and shoved in a young woman who was a prostitute and drunk. She cried and swore and said vile things to Dorothy and then fell on the floor at Dorothy’s feet and threw up all over Dorothy’s feet and legs…without a second’s hesitation, Dorothy sank down on the floor and took the young woman’s head gently into her lap and just held her, as a mother would hold her child.

THAT’S why Dorothy is a saint… because she was incapable of marginalizing or being without respect for EVERY human being, regardless of how badly they may have “blotted their copybook”… When Dorothy spoke of “a harsh and dreadful love” [the quote is from Dostoevsky‘s The Brothers Karamazov] it kind of blew all that sky-blue-pink-bejeezely-stuff right out of the water. It was LOVE which Dorothy clung to and was not afraid to offer to ANYONE, a love so God-partaking in its authority, so steely determined in delivery that “even the gates of Hell could not prevail against it!”

THAT’s why Dorothy is a saint; not because she championed the cause of the poor, (kudos from the Left) nor because she obeyed all The Rules (high-fives from the Right) but because she was true to her vocation, as each of us should be, to become the person God called her to be. How many people were immeasurably blessed that Dorothy Day came their way?”


11 Replies to “LOVE IS THE MEASURE”

  1. Dear Heather,
    a blessed 4rth Sunday in Advent to you.

    Another measure of sainthood, that is to say of another measure of love, is that a saint would not be at all impressed or in any way changed by the accolades of either 'left' or 'right'.

  2. Interesting that it is "too easy to dismiss" someone whom we regard as a saint. Sort of the same deal as dismissing someone who is not bright enough, not interesting enough, not together enough, smells bad … whatever. For whatever reason, I decide this particular person doesn't/can't speak to me. I won't listen. Tangentially reminds me of what Kimberley said a couple weeks ago regarding St T's little way. If God is truly infinitely good, then how can I determine which of my own "good deeds" have a greater or lesser impact? I can't, and if I think I can I'm fooling myself. Likewise with people. Who should have my attention/regard/love? Well, probably whomever He places in front of me at the moment. That would take care of it. Doesn't mean I should be stupid about it, not set limits, ignore my daily responsibilities, etc..

    Thanks for a good Advent, Heather and SOFers. The baby is coming.

  3. Dorothy will become a saint in the church as will her friend : Catherine de Hueck Doherty.

    We need these women saints who had abortions and divorces.

  4. Dorothy will become a saint in the church as will her friend : Catherine de Hueck Doherty.

    We need these women saints who had abortions and divorces.

  5. That is proof of Dorothy's heroic virtue, as far as I'm concerned. I don't think I could have tender feelings for someone who lost her lunch on my shoes! But this is definitely a deficit of charity on my part. Dorothy Day is one of those luminous souls, who stood astride that warlike 20th century like a shining icon of Christ. And yes, these snonymous secret hidden gestures of love — this is what's keeping the world going.

    And yes, to the endorsement of Catherine Doherty, and I'd add Caryll Houselander for good measure.

    Blessings to you, Heather K, on the eve of your retreat. And to you & all your readers, a most blessed Christmas.

  6. "Dorothy will become a saint in the church as will her friend : Catherine de Hueck Doherty."

    I'm hoping so. We have a Madonna House in my city. It is a fortunate thing. I've made a few Poustinias there and am grateful for her spiritual heritage.

  7. I like what Cardinal Dolan said about her:

    "Dolan sought to connect the two poles of Day's reputation, noting that since both conservatives and liberals often find much to love, and sometimes loathe, in Day's life, 'I'm more convinced than ever that she's a saint for our time.' "

  8. Blessings to you, dear Heather! Your recent posts have been compelling and lovely and mysterious with photos of lights in the night. All good, all wonderful Advent reading. You are such good company! And you bring along so many caring and thoughtful folks with you.

    On the topic of Dorothy Day, I had a giggle with the photo you posted of a particularly stern-faced Dorothy over your greeting, "Merry Christmas!" While "A Harsh and Dreadful Love" describes her life and mission quite well, I fell in love with the practical day-to-day life she wrote of in her book "On Pilgrimage".

    Wishing you and your wonderful readership a holy and happy Christmas.

  9. Anonymous says: Reply


    I have seen your writing for years, in various Catholic publications. This morning while reading the Magnificat, I saw that you have a blog! I am thrilled to have found it and I will be back!

    Dorothy Day is the kind of saint I want to be!

    Mary Christine

  10. "Love is the measure" is about the best Christmas "message" (if we have to have a message) I can imagine.
    I am so grateful to all of you–for your readership, your insights, your greetings, prayers, links, jokes, blessings.

    I am now going to do my nails while listening to Bach's Christmas Oratorio, then motor on through the Angeles Forest to the monastery in order to arrive in time for noon Mass. If I don't return (well, either way), I have scheduled a Christmas post to run tonight.

    So have a beautiful few days and God bless us, every one!

  11. Dear Heather,

    this probably seems improbable but Bach's Christmas Oratorio, is cued on my computer to play shortly – right after Bing does his thing.

    God bless and again, have a wonderful retreat and Christmas.


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