The Second Candle of the Justpeace Advent Wreath
Dorothy Day of
New York Confessor
and Catholic Worker
Dorothy Day Library on the Web
Reflections during Advent, by Dorothy Day, from a four part series for Advent 1966, originally published in Ave Maria magazine.
From Union Square to Rome, an autobiography Dorothy wrote in 1938 about her transition from atheist radical to Catholic radical.
Meditation on the Lectionary Readings for the second Sunday of Advent 1998
From "Poverty is to care and not to care", by Dorothy Day
We could write for the next twenty years, as we have been writing for the past twenty, of poverty
and its joys and sorrows, and still not clarify all that is meant by it. St. Francis was the little poor
man and none was more joyful than he. But he began with fear and trembling, with tears, hiding
out in a cave from his irate father, expropriating some of his goods (which he considered his
inheritance) in order to repair a church and rectory where he meant to live. It was only later, that
he came to love Lady Poverty. He took it little by little, it seemed to grow on him. Perhaps
kissing the leper was one great step that freed him from attachment to worldly goods, to his
fastidiousness, or fear of disease.
Sometimes it takes but one step. We would like to think so. And yet
the older I get the more I see that life is made up of many steps, and they
are very small affairs, not giant strides. They may loom large in our
consciousness, they may look big, but they are but boulders on the way,
that we have overcome. . . the daily, hourly, minutely giving up of one's
own will and possessions, which means poverty, is a hard, hard thing,
and I don't think it ever gets any easier. . .
In front of me as I write is Fritz Eichenberg's picture of St. Vincent de
Paul. He has a chubby child in his arms and a thin pale child is clinging
to him. Yes, the poor we are always going to have with us, our Lord
told us that, and there will always be a need for our sharing, for stripping ourselves to help
others. It always will be a life-time job. But I am sure that God did not intend that there be so
many poor. The class structure is of our making and our consent, not His. It is the way we have
arranged it, and so it is up to us to change it. So we are urging revolutionary change. . .
There have been many sins against the poor which cry out to high heaven for vengeance. The
one listed as one of the seven deadly sins is depriving the laborer of his share. There is another
one, that is, instilling in him the paltry desires to satisfy that for which he must sell his liberty and
his honor. Not that we are not all guilty of concupiscence, but newspapers, radios, television,
and battalions of advertising people (woe to that generation) deliberately stimulate his desires,
the satisfaction of which mean the degradation of the family.
Because of these factors of modern life, the only way we can write about poverty is in terms of ourselves, our own personal responsibility. The message we have been given is the Cross, Christ and Him crucified. "The apostle must bring faith in providence back into the world," Fr. Regamy writes. "He must show what Christianity asks of us. . . I would betray Christianity if I did not repeat his law. . . trying to get to the depths of human hearts, to the most secret place where the most depraved person is as innocent as a child." We believe this but, on the other hand, we have seen the depths of the faithlessness and stubbornness of the human soul, we are surrounded by sin and failure, and it is a mark of our faith in Christ and our neighbor to believe this. So we must continue to write, to appeal for an increase in a love of poverty which goes with love of our neighbors.
"Poverty is to care and not to care," by Dorothy Day, The Catholic Worker, April 1953, 1,5, from the Dorothy Day library on the web.