Week of Novenas for Justice and

August 13 - 21

Our Lady of Victories and Dorothy Day

General Intention:

+ For the creation of structures of beauty and goodness.

+ Ensure fair distribution, subsidiarity, economic opportunity, justice, and food security for everyone everywhere. Seventh Work of Justice and Peace

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Saint Prayer:

Friend and partner of the poor, guiding spirit for the Catholic Worker, home always open to the unwanted. Early, often lonely, witness in the cause of peace and conscience, eloquent pattern of gospel simplicity, Dorothy Day, disciple of the Lord, may we continue your gift of self to the needy and your untiring work for peace. May we follow your example and dedicate our lives to the creation of that structures of beauty and goodness which characterize the kingdom of God.

Dorothy Day was an early advocate of women's rights who wrote for radical leftist newspapers in the early part of this century. She was a hedonist, a bohemian as they said in those days -- but when she looked in her heart of hearts, she found it empty. By the grace and providence of God, she found our Lord and was baptized into the Catholic Church. Thus began a journey which led to the founding of the Catholic Worker movement, together with Peter Maurin and the other first Workers.

She worked her entire life to create structures of beauty and goodness. In the midst of the slums of New York, they provided hospitality to the poor while working for social justice. They saw the truth -- that the works of mercy and the works of justice and peace are one and the same, different aspects of the same journey, all going the same direction.

Long before it was a theological mantra, the "preferential option for the poor" was a living reality in the life and work of Dorothy Day. She was an informed critic of current events, always looking for the Gospel truth in a given situation, and finding Jesus in the poor, rejected, and marginalized.

Her example inspires us today to consider how we can ensure fair distribution, subsidiarity, economic opportunity, justice, and food security for everyone everywhere. First we must see the structures of sin that bind us down in oppression and poverty, and then we can discern ways around the structures, or ways to redeem them, or dismantle them. We can buy farms and dedicate them for the purpose of raising food for the hungry. We can organize microenterprise co-operatives in every city to provide opportunity for the poor. We can look at our own individual situations, and adopt lifestyles of simplicity and frugality, rejecting the culture of materialistic conspicuous consumption in favor of a life of justice. Live simply, that others may simply live. We can discern the cry of the widow and orphan in our own neighborhoods, and be the hands and feet of God in relieving distress and creating justice.

All of this is not utopia, it is within our grasp. The price of a hundred and sixty acre farm can be less than the price of the typical middle-class suburban house. And that one farm could provide more than three tons of flour -- each and every year. Volunteers from the parish could provide the labor. Parishes could join together, perhaps as a diocese, and buy several farms and a small mill to grind the wheat into flour, and package it for distribution. Or vegetables could be grown, and canned in a diocesan canning kitchen for distribution to the poor.

We can put together packages of capital for small groups (say 6 to 12) of poor people, and provide them with proper business advice and assistance in starting their own microenterprise co-operatives, that will eventually grow into full time jobs. Some of those could be food co-ops, perhaps offering 50 basic products, in areas where grocery stores are scarce.

So during this week where we honor Mary as Our Lady of Victories, and ask for the intercession of Dorothy Day of New York, disciple of the Lord and Catholic Worker, let us turn our contemplation towards the structures of beauty and goodness that are necessary to redeem our alienated and wounded world.

Selected Links

Works of Justice and Peace

Dorothy Day Library on the Web

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