Remembering a remarkable American woman today

29 Nov

Today is the 30th anniversary of the death of Dorothy Day. She is a towering figure in the history of Christianity in America and also of the work for social justice. She’s also a personal hero of mine — and certainly part of the reason I’m here doing what I do at Christian Help of Mingo County.

To provide some food for thought, here’s a neat little introduction to Dorothy that I used to show my high school students when we talked about her. (It’s a sort of trailer to a much longer documentary about her.)

I’d also point out that just a few weeks ago her collected letters were published, under the title All the Way to Heaven. The editor of that book, Robert Ellsberg, also oversaw the publication of her diaries a couple of years ago as The Duty of Delight. That book is wonderful reading, and I’m looking forward to digging into her letters. (When my brother asked me last week what I want for Christmas, I named All the Way to Heaven.)

The feast days chosen by the Catholic Church for most saints are the anniversary of their death. So I (and surely most others familiar with her) fully expect this date to someday be the one on which the Church annually celebrates Dorothy’s extraordinary life, ministry, and message.

And there’s no reason she shouldn’t be celebrated as well by those who live their faith outside the Catholic tradition. She stands as a challenging model to any Christian who believes the words of Jesus in Matthew 25.

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