Friday, May 02, 2008

Catholic Worker Anniversary

On the 75th anniversary (yesterday) of the founding of the Catholic Worker movement, from Catholic News Service:

Today, Catholic Worker houses are as diverse as the people running them. Each house is autonomous with no formal rules except to carry out the works of mercy: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, caring for the sick, burying the dead.The depth of prayer and spirituality varies as well. Some community members walk in lock step with the Catholic Church while, as Forest said, "others would cross the street to not be blessed by the pope." The vast majority are somewhere in the middle.

From Stephan Hand (some time ago) :

Dorothy Day's blessed work was over time compromised in part by a well-intentioned weakness of her own, i.e., a dedication to a distinct form of 'anarchism' which was reluctant to see any need but Christ and His peace; and this anarchism soon was extended by not a few of her disciples to the point of defacing Day's Catholic distinctiveness. Unlike, say, Charles de Foucauld, Day was not seeking conversions as such, only mostly to serve (if this led to conversions that would be an extra blessing I think she would have thought). Hence her religion became more personal over time, and the work, with some wonderful exceptions which exist even now, was soon infiltrated by every kind of heretical "Catholic" notion---from birth control and abortion advocates to Marcionism and many heretical Christologies---to say nothing of many other alien philosophies, contrary no doubt to what Dorothy Day intended; these people often consider the very notion of heresy repugnant, so that if one were visit many (not all) Catholic Worker houses today one will often find on close examination more political Leftism than Catholicism.

What is needed---and perhaps this is what the Zwick's are calling for---is a new CW movement going back to her and Peter Maurin's distinctly Catholic roots for the movement; but in my opinion a new movement should leave aside all those extremely elastic and mischievous notions like 'anarchism' which have been too easily applied to the movement and the Faith, the faith which must together with the works of mercy be proclaimed "from the roof tops," as Our Lord said. We need to open houses of hospitality like never before, but ensure it all remains Catholic.

Much to think about here.... But what is clearly needed is a radical love of Christ in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. I particularly liked Thomas Storck's piece in the January 2008 New Oxford Review :

As for the charge that Dorothy Day was a communist, this is easily disposed of. Her economic thought, like that of Peter Maurin, was rooted in the papal social encyclicals, in the English distributists G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, and in the critique of modern economics made by so many Catholic thinkers in the first half of the 20th century. Simply put, it is in the mainstream of Catholic thinking, and if it seems radical and dangerous to many American Catholics, this only shows how little authentic Catholic social thought is known and embraced among us. Peter Maurin liked to talk about "blowing the dynamite of the Church." By this he meant making known the Church's social doctrine, a revolutionary and radical doctrine in the truest sense of the words. I challenge anyone to read carefully Pius XI's encyclical Quadragesimo Anno and see if that document does not call for profound changes in the social order and in our way of life. Indeed, the encyclical's formal title, "On Reconstructing the Social Order and Perfecting It Conformably to the Precepts of the Gospel," is surely a lifetime task for any Catholic.

Now is the time. Pope Benedict called for a rejection of secularism and a return to personal holiness. If you read his first encyclical, it clearly calls for the charity which was present in apostolic times-which is radical! The world needs radical witnesses today.

On this feast of St. Athanssius .... Oremus pro invicem!

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