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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Discovering a new Day, part II

It was during this long and ongoing search into the "natural" that I stumbled across some ideas that began to plant seeds. Homesteading, voluntary simplicity, frugality, and the like. However, what was missing was a religious component. Getting back to the land, spending more time as a family, living with less by choice all seemed like common sense Christian tenements-they clicked with me and my husband. We dreamed of life where we both worked at home with our children and supported ourselves without an outside nine to five. We attempted this-and failed miserably. I hadn't learned enough and we believed we needed to make LOTS of money to support ourselves. It didn't occur to us to live simpler in a smaller home with fewer costs. How I missed that in my reading I don't know. So we jumped into a large business venture hoping to make it big while my husband worked a second job, just until the business got going and the money poured in. But that never happened and he wound up commuting three hours a day or more to a job we needed to pay the bills while I stayed at home with two small children to care for and a business to run.
Our faith was tested but thankfully we got out of the situation with our sanity, our marriage and our beliefs still intact and strengthened. However, our bank accounts were drained and a pile of debt had accumulated in the months we struggled to make ends meet. I continued to read as we dug ourselves out from debt and had another child. We moved into an apartment and attended a new, traditional parish. Through the books others recommended to us I discovered Integrity magazine and from searching online for more information about that I stumbled into the Catholic Worker Movement, Distributism and the Catholic Back to the Land Movement. Before WWII Catholics had all sorts of ideas to change the world, but somehow, these things were lost to time.
Within a week, I was reading a biography of Dorothy Day and the Movement. I'd been reading Day's writings online daily; I was hooked. I sent links to my husband at work and he agreed. Our plans for the future began to take shape in a new way.

Discovering a new Day, part I

So how did I get to this point? What makes me think I can, or should, try to open a Catholic Worker House? Am I acting on pride-thinking I can do one better than what is already being done? That is my biggest fear.
It all began about four years ago, I guess something about being pregnant with my first child made me take a look at myself and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I knew I wanted to make a diference somehow. As a teenager that meant fame and fortune in Hollywood. Hah! Then I wanted to be a writer or photographer and take home the Pulitzer after exposing some grave injustice. But I quickly became disenchanted with life as a journalist. I knew it wasn't for me. I didn't know I was destined to love being a mom-that was still a ways off- so I went searching.
At the time I saw the ill effects of the medical community on my family. Grandparents were suffering with drug side effects from carelessly prescribed pills. Doctors misdiagnosed or didn't seem to care about the people I loved. I was upset and thought God must have had a better plan than this. I turned to alternative medical therapies thinking maybe I'd become some sort of practitioner and heal those harmed by traditional medicine. By cooking up potions in a big black kettle over a roaring fire or maybe by massaging toxins I'd make a difference! But there were so many therapies each one more "natural" than the previous one I read about, and each one contrary to the other. I couldn't decide which to pursue, which one was the true path to health God wanted for me.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Catholic House

Dorothy Day said first and foremost the Catholic Worker Movement must be Catholic. In her day, it was the one thing that was understood by all workers. The Movement welcomed all but remained Catholic to the core. She strove to publish a paper faithful to Church teachings and it was well known she would desist her activities at once if demanded by her bishop.
I wonder how many hospitality houses of today would defend the faith as quickly as they would defend the homeless. I wonder if they would protest in front of an abortion clinic as quickly as the school of the Americas. Let me state that in no way am I questioning the great things these houses do, Catholic or not, for the people they serve. But I believe houses of hospitality, and farms, need to exist in the true Catholic Worker Tradition. That is my goal, to open, somewhere, somehow a Catholic Worker Hospitality House faithful to the Church, with a huge bloody crucifix over the entranceway, and a statue of Mary in plain view-no apologies. Time spent in communal prayer and protest. And the summit of it all, regular, hopefully, daily Mass for all workers. I won't shove tracts and apologetics down your throat with a hot bowl of soup, but through the actions of the Workers I want you to see, feel and come to believe in Gods love for you. Jesus offers us so much hope and grace to persevere through our lives. How could a Worker face misery and poverty daily without the Eucharist to turn to? How can we offer hope to others if we are hopeless?
To read Dorothy Day's works and co-founder Peter Maurin's Easy Essays I wholeheartedly recommend Lot of great stuff there. Check out the websites of the CW houses and let me know what you think.


So what are my long term goals? How do I hope to apply the information I'm reading to my life? What is my personal philosophy? How does the Catholic Church play into all this?
I've got a lot of questions and I'm only begining to form some answers but some things are certain from the get go;
The Catholic Church is the one true Church and therefore, everything I do is rooted in Her teachings, which are the teachings of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I am called to be a saint and to help others, especially my family, to be saints as well. My actions at all times must lead souls closer to God, not to Hell.
My goal is to live out a life as close to Christian perfection as possible. Obviously I'm going to fail miserably at times, but God will give me the grace to keep going. I believe God makes it very clear, not just through the Church and Her traditions and the bible, but through our common sense, and our conscience (well formed in the faith mind you) to what is right. I have always found, for me anyway, that the truth just clicks. You know in your heart and in your mind, when you have heard the truth. Harden not your hearts!
Some' truths' that I have come to realize and want to build upon; voluntary poverty or simplicity, helping the poor without judgement, movement away from a centralized goverment, self reliance and sufficiancy. These things all hit me a different times and I struggled to make sense of them until I saw them all together in the Catholic Worker Movement. My aha! moment.
Although hard to fully into words now, I hope to elaborate more on each sentimant in coming posts.

The beginning

And so it begins. I've had alot of ideas in my head and now i've finally gone and started a blog to get them all out. Will it last? Only time will tell, but if my journal is any indication of things to come, there may be large gaps...lots of them.
However, I feel like a new chapter is emerging in my life. One that needs to be written down, well documented and easily accesable to those who may feel the same way.
I have been deeply affected by my recent discovery of the Catholic Worker Movement, Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin and the distributist and back to land movements of the early 20th century. Ideas that I've had rolling around in my head for the past four years have all come together. I've finally found people that understand what I'm saying, even if I'm arriving 70 years too late for the party.
So now I'm trying to devour as much information as possible on the subjects. But I need a space to unload my ideas and future plans before I forget them and to make room for more information amongst my grey cells. Dorothy Day kept numerous journals and wrote books and hundreds, probably thousands of articles. Writing was integral to her work and I believe it will be in mine as well. The media of her day was the newspaper. Today, it's blogs, websites, podcasts and youtube videos. Now I'm no Dorothy Day, but perhaps what this country needs is a new Catholic social revolution. If so, it will have to start in cyberspace. Here's to new beginings.