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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Not up for discussion

Although Day often considered herself a christian anarchist, for lack of a better term, she did not believe in running her houses in utter chaos either. Just as the Church has a heirarchy and rules, so does a hospitatlity house.

Leaders - We have no committees. Wherever in our houses we have had them they do not work. The person in charge of the house, living in the house, working there, is father and mother of the group. The Benedictine ideal, not the idea of majority rule. The leader may make mistakes, but he can repair them. He has to stand a lot of criticism, and keep going; or leave, or step down and let another take his place. People could take turns, but in general it is best to have one leader to take responsibilities and make decisions. We are absolutely opposed to committees. Personal responsibility, "littleness" are points too important to the work to be neglected. They are the very basis.

Relation to the Hierarchy - We do not feel that we need permission from the clergy or Bishops to start a house to practice the works of mercy. If they do not like it, they can tell us to stop and we will gladly do so. But asking them to approve before any work is done is like asking them to assume a certain amount of responsibility for us. We are the gutter sweepers of the diocese, the head of our Detroit house said once.
"Letter On Hospices" By Dorothy Day The Catholic Worker, Jan 1948

A good book to read is 'The Rule of St. Benedict." The basic guidelines outlined by St. Benedict are timeless, thus their use even today. No less than divine common sense, this rule can be adapted for personal daily life outside the monastary or even a business. As a backbone for a hospitatlity house it would be indespensable. A sharp contrast to the 'supersized committee, let everyone have a say in it then take a vote, then discuss some changes to it then vote again' mindset found everywhere else in society. So much wasted time and energy instead of just getting things done.

People come in all of a glow to help the poor, and their very compassion makes them think there must be some quicker way to serve them: make laws, change conditions, get better housing, working conditions, racial justice, etc. But the immediate work remains, the works of mercy, and there are few to do them. Perseverance, endurance, faithfulness to the poor-we should be wedded to Lady Poverty as St. Francis was--these are the things to stress."Letter On Hospices" By Dorothy Day The Catholic Worker, Jan 1948

How often do we see a problem and start out with good intentions and then complicate matters by talking instead of acting. For instance, my blog is all well and good but it is worthless if it does not lead me diretly to helping the poor with my own two hands. I know that and I shouldn't keep writing crap for years and years, discussing and debating, hemming and hawing over how to help the poor. The writing isn't the answer. The discusion in the comment boxes isn't the answer. Doing charity NOW is. Otherwise, we are but clashing cymbals.