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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Looking for direction this Advent season

As I prepare for Advent I'm searching for ways to bring the true meaning of the season alive for my children. I want the next month to include activities beyond the mall photo op with Santa (which I've managed to avoid thus far) and driving around aimlessly looking for another house decorated ala Clark Griswald.
It's hard with three children four and under (now you know why I don't post more often) to plan anything too deep and meaningful no matter what interest my husband and I have. (All the museums we've been to in the last year allow lots of touching.) Furthermore, we try to find the most child friendly ways of introducing and enjoying 'deep' Church practices. For example, while my husband loves the two hour high mass at our traditional rite church, we usually attend earlier low mass to keep our sanity. And I would love to have a nice large Advent wreath with nice tall burning tapers, but for now, we have a safe cloth and Velcro version with bright yellow felt flames. No midnight mass this year either.
The local free family actives paper I pick up at the grocery store listed volunteering ideas for families to under take this "holiday" season. Giving is natural part of Advent and Christmas (and the Gospel in general) but how to convey the importance of charity to such young children? Most of the paper's ideas focused on sending items/money to sick children, troops overseas, impoverished families, etc. via a major organization. So it's charity, without actually having to meet or interact with anyone. There can be some correspondence between donators and recipients but it's minimal. It's a step in the right direction and hopefully it leads people to a more hands on role. Ultimately, I'll probably try some of the recommendations this year with my own brood.
My struggle is how much do I expose my children to at such a young age? Mailing cards to sick kids or visiting sick kids in the hospital? I don't want my children scared of coming down with a terminal illness. Do I take my kids to downtown Camden to help serve Christmas dinner? At what point is safety a factor? It's also the dilemma I face in becoming Worker in general. My children are my first priority. I want them to grow up with charity as second nature; where serving in a soup kitchen will be no different then playing on a sports team. But I'm having a hard time finding the balance between raising the kids and giving my time to the needy. I don' t want to wait until they're out of the house because then it's too late to instill the importance of doing charity. However, I don' t want it to become just another occasional event penciled in on the weekends or holidays. I want to be a Worker family 24/7 but how do I give everyone all the attention they need without anyone, including myself, getting shortchanged? Did I mention I homeschool? Hopefully during Advent, a time of personal reflection, mortification and penance for me, I can come up with some answers and direction.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Big Things, Small Operation

Pie and Coffee has a link and a brief write up about 'Prophetic and Public, The Social Witness of Catholicism' By Kristen E. Heyer. The book sounds interesting so I added it to my Wish List but I wanted to bring attention to the remarks Mike makes on his blog;

"Now a good chunk of Catholic Worker communities are non-profits and/or run big operations, and they a good job of it. I’d never think of complaining about them, but part of what interests me about the Catholic Worker “model” is that it works so well with small-scale, personalist/anarchist efforts. Before coming in contact with the CW, I always assumed that to be effective in doing good you had work with an “official” organization, or else be an extraordinary person. I no longer think either of these is necessary.
I want to do big things, but without a big operation, and Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day is an obvious inspiration here..."

Hear hear! While considering community service my husband and I explored local food pantries, soup kitchens etc. trying to figure out what would fit into our schedule and principles. As we discussed options my husband brought up a women we both were acquainted with in college. He mentioned how she just collected oranges and blankets and on cold nights would wander downtown Philly and give them to homeless people in need. So often in looking for opportunities we fail to take the bull by the horns and make our own opportunity. It will be nice to some day officially attach the moniker "Catholic Worker" to whatever permanent house or farm we inhabit. But until then I can still be a Catholic Worker in the field if I so choose to call myself without having to register with a home office. The beauty of the movement is we can apply its beliefs to the lines at the large soup kitchen or to the family providing for a pregnant teenager in their spare bedroom. Big charities can do a lot of good, but it's reassuring to know, they're not the only ones capable of making a difference. Learn about the movement, get inspired and do something. No business plans or grant proposals needed; just pray.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Don't Celebrate Christmas...

Although Advent doesn't begin until next Sunday, it only last for three weeks this year so I thought I'd get a jump on it today by offering some brief reflections from Day. I know I personally will be working to make Advent a little Lent this year in preparation for the birth of our Lord. While most still abstain from something, even if it's just the occasional piece of candy, during Lent, the sacrifices made during Advent have been long forgotten. Instead we party from the fourth Thursday in November straight through until the New Year. We resume our daily grind January first with new resolutions and a new diet. Come Epiphany, our Christmas tree long since discarded, we shop stores preparing for Valentine's Day. This year don't celebrate Christmas until December 25 and try enjoying Advent for a change.

"...Advent must begin with Mary, who presents us with the infant Christ. "The flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary," St. Augustine wrote. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." When I go to the crib this year I will think, as I always do, that we are not dependent on the governments of this world for our safety, but "the government will be upon His shoulder." This baby cradled in a manger, this boy talking to the doctors in the temple, this youth working with St. Joseph as carpenter, this teacher walking the roads of Palestine, "Do whatever He tells you," Mary told us."
"Reflections During Advent," Part One
"Searching for Christ"
By Dorothy Day
Ave Maria, November 26, 1966, pp. 8-9.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Worst Christmas Ornament Ever

Advent and Christmas used to celebrate the coming and birth of our saviour. Then the retail sector swooped in and we forgot Advent and spent two months thinking about all the gifts we wanted. Now, we can decorate our tree with glittering handguns. I don't think we can remove ourselves much more than this from the meaning of the season; using the birth of the son of God to glamorize violence. I don't know about you, but I'm not quite ready to "bust a cap in my tree."If you don't shop at Urban Outfitters, please don't start now. For more info, check out this article in today's Philly Inquirer.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Today let's not worry about pilgrims and Indians (or is it Native Americans?) and instead focus on giving Thanks for all the blessings He has bestown upon us. As we prepare to glut ourselves on food today, remember those who will go hungry. We live in a country where we have our choice of turkeys (organic, free range, small or large) and the aisles of our supermarkets are filled with non essential items (cookies, crackers, soda, etc.) Tons of pounds of wheat, corn and other raw foods are used to make these junk foods and we still have the audacity to gripe when we can't find the exact brand and flavor of cracker at our local grocer. (What? No low fat, dipping size, garlic and rosemary Triscuts?!) There are people in our own country who wouldn't give a damn what flavor of Triscut you gave them so long as they had food. There are people in the developing world who would just be happy to get a pound of flour to make their own crackers. I knew of an African family who after relocating to Syracuse had to take a local friend from church shopping with them because they were so overwhelmed by all the choices and had no idea what foods they really needed. Heck, my husband is overwhelmed when I send him to get lasagna noodles. He brings back one of each to make sure I get the right thing. Needless to say, my pantry is full of lasagna noodles.
We have grown complacent in our prosperity. When we don't have a endless assortment of food to choose from, we feel robbed. My mom will be making no less than four types of side dishes today (I managed to talk her down from five) in order to give everyone in my family what they want. We will have at least four desserts. In celebrating our bounty, we've slipped into gluttony, something we should never be thankful for. Today, enjoy your feast which your wife, mom, or grandmother, slaved over a hot stove to make for you but maybe, fast the rest of the day or don't get seconds or skip dessert. Better yet, do all three. Take leftovers and eat them all week like they were the only food you had. Take the money you saved and give it to a food pantry or homeless person. Most importantly, remember to give thanks, today and everyday for the blessings God has given you. I leave you with Abraham Lincoln.

President Abraham Lincoln 1863

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the
overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble
sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and
pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the holy scriptures
and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the
We know that by divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to
punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justify fear that the
awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment
inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national
reformation as a whole people?
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been
preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in
numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which
preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have
vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings
were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with
unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity
of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently
and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole
American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the
United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in
foreign lands to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day
of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New ways of attacking the problem

Some thoughts from Dorothy on the mentally ill.

"Even if the "industry" which supports the community, comes under the title of a work of mercy, such as caring for the aged, for crippled children, for the mentally ill, all the families taking in the lame, the halt and the blind, it would financially, and humanly, support itself.
I am always hearing of the homes being started to care for the aged, or the mentally afflicted, and am aghast at the enormous sums spent for the buildings for this work. And the enormous charges made by these homes."
"On Pilgrimage - November 1957"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, November 1957, 4, 7.

"Contact with people who have had mental breakdowns, and visiting in mental hospitals, and the presence among us of so many psychosomatic complaints among people who live with us, has made me more than ever interested in the decentralization of mental hospitals.
In fact decentralization seems to be the solution to so many of our problems, from how to deal with the men on our skid rows, or how to deal with prisons and mental hospitals and the poor in India and Africa. The "do it yourself" movement; the service of others so emphasized by the Alcoholics Anonymous and Abbe Pierre; the retreat movement, all these are attempts to take care of the ills of the day, finding new ways of attacking the problem of how to perform the works of mercy most effectively, and without calling in the aid of the State."
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, June 1956, 2

"We also want to call attention to the book "When Minds Go Wrong" by Dr. John Maurice Grimes, M.D., published by Devin Adair, about the present condition of our state mental hospitals. "Into asylums there have been dumped the old, the decrepit, the inadequate of every sort; with little consideration or question about mental illness, and with less consideration of the need or effectiveness of treatment. There is no more justification for keeping these patients in prison now than there was a century and a half ago for keeping them in chains."
Only those who have had occasion to visit a number of the many mental hospitals around New York begin to realize how vast is the problem of the mentally ill, and how far we are from meeting it with our giant hospitals caring for as many as 15,000 patients. Anyone who has seen these great structures rising from the flat country of Long Island must be startled into the realization that the building of more and more giant hospitals is not solving the problem."
"On Pilgrimage - June 1956"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, June 1956, 6, 7.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mental Illness and CNY

Mondays after a long weekend are the worst. I get dragged kicking and screaming into another week. Thank goodness for holidays.
I spent time in upstate New York, from Rochester to Utica. If you've never been, I highly recommend some time in central New York. I lived in Auburn and then Syracuse for a few years and Syracuse is a fun city despite the weather, which you get used to. Go Orange! I was especially drooling over the prices of housing, which are a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of homes here. Nobody can beat the fall foliage and Syracuse hosts the awesome NY state fair. Plus, I miss being able to buy beer in the grocery stores and gas stations. People in NYC consider anything above Schenectady upstate, but for a real CNY experience, I highly recommend Syracuse, Skaneteles and a scenic drive to any small town along Lake Ontario or a Finger Lake. Be sure to try the wine!
While sipping Chianti at my in-laws in Sodus Point I was talking with my husband's Aunt who works in the mental health field. Our conversation opened my eyes to an entire population of people who are reliant on the state with no viable alternatives, the mentally ill. These are people who can be mentally challenged (the non-PC term is retarded) or those with thought disorders (schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, hearing voices, etc.) I would add seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's to this category as well. Even if they are lucky enough to have family who want to take care of them, the care is intensive, draining and lifelong. Even with medication, the best situation many of these people can hope for is placement in a supervised alternative housing project with like individuals. Parents who want to care for their children may not be able to due to increasing age, severity of mental illness and burnout from years of care. Adult children become strangers to their own parents and are forced into a confusing and overwhelming care situation when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Just a few generations ago these people were locked in padded rooms, strapped down, medicated into oblivion and forgotten. In attempting to treat the mentally ill/challenged like fellow humans we brought some out of the institutions but the care is still lacking. "More is always needed", according to my husbands aunt. State agencies do not offer Christian care in many ways but the alternative is even grimmer. Wandering the streets of many major cities and sleeping in the cold are those who slip through the cracks or who avoid the system entirely. This is a population simply unable to care for itself, and the afflicted range in demeanor from childlike innocence to violence. Their care calls for community concern and action because it is impossible to be consumed entirely by family members. Is there a truly Christian answer to this problem? Can we take care of the mentally ill/handicapped without relying on the state to do so with our tax dollars? This is a new area of concern for me as I consider a Catholic Worker solution. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Weekend Reading

I will be away for yet another long weekend. I will leave you with these passages to mull over. Take them as you will.

"On the one hand there is the question of obedience. On the other hand there is neglect of the poor, a lack of understanding concerning the needy and the poor. Which sin is the greater? Practically everyone would say the second, because everybody gives lip service to the poor when they don't give hand or foot service. But the question of obedience goes back still further, "to man's first disobedience," and to that great obedience, the folly of the cross, "He was obedient unto death." And on just such obedience, such a folly of love, stands the very life of the Church, and the Church is the Body of Christ, which we love. Though the members rend each other in wars and dissentions, still there is no separation of the head from the members, and to love the one is to love the other. Americans hate the word obedience, and the only way to look at it is from the supernatural point of view, not from the natural, because it is often folly. This is not to deny that conscience comes first: one must obey the voice of conscience, one must obey God rather than men, as St. Peter himself was the first to say. And here is one of those delicate problems that drive the rest of the world crazy when they observe the Catholic in his relations to Holy Mother the Church. They point out the scandals in the Church, the mistakes in history, the bad Popes. the Inquisition, the lining up of the Church with temporal power, the concordats, the expediency, the diplomacy, and so on and so on. ...
Guardini said that the Church was the Cross and one could not separate Christ from his Cross. He said, too, that we must learn to live in a state of permanent dissatisfaction and impatience with the Church. We have to suffer and hang our heads at all the accusations made against us. We are all guilty, we all make up the Body of Christ. And we must suffer with bitterness, the Little Flower said, if need be, and without courage, and that is what makes the suffering especially keen. ...
We do know how in the history of the Church, a St. John of the Cross, a St. Teresa of Avila, were always getting around their superiors in one way or another in order to do or effect what they considered necessary for the times. Over and over again in the history of the Church in the lives of the saints there have been these struggles within the Church. We hate to see them used against her. At the same time we have seen, to our grief and shame, priests and prelates sitting on the platform with a Mayor Hague, and other politicians and receiving no rebuke from the Chancery offices of their diocese. ...
Yes, God is making a point no doubt, and using Father Duffy with all his faults to do it. But in saying this we do recognize that besides this problem there is that other. We recognize and accept the authority of the Church as we do that of Christ himself. Our Holy Father the Pope is our dear sweet Christ on earth, as St. Catherine called him, even when she was pointing out with the liberty of a saint, how wrong he was at the time, in his conduct of temporal affairs. We accept the authority of the Church but we wonder why it shows itself in such strange ways. At the same time that Fr. Duffy is corrected ... other priests and sisters, in another state, also engaged in political activity, handing out posters and leaflets to school children and parishioners, to vote for a candidate that favors bingo, are actually directed to that activity by authority rather than corrected for it. We respect the agony of frustration of Fr. Duffy, but at the same time, we remember with St. Paul, "how can they preach unless they be sent." And Fr. Duffy has not been sent. We are obliged to conform to Christ even in Christ's folly. He submitted to the injustices, the mistakes, the crimes committed against Him, and against St. John the Baptist. He submitted even to be termed a lamb led to the slaughter, and He was King of the whole world. Fr. Duffy is a priest, and at his ordination, he placed his hands in the hands of his bishop as a serf does with his liege lord, and promises obedience. It is a symbol of something. It is seeing Christ in the Church. Just as a wife is obliged to see Christ in her husband. We write these things for the instruction of our communist brothers, though they cannot understand the faith which alone makes it possible to hold this view. We, on the other hand, are the laity. We have a freedom not granted to priests who are under orders. If Fr. Duffy is plunging ahead and making mistakes now, it is because we, as lay people have not gone ahead and led the way, working from the bottom up, expressing the longings and aspirations and yes, rebellion, of all the people. He is paying for our sins of omission. Bishop O'Hara once said to Peter Maurin, "Peter, you lead the way, we will follow." The work that we must do, in addition to all the other works of mercy, is to enlighten the laity, to educate, to call attention to the conditions that exist, to arouse the conscience, to start the personalist and communitarian revolution, as Peter used to call it, or the pacifist-distributist-anarchist movement as Bob Ludlow terms it. (The word anarchist is deliberately and repeatedly used in order to awaken our readers to the necessity of combating the "all encroaching" state, as our Bishops have termed it, and to shock serious students into looking into the possibility of another society, an order, made up of associations, guilds, unions, communes, parishes--voluntary associations of men, on regional or national lines, where there is a possibility of liberty and responsibility for all men.). Those are ideas which can be shouted from any platform, and we are hoping that Fr. Duffy will be allowed, by some strange freak of Providence, to go on doing it. ..."
"The Case of Father Duffy"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, December 1949, 1, 4.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Proclaiming the truth

I've been glued to EWTN for the past two days, much to the displeasure of my children, as I followed the USCCB conference in Baltimore. If you followed the mainstream media's coverage you learned the Catholic Church still hates gays, children, married couple who use contraceptives, women and sexual abuse victims. If, however, you realize that most reporters are clueless regarding the teachings of the Church (I'm talking to YOU, NBC's Baltimore TV correspondent) you'd do well to check out Open Book and American Papist for thoughtful and intelligent coverage of the event.
Although the bishops could have been a little more direct regarding the distribution of communion to those engaged in public scandal, I was pleased to at least see them publicly addressing the matter of marital contraception, homosexuality and pro-abortion 'Catholic' politicians. In these cases, the Catholic Church is the only Christian denomination willing to stand up and proclaim against popular opinion, what is right and what is wrong. We, as lay Catholics, need to have the guts to take these teachings to the streets, and apply them to our daily lives.
Worker houses should accept those in need regardless of race, creed, religion, background gender or sexual preference; aka everyone. However, our purpose in offering true Catholic charity is to offer all the corporal AND spiritual works of mercy. This does not mean proselytizing the homeless. It means considering the heavenly ramifications of how we assist those on earth, for their soul's sake and ours. To paraphrase St. Francis, "Always proclaim the Gospel, and when necessary use words." Be knowledgeable of what the Church teaches so when necessary you can talk to people about NFP and Courage. Fear of hell should override your fear of offending someone. May you be so lucky to suffer persecution for proclaiming the truth. If you walk the walk and talk the talk, you may just help someone in this life and the next. What can be a greater gift of charity than leading someone on the path to eternal salvation?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"The Mass was the center of our lives..."

When I see pictures of Masses being held at Worker houses using pottery to hold the precious body and blood or "Catholic" Worker Houses that in no way incorporate the Church into their daily lives, I am reminded of Day and wonder how, in doing what's right, have they managed to get it so wrong. May God guide them back to the roots of the Movement; firmly planted in the one, holy, CATHOLIC and apostolic Church.

"The incident of the man smoking in church leads me to one of the problems but perhaps a most basic one, the lack of the reverence and respect that we should have for holy things, and for all men as creatures of God. God, the Father, created us and all the universe, so all things are holy. One may laugh for joy, but not in derision. The Liturgical movement has meant everything to the Catholic Worker from its very beginning. The Mass was the center of our lives and indeed I was convinced that the Catholic Worker had come about because I was going to daily Mass, daily receiving Holy Communion and happy though I was, kept sighing out, "Lord, what would you have me to do? Lord, here I am." And I kept hearing his call, as Samuel did, but I did not know what he wanted me to do. ...
I suppose I am rambling because I hate to get to the point, and that point is that I am afraid I am a traditionalist, in that I do not like to see Mass offered with a large coffee cup as a chalice. I suppose I am romantic too, since I loved the Arthur legend as a child and reverenced the Holy Grail and the search for it. I feel with Newman that my faith is founded on a creed, as Rev. Louis Bouyer wrote of Newman in that magnificent biography of his. "I believe in God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And of all things visible and invisible, and in His Only Son Jesus Christ, our Lord." I believe too that when the priest offers Mass at the altar, and says the solemn words, "This is my body, this is my blood," that the bread and the wine truly become the body and blood of Christ, Son of God, one of the Three Divine persons. I believe in a personal God. I believe in Jesus Christ, true God and true man. And intimate, oh how most closely intimate we may desire to be, I believe we must render most reverent homage to Him who created us and stilled the sea and told the winds to be calm, and multiplied the loaves and fishes. He is transcendent and He is immanent. He is closer than the air we breathe and just as vital to us. I speak impetuously, from my heart, and if I err theologically in my expression, I beg forgiveness. ...
To me the Mass, high or low, is glorious and I feel that though we know we are but dust, at the same time we know too, and most surely through the Mass that we are little less than the angels, that indeed it is now not I but Christ in me worshiping, and in Him I can do all things, though without Him I am nothing. I would not dare write or speak or try to follow the vocation God has given me to work for the poor and for peace, if I did not have this constant reassurance of the Mass, the confidence the Mass gives. (The very word confidence means "with faith.")"
"On Pilgrimage - March 1966"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, March 1966, 1, 2, 6, 8.

"...there is also the attempt made by some young priests to reach the young, to make the Mass meaningful to the young (the bourgeois, educated, middle-class young) where novelty is supposed to attract the attention but which, as far as I can see, has led to drawing these same young ones completely away from the "people of God," "the masses" and worship in the parish church. ...
I do love the guitar Masses, and the Masses where the recorder and the flute are played, and sometimes the glorious and triumphant trumpet. But I do not want them every day, any more than we ever wanted solemn Gregorian Requiem Masses every day. They are for the occasion. The guitar Masses I have heard from one end of the country to the other are all different and have a special beauty of their own. I have been a participant (it is not that I have just heard them) in such Masses with the Franciscan Brothers in Santa Barbara, with the students at St. Louis University, at the McGill Newman Club in Montreal and many other Newman meetings, and in Barrytown, New York, where the Christian Brothers, our neighbors, have a folk Mass every Saturday at eleven-fifteen. They are joyful and happy Masses indeed and supposed to attract the young. But the beginning of faith is something different. The "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Fear in the sense of awe."
"On Pilgrimage - May 1967"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, May 1967, 2, 10.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

The Social Security question is one that will have to be answered within the next couple of years as more baby boomers reach retirement age. Each party knows changes are needed, but no one seems to know what those changes should be exactly. I thought Day's opinion from 1945 (emphasis mine) could provide some insight. May we all strive to replace the government as the lifeline of the poor and elderly.

"We believe that social security legislation, now hailed as a great victory for the poor and for the worker, is a great defeat for Christianity. It is an acceptance of the Idea of force and compulsion. It is an acceptance of Cain's statement, on the part of the employer. "Am I my brother's keeper?" Since the employer can never be trusted to give a family wage, nor take care of the worker as he takes care of his machine when it is idle, the state must enter in and compel help on his part. Of course, economists say that business cannot afford to act on Christian principles. It Is impractical, uneconomic. But it is generally coming to be accepted that such a degree of centralization as ours is impractical, and that there must be decentralization. In other words, business has made a mess of things, and the state has had to enter in to rescue the worker from starvation." ...
"Peter Maurin likes to talk about the treason of the intellectuals. With the expose of waste and inefficiency on the part of government, of graft and the spoils system ("You take this job in return for the help you gave me in getting elected") I should say that not only advertising men, not only the manufacturer robs and cheats the poor, but also the government. How quickly graft and scandals are forgotten! In Russia graft, corruption and waste in government circles are considered treason, and men have paid for it with their lives. And our Catholic employers and politicians speak at Communion breakfasts, and as long as they prosper they are held in honor; as long as they are in power they are respected. They go to Communion, they go to Mass. You must not judge them. If you speak ill of them, you are being uncharitable.
Yes, the poor have been robbed of the good material things of life, and when they asked for bread, they have been given a stone. They have been robbed of a philosophy of labor. They have been betrayed by their teachers and their political leaders. They have been robbed of their skills and made tenders of the machine. They cannot cook; they have been given the can. They cannot spin or weave or sew-they are urged to go to Klein's and get a dress for four ninety-eight.
Bought and paid for? Yes, bought and paid for by their own most generous feelings of gratitude. Of course, they feel grateful. In spite of their talk about taxes and justice, they are grateful to the good, kind government that takes care of them. St. Teresa said that she was of so grateful a temperament she could be bought with a sardine. St. Ignites said that love is an exchange of gifts. The government gives its paternal care and the people give their support to that particular governing body. Naturally they do not want change.
But who is to take care of them if the government does not? That is a question in a day when all are turning to the state, and when people are asking, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Certainly we all should know that it is not the province of the government to practice the works of mercy, or go in for Insurance. Smaller bodies, decentralized groups, should be caring for all such needs.
The first unit of society is the family. The family should look after its own and, In addition, as the early fathers said, "every home should have a Christ room in it, so that hospitality may be practiced." "The coat that hangs in your closet belongs to the poor." "If your brother is hungry, it is your responsibility."
"When did we see Thee hungry, when did we see Thee naked?" People either plead ignorance or they say "It is none of my responsibility." But we are all members one of another, so we are obliged in conscience to help each other."
"More About Holy Poverty. Which Is Voluntary Poverty."
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, February 1945, 1-2.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Take a look see

Benedictus Deus has part three up in their series on Deus Caritas Est. Good reading. Check it out.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sevant of God Dorothy Day, Pray for Us

If you haven't already, be sure to check out the link for the Dorothy Day Guild. Formed by the Archdiocese of New York, it's job is to assist in the canonization process of Day. John Cardinal O'Connor, with Vatican approval, opened her cause in March of 2000. Edward Cardinal Egan is continuing the process. Currently, Day is considered a Servant of God. After one confirmed miracle she could be beatified and with another, canonized.
Her cause is a divisive one.

"Voices opposing the process say that Dorothy Day shunned the suggestion she was a saint and believe she would rather have any money spent on her canonization given to the poor. Others are concerned that her radical vision will be sanitized and spun to support Catholic traditionalism and a narrow anti-abortion stance, neutralizing her ardent pacifism, radical critique of society, and love of the poor."

"Many voices are in support of the canonization process as well, citing Dorothy Day's life as an example that has inspired them to prayer and action for social justice. Her faithfulness to the Gospel, living the "preferential option for the poor" and showing that a lay person can achieve heroic virtue are often cited."
Catholic Worker Movement website

I believe in the cause and pray for the eventual canonization of Day. As posted earlier, many workers would like to remember Day as only the pacifist and radical. They forget her whole identity was steeped in her orthodox faith. And not only do they forget, but somehow they have convinced other Catholics to do the same. I will continue to post quotes from Day that show her steadfast belief in the teachings of the Catholic church. You may disagree with her stance on war, capitalism, unions, immigrants, voting and taxes but when it comes to matters of faith, Day was faithful and obedient to the Magestarium. Yes, the process is lengthy and expensive butI belive any money spent on her cause will make its way back to those in need. Sainthood is what we aspire to as Catholics. Days path to holiness is an excellent example for us to follow. In today's society, in fact in many churches, it's assumed that all 'good' people go to heaven, whether or not they have faith in Christ. When we take that viewpoint, saints cease to be special. Saints nowadays are looked at as the faded images on old prayer cards or the chipped statues of beheaded martyrs tucked away in a wreckovated church basement. Besides muttering a prayer to Saint Anthony when the keys go missing or buying a St. Joseph home sale kit, saint are absent from our everyday life. At one time children had to be given a Christian name, aka a saints name, at baptism. Now, children are named after seasons, or food or Presidents and not even the priest blinks. Devotion to the saints is not superstitious and it's not old fashioned. Without saints who died defending the faith, where would our Church be? And if it wasn't for people like Day, who tried to live the Gospel daily, where would our world be? There is a difference between the guy down the street who's 'a nice person' but doesn't feel the need to follow some set religion and Day. Sorry to break it to you, but we don't get to heaven by doing our own thing. Those who sacrifice in this life are rewarded in the next. We can pray for their intercession and learn to be better Catholics by their example. We need those examples. We need those faces and names to remember what it is we strive for and what is worth dying for. It is not an anonymous, unattainable heaven. Day sacrificed and lived a humble life worth imitating. Long after the liberals lose their hold on her legacy, her example will continue to inspire faithful devotion to serving the poor and the holy Catholic Church.

"We are called to be saints, St. Paul said, and Peter Maurin called on us to make that kind of society where it was easier for men to be saints. Nothing less will work. Nothing less is powerful enough to combat war and the all-encroaching state. To be a saint is to be a lover, ready to leave all, to give all. Dostoievsky said that love in practice was a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams, but if "we see only Jesus" in all who come to us; the lame, the halt and the blind, who come to help and to ask for help, then it is easier."
"Spring Appeal - April 1958"By Dorothy Day The Catholic Worker, April 1958, 2.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Approaching the Uncomfort Zone

What does it mean to truly offer charity? Is charity buying a pink blender to help breast cancer? Is it walking two miles around a track to raise awareness for a particular cause? Is it spending the night in a cardboard box in a church parking lot and not eating for 24 hours to 'experience poverty?' Do these actions qualify as true charity or do they fool us with feel good vibes and illusions of helping others?
For many people, charity has become volunteering once or twice a month at a favorite cause and giving weekly at church. Volunteering usually encompasses such challenging tasks as picking up trash on the side of the road, strolling along a Crop Walk or collecting cans from neighbors for a food drive. Now don't get me wrong, each of these events and ones like them, help people and serve a purpose but I don't know if they full fill our Gospel duty. They are all very cushy, comfortable jobs. We fit them in around our schedule and we choose positions that don't require us to actually deal with the poor. We raise money for breast cancer research but do we visit the sick patient? We walk miles to raise awareness for hunger but do we visit a soup kitchen to serve and eat with the homeless? We collect money and food for others but do we share with, or even know, the hungry family on our block? We travel to Washington each January 22 but how many stand outside the clinics, rain or shine and pray the rosary?
We do the minimum, never traveling outside our comfort zone to serve those in need. Charity is not comfortable. It is not reserved for our spare time. We shouldn't perform acts of charity with the intent to feel better about or to bring attention to ourselves. If you're sending out press releases related to your charity work, you might need to rethink your motives. True charity encompasses long hours, little or no pay and the greatest benefits.

"You will find out that charity is a heavy burden to carry, heavier than the bowl of soup and the full basket. But you will keep your gentleness and your smile. It is not enough to give soup and bread. This the rich can do. You are the servant of the poor, always smiling and always good humored. They are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting masters, you will see. Then the uglier and dirtier they will be, the more unjust and insulting, the more love you must give them. It is only for your love alone, that the poor will forgive you the bread you give to them." St Vincent de Paul (?)

On the Holy Father

Regarding Pope Pius XII;

"What about our Holy Father as one of the heroes of the day? Do we wear buttons to remind us of our spiritual leader? Do we hang on his words with breathless interest and greet his every utterance with joy? Do we examine what he says, weigh his words, follow his leadership? Do we meditate on what he has said, do we ponder it prayerfully, do we try to serve under his banner as valiant soldiers of Christ?" ... "Read instead all his encyclicals, his letters, and make a collection of them. He is our leader, he is the representative of Christ upon earth."
"Day After Day - April 1942" , By Dorothy Day , The Catholic Worker, April 1942

Hello to newcomers

Welcome to all Catholic and Enjoying It! readers. Thanks for checking me out.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Satan's Guide to Elections '06

Although a bit off subject this fell into my lap and I thought I should pass it along.

From: Lou
Date:Monday November 6
Subject: Pit of Cocytus Voting Guide, Lucifer's Advice for 2006
To: All evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls

As the U.S. approaches another election day, I must reflect upon the great work we have accomplished regarding the damnation of souls. We have thoroughly infiltrated the Democratic party and restructured its platform to meet our needs. The few anti-death democrats have been silenced nicely and are considered a nuisance by many on the inside. Our work on the left is practically finished.
Our next area of good news is in the Republican party which is quickly trying to appease the media and masses by introducing more moderate candidates. We've finally got that hoof in the door we were looking for. We've got death lovers on both sides now and souls continue to vote for these candidates because they feel they are choosing 'the lesser of two evils'. Hah! We're still getting the vote then aren't we fellows?
We've had only a few resisters who choose to take the teachings of God into the voting booth and select anti-death candidates even if they are third party. So long as these free thinkers are kept to a minimum we shouldn't have a problem. Tempting those who might consider a third party with thoughts of wasting their votes is usually an effective tactic. Most will follow us and elect a pro-death candidate. We might even convince a few to stay home! Third party votes should be kept low. We don't need either major party selecting anti-death candidates down the road to regain these voters. We must remember brothers, it is an ongoing battle. Even if we should gain more death loving souls in office this election period we could loose them all again in two or four years. So our three-pronged strategy this year is:
1. Convince souls to stay home.
2. Convince souls to vote pro-death Democrat whenever faced with an anti-death Republican candidate.
3. Convince souls to vote for the 'lesser evil' between a pro-death Republican and a pro-death Democrat whenever faced with a anti-death third party. Try convincing them that a Republican controlled Congress is better than a Democrat controlled Congress. This tatic has swayed many christ lovers. It is imperative that anti-death third parties are squashed; otherwise we lose influence in coming elections.
As long as our hard work continues to put pro-death politicians in office, whether Republican or Democrat, we are succeeding. It will only be a matter of time before christ lovers realize all those selected to represent them in office support our platform of death and damnation.
Be sure to get out early and tempt often! Happy Election Day!
Your Overlord and Master,

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bring 'em home

The State of Vermont wants seniors at home. Rather than foot the bill for nursing home care, the state institued "Choices for Care," a program that pays friends or family $10hr to act as in-home caregivers.
"One year after enacting it, Vermont officials say it is reducing the number of people sent to nursing homes, cutting the cost of taxpayer-funded care and improving the quality of life for people like Parsons.Critics, including the nursing home industry, say subsidized home care by family members and other non-professionals is far from a panacea. They say the care isn’t as good, however well-meaning family members are. ...
It costs the state of Vermont about $122 a day for Medicaid-covered senior citizens who live in nursing homes, compared with about $80 a day for those being cared for in their homes.About 120 more Vermont senior citizens are getting Medicaid-subsidized home care now than in October 2005, when Choices for Care began. The number in nursing homes has dropped by 155, according to the state."
AP Story via MSNBCspan

While I'm glad to see more families taking on the responsibility, and duty, to care for elderly relatives, I do have some hesitations about the program. Shouldn't family take care of one another out of the goodness of their heart? Why do we need to bribe them? I wonder if families will take in loved ones strictly to get a hold of the $10hr paycheck and then neglect proper care.
Ultimately, however, I guess I'm more in favor of the program than not. Maybe the money will entice families who wouldn't consider taking in a relative before to do so now. And who knows, they may find the work very fulfilling. If someone is able to quit or reduce hours at a job and take care of a senior because of this program, than I'm happy, because keeping seniors at home surrounded by loving friends and family is the goal.
Of course the nursing homes have their knickers in a twist about the whole thing but I would expect no less from those who profit from the abandonment of the elderly. Nursing home administrators would have you believe you're too stupid to care for a loved one and that it might tax your patience so why bother yourself with it.
"Mary Shriver, executive director of the Vermont Health Care Association, a nursing home trade group, said that in-home care works for some but that it cannot match nursing home care for quality.“Good intentions can cause some damage sometimes,” she said."

Let me tell you about the 'quality' nursing homes I am familiar with. As a reporter on a small paper six years ago, I started investigating local nursing homes in the county based on a tip. This was in the state of NY where state inspections and formal complaints had to be available at all times to the public at each nursing home. I traveled to several homes in the county reading files and making notes of the complaints lodged by residents, or more likely their families. I vowed then at 21 to never, ever put my loved ones in a nursing home come hell or high water. While I do not doubt the compassion of some geriatric nurses and aides, I was appalled at the number of problems related to neglect. Even in so called Catholic nursing homes. People who had open, infected, excruciatingly painful bedsores who were left to rot in the same position for days. People whose agony was ignored as senility or dementia. People who because they were too weak to ask for water or food, went hungry and thirsty. An untrained staff with high turnover who lacked compassion and could become abusive. I could go on. It was with good intentions that families placed their mothers, fathers and grandparents in these homes. What regret when the care turned out to be less than promised by glossy brochures and smiling administrators. Christian charity starts at home. If you refuse to be Christ to your elderly family and friends, do not expect nursing homes to fulfill your Christian duty. Their motivation is money and they are banking on your selfishness. If you live in Vermont, great, take advantage of the program. If not, don't wait for the government to start paying you for acting like a Catholic.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Beatitudes

Happy All Saints Day. From today's gospel reading Mt 5:1-12 (via my 1962 missal)
... Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek; for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart; for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for My sake: be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.

You can't read the beatitudes too much. I focus in on something different each time. Some thoughts from Pope Benedict's All Saints Homily via AsiaNews:(H/T Open Book)
The Gospel of the Beatitudes is often used by some theologians to present a Christianity “of values” (poverty, hunger, justice, peace workers and so on), detached from the person of Jesus. The pope was clear: “In reality, the Blessed one par excellence is only Him, Jesus. It is He, in fact, who is truly poor in spirit, afflicted, meek, the one who hungers and thirsts for justice, merciful, pure in heart, and a peace worker. It is He who is persecuted in the cause of right”. And spontaneously he added: “The Beatitudes show us the mystery of death and resurrection, which is the mystery of Jesus.” He continued: “With the Beatitudes, Jesus points out to us how to follow him and to imitate him. In the measure that we welcome his invitation and seek to follow it, we too can participate in his Beatitudes.”
Dorothy Day tried to make the beatitudes her guiding principles and I believe she succeeded.
"What are we trying to do? We are trying to get to heaven, all of us. We are trying to lead a good life. We are trying to talk about and write about the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, the social principles of the Church and it is most astounding, the things that happen when you start trying to live this way. To perform the works of mercy becomes a dangerous practice. Our Baltimore House was closed as a public nuisance because we took in Negroes as well as whites. The boys were arrested and thrown in jail over night and accused of running a disorderly house. The opposition to feeding the hungry and clothing the naked is unceasing. There is much talk of the worthy and the unworthy poor, the futility of such panaceas. And yet our Lord himself gave us these jobs to do in his picture of the last Judgment, and as Fr. Furfey said once, we are not excused for ignorance. It is a good thing to live from day to day and from hour to hour."
"Letter On Hospices"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, Jan 1948,