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Thursday, January 25, 2007

"We rejoice in tribulation..."

"People probably do not realize with what fear and trembling I speak or write about the Catholic Worker, our ideas and our point of view. It is an extreme point of view, and yet it is tested and proved over and over again; it is almost as if God says to us "Do you really mean what you say?" and then gives us a chance to prove it. We have to live with the positions we take, and at the same time we are bound to be beset with all kinds of human doubts: who are we, who have so seldom been tried and have not suffered as others have in war, to take such a position? I remember having a nightmare during World War II in which, thinking of our pacifist position, I heard a voice saying "Be kind, Cain," as if such words could ward off the blow that was about to fall. I know what human fear is and how often it keeps us from following our conscience. We find so many ways of rationalizing our positions. There are all kinds of fear: fear of losing our bodily goods, fear of poverty, fear of losing our job, our reputation, and not least of all there is the strange business of bodily fear. Gandhi's son once described the humiliation he felt at seeing his father beaten up in a railway station in South Africa. Nothing is worse than that sense of utter humiliation we feel when pain is inflicted on us. We are reduced to an animal status; we are lesser men for having taken a blow or endured pain. [...]
It is not worthwhile writing or speaking unless you say what is in your heart and say it as you see things. This is the way. This is what converts expect when they come into the Church and they find it in the lives of the saints who accept the idea of death in whatever form it takes. We say all these things in our prayers and don't mean them. And God takes us at our word, fortunately, and so we are saved in spite of ourselves; we are just dragged in by the hair of the head. But this is the message that we try to give at the Catholic Worker. It is painful to speak of and that is one of the reasons we rejoice in tribulation, we rejoice in suffering and so we can speak in those terms."
"Fear In Our Time"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, April 1968, 5, 7.


hbl said...

I do not understand Ghandi's son in a Christian perspective.

For, if you are a thief, then you have your just reward.

But, if you are beaten because you are just, then you will be glorified by your Father.

Humiliation can only be felt by the proud.