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Friday, April 13, 2007

The State

""A thousand years are as one day" in the history of the Church, so of course the Church has not gotten very far in the solving of this problem which started with Constantine. Actually if the State, City, and the whole secular world with its "inspector generals" and bureaucracies did not demand our conformity to such insane standards of luxury, Holy Mother the Church would not have to be pleading for funds for schools, and books, and buses, and health and welfare aids. (As St. Hilary wrote a thousand, (or a few days) ago, "The less we ask of Caesar, the less we will have to render to Caesar." This was his commentary on Jesus’ words--"Render to Caesar the things of Caesar and to God the things of God.")

How good it would be to see the Church closer and closer to poverty and the poor; little schools set up on every block, in idle rooms, in empty buildings, with the students themselves helping repair them and getting meanwhile some sense of the joy of manual labor (and the pains of it, too). And idle Church-owned lands given over to the disorderly poor, the unworthy poor, to build up little villages of huts, tepees, log cabins, yes, even outhouses. Which might come to resemble (if a Church of sorts were built in the center) an ancient Irish monastery. Ireland used to be called the land of Saints and Scholars.

Actually, we see some of these attempts today in "communes" all over the country and among the dreamers, the "freaked out." Even the shacks of the farm workers on the lands of the growers could be made into a community of common purpose--"to make the kind of society where it is easier to be good."

Overcoming our enemies is slow work indeed. Loving our enemies is commanded of us by Christ. And I can lie here on my couch on a snowy January afternoon and dream dreams, and write this letter to our readers. But of course our greatest enemy is ourselves, our lethargy, our neglect of those most powerful means--prayer and fasting (and the sacraments)."

"On Pilgrimage - January 1973"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker