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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Catholic Worker as Environmentalist

I want to pass along another interesting website for a community organization based in Austin, TX. The Rhizome Collective is working to create models for urban sustainability. (Emphasis mine.)

"The Rhizosphere focuses on the design and display of functioning ecological tools and technologies. Our goal is to create environmentally sustainable systems that provide for people's basic needs: food, water, waste management, energy, and shelter. By having these systems on display, we hope to educate and inspire others to continue the work of building sustainable infrastructures.

Our design criteria include: affordability, simplicity, space efficiency, beauty, and the utilization of recycled and low energy materials. Special attention is given to forming a closed loop system, where the yields of one system provide for the needs of another. The systems of the Rhizosphere are based on the design principles of permaculture.

We encourage the development of systems which are decentralized and locally based, that empower individuals, villages and communities with greater self-reliance. When our needs are provided for in a small, intensively cultivated space, we reduce the impact we have on the environment at large, as well as our reliance upon systems of oppression.

These techniques can be applied in the global north or south, and while our design focus is on urban environments, they can easily be adapted to rural spaces."

They also run a program that distributes books to inmates, a freecycle-style store, an independent media outlet and a child center is in the works. If you are near Austin or Albany, NY be sure to check out their upcoming weekend intensives where you can learn about rainwater harvesting, biofuels, microlivestock or discuss social justice and anarchy. It's seems like a natural gathering for any Catholic Worker envisioning the agrarian lifestyle Maurin and Day strived for on their farms. Groups like the Rhizome Collective and Path to Freedom prove that self sufficiency isn't only for those located on 40 rolling acres. We can help feed people in the city with food from the city. Small neighborhoods and close knit neighbors are the best defense against hunger, homelessness and despair.
They're pretty much doing everything I want to do, the only thing that's missing is any mention of God. That is where the Catholic Worker vision and the environmentalist's mission differ. The Earth is a gift from God to be treasured; the earth is not the god to be worshiped. We don't need to get into specifics like global warming or pollutants in our water, yet, we need to be mindful of how our actions damage the precious planet we've been given as an earthly home. Christian principals dictate good stewardship of all of God's creation. Contrary to popular belief, today's media, advertising and society at large, doesn't. People say they give a damn about the Earth but they drive a gas guzzling car 30 minutes to Starbucks while Lawndoctor swings by their 3,300 sqft McMansion and douses the lawn with Agent Orange lite. But they're doing "their part" by installing compact fluorescents in all 172 of their indoor and outdoor landscaping lights. Plus, they buy organic cereal and free range beef flown in from across the country at their local Mega Grocery.
It's an inconvenient truth people; it's not just the big companies. It's you and me who are heating things up around here. You know what would be fabulous for the planet? If everyone took their suburban plot and turned it into a homestead and stopped driving a hour to work everyday. Can't afford your McMansion without the daily 9 to 5? Then move to a smaller home. You know, houses under 2,000 sqft. They do exist and people made do with them until near the end of the 20th century. We're not just loosing rainforests we're loosing open space across America to sprawl. Try growing your own food and raise your own animals on your lawn so we don't need to ship in food from Communist China. Plus, you'll get all the free fertilizer you need with a couple cows, bunnies or chickens. Or at least shop the local farm stands in your town. Keep buying those compact fluorescents but maybe get rid of half of your decorator fixtures. City dwellers can adopt the principles of Rhizome or PtoF.
I guess the problem is, doing these things is hard. We want to feel like we're helping the planet without having to change our daily routine. Picking up environmentally friendly disposable diapers is easy. Using, washing and air drying cloth diapers is harder. Leasing a Prius is easy, biking to work or accepting less pay to work at home is harder. Buying organic produce at Wal-Mart is easy, growing your own is harder. We want accountability for large corporations that pollute, and rightly so, but why should we expect change from them when we continue to buy their products and live our own reckless lifestyles?
The Catholic Worker Movement and Distributism both offer an environmentally friendly and spiritually sound solution to the moral and environmental decline of modern society. One is a mirror of the other. But doesn't that make sense? For if we follow the teaching of Christ we cannot bring ourselves to recklessly destroy anything created by God. Until the environmentalist's merge their thinking with that of the Church, I foresee much more destruction.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Illuminated Manuscripts

Keep the joy of loving the poor and share this joy with all you meet. Remember, works of love are works of peace. God bless you.-Mother Teresa
If you don't have children, you might not know of the fabulous children's author/ illustrator Demi. Our local library carries many of her books and my children, as well as my husband and I, adore them all. I just checked out her book 'Mother Teresa.' It is a wonderful introduction to this holy woman and her work. My favorite part though are Demi's illustrations. They are vivid, colorful and in some instances almost sacred. You can find examples here, although viewing them online doesn't do the art justice.
Be sure to check out her other books on Jesus, Mary, St. Nicholas and Christmas. You can find them all on Amazon, however for the record please purchase through one of the small, used booksellers if you are able.

The fruit of Silence is Prayer
The fruit of Prayer is Faith
The fruit of Fatih is Love
The fruit of Love is Service
The fruit of Service is Peace
-Mother Teresa

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Self Restraint

One of the benefits to living in South Jersey is the ability to spend one sunny, albeit cool Saturday at the beach picking up shells and a snowy Sunday watching my husband drag two of the kids around on sleds, all in the same weekend.
Despite the family fun, I found my blood boiling over several AP online reports, stories in the Sunday newspaper and blog updates. I kept thinking, I have to blog about this, and this and rant about that. Having colorfully discussed most of the issues with my husband, I cooled down and realized an important lesson. Yes, things suck in the world and in the Church in many ways. I can go to any number of Catholic blogs and read angry posts detailing the problems with American bishops, priest and liberal parishes. I can find in many of the same blogs, angry rants against the moral decline of society. I myself have done some. However, by getting online and pointing out the splinters lodged in the worlds' eyes-which can be cathartic no doubt-we are ignoring the large plank in our own eye of anger. It is still one of the seven deadly sins isn't it?
Yes, we may feel justified in our anger sometimes. Lord knows I'm frustrated about the rumored motu proprio as much as anyone but we won't convince skeptics in the validity of releasing the Tridentine rite by calling the pope weak and ranting about French bishops. We can't begin the 'reform of the reform' by lashing out at any novus ordo parish with alter girls. Some people brag about being Evil Traditionalists or Rad Trads. Fine, I agree in principal with a lot of what they say but they're preaching to other angry trads. Angry people will not save the Church or society from it's downward spiral. Anger begets anger. To all those converts out there or Catholics who returned to the Church; was it the expletive laden online commentary criticizing the Church that won you back or the priest/layperson who took the time to explain the faith to you with genuine love, understanding, patience and zeal?
There are times when tough love and a firm hand is needed. The spiritual works of mercy include admonishing the sinner, instructing the ignorant and counseling the doubtful. We should never shy away from proclaiming the truth, however we might consider the ways in which our words may work against the will of God when they are laced with bitterness and contempt.
Blogging is wonderful. I am grateful for the outlet. I enjoy reading others thoughts on issues of the day. But let us not give into the temptation of anger, especially when talking about the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, lead by the holy spirit and guided by Christ's vicar on earth. For Lent, bite your tongue, cool off on the keyboard and benefit eternally.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Do good to them that hate you...

From today's Gospel (via 1962 missal)
At that time Jesus said to his disciples:You have heard that it hath been said: Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say to you: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you; and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: that you may be the children of your Father Who is in heaven, Who maketh His sun to rise upon the good and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? Do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your breathren only, what do you more? Do not also the heathens this? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect. Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father Who is in heaven. Therefore when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But when thou dost alms, let not they left hand know what thy right hand doth: that thine alms may be in secret, and thy Father, Who seeth in secret, will repay thee.
Mt. 5:43-48; 6:1-4

Love is powerful. It is not the fluff of Valentine's cards. When we believe disagreements can only be solved through force, coercion and violence we are doomed to failure; in this life and the next. I read these verses and I wonder how any violence can be done in the name of God or his Son. We have a hard time trusting in God to come through for us, so we strike out on our own and ask for His blessing. Look where we find ourselves. What might our repayment be, had we loved our enemies from the start?

Just say 'no' to the hotdog

No, I haven't given up blogging for Lent. I have however given up looking at blogs during the daytime. I knew I had a problem when my 14 month old started waddling over the the computer and unplugging it any time I was on for more than a minute. Children have a way of setting your priorities straight for you.
Now, I only glance at blogs in the evening, *if* I'm not exhausted which seems the norm recently. And the caffeine withdrawal headaches aren't helping either. So just a few quick thoughts.
At our Ash Wednesday service Father talked about doing fasting and penance this Lent not just for our sins, but the sins of all those in the Church and the world at large. Even if you're a pretty good person with no mortal sins hanging over your head you can, and should, still go hardcore for Lent. There are plenty of other souls whose sins are crying out to heaven for vengeance. Every little bit you sacrifice is not going to waste. Personally, I feel like I need to go bread and water for 40 days every Lent until I die if I want a shot at heaven but I'm not quite that hardcore. I'm confident my soul needs whatever paltry penance I can muster, but I know that nothing I do is wasted. I don't need to look too far to find close family and friends whose paths have strayed and may need something offered up on their behalf. If I ever feel I've done 'good enough' for me,I can always work on 'good enough' for everyone else.
If you feel yourself reaching for a hotdog on Friday and you hear that little voice saying, "What's it gonna hurt? God knows you tried to resist. You're not a saint. They don't offer fish." STOP! Suck it up and think of someone you love, here or departed, ensnared by sin. Do you care for their eternal soul? Offer up that disappointment and hunger for them. Even if you have all perfect friends and family, offer it up for all those nameless heathens gallivanting around the world. You may still hanker that hotdog but what joy to turn that sacrifice, however small you think it, into something so powerful as to save souls. Consider it part of your almsgiving if you're short on cash. Give your prayers and your sacrifices to those in need. The poor are not just in soup kitchens; we are also fighting spiritual poverty among all levels of society.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A time to fast

"Wheat, butter and honey, dates, wine and oil, mutton, calves, fish and quail--these are all mentioned in the Bible. Aside from feasts there was a monotony of diet that we should get back to for the sake of simplifying our lives, for the sake of being more truly poor with Him, for the sake of fasting, and for the sake of health. A handful of ground wheat with honey and milk on it makes a most delightful collation. A slice of whole wheat bread makes a fast day breakfast. You can buy a sack of wheat, a hundred pounds. You can live this way in city or country. This is Lent, and Lent is a wonderful time to begin again.

Back in May, 1741, Pope Benedict XIV said: "If this observance of Lent comes to be relaxed it is to the detriment of God's glory, to the dishonor of the Catholic religion, and to the peril of souls; nor can it be doubted that such negligence will become a source of misfortune to nations, of disaster in public affairs, and of adversity to individuals."

As in the days of the Old Testament, that prophecy of Pope Benedict XIV has come true with us."

On Pilgrimage,
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker (no year given)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tabloid Society

Wonderful analysis of journalism by an insider. I agree with this 100 percent and it is why I do not anticipate rejoining the world of 'mainstream journalism.' I wonder if mainstream journalists feel the need to create sensationalism to attract a readership who is turning increasingly to the internet, blogs in general, to get information. Sexy headlines might be considered a papers best, and last, form of advertising. *Now* I'm done with my shoddy journalism rant. (H/T Diogenes)
"Once upon a time, there were two modes of journalism, called tabloid and broadsheet. The distinction was clear. The first (tabloid), aimed at the more ignorant and credulous section of the population, was shamelessly sensationalist, and indifferent to its own track record. The second (broadsheet), aimed at the more intelligent and sceptical -- businessmen, especially, with money on the line. It cultivated greyness and sobriety, and was fixated on reputation. Tabloids were for fun, broadsheets were for information.

In my own lifetime as a journalist I have watched this distinction evaporate, and the unrestricted triumph of the tabloid ideal.

But at the same time, there has been a swing, among the class of people who staff the media. Where before they were generally short on academic qualifications, but long on street smarts, now we have a broad creamy froth of journalism-school graduates with zero street-smarts, but thorough indoctrination in the art of attitudinizing. Or to put it another way, the political outlook has swung dramatically from right to left.

Nevertheless, so long as our (human) race can stay out of the trees, there will be a demand for good solid information and lively but responsible analysis. These have not disappeared, but gone largely underground, or more precisely, into the aether of the Internet. People who feel the need to know what is actually going on, are increasingly by-passing the “mainstream media” and going directly to the best sources."

Friday, February 16, 2007


"There was an old man of eighty-four who used to leave Welfare Island to go on a drunk over on the Bowery every now and then, and we would find him stretched out on the doorsteps in the morning as we went to Mass. And I used to think indignantly, "Why don’t they take better care of him?" meaning his family, or the city, or anybody else but us. After all, we were filled up, packed to the doors. There is always this instinct for anger, that something isn't done by some body. And yet never before has so much been done by State, city, welfare agencies, and they never take into consideration man’s great and terrible and boundless-to-sinfulness-desire for freedom. It is only love that can penetrate to the roots of the problem and lead men to surrender that freedom to God."

"On Pilgrimage - April 1955"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, April 1955, 2, 7.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

UNICEF Misrepresentation

NEWSFLASH! Extra, Extra! United States needs to become more like those civilized Northern European countries, so says report from UNICEF. AP reporter laps up all information and quotes provided by UNICEF and practically soils himself with excitement. The United States is given the chance to respond to the charges in paragraph 18. Read all about it!
When you're done fretting over the horrible state of our country and wondering when, oh when, we will get to institute some of the wonderful socialist type programs those lucky Europeans have, please read the entire 2007 Innocenti Report Card. It is approximately 50 pages and I will guarantee you, the AP writer of the above story didn't read more than what the brief summery provided by the UNICEF PR department contained. He was probably so excited to get this groundbreaking story out the door that he failed to do basic research first. I'll get to the report in a minute but first I want to comment on why shoddy journalism pisses me off. I studied journalism and worked at a few small papers and I would have failed every class and been chewed out numerous times if I would've tried to pass off as reporting this UNICEF fluff piece, which is worth maybe slightly more than the paper it's printed on. Upon receiving a press release the first thing I did was CHECK THE FACTS. I couldn't assume that Bob's Restaurant down the street had the best burgers in town based on a random survey just because his press release said so. Sure, I'd talk to Bob but I would also talk to those who conducted the survey and made sure they were on the level, then I'd talk to competitors then I'd get public comment on the survey to make my story. Then my editor would check it for accuracy and it'd go to press. Anyone who goes to UNICEF's website and reads the entire report (it's a lot of graphics) can see the problems with the report and how the data could be misread to support any number of conclusions. Treating it as gospel serves only to inflate the egos of the authors (who's views don't reflect those of UNICEF, according to the second page of the document) and those who want to find any reason to slam the US and push us down the path of the "enlightened" Europeans. For those who would love to set up taxpayer funded daycare, universal health care and more top-down programs, this report is a dream come true. The AP writer took this report at face value and originally the story went over the wire before including any quotes disputing the claims against the U.S. Now that some quotes have been added, they do little to change the message of the article. We, as consumers of the media, cannot stand to have misinformation passed off as truth. We must demand integrity, responsibility and accountability. Certainly our country has problems. The high teen birthrate reported in the study is one of them, however we can't allow ourselves to get riled up by sensationalism and accept whatever the media throws at us.
So there's my rant on the despicable way this report was paraded out over the wire. And now, here's some tidbits from the report you probably won't find in any major news story.
The following countries were left out of Summary Table of Countries (or top 21 listing) due to insufficient data; Australia, Japan, Iceland, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovak Republic, South Korea and Turkey. But if you skip ahead to the foot notes on 46, you'll see the U.S. was included in the final tally even though it provided insufficient data for the sixth category.
Data was complied from various studies, some from as early as 1998 and the report itself notes,"... it is acknowledged throughout that the available data may be
less than ideal and that there are prominent gaps." (pg3) I found no evidence that the authors did any new research for themselves.
An America family of four living under $35,000 a year is living in poverty according to the report. (Or a household with a total income less than 50% of the median income.)
A country's infant mortality is included in determining the Health and Safety rating. The US has one of the highest IM rates amongst the top 21. However in footnotes you'll see that, "countries with systematic [pre]-natal screening for serious disability, and the option of abortion, tend to have lower infant mortality rates." We obviously don't kill enough of our unborn to compete with the Scandinavians.
We also have a high incidence of low birth weight, but again if you look at those trusty footnotes they point out, "There are some limitations to the validity of low birth weight as an indicator of infant and child health in different societies. It is more common, for example, in some ethnic groups and in multiple births (often associated with in vitro fertilization.)"
Quite a few of the categories rely on subjective questions answered by 11,13 and 15 year olds not just the aptly titled Subjective Well Being. (See Material and Peer and Family categories.) Now, I'm not calling these kids liars but, I don't know if we can count these answers as hard, scientific data. You may feel deprived because you don't have your own bedroom or desk or get to vacation enough, but that doesn't mean you really are deprived.
For the most part, the authors admit the problems with the data throughout the report and the difficulty in analyzing it all across cultural lines, but that doesn't stop them from doing it. As pointed out in the footnotes, there are many factors to be considered in interpreting the data. And it's not like any of this is new information. The upsetting numbers regarding teen pregnancy and single parent homes in this country have been reported. To use these facts along with other studies and cram them together to form a ranking system seems to me like comparing apples and oranges and then shoving them into square holes. It's a mess being passed off as scholarship. Don't be fooled by AP or UNICEF.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Searching for common ground.

In the February/March issue of Crisis magazine Brian Saint-Paul interviews author and former Crisis editor Dinesh D'Souaz on his most recent book 'The Enemy at Home:The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.' I was interested in the piece because D'Souaz talks about the difference between 'liberal Muslims' and Islamic terrorists. When I think about pacifism, I keep coming back to the terrorist question. Is there a peaceful response to suicide bombers? Could Christianity survive without taking up arms against aggressive Islamic fanatics? Where would Western civilization be if the Church had not risen up and formed Crusades against the Muslims who repeatedly attacked Christian cities? I believe as Nate over at Lamb/Dragon has stated that following Christ's example of peace is the only solution. However, it seems our country's leaders believe they are the next Joshua sent by God to root out the modern day Philistines. Because we have not followed Christ's example I wondered if we'd gotten ourselves into a position of kill or be killed; if our only choices had become martyrdom or another Crusade. D'Souaz's words give me some hope that perhaps there is a middle ground.
"The radical Muslim position is not that they want to take over the world and make everyone a Muslim. Nobody claims that. Rather, Muslims think they need to raise up to prevent the pernicious influence of American atheism and American culture from destroying traditional Islamic culture. This is why non-radical Muslims-who are the majority in the Islamic world-are so paralyzed. We keep asking,"Why don't they stand up and condemn the terrorist?" the fact is they would condemn the terrorist, but they're caught in the middle. On the one hand, they have a violent faction,which they dislike, acting in the name of Islam. But on the other, this violent faction is pointing to America as a pagan, depraved society, and the non-radicals largely agree and don't want to be seen defending that kind of society. That's why they keep their mouths shut." [snip]
"The Muslim world is divided between the radical Muslims and the traditional Muslims. Both groups are religiously and socially conservative. The main difference between the two is that the radicals support violence as a way of striking out against America, while traditional Muslims do not. However, the radicals have been very successful over the past decade in recruiting traditional Muslims into their ranks. So no long-term victory in the war on terrorism can work unless it finds a way to put a wedge between traditional Islam and radial Islam. " [snip]
"If you dismiss Islam as being inherently violent or say the Prophet Mohammed is the founder of terrorist, then you're pushing the traditional Muslims into the radical camp."
Crisis Vol 25 No. 2 pg 44-45

It is certainly interesting to think that those of us with conservative moral views could find something in common with traditional Muslims. My husband has a Muslim friend with whom he discusses these issues. Until I read this article I thought, that's nice but he's a minority liberal Muslim, like liberal cafeteria Catholics. Real Muslims believe in all the violence and sharia law so he doesn't represent what true Islam is all about. I see now, how that was the wrong impression. If what D'Souza writes is true, then in the eyes of the Muslims it is not Christian vs. Muslim, it is God's people vs the godless. As orthodox Catholics, as faithful Christians at-large, are we not fighting a similar battle? Our focus needs to be on working peacefully together with traditional Muslims against terrorism rather than lumping all Muslims together and infuriating them all. I'll admit, I still have my concerns. Horrible acts of violence are being done in the name of Allah and it will take a lot of faith on my part to believe that these atrocities are the acts of a few rather than a majority. I can't think of many Muslim countries in the world with glowing civil rights reviews. And please spare me the arguments of all the horrible things our country does and all the awful things the Church has done in the name of God. From where I'm sitting, I could blaspheme the Church publicly in every online chat room, join up with the fruity Episcopals and not fear persecution or death from my country or religious leaders. If those are not the consequences facing most women in an Islamic country, I want to know about it.
There is a peaceful solution, however unwilling people are to accept and embrace it, and D'Souza is on to something. I also believe that Archbishop Fulton Sheen offered some wise words on this topic as well. Pray that a common ground may be found.

2007 Catholic Blog Award Nominee...who me?

I wanted to offer a quick thank you to those who nominated me in the 2007 Catholic Blog Awards. You can find The Next Worker under Best New, Best Individual and Most Spiritual Blog categories in addition to many more worthy recipients. This year, registration is required to vote. I was happy to see that all nominated blogs were listed rather than just the most popular nominees. There are many new blogs that I will be exploring in the coming weeks. You can cast your votes here.
And welcome to everyone checking out my blog for the first time in an effort to find out 'who is this Next Worker?' and 'why is she nominated?' I hope you find something worth stopping back for.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Are we Better Off?

I was reminded of a book I finished a few weeks back, 'Better Off' by Eric Brende after getting into a minor car accident today. Thankfully, no one was injured and I can go about the delightful task of talking with the insurance company, getting an estimate to fix some body damage and worry about finding a replacement minivan while our only car is in the shop. Cars are such a pain in the ass. Do the benefits of owning a car override the demands they place on us? 'Better Off' examines this question in regards to technology at large. The author and his wife spent 18 months in a predominately Amish community. They went back to square one (aka no running water, refrigeration or electricity of any kind) to see how much technology benefits us as a society and how much technology enslaves us. After about 12 months, they did finally give up their car and resort to horse and buggy travel. Today, they live simply in a neighborhood of St. Louis within a short walk of most of their needs. They are also a large, Catholic homeschooling family by the way. While they did slowly introduce technology back into their lives, they do not work long hours to afford the latest gadgets or spend countless hours fixing or fussing with complicated "time savers." The most reveling parts of the book illustrate the Amish saying that "many hands makes work light"-not fancy do-dads. Sure, the Amish have to grow, weed, harvest the majority of their food by hand or true horsepower but the work is divided among large families and close knit communities. Time spent in manual labor should not be abhorred; it is meaningful, and bears good fruit, both figuratively and literally. We don't really gain much when we turn away from manual labor to sit in a office all day to make money to pay for our McMansion on a .78 acre lot that we pay someone to mow. Or maybe you mow it yourself on the riding mower that will cost you $100 a month for the next three years from Sears. And how much do you pay for gas and maintenance on that thing?
"Who is really being brave, radical, or extreme? Is it I? Or is it the people who marvel at me? The changes I have made to live less technologically are easy compared with the contortions most people go through to maintain technology. Their beloved machinery does not so much save labor as separate it out in time and place and thereby make it harder to obtain-physical exercise in the gym, moneymaking in the office, education in the school, and "quality time" with the family in the national park. Rather than an integrated whole, life become a temporal and geographical obstacle course."
Better Off, P.S. Chapter, pg 2

I'm not suggesting we all become Amish, and neither is Brende. However, I do recommend reading Better Off and examining in what areas of your life technology is a burden rather than a benefit. You may gain some freedom and a few cents in the process. And if your newfound knowledge gives you more time with your family, bonus.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Some Kernel of Truth

"You say you object to religion because it has a cannibalistic aspect which revolts you. A twelve-year-old girl who was reared with no knowledge of the Christian religion said almost the same thing to me last winter. "Catholics believe that they eat the Body and Blood of Christ, don't they?" she said, with a look of distaste. She, too, did not mean to blaspheme. She was honest.

I suppose I never felt this objection, this repulsion, because long before I became a radical I had felt deeply the mysteries of faith, not the Faith, but faith nevertheless. Remember, I read the Bible when I was twelve, and I knew what my conscience was, and what was good and evil. I had accepted the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist. So when I came back to God there was not that difficulty to overcome.

It is easy for a little child to accept unquestioningly. That is why the League of the Militant Godless is so anxious to keep religion from little children. Because they know they will accept it, and though they fall away afterward perhaps, in an arrogant and adventurous adolescence, still it is not so insuperably difficult to come back to it because there is some kernel of truth lying hidden there in the soul. "

From Union Square to Rome,
Chapter 13 - Your Three Objections
By Dorothy Day

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Red Africa?

Is it just me or do the US and China make odd bedfellows? Fifty years ago, our country was plagued with a red scare over the threat of communism. Today, we're plagued with cheap imports from a communist country. Women are forced to comply with a one child per family policy and Catholics are imprisoned. Yet, we willingly give favored nation status to China and give them a slap on the wrist, a wink and tell them we're concerned about their gross human rights violations. We willingly export our jobs and import tons of junk that no one in this country even needs. This article details China's growing interest in Africa. Great. I don't know what's worse, an African continent run by radical Muslims or communists. In our war on terror, defending against communism has become passe'. We're no longer afraid of communism to the point where we just ignore the plight of people suffering under its thumb. Castro is on his death bed, the wall came down long ago and capitalism is on the grow in Russia; all is rosy. Communism is a 20th century relic. How I wish that were so. However, Africa needs help. If Christian countries and organizations do not act fast, the entire continent will become cogs in the Marxist machine or a hotbed of suicide bombers bent on destruction. Can we not offer them a better option? Tired of civil wars, famine and genocide, African countries are hungry for a solution. We cannot allow China and radical Muslims to offer the only choices for stability. They are only band aids which will lead to further suffering in the long run. We know colonialism created many problems, but guilt over the past shouldn't prevent our efforts now. I do not know if it is possible to return Africa to a time before it's resources and people were claimed and managed by foreigners but I have to believe Christ offers a better solution than atheism or Muhammad. Because I support distributism, I believe the US should work to exist without economic ties to China. We should also strive to help developing countries become self sufficient and less susceptible to outside influence. We can go in and offer assistance, however we need to know when to back off and let the locals take over. And assistance doesn't count if it's in the form of loans with astronomical interest. As I've mentioned before, Lucifer portrays the worst options in the best light to make them more palatable and in an effort to obscure the path to truth. Lucifer is most definitely at work in Africa and I fear he is holding a candle up to China.
"Pere Regamey issues a call to change the world, "the world of capitalism and communism" which he equally condemns. "The Christian who is obedient to the spirit of Christ wonders which he hates most, capitalism or communism, so hostile to each other, so fundamentally alike. He holds the same grievance against both, that they have taken from the poor the spirit of poverty, and so cast them into despair. This crime shows most clearly in capitalism; but communism and all other materialist systems which promise paradise to these little ones produce the same results, for to give rise to a hope placed in the things of earth, and a false hope at that, is to give rise to almost a double despair. We certainly have a job to do of restoring earthly justice to the disinherited; the Church has been calling us to it through the mouths of recent Popes; but she keeps her scale of values constant, she always holds the Godward life of the soul highest of all.""
"Poverty Without Tears"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, April 1950, 1, 3, 6.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Glorious Burden

"It would seem to the unthinking that mothers of children, whether of one or a dozen, are intensely preoccupied with creatures; their little ones, food, clothing, shelter, matters that are down to earth and grossly material such as dirty diapers, dishes, cooking, cramming baby mouths with food, etc. Women's bodies, heavy with children, dragged down by children, are a weight like a cross to be carried about. From morning until night they are preoccupied with cares but it is care for others, for the duties God has given them. It is a road once set out upon, from which there is no turning back. Every woman knows that feeling of not being able to escape, of the inevitability of her hour drawing ever nearer. This path of pain is woman's lot. It is her glory and her salvation. She must accept.

We try to escape, of course, either habitually or occasionally. But we never can. The point I want to make is that a woman can achieve the highest spirituality and union with God through her house and children, through doing her work which leaves her no time for thought of self, for consolation, for prayer, for reading, for what she might consider development. She is being led along the path of growth inevitably. But she needs to be told these things, instructed in these things, for her hope and endurance, so that she may use what prayer she can, to cry out in the darkness of the night.

Here is her mortification of the senses:

Her eyes are affronted by disorder, confusion, the sight of human ailments, and human functions. Her nose also; her ears tormented with discordant cries, her appetite failing often; her sense of touch in agony from fatigue and weakness.

Her interior senses are also mortified. She is alone with her little ones, her interest adapted to theirs; she has not even the companionship of books. She has no longer the gay companions of her youth (their nerves can't stand it). So she has solitude, and a silence from the sounds she'd like to hear, conversation, music, discussion.

Of course there are consolations and joys. Babies and small children are pure beauty, love, joy--the truest in this world. But the thorns are there of night watches, of illnesses, of infant perversities and contrariness. There are glimpses of heaven and hell."

On Pilgrimage,
January (no year given)
By Dorothy Day

Thursday, February 01, 2007

"Here are atheists indeed."

Can you imagine distributing a pamphlet like this today to people in a soup kitchen? What a wonderful idea. All the social programs in the world will amount to nothing if we do not lead our fellow men to Christ.

"There's no time now to have conversation with the men who come in for coffee and bread and cheese with us in the morning from seven to ten. The store is packed full, the line extends down the block almost to Canal street. They stand there in the rain and cold sometimes for half an hour before they can get in.

This month there was a mission over on Baxter street and we closed the store from nine to nine forty-five so that those who wished to, could go to mass. Sometimes there were seventy-five who went and sometimes only twenty. "You can't preach the Gospel to men with empty stomachs," Abbe Lugan said.

We put out a little leaflet to distribute to the men in regard to the mission. We said:

We are not running this coffee line like a mission. We have no religious services. We are just trying to give you hot coffee and something to eat every morning. We hope you all will take copies of THE CATHOLIC WORKER and read it and find out what we are trying to do here and in other cities where we have groups working.

Naturally, we would like to have you get to Mass and make the Mission, those of you who are Catholics, and those who might like to get to church for half an hour or so every morning this week. We'd like to urge those who are not Catholics to go, too.

We want you to go because Christ, our Brother, is present there in the Blessed Sacrament. Christ, Himself a Worker, while He lived here on earth. St. Joseph, in whose care He was confided while on this earth, was a poor carpenter. They always lived in poverty, and our Lord said of Himself:

"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air their nests, but The Son of Man has no place to lay His head."

Our Lord has a special love for each one of you, and they say that He is always more ready to give than we are to receive. So we do feel that we should urge you to go over to the church on Baxter Street, just to be in His Presence for a little while each morning.

We want to ask you, too, to please pray for us all, and ask St. Joseph to continue his help, which makes our coffee line possible."

With a pamphlet, prayers and pennies, Day was a model of charity. It does not take much to follow Christ's example; in fact it is probably easier when we are poor as He was. She continues;

"And I remembered how I spoke down in Palm Beach last month before the Four Arts Club, on the invitation of a convert. They told me, when I had finished, "you know we never pay speakers," and another woman said, with a tremor, "Miss Day, I hope you can convey to your readers and listeners, that we would give our very souls to help the poor, if we saw any constructive way of doing it." And still another told me, "The workers come to my husband's mill and beg him with tears in their eyes to save them from corrupt union leaders. I hope you don't mind my saying so, but I think you are all wrong when it comes to unions."

They all were deeply moved, they told me, at the picture of conditions in Arkansas and the steel districts and the coal mining districts, but, "You can't do anything with them, you know, these poor people. It seems to me the best remedy is birth control and sterilization."

We are told, and we try always to keep a just attitude toward the rich, but as I thought of our breakfast line, our crowded house with people sleeping on the floor, when I thought of cold tenement apartments around us, and the lean gaunt faces of the men who come to us for help, desperation in their eyes. It is impossible not to hate, with a hearty hatred and with a strong anger, the injustices of this world.

St. Thomas says that anger is not a sin, provided there go not with it an undue desire for revenge. We want no revolutions, we want the brotherhood of men. We want men to love one another. We want all men to have sufficient for their needs. But when we meet people who deny Christ in His poor, we feel, "Here are atheists indeed." [...]

Our pastor said recently that 60 million of our 130 million here in the United States professed no religion, and I thought with grief that it was the fault of those professing Christians who repelled the others. They turned first from Christ crucified because he was a poor worker, buffeted and spat upon and beaten. And now--strange thought-- the devil has so maneuvered it that the people turn from Him because those who profess Him are clothed in soft raiment and sit at well spread tables and deny the poor."

"Day After Day - April 1937"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, April 1937, 4.