Dorothy Day, Saint-Worthy?
Almost immediately after her death in 1980 controversy arose about whether Dorothy Day should be canonized a Saint by the Church. Now that the Vatican has approved the late Cardinal John O'Connor's request to consider Dorothy Day's "cause," the controversy is being rekindled. After converting, she dedicated her life to New York's poor and immigrants, building hospitality homes that operated much like homeless shelters. Her endeavor grew into the national Catholic Worker movement, a social justice crusade conducted in revolutionary tones new to the church. When she died, a multitude came down to the old dwelling off the Bowery to pay their respects, the way people had come to Catholic Worker houses for
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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 (Forest). Before an audience, she had a direct, unpremeditated, story-centered way of speaking -- no notes, no rhetorical polish, a manner that communicated a certain shyness but at the same time wisdom, conviction, faith and courage. Her basic message was stunningly simple: we are all called by God to love one another as He loved us (Forest). Hospitality, she explained, is simply practicing God's mercy with those around us. Christ is in the stranger, in the person who has nowhere to go and no one to welcome him. "Those who cannot see the face of Christ in the poor are atheists indeed," she often said. Hardly a day passed in her adult life when she didn't speak about the works of mercy. For her these weren't simple obligations which the Lord imposed on his followers. Day brought many gifts to the churchher perseverance, her holiness, her journalist's critical visionbut perhaps her greatest gift was pointing the 20th century American church in a new direction, to the vulnerable and voiceless among us. She was the presence of the church to many people who otherwise would have been forgotten. Her example of profound personal spirituality and sacrifice, lay leadership, and uncompromising pacifism makes Day a daughter of the church and a "Servant of God" worth