My most recent read has drawn me upwards in way I haven't felt since reading St. Therese de Lisieux's Story of a Soul. In it, I read the writings of a woman like me - a layperson, drawn to God strongly through the birth of her daughter, and a worker all her life.
All the Way to Heaven: The Selected Letters of Dorothy Day was not a book I expected to latch onto as I have. I am generally not too fond of "Letters of..." books, and I anticipated the text-to-speech tool of the Kindle to be indecipherable and run together. However, I was surprised to find myself endeared to Dorothy, someone who I had always imagined as tough-as-nails and no-nonsense.
Not that, she wasn't those things. She spoke her mind frequently and courageously, but with such an overwhelming tone of love that it is near impossible to mistake any malicious intentions in her writing.
I must say that even more than her writings on poverty and peace, the real "hook" for me was her writings to Forster Batterham. They demonstrate a true romantic love and deep respect between a woman and a man that is difficult to find anywhere, let alone within the lives of saints. It seemed Dorothy was plagued, in her early years, to love more than she was loved and this touches me deeply. Leaving this romance in a desire for obedience to the Church strikes me as daring, sorrowful, and deeply faithful for such a young convert.
Dorothy drew me in also by her emphasis on the duties of the laypeople to the Church. She writes in one letter "What I keep saying is that lay people have the right to and the duty to explore all possible solutions to the terrible problems of our age." She talked about the freedom and responsibility lay people have to fully explore political, social, and economic issues that clergy were simply unable to due to the censors and restrictions of being within the hierarchy. In this modern age, I think Dorothy Day can serve as a well-grounded model for lay people who want change within the Church.
Lastly, the largest impact of Dorothy's writing in my life has been her emphasis on the importance of every individual life, how success comes disguised in failure. She will be my prayer partner this year to battle against futility, to fight off discouragement and slothfulness. She writes about her book Therese: A Life Of Therese Of Lisieux that the main point of it was "to make people realize their personal responsibility, how everything they do matters. Most young people have such a sense of futility these days - they are paralyzed."
So, these are my petitions to Servant of God Dorothy Day in 2013
- a realization of my personal responsibility to God, my family, and all people
- to put off laziness and indulgent behavior as I learn to "work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve."
- the spiritual unity of my family