Dorothy Day – “Jesus, they have no wine”

I have just finished reading ‘Dorothy Day: Selected Writings’. It is such an incredible book!

For the uninitiated, Dorothy Day was an American Catholic, journalist, writer, and social activist who aimed at being a living mystery: living in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.

A few years on from her conversion to Catholicism in 1927 she founded ‘The Catholic Worker’ with Peter Maurin, writing a newspaper of the same name which sold for a cent a copy, and setting up ‘houses of hospitality’ which exist to this day. She practised charity, and spoke of justice, attempting to translate the gospel into action, to conform her life to her profession of faith. To get more of a sense of her story, I would recommend the one on the Catholic Worker website.

There are many wonderful things that this book can teach you if you let it, and the below will give you a flavour of that. However, there are so many ideas condensed in these quotes, that to get anything out of reading them now, you’re going to need to both read them slowly, and to insert an artificial pause as you go between each one!

On ‘Holy Folly’

“[if my work is to survive] it must do so on the basis of something other than the wisdom of the world.”

On love

“It is when we love the most intensely and most humanly that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others”

“When you love a person, you see all the good in them, all the Christ in them. God sees Christ, His son, in us. And so we should see Christ in others, and nothing else, and love them”

Teilhard de Chardin “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then for the second time in the history of the world, man will discover fire”

“even the most ardent revolutionist seeking to change the world, to overturn the tables of money changers, is trying to make a world where it is easier to love”

“you love God as much as the one you love the least”

A great prayer

Dorothy writes of praying for others who are downcast, or in need ‘Jesus, they have no wine‘.

There is truth in this, for the blood of Christ is given to us as wine, the wine of communion, the life that is poured out for us.

On how we live

“If our jobs do not contribute to the common good, we pray God for the grace to give them up”

“we want far more than a weekly wage. We want God to teach us love. Without it we are sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. We want to make Love loved”

“we admit that we may seem to fail, but we recall the ostensible failure of Christ when he died on the cross”

“all the way to heaven is heaven, because Christ said ‘I am the way'”

She quotes St Catherine of Siena who imagines what Jesus would say to us about where we are placed, “I have placed you in the midst of your fellows that you may do for them what you cannot do for me, that is to say… that you may love your neighbours without expecting any return from them, and what you do to them I count as done to me”

“To sit down several times a day together is community and growth in the knowledge of Christ, ‘They knew Him in the breaking of bread'” (Luke 24:35)

“a ripple of thought of conscience among us all. And of remembrance too… each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that.”

And finally, two facts…

“…there is always the fact of the Fall, as well as the fact of our Redemption” 


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