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Dorothy Day

  • A conversion is a lonely experience.

  • Christ is God or He is the world's greatest liar and imposter.

  • Recording happiness made it last longer, we felt, and recording sorrow dramatized it and took away its bitterness; and often we settled some problem which beset us even while we wrote about it.

  • We are not, most of us, capable of exalted emotion, save rarely.

  • It is not easy always to be joyful, to keep in mind the duty of delight.

  • I lost all consciousness of any cause. I had no sense of being a radical, making a protest against a government, carrying on a nonviolent revolution. ... I lost all feeling of my own identity. I reflected on the desolation of poverty, of destitution, of sickness and sin. That I would be free after thirty days meant nothing to me. I would never be free again ...

  • And I was to find out then, as I found out so many times, over and over again, that women especially are social beings, who are not content with just husband and family, but must have a community, a group, an exchange with others. A child is not enough. A husband and children, no matter how busy one may be kept by them, are not enough. Young and old, even in the busiest years of our lives, we women especially are victims of the long loneliness.

  • How much did I hear of religion as a child? Very little, and yet my heart leaped when I heard the name of God. I do believe every soul has a tendency toward God.

  • We cling to a bourgeois mediocrity which would make it appear we are all Americans, made in the image and likeness of George Washington, all of a pattern, all prospering if we are good, and going down in the world if we are bad.

  • We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.

  • ... the final word is love.

  • I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.

  • Over and over again, people had to disobey lawful authority to follow the voice of their conscience. This obedience to God and disobedience to the State has, over and over again, happened throughout history. It is time again to cry out against our 'leaders,' to question (since it is not for us to say that they are evil) whether or not they are sane.

    • Dorothy Day,
    • in Catholic Worker ()
  • Poverty is a strange and elusive thing. ... I condemn poverty and I advocate it; poverty is simple and complex at once; it is a social phenomenon and a personal matter. Poverty is an elusive thing, and a paradoxical one. We need always to be thinking and writing about it, for if we are not among its victims its reality fades from us. We must talk about poverty because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.

  • With prayer, one can go on cheerfully and even happily. Without prayer, how grim a journey!

  • To try to stop war by placing before men's eyes the terrible suffering involved will never succeed, because men are willing (in their thoughts and imaginations at least) to face any kind of suffering when motivated by noble aims like the vague and tremendous concept of freedom ... Or, in their humility (or sloth — who knows?) men are quite willing to leave decisions to others 'who know more about it than we do.'

    • Dorothy Day,
    • in Catholic Worker ()
  • The fact remains that while slaying the giant, the wounded have to be cared for.

    • Dorothy Day,
    • in Catholic Worker ()
  • The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them up.

    • Dorothy Day,
    • "Saints Among Us," Time ()
  • In fact, to this very day, common sense in religion is rare, and we are too often trying to be heroic instead of just ordinarily good and kind.

    • Dorothy Day,
    • 1958, in William D. Miller, Dorothy Day: A Biography ()
  • Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed that easily.

    • Dorothy Day,
    • in Robert Ellsberg, ed., By Little and By Little: The Selected Writings of Dorothy Day ()
  • Too much praise makes you feel you must be doing something terribly wrong.

    • Dorothy Day,
    • in Robert Ellsberg, ed., By Little and By Little: The Selected Writings of Dorothy Day ()
  • We are all called to be saints, St. Paul says, and we might as well get over our bourgeois fear of the name. We might also get used to recognizing the fact that there is some of the saint in all of us.

    • Dorothy Day,
    • in Robert Ellsberg, ed., By Little and By Little: The Selected Writings of Dorothy Day ()
  • Idealism in the young, I guess I'm saying, is curiosity as well as goodness trying to express itself.

    • Dorothy Day,
    • in Robert Coles, Dorothy Day ()
  • No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There's too much work to do.

    • Dorothy Day,
    • 1940, in Catholic Worker ()
  • When they call you a saint, it means basically that you are not to be taken seriously.

    • Dorothy Day,
    • Peter Steinfels, "Beliefs," New York Times ()
  • No matter how corrupt the Church may become, it carries within it the seeds of its own regeneration.

    • Dorothy Day
  • God meant things to be much easier than we have made them.

    • Dorothy Day
  • One of the greatest evils of the day among those outside of prison is their sense of futility. Young people say what good can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. We can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take care of them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes.

    • Dorothy Day
  • If you feed the poor, you're a saint. If you ask why they're poor, you're a Communist.

    • Dorothy Day
  • 'The only way to have more time,' says Father Lacouture, 'is to sow time.' In other words, to throw it away, just as one throws wheat into the ground to get more wheat. It must have seemed madness to throw that first wheat away — but more wheat sprang up a hundredfold. So each day, start out by saying, there is plenty of time. And so to discard time, to throw it to the winds, to disregard all the work there is to do, and go sit in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour, to divest oneself of those accursed occupations — all in order to reap time, for those things which are necessary.

    • Dorothy Day
  • One of the disconcerting facts about the spiritual life is that God takes you at your word.

    • Dorothy Day
  • What I want to bring out is how a pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that.

    • Dorothy Day
  • As you come to know the seriousness of our situation — the war, the racism, the poverty in the world — you come to realize it is not going to be changed just by words or demonstrations. It's a question of risking your life. It's a question of living your life in drastically different ways.

    • Dorothy Day
  • How necessary it is to cultivate a spirit of joy. It is a psychological truth that the physical acts of reverence and devotion make one feel devout. The courteous gesture increases one's respect for others. To act lovingly is to begin to feel loving, and certainly to act joyfully brings joy to others which in turn makes one feel joyful. I believe we are called to the duty of delight.

    • Dorothy Day
  • Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.

    • Dorothy Day
  • You will know your vocation by the joy that it brings you. You will know. You will know when it's right.

    • Dorothy Day
  • Knitting is very conducive to thought. It is nice to knit for a while, put down the needles, write a while, then take up the sock again.

    • Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day, U.S. humanitarian, co-founder of Catholic Worker Movement

(1897 - 1980)