God rewards us for so little effort

by Dorothy Day

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The following entries are from the diaries of Dorothy Day (1878-1980), the founder with Peter Maurin of the Catholic Worker Movement. In 1934, Day had been a Catholic for just six years and the Catholic Worker was just one year old.

March 23, 1934
A sincere repentance for my sins -- the result of turning my eyes inward on myself, instead of regarding the faults of others -- this is what is most necessary for me. And having come to this conclusion matters straighten themselves out. When people fasten themselves to you with an emotional friendship it is hard, though. One is driven to a slightly strained reserve and the atmosphere is not a natural one.
The weather is very cold again and I have spent the better part of the day upstairs in my room with a fire and with books. The paper must go to press Monday morning so that means a good deal of work ... Why can’t people let each other alone and not obtrude on each other?

Saturday, May 19, Eve of Pentecost
Such magnificent weather yesterday and today and I have been feeling very happy. God rewards us for so little effort. Just a resolute turning to Him of our wills. I have felt so low these last weeks -- so sad at being away from Tamar that everything was distasteful to me -- all spiritual duties too so that my heart was in nothing and my mind was restless and confused. But just the keeping myself apart and the resolute attempt to read was of great help. So now everything is easier. We depend so much on the Holy Spirit.

Sept. 22
Overcast, drizzling, warm. “The ear is not content with hearing nor the eye with seeing.” I’m thinking of this because I’m listening to the Symphonic Hour on the radio -- Brahms’s 1st Symphony -- and enjoying it very much, though Margaret bothers me with remarks about there being no butter, Tom asks for stencils, the baby frets, etc. Even so I enjoy it. But we cannot depend on our senses at all for enjoyment. What gives us keen enjoyment one day we listen to with indifference the next, the beauties of the beach arouse us to thanksgiving and exultation at one time and at another leave us lonely and miserable. “It is vanity to mind this present life, and not to look forward unto those things which are to come.”

It is hard for me to look forward or to have any conception of future happiness. Sometimes I am afraid of this being lack of faith. On the other hand it makes it easier for me to live in the present moment as [Jean-Pierre de] Caussade advises, and, let us hope, adds to the merit of endurance.
Hardships to offer up. Going to bed at night with the foul smell of unwashed bodies in my nostrils. Lack of privacy. But Christ was born in a stable and a stable is apt to be unclean and odorous. If the Blessed Mother could endure it, why not I. Also, Christ had no place to lay His head in the years of His public life. The birds of the air have their nests and the foxes their holes but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.

[These diary entries come from The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, edited by Robert Ellsberg (Marquette University Press). The selections were made by Robert Ellsberg.]

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