The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, ed. Robert Ellsberg (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2008; abridged paperback: New York: Doubleday, 2011).
Feb 26. Day of Recollection
It seems to me that one of the happiest lessons in the gospel is that of love. That we are told to love one another and to show that love by giving. And that love becomes more like that of God when we see Jesus Himself in those around us, as the apostles did on Mt. Tabor, when the celestial light faded, and “they saw only Jesus,” most loveable. They loved, because he first loved them, and even in those three, there were the sins of the world -- they would deny Him, desert Him, at the end, and the weak of faith and greedy of the first place, while he was still with them.
He taught them about love, about loving. The prodigal son, the sick, the leprous, the privileged, the tax-gatherers, the sinners, those in prison -- in other words, loving the unlovable, naturally speaking.
Some people think the most important task of the Catholic Worker is peace, to clarify thought about modern war, man’s freedom and the use of force; other people go deeper and say voluntary “poverty” is the answer; others say “Providence.”
But truly “Love” is the reason for it all. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who calumniate you, and to him who strikes thee on one cheek, offer the other also, and from him who takes away thy cloak, do not withhold thy tunic either. Give to him who asks of thee, and from him who takes away thy goods, ask no return.” ...
It is a mystery to me, and always will be, how we keep going -- these 28 years, with nothing in the bank, and debts piled high. But we survive, and since where love is, God is, and God is Life, we can truly be said to truly live.
September 17, 1961
No use saying I do not worry. Others have more faith than I do. No matter how broke we are, people do not stop coming, nor do they go away. Sometimes, I feel like saying, “Those who don’t have to be here, please go away.” But they would just look helpless and say “Where else shall we go?” Fernando says, “No one ever loved me.”
I hear that many times a month and feel like saying where there is no love, put love -- we all need to learn that. Of course sometimes it is hard to love people. Fr. Hugo said you love God as much as the one you love the least. So all our life is a practice to learn to love God. The first commandment.
July 2, 1963
Today the atmosphere very heavy. Rain threatens. So often one is overcome with a tragic sense of the meaninglessness of our lives -- patience, patience, and the very word means suffering. Endurance, perseverance, sacrament of the present moment, the sacrament of duty. One must keep on reassuring oneself of these things. And repeat acts of faith. “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.” We are placed here; why? To know Him, and so love Him, serve Him, by serving others and so attain to eternal life and joy, understanding, etc.
My God, my Father, help me now to respect Your way with others. Help me, St. Benedict Joseph [Labre], to walk a pilgrim in the world, as far as I can, and do all in Jesus’ name, bringing Him on to picket lines, meetings, encounters, confrontations. May He increase and I decrease.
[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. The paperback edition will be available in October.]
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