Servant of God, Dorothy Day
Scorned for her sexual libertinism and its consequences, branded a Communist, Socialist and anti-patriotic pacifist, Dorothy Day’s cause for canonization has roiled the waters of the Catholic world. So, how can her opponents justify this vitriol if they also pray to, say, Augustine of Hippo, Mary of Egypt, Angela of Foligno, Blessed Bartolo, St Peter (the Betrayer) and many others? And can we reconcile her cause for sainthood with the knowledge that she seems to have sacrificed the faith of her only child and that of her child’s nine children on the altar of discipleship to Christ, seeming to demonstrate her complete devotion to him in the context of our Lord’s exhortation to his disciples as Luke describes in the 14th chapter of his Gospel: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.” (my emphasis). We no doubt have an incomplete translation of the Aramaic, because Jesus did not literally mean “hatred” and Dorothy did not hate her family. But, our Servant of God clearly did not evangelize her bloodline.
So, to quote my theology mentor, Joseph Gower: “It’s complicated.”
Bohemia became her early address
With flagrant rhapsodies.
Then moved on from there, seeking something,
Not yet, brought to her knees.
Her lovers would not be forevermore
absent the sacramental.
One gave her child
but womb became tomb,
not yet to become parental.
Binging O’Neill under the table
confused about love, recalling Babel
Missing something, “I am not able…
Two failed attempts at ending the pain,
stayed by the Hound, “I make you my claim!
The Sinful Wo-man, aren’t you all?
So go shed your tears, then remove the pall.”
“‘Behold,” claimed my Son, “I make all things new,’
the paralyzed man, and many like you.
Take hold of my hand, we have so much to do…
“Let’s fight for the poor and care for the sick,
meet the imprisoned, love the heartsick,
beatify meek by turning our cheek
feed the hungry, shelter the lame,
Do all this and more, always in my name.
“Acclaim? You sought not, neither Servant nor Saint,
Man’s titles, given by Rome.
Opponents, barely showing restraint,
holding tight to their moralist stones.
Forsaken for me was Tamar and her brood,
sacrificed for the Kingdom.
Instead you saw me in your sisters and brothers,
And gave them your heart and a home.”