Among the many people who knew Dorothy Day, the psychiatrist and author Robert Coles observed that nothing seemed more important than the way she lived her life. Coles enjoyed many conversations with her. Once he recalled, asking her about her politics. Animately, she responded that they were a matter of “pursuing a community life, a community life which would be loyal to the teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.”
We are communities in time and in a place, I know, but we are communities in faith as well — and sometimes time can stop shadowing us. Our lives are touched by those who lived centuries ago, and we hope that our lives will mean something to people who won’t be alive until centuries from now. It’s a great ‘chain of being,’ someone once told me, and I think our job is to do the best we can to hold up our small segment of the chain. That’s one kind of localism, I guess, and one kind of politics — doing your utmost to keep that chain connected, unbroken. Our arms are linked — we try to be neighbors of His, and to speak up for His principles. That’s a lifetime’s job.
Through the Catholic Worker movement which she co-founded with Peter Maurin in 1933, Day lived consistently what she believed. Her witness continues today to stir hearts, minds, and consciences both in the Church and outside it. Echoing the words inscribed on her tombstone, we say “Deo Gratias” — and call her saint.