Prayer is an essential Christian practice. The Catholic expression is wide and varied, ranging from the powerful simplicity of St. Augustine’s Noverim te, noverim me, “May I know you, may I know myself’” to the elaborate public liturgies of Holy Week.
Likely, Dorothy Day knew the Church’s formal prayer of thanksgiving to God for the saints. “You renew the Church in every age by raising up men and women outstanding in holiness, living witnesses of your unchanging love. They inspire us by their heroic lives, and help us by their constant prayers to be the living sign of your saving power.”
Certainly she would have prayed the Litany to the Saints, invoked on Holy Saturday eve, the night Catholics renew their baptismal vows in joyful anticipation of Easter. “.…St. Joseph, pray for us; St. John the Baptist, pray for us; Sts. Peter and Paul…St. Andrew…St. John…St. Mary Magdalene…St. Stephen…St. Ignatius…St. Lawrence…Sts. Perpetua and Felicity…St. Agnes…St. Gregory…St. Augustine…St. Athanasius…St. Basil…St. Martin…St. Benedict…Sts. Francis and Dominic…St. Francis Xavier…St. John Vianney…St. Catherine…Saint Theresa….. All you saints of God, pray for us!”
Perhaps nowhere is the Catholic belief in the continuity of tradition so viscerally felt than in the public recitation of this litany. For Catholics, the “communion of saints” is a palpable reminder that all the successive ages of the Church and all the different forms of Christian culture are an organic part of one living whole in which they participate.
Accordingly, Catholics recognize that the saints throughout history still exert an influence on their lives today. This underlies the belief that when God chooses “to raise up” an individual for sainthood, He will grant “favors” through his or her intercession. These favors act as further evidence of the candidate’s worthiness.
When Dorothy’s “cause” was officially recognized, The Guild for Dorothy Day created a prayer card (available singly or in bulk, upon your request), with the following Prayer for the Intercession of Servant of God Dorothy Day.
God our Creator,
Your servant Dorothy Day exemplified the
Catholic faith by her conversion,
life of prayer and voluntary poverty,
works of mercy, and
witness to the justice and peace
of the Gospel.
May her life
to turn to Christ as their savior and guide,
to see his face in the world’s poor and
to raise their voices for the justice
of God’s kingdom.
We pray that you grant the favors we ask
through her intercession so that her goodness
and holiness may be more widely recognized
and one day the Church may
proclaim her Saint.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
It is important to note that at root, true petitionary prayer is an expression of personal trust and dependence, more about the deepening of a relationship with God than about obtaining a particular outcome. Too, the ultimate significance of a favor or “miracle” lies more in the deeper healing or inner transformation it yields than in the literal cure.
One of the Guild’s responsibilities is to document the help granted through Dorothy Day’s intercession. Please let us know about any experience of healing you attribute to your prayerful petition. Feel free to contact us by e-mail and snail mail. We deeply appreciate your generous sharing of heart, mind, and spirit and will honor it as the gift that it is.