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Easy Essays by Peter Maurin co-founder of the Catholic Worker

Dorothy Day

A Biography of Dorthy Day by Jim Forest

Letter from Dorthy Day prime directive of Gospel

On Lent

In general, in the first flush of Lent, the struggle is undertaken bravely. What if during the long weeks the fervor lessens and the work of accumulating graces was continued with many lapses, but by effort of will. That time when will has to be brought into play is perhaps the most important of all, despite failures and the total lack of a sense of accomplishment, of growth. Fervor comes again with Holy Week, joy comes on the day of resurrection, with all nature singing exultantly God’s praises.
To keep united to God through the suffering Humanity of His son—that is the aim of Lent. — Dorothy Day from her column “Day After Day”, The Catholic Worker, April 1935

People Need to be Distrubed.

“When it is said that we disturb people too much by the words pacifism and anarchism, I can only think that people need to be disturbed, that their consciences need to be aroused, that they do indeed need to look into their work, and study new techniques of love and poverty and suffering for each other. Of course the remedies are drastic, but then too the evil is a terrible one and we are all involved, we are all guilty, and most certainly we are all going to suffer. The fact that we have “the faith,” that we go to the sacraments, is not enough. ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ with napalm, nerve gas, our hydrogen bomb, our ‘new look’.” (“Are The Leaders Insane?” By Dorothy Day, The Catholic Worker, April 1954, 1, 6.}

Everyday Chores

“Paper work, cleaning the house, dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently, which is to find some meaning in all that happens — these things, too, are the works of peace, and often seem like a very little way.”
— Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage, December 1965


“When you love people, you see all the good in them, all the Christ in them.” — Dorothy Day from her On Pilgrimage column, April 1948

God made things easy.

“God meant things to be much easier than we have made them.”

“Writing is an act of community. It is a letter, it is comforting, consoling, helping, advising on our part as well as asking it on yours. It is part of our human association with each other. It is an expression of our love and concern for each other.” — Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage column The Catholic Worker, October 1950

“People say, What is the sense of our small effort?” They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time.”


“The true atheist is the one who denies God’s image in the ‘least of these’.”

Works of Mercy

“The early Christians started with the works of mercy — feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked. That all the works [of mercy] are within the reach of all is understood. But that we should take part in some of them is a matter of duty imposed by the natural and Divine Law.”

Spend Your Life

“Spend your life working on something that outlasts it.”

Our Own Sins

“Thinking gloomily of the sins and shortcomings of others, it suddenly came to me to remember my own offenses, just as heinous as those of others. If I concern myself with my own sins and lament them, if I remember my own failures and lapses, I will not be resentful of others. This was most cheering and lifted the load of gloom from my mind. It makes people unhappy to judge people and happy to love them.”


“Tradition! How rich a word that is. To a thinking child it means a great deal. Children all love to hear stories of when their parents were young, and of their parents before them. It gives a child a sense of continuity.”

Turn off the media!

“Turn off your radio. Put away your daily paper. Read one review of events a week and spend some time reading good books. They tell too of days of striving and of strife. They are of other centuries and also of our own. They make us realize that all times are perilous, that men live in a dangerous world, in peril constantly of losing or maiming soul and body. We get some sense of perspective reading such books. Renewed courage and faith and even joy to live.”

What One Person Can Do!

“People say, ‘“What good can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort?’ They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time. We can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fishes.”

When You Love People

“When you love people, you see all the good in them, all the Christ in them.” — from her On Pilgrimage column, April 1948

No One has the Right to Feel Hopeless.

“No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There’s too much work to do.”

Knowing Your Vocation

“You will know your vocation by the joy that it brings you.”
— from an interview with Pat Jordan in “Dorothy Day: Portraits
by Those Who Knew Her” (Rosalie Riegle, Orbis Books, 2003), p 146

Best to Disregard What People Say

“I have long since come to believe that people never
mean half of what they say, and it is best to disregard
their talk and judge only their actions.”
— 1952

True Security

The only way to live in any true security is to live so close to the bottom
that when you fall you do not have far to drop, you do not have much to lose.

See God in Nature

“It is surely an exercise of faith for us to see Christ in each other. But it is through such exercise that we grow and the joy of our vocation assures us we are on the right path. Certainly, it is easier to believe now that the sun warms us, and we know that buds will appear on the trees in the wasteland across the street, that life will spring out of the dull clods of that littered park across the way.

There are wars and rumors of war, poverty and plague, hunger and pain. Still, the sap is rising, again there is the resurrection of spring, and God’s continuing promise to us that He is with us always, with His comfort and joy, if we will only ask.

Life of Interest to Angels

Most of our life is unimportant, filled with trivial things from morning
till night. But when it is transformed by love it is of interest even to
the angels.
—The Long Loneliness

Revolution of the Heart

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?”

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