I am somewhat eclectic I guess. As a Christian I find inspiration in many streams of the Church. I believe in the spiritual reality that there are many different parts but one Body for those of us who truly trust in Jesus as our Lord and Messiah. It’s a big family and we have alot to learn from one another – even when we are in sharp disagreement.

One of the streams in the Church that I am inspired by is the Catholic Worker Movement. Founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in the 1930’s during the Great Depression:

“The Catholic Worker Movement is grounded in a firm belief in the God-given dignity of every human person. Today 213 Catholic Worker communities remain committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken. Catholic Workers continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms.” (source)

The Catholic Worker Movement takes Jesus seriously when He said: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45). You may not fully agree with all that the Catholic Worker Movement advocates but could there be something for us to glean from this movement as they sought (and still seek) to live out the Gospel of Jesus in times of war and economic volatility?

At the Duke Divinity School’s Summer Institute I attended several months back, somebody left copies of this excerpt from Dorothy Day. It really spoke to me and I want to pass it along:

“We were just sitting there talking when Peter Maurin came in.

We were just sitting there talking when lines of people began to form, saying, “We need bread.” We could not say, “Go, be thou filled.” If there were six small loaves and a few fishes, we had to divide them. There was always bread.

We were just sitting there talking and people moved in on us. Let those who can take it, take it. Some moved out and that made room for more. And somehow the walls expanded.

We were just sitting there talking and someone said, “Let’s all go live on a farm.”

It was as casual as all that, I often think. It just came about. It just happened.

I found myself, a barren woman, the joyful mother of children. It is not always easy to be joyful, to keep in mind the duty of delight.

The most significant thing about The Catholic Worker is poverty, some say.

The most significant thing is community, others say. We are not alone anymore.

But the final word is love. At times it has been, in the words of Father Zossima, a harsh and dreadful thing, and our very faith in love has been tried through fire.

We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know him in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone any more. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.

We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.

It all happened while we sat there talking, and it is still going on.”

-DOROTHY DAY

(source: Dorothy Day. The Final Word Is Love. The Catholic Worker, May 1980, p. 4. The Catholic Worker Movement: link)

J. Fowler

J. Fowler is the website editor and co-founder, along with his wife Pamela, of the Sustainable Traditions project. The Fowlers live with their seven children on a farm near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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