If you want to move mountains, you have to get uncomfortable. Change is always active and always requires action. It is difficult, but it needs to happen… we are the ones to do it. There are two ways two way to make change. We can change systems and we can change ourselves, as a revolution of the heart.
Dorothy Day’s legacy challenges society to an external and internal revolution. She truly lived out the Christian life. Dorothy’s convictions were radical. She participated in protests, sit-ins and wrote newspaper articles on the need for social, political and economic change. Dorothy and her companions began the Catholic Worker after witnessing great injustices and a need for change.
Dorothy’s journey in and through the Catholic Church was grounded in humble solidarity. She lived in true solidarity with the poor, even though she may have often thought she did not. Exemplifying this sense of humility, Dorothy once lamented, “But the fact remains that I have stockings to cover me when others go cold and naked.“
Solidarity in action involves the entire community, and Dorothy realized the need for this to go beyond her own revolution of the heart. In fact, our community has a collective responsibility for the suffering of those impoverished. Dorothy demanded a societal call to action, “Let us forgive each other! All of us who are more comfortable, who have a place to sleep, three meals a day, work to do-we are responsible for your condition.” For solidarity to work we must love the unloved and live for another; the fact remains we are all connected.
Believing in Christ, God and humanity brings us hope in a world so desperately in need of it. Dorothy’s willingness to open her life to Christ and her faith in humanity allowed her to bring hope to so many who despaired. Sustainable change requires hope and faith. In her writing Dorothy expressed the source of her hope: “There is only one motive that can make it possible to live in hope— love of God. If we do not live in love, we are dead indeed.”
However, Dorothy was acutely aware of the challenges of loving versus simply addressing people’s basic needs: “It was so much easier to throw people the clothes, food or what not that they need, and so hard to sit down with them and listen patiently.” Forcing ourselves to be present and listen to other’s hardships is uncomfortable, but change begins when we are uncomfortable. People just want someone to hear them; they want to know their voices are not forgotten.
81 years after Dorothy started the Catholic Worker, her legacy lives on today in the 227 Catholic Worker communities continuing her work for justice grounded in humble solidarity. Dorothy’s revolution began because she realized that we are all connected. She moved mountains through the power of love, hope, faith and humble solidarity.
We may not be called to start Catholic Workers, but her witness is a challenge for all of us to seek change and move mountains in our own hearts and communities.
McKenzae is a senior at John Carroll University, majoring in Theology and Religious studies with a minor in Mathematics on track for a masters degree in Non-profit Administration. She has been involved the Immersion program and JCU since Freshman year. McKenzae became involved with ISN in January 2012 at the University Leadership Summit where she developed an action plan to bring more Alta Gracia to JCU. This semester she will continue to bring awareness to staff and students about the need for Alta Gracia and fair trade on campus. McKenzae grew up in Twinsburg, Ohio.