The quintessential American Dream has frequently been perceived as a home with a white picket-fence in a lovely suburban town with a small family. Maybe even a dog.
The Catholic Worker movement, founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in 1933 as an intentional living community, provides a different model of the American Dream.
Living as a Catholic Worker with my family, I’ve noticed that others find our perception of the American Dream to be misguided, and quite opposite to the mainstream perception, in many ways. Our fence is coal colored-iron and shared with the apartments next door, we live in a old brick home shared with all who walk in. Our family is certainly no longer small. We tried dogs, and it didn’t work. Now we have a lot of plants.
But regardless of where you take up residence, the house isn’t the dream for people of faith. Our American Dream is embodied in servitude. Our American Dream is found in today’s readings, in Proverbs 22:9;
“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.”
The American Dream, I think, rather should be defined by our intentions as a nation:
Clothe the Naked
Feed the Hungry
Shelter the Homeless
Give Drink to the Thirsty
Counsel the Doubtful
It is our duty as Americans to form a proper Dream. Through our faith, actions, and prayer we have the ability to empower our community through the Gospel. We have the ability to show the love of God and provide for those in need.
Cesar Chavez encouraged us to rise up as communities when he said,
“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our communities. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”
- In today’s readings, Psalms 138:3 says: “You heard me on the day when I called, and you gave new strength to my heart.” When do you find yourself relying on Divine strength as you work for justice?
- How does your dream for your own life, and for our nation, include sharing bread with the poor and other works of mercy?
Gabrielle Marshall is a small town teenager who’s been living in the Catholic Worker Movement since the age of 12 and looking forward to the many years to come. With other members of the House of Hagar Catholic Worker community, she facilitated “Sticks and Stones, Juxtaposed,” a community-created art project at the 2016 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.