Dorothy Day

Servant of God Dorothy Day (1897 – 1980) co-founder of the Catholic Worker and inspiring figure in the history of American Catholicism, was born on this day. The Liturgical Movement was part of Dorothy’s life and influenced her way of thinking and acting, as she lived in voluntary poverty and in solidarity with the poor. She was close friends with Fr. Virgil Michel, OSB, liturgical pioneer and monk of St. John’s Abbey. Here is a selection from one of her writings that links Liturgy and social action.

Liturgy and Sociology by Dorothy Day, found on the website of the Catholic Worker Movement 

What is the connection between liturgy and sociology?

Why do we stress the importance of the liturgical movement?

Here is our simple explanation: Individualism has been discredited. Catholics cannot go the other extreme of collectivism. We must uphold personalism as a philosophy.

The basis of the liturgical movement is prayer, the liturgical prayer of the church.  . . .  We think of all men as our brothers then, as members of the Mystical Body of Christ. “We are all members, one of another,” and, remembering this, we can never be indifferent to the social miseries and evils of the day. The dogma of the Mystical Body has tremendous social implications.

All the work of the Campion Propaganda Committee, its study and its activities against extreme nationalism, against racial hatreds, against social injustice has its basis in an understanding of the liturgical movement and a participation in it.

Once we heard a woman at a Catholic Action convention say, “Are you going to the liturgical lecture?” and her friend replied, “I am not interested in music.” Many people confuse liturgy with rubric–with externals.

Again we urge the Campions, and with them our readers, to join with us in liturgical prayer. When we pray in this way we recognize the universality of the Church; we are praying with white and black and men of all nationalities all over the world. The Communist International becomes a pale thing in contrast.

Living the liturgical day as much as we are able, beginning with prime, using the missal, ending the day with compline and so going through the liturgical year we find that it is now not us, but Christ in us, who is working to combat injustice and oppression. We are on our way to becoming “other Christs.”

We cannot build up the idea of the apostolate of the laity without the foundation of the liturgy.



One comment

  1. Many thanks – I never knew that Dorothy Day had made this connection between liturgy and social justice. In fact, that may be the best exposition of that connection that I’ve read. It’s a little dated, but with some judicious editing it might make a fine bulletin insert today.

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