Camille's editorial: Dorothy Day, a rebel in paradise


Editions Première Partie publish this Thursday a book entitled “Dorothy Day, a rebel in paradise” written by Mathilde Montovert, who is interested in the story of one of the most influential American Catholic figures of the XNUMXth century.

Journalist, activist, single mother, committed Catholic, Dorothy Day has become famous for her public campaigns in favor of social justice, the poor, the marginalized, the hungry and the homeless. If it has a certain reputation on the other side of the Atlantic, it deserves to be better known in Europe and in France.

I really enjoyed reading this book which focuses on the works of mercy of its heroine by mixing biographical aspects, historical context as well as invitations to prayer and action. I have therefore decided to dedicate this week's editorial to this inspiring woman with a sometimes chaotic journey who spent most of her life witnessing to Jesus by loving her neighbor in a radical way.

A youth cradled by the Psalms

Born into a less observant Episcopalian family, Dorothy loved going to church and reading the Bible, especially the Psalms. From her earliest childhood, she felt attracted by God and by his love. However, during her time at university in Illinois, the young woman turned away from faith. On the other hand, it is close to Marxist doctrine, which confirms its penchant for social causes.

"Dorothy needs to feel on the side of the most disadvantaged, to fight against the injustices of the capitalist system and always feels compassion for the most deprived", writes Mathilde Montovert in her book.

Dorothy will then become a journalist, a nurse, she will parade and be imprisoned alongside the suffragettes, will travel to Europe with her first husband, will fall in love... The activist will also go through painful stages: loneliness, prison and an abortion. A wound that she will carry all her life, in her heart and in her flesh.

It was at the age of 30, after the birth of her daughter, that she converted to Catholicism, finally responding to a call that resounded in her since childhood. "She understands that the church is the home she has long sought and yearned to belong to."

A life of service to the poor and to peace

His meeting with the Frenchman Aristide Pierre Maurin, whom everyone calls Peter Maurin, will completely change his life. This highly educated 54-year-old man chose to live in poverty, which earned him the nickname by Dorothy “Saint Francis of modern times”.

Together, they will found the Catholic Worker Movement, a work of hospitality and service to the poorest. A movement that will notably help many people as the stock market crash has just hit the United States hard, plunging the country into the Great Depression.

She also became famous for her pacifism and her work on behalf of the oppressed, including her opposition to the Vietnam War, her public support for striking agricultural workers and her commitment to the fight against racial violence and racism.

There would still be so much to say about the journey of this woman of faith, but to learn more about her story, I encourage you to discover the spiritual biography proposed by First Part editions. An invitation to change the world by following the radicalism of Dorothy Day and above all of the Gospel!

Camille Westphal Perrier

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