Yesterday among a million other little things, I had a few minutes to think about one of my favorite saints, Dorothy Day. I have always felt a great affinity for her in part because she passed to eternal life on the day that I was born. I know I’m not the only person in my circle of friends who admires her. Her writing talent, her sass, her commitment to serving others – all of these things have made her a role model for many and have inspired me as I have tried to grow in discipleship.
Dorothy Day was nothing if not radical – and not just in the twentieth-century political sense of the term. One definition of that word is “thoroughgoing or extreme”, and that she was. She committed herself wholeheartedly to serving God and other people.
I have written previously about the gap between what I want and what I wish I wanted. There were a lot of years when I thought that the only way to live like my role models was to mimic them: I needed to live a life that looked like Dorothy Day’s in order to be a disciple of Christ the way that she was. I’m just beginning to find the ways that I can follow her example by being my unique self, rather than by going through the motions of what my heroes have already accomplished in the past.
We’ll only end up frustrated if we try to live someone else’s life. No matter how admirable a person’s actions are, they are their’s alone, and trying to appropriate them is a cop-out. I’m not going to live in a Catholic Worker house, I’m not going to write for a radical newspaper, I’m not going to be arrested – at the rate things are going I’m not even going to make it to any protests any time soon. But I can find ways to be truly ‘radical’ – thoroughgoing and extreme – in my service and discipleship by committing myself to what I do and to those who I serve.
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. – Dorothy Day