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Dorothy Day a voice for our times

September 24, 2015
Michael Stallman
San Mateo

Father Ronald Rolheiser writes about Dorothy Day in your Sept. 11 issue, calling her truly an example for our time. He writes “she … was able to wed together the Gospel and justice,” and that she took strong positions on both “private morality” and “social justice.” Yes, you can be pro-life and care for the poor.

However, he neglects a third side of Dorothy Day. She loved beauty. In a speech earlier this year, Archbishop Cordileone recounted a story from the early ‘60s, when our St. Mary’s Cathedral had just opened. A meeting was held in the rooms beneath the cathedral, where many complained the money ought rather to have been spent on the poor. Dorothy Day vocally dissented from the chorus.

Dorothy Day said: “The church has an obligation to feed the poor, and we cannot spend all our money on buildings. However, there are many kinds of hunger. There is a hunger for bread, and we must give people food. But there is also a hunger for beauty – and there are very few beautiful places that the poor can get into. Here is a place of transcendent beauty, and it is as accessible to the homeless in the Tenderloin as it is to the mayor of San Francisco.”

Yes we need to care for the poor, but we also ought honor our blessed Lord with truly sacred music, beautiful art and architecture that brings the faithful together to glorify God. Truly Dorothy Day is a voice for our times.

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