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The Catholic Worker Movement: Intellectual And Spiritual Origins Paperback – September 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Pr; First edition (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809143151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809143153
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #833,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mark and Louise Zwick founded the Houston Catholic Worker, Casa Juan Diego, in 1980 to serve immigrants and refugees. Over 50,000 immigrants have stayed at least one night in the Houses of Hospitality. The Zwicks received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award from the Holy Father and the Jefferson award in Houston for their work. They are co-editors of "Houston Catholic Worker," a bi-monthly newspaper.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Paul Engler on December 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
In the 1990s, a prominent American Catholic journal pronounced, "the Catholic Worker movement is dead," a decade and a half after the death of the movement's renowned co-founder, Dorothy Day. Such a sweeping declaration not only overlooked the fact that hundreds of Catholic Workers, including authors Mark and Louise Zwick, were active in catholic Worker ministries across the country, but also denied the theological and intellectual contributions the Catholic Worker movement has made, and continues to make, to American Catholicism.

In fact, Day believed that her influence would reach its fullest prominence after her death, prophetically reflecting, "but unless the seed fall into the earth and die, there is no harvest. And why must we see results? Our work is to sow. Another generation will be reaping the harvest."

In The Catholic Worker Movement, Mark and Louise Zwick present the seeds of this Movement, proving that it is still vibrantly alive and allowing for its continued fruitfulness. While dozens of books have been written about Dorothy Day and her movement, the Zwicks are unique in focusing not the history of the movement, nor its works, but its deep, and often overlooked, philosophical roots. It is precisely this philosophy which made the movement effective and influential, and which beyond all else let it withstand the test of time while countless other visionary communes have failed.

Although the book duly discusses the undisputed the basic tenants of the Movement, especially the last third of Chapter 25 of Mathew's Gospel-the "corporal works of mercy"- they show that the intellectual roots also go deeper. Chapters are dedicated to separate themes including personalism, non-violence, monastism, and the teachings of the Saints.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Wes Howard-Brook on December 12, 2005
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As someone who has walked with the Catholic Worker movement for many years and now teaches a university course (in Seattle) on the movement, I found the Zwicks' book an essential volume for understanding this powerful and profound movement.

Many books, including those written by Dorothy Day herself, offer anecdotal histories of the movement, placing it in its cultural and historical context. Others (such as Rosemary Riegle's "Voices") offer fascinating collections of memories from those who have been touched by the CW over the decades. But no book previously has grounded the movement so profoundly in the depth and sweep of Catholic and philosophical tradition. Each chapter is like a glass of wine to savor.

Another reason I find this so helpful: many current CW houses understand the need to feed the poor or work for peace, but have little understanding of how centrally Christian Dorothy and Peter were. "Spirituality" is sometimes seen as an option in today's CW houses. But for the founders, there was no movement apart from the witness of saints, intellectuals, mystics and other faith heroes throughout the ages.

This book may well be the inspiration you need to find your nearest CW house and serve a meal or offer an hour in the name of the Prince of Peace.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gregory on August 30, 2006
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It is rare nowadays to find a book which is completely faithful to the claims implied by its title. This is one of those rarities.

Catholics in this generation, even those who are reasonably well-informed on most things, often have an erroneous notion as to what the Catholic Workers are all about, and the answer to "what they are all about" must begin with their intellectual and spiritual origins. Those who are ill-informed of the movement will be surprised by the content of these foundational elements. Those who are more at home with the movement will be edified by the summary given in this book.

One caveat: If your motive for reading this book is to reinforce your political views, and if you are a modern American "liberal", you will throw it down in disgust. If you believe that capitalism can do no wrong, you will do the same. But if you want to read about how Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin attempted to follow Christ through the institution of the Movement, then you will find what you want, and be edified in the process.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By olderandwiser on October 6, 2014
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Despite its references and bibliography, Mark and Louise Zwick's book is a work of poor scholarship and presents an idealized version of Dorothy Day. The Zwicks' tunnel vision allows them to simply ignore important controversies in Day's life. For example, the Zwicks assure us in Chapter 15 that Day was committed to pacifism. They write that Day opposed "Americanism" (p. 254) and they quote her statement in the April 1948 "Catholic Worker" (CW) "That it is better that the United States be liquidated than that she survive by war" (p. 255). Day's high ideals, as written in the May 1949 CW, are also quoted: "But when it comes to activity, we will be pacifists, I hope and pray, nonviolent resisters of aggression from whomever it comes, resisters to repression, coercion, from whatever side it comes, and our activity will be the Works of Mercy. Our arms will be the love of God and our brother." (p. 253)

These statements suggest that Day's extreme pacifism was consistent. But her belief in nonviolence was tempered by who was fighting and what he was fighting for. The Zwicks ignore this fact. They observe that Day quoted missionary-martyr (and later saint) Theophane Venard "about the oppression of the Vietnamese by the French in the name of civilizing pagans and Christianizing them. Venard criticized his countrymen for being godless, secular, and utilitarian in Vietnam, rather than witnesses to the gospel. Dorothy concluded that it was not Christianity and freedom that was being defended, but possessions" (p. 272, footnote omitted).

The Zwicks do not mention Day's later comments on Vietnam: "In 1954 I had written an article for the "Catholic Worker" entitled 'Ho Chi Minh and Theophane Venard, the hero and the saint.'...
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