Customer Review

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Penny a Copy, June 24, 2008
This review is from: The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day (Hardcover)
This unique tome is worth every penny because it can connect us with Dorothy Day more intimately than I ever imagined possible. She is no longer inaccessible to me. In fact I had been a little afraid of her in the sense I had been afraid like the whiskey priest in one of Dorothy's favorite novels, "The Power and the Glory" by Graham Greene. I had always been afraid to end up like him, despairing over missing the boat. Here is the scene on the night before he was executed by a Mexican Communist firing squad:

"What an impossible fellow I am, he thought, and how useless. I have done nothing for anybody. I might just as well have never lived..It seemed to him at that moment that it would have been quite easy to have been a saint. It would have needed a little self-restraint and a little courage. He felt like someone who has missed happiness by seconds at an appointed place. He knew now that in the end there was only one thing that counted - to be a saint."

Well now after reading 700 pages of "Duty of Delight" I am no longer afraid. Dorothy makes it look possible to be a saint. I believe without a doubt that she is now with God in heaven. What she did to get there, I can do. Reading her diary showed she slogged it out just like the rest of us with doubts, setbacks and sorrows. Through it all she remained faithful to daily prayer and the sacraments, including frequent Confession. She knew that it was in the little things that we find God, something she learned from one of her favorite saints, Therese of Lisieux.

Dorothy didn't always "suffer fools gladly." No matter. She was quick to apologize and always harsher in judging herself than she was other people. She always stayed focused on the pearl of great price, even as she paid her bills and worried just like the rest of us.

This doesn't mean she was an ordinary person. What ordinary person would devote her life to voluntary poverty in order to serve the least among us, literally serve them, with food and shelter? Flannery O'Connor, whose letters she was reading near the end of her life, said one time, "The Truth shall make you odd." Dorothy was never afraid of being thought to be odd if that was the price you had to pay to live the Gospels. And it was and it is the price you have to pay.

During the many days it took me to read this book, she was constantly on my mind. No other book ever did that for me. I wish I had known her like so many did. She affected all of them for the better, whether they were cardinals, famous writers like W. H. Auden, or street people.

Miller's classic biography of Dorothy Day ends wtih her funeral and his final passage tells it all:

"The funeral was on December 2 at the Nativity Catholic Church. An hour before the service people began to assemble in the street. There were American Indians, Mexican workers, blacks and Puerto Ricans. There were people in eccentric dress, apostles of causes who had felt a great power and truth in Dorothy's life...At the appointed time, a procession of these friends and fellow Catholic Workers came down the sidewalk. At the head of it Dorothy's grandchildren carried the pine box that held her body. Tamar (her daughter), Forster (Tamar's father) and Dorothy's brother John Day followed. At the Church door, Cardinal Terence Cooke met the body to bless it. As the procession stopped for this rite, a demented person pushed his way through the crowd and bending low over the coffin peered at it intently. No one interfered, because, as even the funeral directors understood, it was in such as this man that Dorothy had seen the face of God."
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