Born in 1897, Dorothy Day was one of the most important lay Catholics of the twentieth century and many have embraced her cause for canonization. Pope Francis praised Day as an American whose "hard work and self-sacrifice" has "shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people." Pope Francis also said that Day's "social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints." This description by the Pope may come as a surprise to both liberals and conservatives who misidentify her as a dissenting Catholic.
In this short introduction to Day's life and thought, Terrence Wright shows that the Pope's praise is accurate. In plain language, Wright presents her radical response to God's mercy in her own life. After a time of sin and confusion including an abortion, a suicide attempt, and divorce, Day had a profound awakening to God's unlimited love and mercy upon the birth of her daughter, Tamar. Her determination to have Tamar baptized in the Faith ultimately led to her own baptism, and the strength of her conversion enabled her to embark on a lifelong mission to bring God's mercy to others.
With Peter Maurin, she founded the Catholic Worker Movement, a lay movement dedicated to both the spiritual and corporal works of mercy through the establishment of Houses of Hospitality, Catholic Worker Farms and the Catholic Worker newspaper. Wright explores the philosophical and theological underpinnings of the Catholic Worker Movement and shows how its work is grounded in the richness of Day's own spirituality. Drawing heavily from Day's own writings, he reveals her love for Scripture, for the Sacraments, for the Magisterial teaching of the Church, and her devotion to particular saints including St. Francis, St. Benedict, and St. Therese. He also explores her understanding of the Mystical Body of Christ and shows how this underpins one of her most controversial stances, radical pacifism.
After her death in 1980, Day has continued to serve as a model of Christian love and commitment. She recognized God in the less fortunate and she understood that to be a servant of these least among us is to be a servant of God. Wright's book shows that, far from being a dissenter, Day was a faithful Catholic.