What Dorothy Day Said We Must Talk About

Social activist and Catholic convert Dorothy Day led a life of radical authenticity, using her considerable gifts as a writer on behalf of the poor she served and the faith that drove her passion. 


Day’s writings, including her autobiography, The Long Loneliness, remind us that our words are meant to serve and give a voice to the voiceless.

“We must talk about poverty, because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it,” she said.

Talking about real poverty is different than mere political argument.  It’s keeping the humanity of the invisible, suffering souls around us in our minds and hearts.  It’s knowing real people who are poor, listening, loving, sharing life together.

Talk must accompany action, which is easier when you actually know people who struggle to support themselves: the elderly widower on a pension, the humble cashier working two jobs to support her children.  It’s making eye contact when you are called to share your surplus with someone you meet, and it can be as simple sometimes as being prepared to share a blessing bag or gift cards with those who need our help.

And always, always, sharing the good stuff (not just that can of beans, but some of our own favorites) from our pantries during community food drives.

We must talk about poverty with our lives as Dorothy did, and not remain insulated by our own comfort.  Lent can be a time to learn, so that when we speak, we speak from an informed mind and an inflamed heart made visible by how it directs our giving.

“The final word,” wrote Dorothy, “is love.”


Reads & Other Seeds

More on Dorothy Day:  see  The Both/And Servant of God, an adaptation of Brandon Vogt’s chapter on Day in Saints and Social Justice:  A Guide to Changing the World.


This post is part of a series (see A Lenten Invitation from a Babbling Brook: Focus on Speech and Silence).  Follow Sparrowfare by subscribing!  We’d love to have you join us in sharing the quotes that speak to you.