One of the things that irritates me so about those who use Dorothy Day is their seeming total ignorance of her spiritual insight and depth. Here, Dorothy relates the teaching of a Fr. Roy whom she brought to the Catholic Worker farm in order to give her and the residents a retreat. This is not some banal twittering about the soft love of a soft God. This Fr. Roy gives Dorothy and her companions the entirety of the scandal of Christ. And she eats it up:
He [Fr. Pacifique Roy] not only pointed out to us the obligation we were under by the vows we had taken at our baptism to put off the world, the flesh and the devil, but he pointed out the means to do this, by what he called acting always for the ‘supernatural motive’ – ‘moteef’ he pronounced it – in this way supernaturalizing all our actions of every day. If we did our works of mercy to be praised by men, or from pride and vanity and sense of power, then we had had our reward. If we did them for the love of God, in whose image man had been made, then God would reward us; then we were doing them for a supernatural motive. There was little freedom in this life, except in the realm of motive or intention. We could do things either because we were compelled to, or because we loved God and wanted to. And never mind, if we did not by our own sacrifice put off the old man and put on the new; God would see to it that we did so in the natural course of events, just as we grew in age, losing little by little our sense of life, our eyesight, our teeth, our hearing. ‘Oh yes, we would be stripped,’ he laughed gaily. ‘God so love the world,’ he cried out with a thrill in his voice. God was that Hound of Heaven who would pursue us, who would not let us go. (pg. 247 The Long Loneliness)
“Supernaturalizing all our actions of every day.” This is glorious stuff, and it is what the Social Doctrine of the Church is trying to get us to comprehend. Every little act of kind attention to God’s creation can be a salvific and sanctifying act of grace…if only we could turn our hearts over to Him.
I am not there. Do not get me wrong. I am along the path. But the end of the path is clear and is shared through the testimony of many like Dorothy Day and Fr. Roy. I also know that “we would be stripped” of ourselves , placed on the cross and removed from our attachments and desires so that we can be totally dependent on Him. Dorothy had no illusions about this, and neither should we.