Solidarity is a treasure, a principle woven through the Christian Gospel as well as the sacred writings of many other religions. While Jesus lived it, announced it, explains it, tells it and breathes it, He never utters the word, never pronounces the sound. Yet it screams out at us through the stories He tells, beckons us to change our hearts as He embraces the untouchables and moves us to action as He teaches us about who our neighbor really is; who indeed we are sister and brother to.
Solidarity is the love that the Master painted into being amidst the bones and sinews of the Gospel; a masterpiece of unspoken truth embedded in the heartbeat of Christian conversion. Like the Christ Himself, this defining intangible of the Gospel can only be pointed to, expressed in art, poetry, music, never fully explained or defined, but lived as He did to the point of death; lived as we are called to.
In her dedication to living out the Works of Mercy Dorothy Day was driven by the solidarity of the Gospel. Solidarity, it may well be said is what makes of the Gospel a treasure that one might give up a fortune for, or even a life.
While the norm in our day has been to fit the Gospel into everyday living in society, Dorothy’s and the Catholic Worker’s has been a journey to live this counter-cultural Gospel that challenges society and critiques the numerous ways Christianity has been co-opted by civil religion. At the heart of it is the mystery of solidarity, that belief that every human being in every nook and cranny and on every continent on the planet earth is brother and sister, one to the other. Who is there to go to war with, but my brother, who is there to allow die of malnutrition, but my sister? A social injustice to any one of us, anywhere, is a social injustice to every one of us, everywhere!
“As often as you do it to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do it to me.” (Matthew 25) We remember our brothers and sisters who have been tortured, who have fled to America because of desperate poverty or persecution, who have been executed by the state, killed or brutalized by war, sold into the sex trade as victims of human trafficking, or who are living in devastating poverty. The Gospel tells us that “these” are our sisters and brothers, that the Kingdom of God has no borders; that we have been called to “welcome the strangers”, “to beat our swords into plowshares”, “to love our enemies”, and to “sell what we have and give to the poor, and then to follow Him”.
Solidarity is not the happily ever after narrative that bombards us daily and that has been burned into our psyche, overflowing with material excesses. Rather, solidarity is a jagged, raw reality that exposes materialism for the idolatry that it is and offers a way out for all of us imprisoned by the things that own us. Solidarity is a simple way that restores the human family to right relationship, and reminds us who a treasure really is. For it is in the breaking of bread that we discover who are sister and brother are, and to be thus discovered we must be seated at the same table.
Our Lenten Journey
We are ever so grateful at the Dorothy Day House for the peaceful spirit that marks the ebb and flow of our community life. Our conversation since Christmas has revolved around peace, the dignity of the person, the indignity and threat to civilization posed by the state sanctioned torture of human beings, and the presence of the principle of solidarity at the heart of the Gospel. These will continue to animate our conversation during the forty days to come.
The Life of Dorothy Day House, Youngstown…
*Our community has decided to fast the first Friday of each month as a way of being in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are oppressed by the daily conventions of life on planet earth. Please join us on Friday, April 1st, at 5:30 p.m. as we gather for a cup of soup broth, prayer and reflection on the injustices that continue to persecute humanity.
**Dorothy Day, Youngstown is a co-sponsor for the second annual Good Friday Peace procession to be held in downtown Youngstown. The Peace Procession is an opportunity for our Good Friday faith to spill out onto the streets of our community and witness to our Lord who endured torture, hung from the cross, suffered a gruesome execution sponsored by the state and ultimately revealed the love of God the Father.
***We will be in solidarity with the School of the Americas Watch, protest and fast as they gather in Washington D.C. from April 4th to April 11th to call attention to our country’s complicity in the persecution of our central American sisters and brothers.
****Round Table – For the month of March we gather as usual on the fourth Thursday of the month to focus on Catholic Social Teaching. Having spent the last couple of months on peace, the assault on human dignity and solidarity, for our March Round Table we talk about a man who stood with the poor against all oppression – Arch-Bishop Oscar Romero.
Those who come to help & learn and share…
*This past Saturday a number of our good friends came together for a party of sorts – when all was said and done, one bedroom on the second floor was completely dry-walled from floor to ceiling and the entire third floor was completely painted. Catholic Workers have never been afraid of hard work, our gratefulness to all those who have given so much…
**On this same Saturday about a dozen Catholic Workers gathered at the House to do the follow up to our Bridges out of Poverty Campaign. Our time together was invaluable as we had a very in depth conversation about what it means to walk together as sister and brother. We learned a lot about ourselves, more about solidarity, and discovered that we have a lot more to learn and figure out.
***This coming Saturday members of the Kent State Newman Center are stopping by to spend part of a day at the house and to reflect on the call to peace and justice and to consider the Works of Mercy. We hope to pick their brains and learn from them even as we sit around the table having Dorothy’s conversation.