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On Pilgrimage

by Dorothy Day

Buy the book: Dorothy Day. On Pilgrimage

Release Date: October, 1999

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: Dorothy Day. On Pilgrimage

The introduction justifies the price of the book

I would suggest this as the third book by Dorothy Day that you read-- after "loaves and fishes" and "long lonliness", however, the introduction to this book justifies the purchase for anyone. The introduction is lengthy (over 25 pages), and is written by two people that know the movement (they run Casa Juan is Houston). The book by Day is very touching.... but not an introduction to someone unfamiliar with her work. Often I suggest that someone new to Dorothy Day read the introduction, and then "Loaves and Fishes", and then returns to this book.

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Bread for the journey

Many of Dorothy Day's sabbaticals from the Catholic Worker houses are chronicled in "On Pilgrimage," which was also the title of her long-running column in her monthly newspaper, The Catholic Worker. Ever the journalist, Day would record the most minute aspects of her trips--usually by bus and with a jar of instant coffee and prayer books in her small bag--and give her newspaper readers insight into the social struggle in the South, in Okie migrant camps or Indian reservations. Her compassion and observer's eye didn't conflict; she wrote about injustice with passion, but felt compelled to temper her anger at issues such as the mistreatment of black tenant farmers. Her distinctly Catholic perspective on poverty (indeed voluntary poverty was her lasting contribution to 20th century Christianity) and suffering as well as her feisty personality are evident in these essays detailing her trips. Even though efforts have begun toward Dorothy Day's canonization, she will never be a plaster saint...not as long as these warm and utterly realistic accounts are read. She comes across as a committed Christian who believes in the essential dignity of every human being, oppressed and oppressor alike. The only fault with her pilgrimage essays is their essentially hurried nature. Dorothy Day could be careless with punctuation and transitions in her efforts to get her thoughts on paper. The essays when she's visiting her daughter and attempting to help with the growing number of children are my favorites. Dorothy Day continues to be one of my prime spiritual mentors, precisely because of homey, faith-filled essays like those, where the grandchildren are climbing on her lap and preventing her from writing. The real woman--warts, moments of exhaustion and all--is in these pages.

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