Dorothy Day lived a remarkable life, I have said that before. I like her best because she strikes me as normal, she had a child with her lover before she married, she knew what it was to be forced to consider, and go through with an abortion. She struggled with people she found it hard to like, and found it hard to keep her temper. But, despite or even because of all this normality, she sought for goodness, for holiness. Recently I have been reading her diaries. I cannot get to them much because I am meant to be finishing a busy teaching term well, and writing my dissertation for my MA so evenings and weekends are pretty much spoken for. But, if I wake up in the middle of the night, or early in the morning, it is a bit hard to resist....Here is a short extract, her rule of life, devised after a particularly trying week of people getting on her nerves.
The Catholic Worker will be in the hands of
St Joseph, and Tamar and I to continue under our novice mistress, the little St. Teresa who alone can teach us how to do the little things and cultivate a spirit of humility. St. Joseph is also taking care of me this year as I asked him to up at Montreal shrine.
'Can you not watch with me one hour?'
I shall remember this wherever I am tired and want to omit prayer, the extra prayers I shall set myself.
Because after all I am going to try and pray the simplest, humblest way, with no spiritual ambition.
Morning prayers in my room before going to Mass. I always omit them, rushing out of the house just in time as I do. If I were less slothful it would be better. Remember what Leon Bloy said about health in this months Coliseum. Not to try too hard to catch up on lost sleep, but to be sensible about sleep nevertheless.
Around the middle of the day to take, even though it be a snatch, fifteen minutes of absolute quiet, thinking about God and talking to God.
Read the Office as much as I can, if only Prime and Compline, but all whenever possible.
One visit during the day without fail. The rosary daily. I do plenty of spiritual reading to refresh myself and to encourage myself, so I do not have to remind myself of that. The thing to remember is not to read so much and talk so much about God, but to talk to God.
To practise the presence of God.
A nightly examination as to this rule and not just about faults.
To be gentle and charitable in thought, word and deed.
The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day
Robert Ellsberg (Ed.)
Marquette University Press, April 2008