The Great Depression had raged on for three years and FDR had just taken office.“Every fifth adult American — twelve million in all — was unemployed.No smoke came from the factories…In New York long, bedraggled breadlines of listless men wound along city streets.”Peter Maurin, a Catholic social activist in New York, had just come to Day with a daring vision for a set of small, autonomous Catholic communities that would “live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ.”Day, a long-time journalist, would go on to start The Catholic Worker, a newspaper raising awareness of the movement nation-wide.She recounts her thoughts at the time:
I had been reading the life of Rose Hawthorne Lathrop. She was a daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne, the nineteenth-century American novelist. Rose, with her husband, had become a convert in 1891. She had started a cancer hospital for the poor and homeless-such institutions were a rarity in those days-in three dark, airless rooms down on the East Side. Her beginnings had been as humble as ours would be if I started the work Peter wanted. Indeed, when Rose herself fell ill with grippe, her very first patient had to take care of her. But from that simple start her work had grown until there are now a half dozen of those hospitals, run by the Dominicans, scattered around the country. A new order of nuns, wearing the Dominican habit, came into being as a result.
Reading about Rose Hawthorne Lathrop and listening now to Peter so inspired me that I was quite ready to believe that in the Church, no money was necessary. I was all for plunging right in. After all, I had a typewriter and a Kitchen table and plenty of paper and plenty to write about. The thing was to find a printer, run off the first issue and go out on the streets and sell it. Beginnings are always exciting.
Over 70 years later, the Catholic Worker movement holds behind it a long history of bold political activism; a spirit of genuine hospitality for those the world leaves behind; and a tradition of treating the marginalized with dignity and humanity.Dorothy Day is up for sainthood, and Peter Maurin achieved the only honor that might possibly be even greater: He was portrayed by Martin Sheen on film.The two of them had no idea what would happen with their newspaper and tiny communities, but they took joy in the start of something new and entrusted it to God.
So welcome to the Fish Tank.Contrary to what you might believe, we at The Ichthus don’t just think about our faith three times a school year, coinciding with the publication of our print journal.Our community is constantly pushing and pulling with the realities of the Gospel and the faithful Christian life, and we hope this blog will give you a better idea of what’s on our mind on a more frequent basis.Join us as we start something new!Beginnings are always exciting!