Dorothy Day’s Loaves and Fishes tells the story of the movement that she cofounded in 1933, the Catholic Worker. She intended the book to be a sequel to The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of Dorothy Day (1952), which focused on her conversion from secular radicalism to Catholicism grounded in Jesus’ radical message of love. It also updates Day’s House of Hospitality (1939), an account of the movement’s first five years.
The book is divided into nineteen chapters and five thematic parts, each relating the values of her radical gospel Catholicism through her experiences and observations. A journalist rather than a philosopher, Day presents her radical gospel Catholic beliefs as an integral part of the movement’s history, not as abstractions.
In part 1, Day recounts Catholic Worker history, emphasizing the role of Peter Maurin, originally a French peasant, whose ideas helped her live her Catholic faith while finding a vocation that allowed her to blend her radical activist past with a gospel faith nourished by Catholic worship, sacraments, and teaching. What begins as a journalist’s attempt during the Depression to promote the radical implications of Catholic social teaching through the Catholic Worker (the paper where she was founder, publisher, editor, and often contributor), evolves into an urban movement that houses, feeds, and clothes the poor; an agrarian communal alternative to industrial capitalism; and a movement uncompromising in its pacifism and nonviolent resistance, an approach previously unfamiliar to Catholicism in the United States. Day believed that by living Christianity, she and others could start building a new society.
(The entire section is 706 words.)