The Long Loneliness

by Dorothy Day

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Based on The Long Loneliness, describe three to five turning points in Day’s spiritual journey. What were her obstacles to making progress? How did she overcome these obstacles?

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Day's spiritual journey in the first part of her life involved leaving behind her identity as a bohemian and communist to embrace a new path as a Catholic pacifist.

One obstacle in her path was the secular way she was raised by her middle-class family. Her parents did not take their Episcopal religion seriously, and although Dorothy was deeply moved by the examples of faith she witnessed in working-class Catholics, it ran against the grain of how she was raised to devote her life to Christ and the Catholic Church. She overcame this obstacle after she had a conversion experience at Catholic University in Washington, DC. She was helped in her journey as she studied Roman Catholicism with Catholic priests and sisters.

Another obstacle to her spiritual path was her partner, Forster. She loved him but knew that if she had their daughter baptized, he would leave her. The two had led a bohemian existence by refusing to marry and by rejecting religion in favor of embracing radical politics. To Forster, baptizing their child was hypocritical and superstitious. Dorothy did so anyway because, having had an abortion and believing she was, as a result, incapable of a bearing a child, the baby seemed to her to be a miracle. She decided that she had to be strong enough to put her faith over her relationship. This act did end the relationship.

Another obstacle was her former dedication to communism. She saw many parallels between communism and Christianity but feared that her communist friends, who rejected religion, would ridicule her. She overcame this, in part, by realizing that she could no longer agree with the communist reliance on violence as the avenue to change. She also overcame her fear of losing her dedication to social justice causes by folding social justice action into her faith.

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