Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 602
One major influence on Dorothy Day was Peter Maurin. He helped her combine her faith with her desire to do good in the world. She'd lived as an activist before she turned to working with the teachings of the Catholic Church to improve the lives of others. She wrote:
I had a secular education, he said, and he would give me a Catholic outline of history. One way to study history was to read the lives of the saints down the centuries. Perhaps he chose this method because he had noticed my library, which contained a life of St. Teresa of Avila and her writings, especially about her spiritual foundations, and a life of St. Catherine of Siena.
Maurin's ideas helped her grow the "Catholic Worker" into something that was able to do concrete good. For example, the organization helped house and feed poor people. Rather than just writing about change, they helped create it. Part of this was because they were surrounded by poor people.
They created a lifestyle in which they understood the needs of the poor. She stated, "We were to do this by being poor ourselves, giving everything we had; then others would give too." She believed that by living that way and giving of themselves, they were able to make a positive change. Day didn't believe that they created enough change, but she did see the positive impact that her actions and those of the people around her had on the world and the lives of others.
When asked what the "Catholic Worker" is, Day said:
What kind of an organization do we have? It's hard to answer that. We don't have any, in the usual sense of the word. Certainly we are not a cooperative, not a settlement house, not a mission. We cannot be said to operate on a democratic basis.
Ultimately, it was group that provided services to people in need. It was guided by the principles of the Catholic church. One of the cornerstones of its philosophy is nonviolence, which Day advocated for throughout Loaves and Fishes. She also argued on behalf of voluntary poverty. She said:
The act and spirit of giving are the best counter to the evil forces in the world today, and giving liberates the individual not only spiritually but materially. For, in a world enslaved through installment buying and...
(The entire section contains 602 words.)
Unlock This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this Loaves and Fishes study guide. You'll get access to all of the Loaves and Fishes content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.