As a Catholic saint-in-training, I often wonder about the lives of the many saints that have walked the earth, proclaiming God’s glory and doing works in His name. As much as I love the Saint Augustines and Saint Pauls of the times past, however, I cannot often relate to them. I cannot, in a way, bring down such people to my level. Though tradition teaches us that many of these people lived ordinary lives, I find it hard to relate to doctors of the Church like Saint Thomas of Aquinas or the most austere hermits like Saint Benedict. Their path to holiness almost seems too perfect for me to ever be able to follow…because I am a product of different times. On top of all of this, we don’t often read about their failures, their doubts, and their struggles. Too often, we see their triumphs over evil without seeing the struggles that led to the triumphs. As a result, we just assume that they did not struggle as we do today.
This is why could not put Dorothy Day’s “The Duty of Delight” down. Though I have had to read the book a few pages at a time and though I’ve literally had to MAKE time to read the book due to my hectic schedule…it was well worth the effort.
Though we now consider Dorothy Day to be well on her way to being recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church, Dorothy’s diaries continually remind us that Dorothy was nowhere near as perfect as many saints are perceived to be. Though there is holiness in her works and an profound understanding of God within some of her most internal thoughts, Dorothy does not necessarily fit the stereotypical ideals we tend to perceive as necessary for canonization. We may, for example, read about saints that were quick to forgive the trespasses of their neighbor. However, Dorothy doesn’t necessarily fit this mold. Like many other saints, Dorothy also forgives the sins and faults of others. However, she does forgives while acknowledging that she, too, is a sinner with a past that many women today can relate to. She was not perfect by any sense, but she certainly demonstrates that a conversion of heart is possible with God’s grace.
Dorothy’s diary is anything but forgiving when it comes to Dorothy’s own shortcomings. It is a raw and personal account that does not attempt to hide any of her imperfections. The reader is often reminded of just how lowly and desperate she considered her own works and how often she had to turn her trust to God to achieve these works because she simply could not accomplish everything on her own. I may not run the Catholic Worker as she did, but I could relate to the difficulties in her path towards holiness. Like Dorothy, I struggle with the day-to-day temptations of doubt, insecurity, and fear. Like many other individuals, I fall into the trap of believing myself too inferior and flawed to ever become a saint.
As I read this book, however, this attitude started to change. I began to see a pattern in “The Duty of Delight,” and began to realize that Dorothy understood an element of her faith that I am still beginning to explore. Even in her most hopeless situations, Dorothy cried out to God for help and placed her complete trust in Him. As hopeless as her situation may have seemed at the time, Dorothy never lost hope and God never failed to deliver. I do not mean to say that Dorothy ever got a break. No, the trials kept coming and she always seemed to have more and more people depending on her regardless of how tired she felt or how little she had left to give. She never stopped fighting to serve God. Yet, with each impediment came her recognition of God’s grace. She came to see God in every struggle and, as a result, never lost hope.
I highly recommend this book to anyone out there who feels that they have a mission to serve God through works of charity. If you are anything like me, you know how easy it is to lose sight of our potential for holiness by focusing on our own imperfections. However, “The Duty of Delight” provides us a detailed and passionate reminder of how God chooses even the lowliest of His children for holiness. We may not live in the same world and time as some of the great saints of the Catholic Church, but we live in Dorothy’s time. She, like us, lived through wars, demonstrations, assassinations, scandals, violence, and a myriad of other events that would cause even the most faithful to lose hope.
Disclosure: The opinions and thoughts expressed herein are my own. I was not paid for my review. I was given a free copy of “The Duty of Delight” by Blogging for Books for review.