HOUSE NEWS: Welcome back, welcome home
I am currently reading a new book entitled The Catholic Worker After Dorothy: Practicing the Works of Mercy in a New Generation, by Dan McKanan. As part of that “new generation” since Dorothy’s death in 1980, I’m interested in what others thinks is at the heart of the Catholic Worker movement–why people think we do what we do. Early on in the book, McKanan asserts that it is the “works of mercy”–feeding the hungry, freeing the prisoner, taking care of the sick, offering shelter to the stranger, etc–that are at the heart of the Catholic Worker. He goes on:
Virtually all [who live, work or volunteer at the Catholic Worker] would agree that they have been changed by the practice of the works of mercy. Much more than writing a check to the United Way or the Internal Revenue Service, taking personal responsibility for the needs of the stranger changes the way one sees the world.
I think that there is great truth in what McKanan writes. It has been my experience (and I am guessing, many of yours) that we are transformed by the relationships that we cultivate at the Gainesville Catholic Worker–relationships that cut across class, race, religion, culture, lifestyle, politics, etc. The bowl of soup, the glass of water, the fresh bread–this is important; but more important is that we have come together in a place where if we open our hearts to people with whom we think we have little or nothing in common, if we listen to their stories and seek to understand how this world looks to those from the underside of life, then we are in that wonderfully dangerous place where we can be truly changed. We start to look at the world differently. Our values shift, priorities are restructured, and we start to remember what it really means to be human. And maybe that stuff we learned in Sunday school about everyone being created in the image and likeness of God, about loving and caring for our neighbors (and even our enemies) starts to make sense. And if we’re really lucky, our hearts and minds are no longer captive to what passes for wisdom in our society, but freed to imagine a different world, a different way of being, for ourselves and for others.
So for those of you who barely know the Gainesville Catholic Worker, consider this your invitation. Stop by this semester. Spend some days with us baking bread, sweeping floors, digging in the dirt, listening to stories, and sharing meals. I think you’ll find something good, deep and real here. And for those of you who know us well, welcome back–from your summer break away from school, from vacations or travels with family and friends and loved ones, from wherever you have been these past months. We’ve made some changes this semester (see the schedule and website for more info), welcomed new life into our home (Kendera had her baby, Moraa, in late July!), and we’re excited about the next stage in this ever-unfolding experiment of faith and hope we practice here. Come and see us, become a regular at the house for one (or more) of our projects (you know we need lots of help!), and bless us with your presence. We believe this work to be a “revolution of the heart.” Come and see why.
For information on what is happening this coming week, August 25-31, click here.