Why We Do, What We Do

22Jan08

The Catholic Worker Movement, founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in 1933, is grounded in a firm belief in the God-given dignity of every human person. Both the Thomas Merton House for men and the Dorothy Day Place for women are places of refuge where we believe that life, dignity and the rights of the human person should be afforded to all, especially the most vulnerable in society, the homeless. Our guests arrive ignored, broken and beaten down by the world they have encountered. Just like the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) encountering the man left half-dead on the side of the road, we are moved by compassion for those guests, aka travelers, whose paths cross our own.

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While each of us has been born into an imperfect and broken world, it is the love of Christ that elevates each of us and ultimately frees us. The love of Christ transforms us into something of higher worth. As Pope Benedict XVI stated in his encyclical letter – Spe Salvi (Saved by Hope) paragraph 28 “The relationship with Jesus, however, is a relationship with the one who gave himself as ransom for all (cf. 1 Tim 2:6). Being in communion with Jesus Christ draws us into his ‘being for all’; it makes it our own way of being.” This redefines our relationship to our world around us, from a person who would pass on the opposite side of the road to avoid a traveler to the more compassionate view taken by the Good Samaritan. The mercy shown by the Good Samaritan reflected God’s love for his children. Pope Benedict continues, “Love of God leads to participation in the justice and generosity of God towards others. Loving God requires an interior freedom from all possessions and all material goods: the love of God is revealed in responsibility for others.” So in performing works of mercy, we hope to reflect the words of Jesus Christ, when he admonished the questioning bystanders to behave as the Good Samaritan, “Go and do likewise.”

Some travelers stay with us just a few days while others have remained with us several years. Our list of travelers that we pray for is getting quite long. The needs and goals of each traveler vary except for the unifying needs of community, security and peace. God has blessed us with two beautiful houses that provide community, security and peace to those who may have never known any in their lifetime.

“Do not strive after a purely ‘down to earth’ aim in life, in which you may find pleasure but follow a noble ideal which will give you joy. To find pleasure is one thing; to be happy another. Unfortunately for us, in this world the two do not always go hand in hand. Meanwhile, develop your mind, and heart, discipline your will; be superior to all obstacles and pursue your way bravely towards your goal.” – Where Silence is Praise by A Carthusian.

Our joy is sustained in community, not just during the holidays, but throughout the entire year. The community of both the men’s and women’s houses gives strength to those who are facing daunting obstacles. The results of our community and God’s grace give us much to be thankful for. These are just a few moments we would like to share:

  • Receiving a call on Thanksgiving from a resident because she is working on Thanksgiving and is so joyful to be sober.
  • Another resident is joyful because she is reuniting with family by eating a Thanksgiving meal at our house with her college-age son and his girlfriend.
  • One resident is surprised and amazed when she completes her GED on her first try.
  • A resident received dental work after living with six abscesses and a fear of dentists.
  • Yet another resident is joyful because he has received a promotion and a raise at a job.

Many obstacles have been overcome and goals bravely pursued to realize these joyful moments. Each success is celebrated with a, “Yes, we knew you could do it!”

The beauty of the Holiday season can be seen in the greetings, artwork, lights, food and music. These ‘down to earth’ pursuits give us pleasure and rightfully so. However, at our houses, we experience the sublime, deep life changes that can only be the result of God’s graces, such as reuniting families, abstinence and sobriety, clear thinking, employment and health that truly bring joy. True joy comes from interior changes where God dwells in us.

Our standard of measure is, “Have our travelers left better than when they came to us?” Only with God’s blessings and grace that moves our benefactors to mercy and compassion, can we say a resounding, “Yes!” Thank you and God Bless to all our benefactors who have supported us throughout the year.

Written by Laura Hudson, a Boise Catholic Worker and a member of St Mark’s Parish.

Boise Catholic Worker is a group of Lay Catholics who study and live the social teachings of the Catholic Church in their daily lives through the guidelines set down by Catholic Worker Movement founder Dorothy Day. Catholic Workers give comfort to the homeless and suffering as well as promote social justice through education efforts and action. We welcome all faith based volunteers to Boise Catholic Worker.

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One Response to “Why We Do, What We Do”

  1. 1 Julie

    Lovely, inspiring story. (BTW I tried to “Like” some this and some other of your pages but part of the box was blocked on the page…)


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