For almost fifty years, through her tireless service to the poor and her courageous witness for peace, Dorothy Day offered an example of the gospel in action. Now the publication of her diaries, previously sealed for twenty-five years after her death, offers a uniquely intimate portrait of her struggles and concerns.
Beginning in 1934 and ending in 1980, these diaries reflect her response to the vast changes in America, the Church, and the wider world. Day experienced most of the great social movements of her time but, as these diaries reveal, even while she labored for a transformed world, she simultaneously remained grounded in everyday human life: the demands of her extended Catholic worker family; her struggles to be more patient and charitable; the discipline of prayer and worship that structured her days; her efforts to find God in all the tasks and encounters of daily life.
A story of faithful striving for holiness and the radical transformation of the world, Day’s life challenges readers to imagine what it would be like to live as if the gospels were true.
About the Author
Dorothy Day (1897 – 1980) was an American journalist, social activist and devout Catholic convert. In 1933, with Peter Maurin, she established the Catholic Worker, creating a community dedicated to direct aid for the poor and homeless, solidarity with the dispossessed, and social change. Day participated in the labor struggles of the 1930s, the Civil Rights movement, and nonviolent, pacifist opposition to WWII, Vietnam and Cold War militarism, and her cause for canonization is open in the Catholic Church.
Robert Ellsberg was part of the Catholic Worker community in New York City for the last five years of Dorothy Day’s life (1975-80), and served for two years as managing editor of The Catholic Worker. He has also edited Dorothy Day: Selected Writings and All the Way to Heaven: The Selected Letters of Dorothy Day, and is the author of All Saints.
Praise for The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day…
"The Duty of Delight is indispensable reading for anyone who cares deeply about God, about the world, or about humanity--in other words for anyone who wishes to learn how to love." –James Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything
"These diaries, and the splendid work of the editor, are a gift to each of us. Instead of simply talking about justice, peace, the poor, the reader is invited to encounter the reality of each situation, event, and person with a mentor and a guide who can be trusted to shine the necessary light which illumines: Dorothy Day. The ordinariness of her life speaks to the extraordinary power of grace in action." –Catholic Press Association
"To read these diaries is to enter the world of Dorothy Day, to see that world as she did, and to hear firsthand her conversations with herself and God. The reader is privileged to be invited into this intimate dialogue. . .. Dorothy Day’s life speaks for itself, and here in these diaries it speaks loudest of all, confirming what she believed: Duty expressed in love gives joy and delight." –National Catholic Reporter
“The Duty of Delight is an enlightening read. Robert Ellsberg has done a magnificent job of editing Dorothy's journal entries from the 1930s to her death in 1980. Here we discover the extraordinary vision and work of the Catholic Worker movement through the ordinary daily events of a woman who worked tirelessly as a devout Catholic and servant of the poor. I recommend it highly to those who want to apreciate more fully the life of a radical follower of Jesus Christ.” –Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York
“No Catholic has inspired me more than Dorothy Day. When I awakened to the struggles of the poor, she was there. When I first committed my life to non-violence, she was there. When I first thought of writing about my experiences on death row, she was there. When I struggle to pray and stay close to the suffering Christ, she’s still there. What a spiritual treasure in this intimate record of the sturm und drang of Dorothy’s spirit – her passionate loves and losses, confusions, and daily struggles to serve the unwashed, unfed, and often, un-sober, of America’s streets. There’s a starkness to her soul. She even talks about delight as a duty. You sense in her a steel-ribbed, relentless will, and yet, on every page is her acknowledgement of God’s saving grace and tender mercies – the two magnetic poles of Dorothy’s vibrant life. Thank you, God, for giving us this gospel of Dorothy.” –Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, founder of The Moratorium Campaign and author of Dead Man Walking
“Dorothy Day is perhaps the most significant figure in Western Christianity during the twentieth century. And there is no greater caretaker of these personal scrap-notes and journals than Robert Ellsberg. This book is bound to become a classic, just as Dorothy has become a legend. But let us not forget, Dorothy’s famous line: ‘Don’t call us saints… we don’t want to be dismissed that easily.’ She was just as ordinary as she was radical, and that is part of her charm. Let her life disturb and inspire you… not to become her – but to become you.” –Shane Claiborne, activist, founding member of The Simple Way, and author of The Irresistible Revolution
“The Duty of Delight is an astonishing ‘act of community’—a chronicle , so lovingly and carefully edited by Robert Ellsberg that each entry comes soaked with the heart of the Gospel and the power of transformative love. The sacred is present in every ordinary recounting.” –Gregory Boyle, S.J., Founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos on the Heart
“These diaries embody Dorothy’s powerful conviction, lived over many decades, that true holiness is found in the most ordinary aspects of our daily life, and that grace is always present in the midst of struggle. The deeply human side of Dorothy that comes alive in these pages is a sign of great hope for all of us who seek to live a faith-filled life in a complex world.” –Sr. Mary Scullion, RSM, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Project H.O.M.E.