Saturday, December 02, 2006

Celebrating the New Year in Heaven



Dorothy's family's world, which would be hers as well, was Journalism. She, as a grade school girl, had survived the Great San Francisco Earthquake --- but her nightmares afterwards sent her family to Chicago, and then to New York City, the city that would become her own. They weren't believers, particularly; and she wasn't either. She had an extremely short failed marriage (hubby abandoned her in Europe after only a month or two....), became an activist for the vote for women, got a job in journalism behind her father's back (he didn't want her in journalism, blackballed her at all the mainstream papers, but he didn't think she might apply at the Socialist Call), associated with the radical intelligentia of the age before finding the one she thought was her true love and entering a common-law union with him. Forster Batterham being an atheist and anarchist wasn't a problem since she very nearly was also. But then her life took a 180 degree turn.

Dorothy was pregnant. And God-haunted. She was starting to believe that she ought to be a Catholic, if she could with the two marriages and all. And she was certain that the baby had to be baptised and raised as a Catholic, and not spend so much time adrift as she had. When she told Forster, that was the end, She could have Forster, or God, said Forster; and of course God won.

So the baby Tamar was baptised, and Dorothy was baptised not long after. She found a small apartment, went looking for a new job since Catholicism was inconsistant with the Socialist Call, and wondered what she would do next.

But there was an apostolate waiting for her. A wandering Catholic philosopher from France wandered into her life and taught her to think like a Catholic. Her neighbors and people from her past life who were in trouble knew there was a listening ear and a hot cup of tea at her place. And, since she knew Newspapers, she started one of her own, a Catholic paper to compete with the Call and the Daily Worker. The Catholic Worker still sells for one penny, even now.

In time, especially with the Great Depression, her apostolate grew out of her little apartment to several apartments --- to a storefront --- to a little farm --- to other people in other cities --- all serving Christ by sharing one's own food with the hungry and one's own home with those who have no home. Living the fulness of the "explosive" Catholic social teachings, and writing about it in the paper.

In the 1970's, as Dorothy became frailer in her old age, she handed the headship of the house in the Bowery over to "the young folks" but continued to live and to serve there. Until 1980. It was Saturday of the 34th counted week, or in the Latlish often preferred by the Church the 34th week of Ordinary Time, the last day of the Church's year, November 29th. Dorothy was becoming weaker and weaker. Until, just before sunset, with her daughter Tamar, the deacon Tom Cornell, and several others of her old friends with her, she died, just in time to pray the first Evening Prayer of the New Year with the saints of heaven.
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1 comment:

Mimi said...

I've heard the name before, but I'd never read about her life. I certainly didn't realize she was a convert.
Thank you.