A New Friend

A week ago Friday I had the good fortune to meet Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day. In good Catholic Worker form we met at a picket against the War.

I was introduced to Martha as a “Buddhist Catholic Worker”. It is not the first time such an introduction has been used and not at all wrongly. I was raised Methodist, converted to Buddhism at 18, and discovered Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement in college. These 3 religious influences have played a strong guiding role in my life. The Methodist upbringing set deep roots in a biblical understanding of the world. Buddhism offered a methodology for prayer and contemplation that was sadly missing from the protestant Christianity of my childhood. The Catholic Worker provided an example of how one can aspire to embody and live according to the Sermon on the Mount, which is, in my view, the heart of the Jesus teachings, the core of the Gospel. The Catholic Worker offers a model for how we can embody the love and compassion of our religious teachings in the world. This is especially important for Buddhists, who can sometimes can get lost intellectualism and otherworldliness.

Since our meeting on Friday, Martha and I have had several opportunities to get together and “talk story”. We have had wide ranging discussions on the Catholic Worker, Dorothy Day, Religion and Spirituality, and life in general.

It is always heartening to share one’s concerns and hopes with another who shares much of the same religious language. Though Dorothy Day was a very significant figure in the 20th century, especially among Catholics, she is not that well known to the general public. This is a shame because she worked to embody the best of the Christian and Catholic teachings. Her life is an example of what is needed to create truly peaceful and just world.

I am looking forward to spending more time with Martha and exploring together how to live an authentically religious life.

Peace, Paul

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