Here is the full text of Two Agiators: Peter Maurin – Ammon Hennacy, a 56-page pamphlet published by the New York Catholic Worker in 1959. The pamphlet includes essays by Hennacy, “Easy Essays” by Peter Maurin, and an introduction by Dorothy Day.
This essay by Jim Forest on Peter Maurin was written for The Encyclopedia of American Catholic History published by the Liturgical Press.
Peter Maurin dispensed his vision for a Christian social order in short, memorable blank verse poems that he called “Easy Essays.” Here are 82 of his Easy Essays, organized into 11 themes.
Seventy years after his death, Peter Maurin’s vision of a revolution marked by a synthesis of cult (religion), culture (learning and arts), and cultivation (agriculture) is gaining traction among a whole new generation of Catholic Workers living on the land. By Maria Benevento. Reprinted with permission from The National Catholic Reporter, May 15, 2019.
Peter Maurin’s influence on the Catholic Worker Movement is often overlooked, even in Catholic Worker circles. But he was the intellectual author of the movement, and gas much to teach the movement even today. A talk by Paul Magno presented at the Dorothy Day Centenary Conference, Marquette University, October 10, 1997.
A reflection on the prophetic vision of Peter Maurin.
By Paul Magno. Reprinted from The Little Way, the paper of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Washington, DC, Spring 1996.
For some time, Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day, along with the Catholic Worker movement they founded, have been thought by many to exemplify the prophetic voice in the twentieth century. However, the Catholic Worker movement is not without critics. Does a small movement, founded in the Depression, emphasizing personalism and the land, hold any hope for the massive social reconstruction necessary in an urban-bureaucrat age? An essay by Marc Ellis excerpted from Revolution of the Heart.
Summary: Explains Peter Maurin’s ideal of “agronomic universities”–communal farms founded on a philosophy of work, especially manual labor. While an ideal, farm communities often suffered from too little skill and community conflicts. Lauds the new Peter Maurin farm on Staten Island and envisions deepening one’s spiritual life in work on the land. (DDLW #923). The Catholic Worker, Oct/Nov 1979, 1, 2, 7
Summary: Recounts her first meeting with Peter Maurin in 1932, his teaching style, his personal example, and his platform for the Catholic Worker: “Roundtable Discussions, Houses of Hospitality and Farming Communes–those were the three planks in Peter Maurin’s platform.” (DDLW #256). The Catholic Worker, May 1977, 1, 9.
A first-hand account of meeting Peter Maurin. By Stanley Vishnewski. Taken from Wings of the Dawn by Stanley Vishnewsi and reprinted in The Catholic Worker, May 1976, p.1, 5.
Summary: Tells a story of Peter Maurin’s work at the Easton farm and goes on to summarize his principal teachings. Peter was a deeply religious man, a reader and constant student, who recommended books, especially the lives of the saints. He valued physical labor and wanted farming cooperatives, “clarification of thought”, and houses of hospitality. His faith was invincible, he exhorted a philosophy of poverty and the study of man’s freedom. (DDLW #914) The Catholic Worker, May 1965, pp. 1, 2, 5, 6
In her introduction to the 56-page pamphlet “Two Agitators: Peter Maurin — Ammon Hennacy” (The Catholic Worker, New York, 1959) Dorothy Day sketches a portrait of Peter Maurin and Ammon Hennacy and provides some background on their place in the Catholic Worker Movement. She marks similarities and differences between the two men, noting that their humility expressed itself in very different ways. Both men believed in the power of ideas and lived in a way that communicated their ideas as powerfully as any of their words.
Summary: Outlines Peter Maurin’s program for social reordering. Calls for a Green Revolution, a return to the villages. Finds his whole message embodied in personalism, which begins with oneself. Blames the C.W.’s problems in its lack of ability to limit itself. (DDLW #176). The Catholic Worker, May 1955, 2.
Summary: Summarizes Peter Maurin’s worldview and discusses his new social order and how his life embodied his ideas. Reveals the sources of his thought such as Proudhon, Kropotkin, Guardini and Karl Adam. (The Catholic Worker, May 1953, 1-2. DDLW #170).
Summary: Recalls Peter Maurin’s revolutionary vision and program for the Catholic Worker on the anniversary of his death. (DDLW #928). The Catholic Worker, May 1950, 1.The Catholic Worker, April 1962, 2.
Summary: A loving obituary for Peter Maurin giving the details of his death and burial. Speaks of his last five years of illness, the day he died, his wake and funeral. Emphasizes the ways “He was another St. Francis of modern times.” (DDLW #495). The Catholic Worker, June 1949, 1, 2.
Summary: A chapter from her unpublished book “Peter Maurin.” Comments on P. Maurin’s thoughts on capitalism and socialism and the idea that Papal Encyclicals try to make an “acquisitive society functional.” (DDLW #151). The Catholic Worker, February 1945, 3,7.
Summary: A sketch of Peter Maurin describing his philosophy, demeanor, and many sayings. Mentions that he lives what he preaches, practicing detachment from material goods. Notes that many Jews have come to the Catholic Worker during the recent wave of anti-Semitism in New York because they see Peter as an ally. (The Catholic Worker, May 1940, page 11)
Summary: An overview of the beginnings of the Catholic Worker. As a journalist covering the Communist led march on Washington in December 1932, Dorothy yearns and prays to find a way to work for the poor and oppressed. She meets Peter Maurin who “indoctrinates” her in Catholic social teaching and his program to change the social order: starting a newspaper, houses of hospitality, roundtable discussions and farming communes. Includes several of Peter’s essays and details about starting the newspaper and their first houses of hospitality. (DDLW #435).
Peter Maurin’s “Easy Essay” outlining the program of the Catholic Worker.