The Works of Mercy: An Antidote to the Mercilessness of the Day

The Works of Mercy: An Antidote to the Mercilessness of the Day

“With the passing years, I have come to see our work of hospitality at the Catholic Worker – this doing the works of mercy – as an ever-available antidote to despair, a practical pushback against the mercilessness of the day. A welcoming cup of coffee and pot of soup are tools for defying the trench mentality that sets in when belief in goodness wanes.” Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, a member of SS. Francis and Therese Catholic Worker in Worcester, Massachusetts, reflects on the Works of Mercy in a talk she gave at the 2022 Catholic Worker Gathering.

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C. W. States Stand on Strikes

Summary: Articulates their position on strikes while eschewing Communist class war tactics and violent means. Supports strikers because of their god-given dignity and the unity of the Mystical Body–“We are members one of another.” They aim to change the social order, accept sacrifice and failure, to build the Kingdom of Heaven. (DDLW #940). The Catholic Worker, Jul 1936, pp. 1, 2

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On Pilgrimage (Oct/Nov 1969)

Summary: Travels to Chicago and meets friends from the peace movement. Attends prayer meetings and especially appreciates a Taize community. Attends an Operation Bread Basket meeting. Visits Milwaukee and describes the work of Fr. Groppi, Michael Cullen, and others: Keywords: non-violence, resistance, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Abernathy, racism, housing. (DDLW #902). The Catholic Worker, October 1969, pp. 1,6,8

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On Pilgrimage (June 1969)

Summary: Detailed account of the strike of the United Farm Workers in California (Coachella Valley, Delano) led by Cesar Chavez and her visit to the West Coast. Reports on the strike movement and details the current strike climate and actions being taken. The strikers demands are explained and she calls on the readership to support the strikers in their fight. Keywords: non-violence, grape boycott (DDLW #899). The Catholic Worker, June 1969, pp. 1,5,7

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On Pilgrimage (February 1968)

Summary: Resists the “January doldrums” and writes about the continuing struggle of California farm workers. Tells of her visit to Sicily and England, giving details of the plane flights and her reasons for preferring planes over buses and ships. Praises the work of mercy of a disabled man. Keyword: nonviolence (DDLW #862). The Catholic Worker, February 1968, 2, 8.

 

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Danilo Dolci’s Sicily

Summary: While in Rome she takes a side trip to see the work of Danilo Dolci. She admires his techniques of organizing and energizing the poor to rebuild Sicili using experts, holding meetings and nonviolence, especially when resisting the mafia. Sees similarities to Peter Maurin’s approach. (DDLW #859). The Catholic Worker, December 1967, 2, 6.

 

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Michael Gold

Summary: A remembrance of her long and deep friendship with Mike Gold upon hearing of his death. Recounts their shared zeal for revolution in the 1910s, his anguish over the draft, and his support during the time of her conversion in the 1920s. Notes their differences over the use of violence, she a pacifist. Keywords: obituary (DDLW #853). The Catholic Worker, June 1967, 2, 8.