This essay first appeared in the April 2023 issue of The Catholic Agitator, the newspaper of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker community.
The beauty of an anarchist, lay, Catholic movement is that we will always attract someone to come and share the work despite what looks like a hopeless cause. Enjoying being in the presence of “the least among us” is a radical, revolutionary love. We will always have each other and the embodiment of Christ in the Catholic Worker. We have current “leaders” in the movement who continue to follow the Sermon on the Mount, our manifesto. We choose to do what is immediate and at hand, feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, and resisting the war machine. This is the task at hand, and we confront the structural crisis brought on through advanced capitalism by practicing the works of mercy.
Our future is tied up with the future of all humanity as we stare into the abyss of climate chaos and nuclear annihilation. The extinction of God’s creation at the hands of the lousy, rotten, capitalist system is our number-one issue. Betraying the Mystical Body of Christ by rejecting care of the poor in crisis is a great Christian failure. But preaching apocalypse is godless idolatry. We must keep rendering the Good News.
The basic tenants of voluntary poverty, clarification of thought, and unconditional pacifism is the answer to the problems of 21st-century life under empire. The Catholic Worker is offering up the solution, and as Dorothy said, “The only solution is love.” Our love of one another and of our neighbor is the foundation of Christ’s ministry and of the Catholic Social Teachings. We have the tools in our hands to carry on as Jesus has shown us.
Despite the United States’ Catholic Church’s support of war, we still belong to Her and we can keep Dorothy and Peter’s voices alive by refusing to go along with war. The flaws of our human institutions require us to set aside certain expectations. As far as I can tell, Dorothy’s voice for nuclear abolition is what will make her the patron saint of such a cause. She believed that the movement would continue if that were God’s will. We live life in precarity, but we will hold on to the belief that God will always provide if we respond to that love with our own practice of love. We may fail daily but we are still called to be a witness, to be the hands and feet of Christ and all the saints. I am so grateful we have this work laid out in front of us.