Saturday, February 28, 2009
In the Catholic Worker tradition, we try not to distinguish between the "poor" and the "non-poor." We had a meal for the community and the community did show up. However, we would certainly have liked to have included folks who didn't have an option of a meal waiting for them back at home.
We had a bounty of donations and a wonderful bunch of folks who helped. All day long people stopped by to drop things off and help out in one way or another.
This was an impressive show of support and for a trial run we did just fine. We enjoyed a wonderful meal together and it was a fantastic evening of community and fellowship. It was great to spend time with new friends from the parish as well as those who have been part of the Columbus Catholic Worker since the beginning.
We also celebrated Mary Ellen's birthday! Happy Birthday to a Leap Day gal!
I have never heard of a free community meal that has had difficulty attracting people. I continually read about how food pantries are feeling an increase in demand during these tough economic times. I am fully confident that people will be drawn to our meals. It is just a matter of finding better ways to get the word out. Today, it was a feast fit for a king.
This food will be shared with others. Some will be frozen and the perishables will be given out, including to other soup kitchens. We will serve it also for people who come to the legal clinic on Thursday and prayer on Friday.
We decided not to advertise too heavily because we were afraid of a huge turnout. Next time, we'll beat the drums a little louder.
This house is certainly turning into a place where good company and good food come together. Not a bad start for a group who values hospitality as we do.
If anyone has suggestions for good ways to spread the word about our meals, please let us know.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
This service is very much needed by the Hispanic community and is one of the things they asked for.
We'll start setting up around 5:30.
Note: The Director of Latino Ministry for the Diocese is going to meet with us at 6:00 pm on Monday, March 2nd. If you are interested in attending, please meet us at the house. We'll be touring the neighborhood shortly thereafter.
This is a movie about the early years of Dorothy Day and the start of the Catholic Worker movement. Moira Kelly plays Dorothy and Martin Sheen plays a whimsical Peter Maurin.
There are a number of people around who still have a living memory of Dorothy Day (and even Peter Maurin). They claim that many of the scenes in the movie did not actually happen and are just dramatizations of her life.
Still, the basic facts are true: Dorothy was a young suffragette journalist who hung around in Marxist circles with the literary elite of New York City. She went against her instincts and had an abortion, which she regretted. The birth of her daughter coincided with her conversion to Catholicism. As a Catholic, she continued her Marxist concern for the poor but in a different way. After asking God for direction, she soon met Peter Maurin who helped guide her into publishing The Catholic Worker newspaper. In the midst of the Great Depression, they opened their home to the hungry and homeless of New York City. They lived in community and in poverty with the poor while continuing to be a voice for social change.
It is hard to imagine another American Catholic who has had as great of an impact in the last century as Dorothy Day, although she would always credit Peter Maurin for so much of what they did. In any case, they were certainly an amazing team.
Dorothy is currently up for canonization (against her wishes!) She was an influence on Vatican II, especially concerning the role of the laity. So much of the social justice activity of American Catholics today owes its start to the Catholic Worker movement. Their brand of hospitality and community living is one of the primary influences on the new monasticism. This personal approach to outreach work has influenced others far and wide. Numerous communities all over the world--some who call themselves Catholic Workers and some that do not--follow the model that Dorothy and Peter started so many years ago. Dorothy was a prolific writer.
The movie is quite powerful. There were not many dry eyes in the room at the close of the film. Many thanks to the Social Justice group for organizing this event!
NOTE: We have a copy of the movie at the Catholic Worker house and are willing to show it again anytime, so just ask!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The stable wasn't even his own! Joseph probably could have fended for himself a lot better, but he made himself poor to take on this new family. The story just sounds more and more Catholic Worker-ish as I continue to think on it!
It was not his job to get the glory--it was his job to do the work. He didn't see his nose on the baby's face or notice his own mannerisms reflected in the child's behaviors. You could argue that Joseph did eventually get the glory that is due him, being one of our most beloved saints. However, he might have had a tough time seeing that while he was raising this patchwork family. He doesn't say much at all in the gospels, but you can feel his presence. He was holding it all together. The worker.
Friday, February 13, 2009
We are eager to begin this ministry, as the corporal works of mercy are near and dear to our mission. It is not just a distribution of food--our charism is hospitality and we desire to share a warm welcome and good conversation while we break bread together. After we offer this meal, we will evaluate how it went and decide how often to offer it in the future.
Donations of food and volunteer help are both very much welcome!
As Catholic Workers, we are also looking for ways to address the underlying systemic issues. Hungry people need to be fed, but why are people hungry in the first place? In a sense, all of our activities are designed to feed people. For example, we are currently putting plans together for English classes and a community garden. At first glance, it is hard to see how those projects have anything to do with the brick and mortar work of feeding the hungry or giving drink to the thirsty. However, both of those activities are the same thing as offering a meal. In fact, they may have an even greater impact in the long run.
Teaching immigrants English will help them find work in this country so they can feed themselves and communicate with others. Community gardens help people to grow their own food and network with neighbors. As the saying goes, Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.
During the Great Depression, my grandparents moved out of Cleveland, OH, to a small farm in the country. They knew that no matter how bad the economy got, they would at least be able to feed themselves. Urban farming is a means to the same goal. It is a cheap and nutritious way to put food on your table. Even if the entire economy collapses, you can still be fed. This agrarian idea is at the core of the Catholic Worker tradition. Both the ESL courses and the gardens build community among neighbors.
So this is why the Catholic Worker addresses the works of mercy from both angles. As Peter Maurin* writes, "The Catholic Worker believes in Houses of Hospitality for the immediate relief of those who are in need." People are hungry right now, and they can't wait for economic systems to change. However, the ultimate goal is a restructuring of society so that people are not hungry in the first place.
If you would like to help, please call us at 614-267-3322 or email us by clicking this link. Volunteers can help cook, clean or mingle with guests. Musicians would be most welcome! Please pray that this ministry does the work of the Lord!
* Quote from the Easy Essay entitled, "What the Catholic Worker Believes" by Peter Maurin
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
We started last week and affectionately referred to it as our "Quasi-Taizé" service. In other words, we are not Taizé purists, but we do borrow a lot from the style! Last week, Dale led us with a number of songs, hymns and readings. From week to week, we will vary the format to include such things as meditations, reflections and roundtable discussions. It will depend on who the planner is and how the Spirit moves us!
Please join us this (or any) Friday!
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Later that same evening, we were invited for an evening at "Aunt Ginger's" house. She treated us to a marvelous Christmas dinner (the Vatican leaves Christmas decorations up until February 2nd, so she does, too!) She gave us a wonderful array of statues that will brighten our already happy home. Thanks, Ginger! Your support has been a real beacon of light to us.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
We plan to host a prayer service like this once a week. We are still experimenting with the time, but Friday evenings look to be a strong possibility. It will start with a potluck and then go into the prayer. We may eventually have it in the church sanctuary of St. James the Less, especially if attendance demands it. For right now, we'll start by having it at the Catholic Worker.
Our service will include songs, prayers and meditations, loosely based on Taizé. If you are not familiar, Taizé is the name of a town in France where a large ecumenical monastic community resides. They are known for singing short refrains over and over, with each pass going deeper into the meaning of the music. You don't have to be a stellar musican to fully participate!
We apologize for the short notice, but we'd like to get started. We hope you can join us!
The picture is a Taizé Cross, based on icons by Brother Eric of Taizé