Friday, September 10, 2010
Peter Maurin, Saint and Scholar of the Catholic Worker
by Mark and Louise Zwick
The Core Ideas--the Vision
The person who created the Catholic Worker philosophy, and in partnership with Dorothy Day, lived the vision of the Catholic Worker movement, is Peter Maurin.
Peter Maurin taught Dorothy Day not everything she knew, but just about everything.
They met in 1933, Peter having been sent to Dorothy Day by George Schuster of Commonweal magazine. He had sought out Dorothy Day particularly because she was a journalist, hoping she would publish a newspaper where his ideas would be expressed. Dorothy Day was not too sure about Peter at first, as he talked too much with a heavy French accent, but her sister Tessa had welcomed him to their apartment and she listened.
Dorothy had gone to Washington, D. C. to cover a hunger march of the unemployed. During this time she felt very strongly the separation from her previous friends who were protesting under the socialist banner. Where, now that she was a Catholic, could she find a way to use her talents for her fellow workers, for the poor? On December 8 of 1932 (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception) she went to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Catholic University there in Washington and spent the morning in prayer, asking God to help her find a way to integrate her new faith with her concern for the poor. (Ironically, this is the same day, December 8 on which the editors of the Houston Catholic Worker met, years later).
When she returned to New York, Peter Maurin was waiting for her.
Dorothy described her favorable impression of Peter in her autobiography, saying, "I found waiting for me a short, stocky man in his mid-fifties, as ragged and rugged as any of the marchers I had left. He was intensely alive, on the alert, even when silent, engaged in reading or in thought. When he talked, the tilt of his head, his animated expression, the warm glow in his eyes, the gestures of his hand, his shoulders, his whole body, compelled your attention" ...Read it all