The following comes from an August 9 story in the Los Angeles archdiocese paper, the Tidings.
The following is adapted from a talk Archbishop José H. Gomez delivered at the third annual Napa Institute Conference on Aug. 1.
Pope Francis has been urging the Church to renew its attention on people and the dignity of the person. In his inaugural homily, he spoke of the need for us to “protect people” and to show “loving concern for each and every person.”
And unfortunately, this need is urgent in light of continuing developments in our culture. We need to protect people — especially children and the elderly and those in need. But more than that, we need to protect and defend the idea of the human person in our society.
I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that right now our culture is facing a crisis of “anthropology.”
The Supreme Court’s recent decisions on marriage revealed once more that our society is confused about much more than the true meaning of marriage, the family and sexuality. Underlying these confusions there is a more basic confusion. We have no idea anymore in our society of what “human nature” is or what it means to be a human person. And this is rooted in our loss of the sense of God in our society.
As a way to begin talking about some of these issues, I want to recall the American Servant of God Dorothy Day.
My brother bishops and I are promoting her “cause” to be canonized as an American saint. And I found it providential that, earlier this year, our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI chose to talk about Dorothy Day in his final public audience before retiring as Pope. It is fascinating to reflect that he chose this lay woman from 20th-century America as the last example of holiness that he wanted to propose to our Church.
Dorothy Day’s is one of the great conversion stories of modern times. Her life tells a kind of spiritual diary of the 20th century. She was born before the dawn of the century, in 1897, and she died in its twilight, in 1980.
And when we look at her life now, we see that it was Dorothy Day’s destiny to experience firsthand some of the century’s most influential ideologies and movements — feminism, communism and the sexual revolution. What all of these movements have in common is a distorted understanding of the nature of the human person.
If the Church finally finds her to be a saint, Dorothy Day will be the only saint who, prior to her conversion, ever wrote about her own abortion. But her search for truth left Dorothy open to God’s grace and the gift of faith. She came to repentance, confessed her sins and was baptized.
She went on to lead a transfigured life, in the image of Jesus Christ. She became our country’s most radical witness to Christ’s love for the poor and his call for us to be instruments of his peace and justice. She criticized, like a prophet, America’s failures to live up to its high ideals.
One night, Dorothy Day was in Arkansas where she was giving a speech on the rights of farm workers and African Americans.
But when she was done that night, she came back to her room and she felt totally overwhelmed. She felt a terrible sense that what she was doing with her life and ministry didn’t really matter. That she would never see results. She was feeling desperate and she started to pray — and this is what happened. These are her words:
“And suddenly, a most wonderful sense of the glory of being a child of God swept over me. So joyous a sense of my own importance that I have reflected on it since. I would pray that [you] have it, and grow in it. This sense of [our] importance as … sons of God, divinized by his coming. All things are possible to us. We can do all things in him who strengthens….”
To read the entire story, click here.