I do not know how to love God except by loving the poor. I do not know how to serve God except by serving the poor.... Here, within this great city of nine million people, we must, in this neighborhood, on this street, in this parish, regain a sense of community which is the basis for peace in the world.
And I was to find out then, as I found out so many times, over and over again, that women especially are social beings, who are not content with just husband and family, but must have a community, a group, an exchange with others. A child is not enough. A husband and children, no matter how busy one may be kept by them, are not enough. Young and old, even in the busiest years of our lives, we women especially are victims of the long loneliness.
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We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.
To feed the hungry, clothe the naked and shelter the harborless without also trying to change the social order so that people can feed, clothe and shelter themselves is just to apply palliatives. It is to show a lack of faith in one's fellows, their responsibilitie s as children of God, heirs of heaven.
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So many sins against the poor cry out to high heaven! One of the most deadly sins is to deprive the laborer of his hire. There is another: to instill in him paltry desires so compulsive that he is willing to sell his liberty and his honor to satisfy them. We are all guilty of concupiscence, but newspapers, radios, television, and battalions of advertising men (woe to that generation!) deliberately stimulate our desires, the satisfaction of which so often means the degradation of the family.
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A custom existed among the first generations of Christians, when faith was a bright fire that warmed more than those who kept it burning. In every house then a room was kept ready for any stranger who might ask for shelter; it was even called 'the stranger's room.' Not because these people thought they could trace something of someone they loved in the stranger who used it, not because the man or woman to whom they gave shelter reminded them of Christ, but because-plain and simple and stupendous fact-he or she was Christ.
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There was no attack on religion because people were generally indifferent to religion. They were neither hot nor cold. They were the tepid, the materialistic, who hoped that by Sunday churchgoing they would be taking care of the afterlife, if there were an afterlife. Meanwhile they would get everything they could in this.
We were just sitting there talking when Peter Maurin came in. We were just sitting there talking when lines of people began to form saying, "We need bread."... If there were six small loaves and a few fishes, we had to divide them. There was always bread. We were just sitting there talking and people moved in on us. Let those who can take it, take it. Some moved out and that made room for more. And somehow the walls were expanded. We were just sitting there talking and someone said, "Let's all go live on a farm." It was as casual as all that, I often think. It just came about. It just happened.
I don't think God is so jealous about our worship of Him that He will want to separate those who serve His purposes, serve His goodness, because they have read a book, even one written by an atheist, and have been moved, or because they have wanted to be fair all their lives, but have never stepped in a church, from those who have heard God's words in church or read His words in the Bible and become convinced by them.
I was lonely, deadly lonely. And I was to find out then, as I found out so many times, over and over again, that women especially are social beings, who are not content with just husband and family, but must have a community, a group, an exchange with others. Young and old, even in the busiest years of our lives, we women especially are victims of the long loneliness. It was years before I woke up without that longing for a face pressed against my breast, an arm about my shoulder. The sense of loss was there. I never was so unhappy, never felt so great the sense of loneliness. No matter how many times I gave up mother, father, husband, brother, daughter, for His sake, I had to do it over again. Tamar is partly responsible for the title of this book in that when I was beginning it she was writing me about how alone a mother of young children always is. I had also just heard from an old woman who lived a long and full life, and she too spoke of her loneliness
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Maybe I was praying for him then, in my own way. Does God have a set way of prayer, a way that He expects each of us to follow? I doubt it. I believe some people- lots of people- pray through the witness of their lives, through the work they do, the friendships they have, the love they offer people and receive from people. Since when are words the only acceptable form of prayer?
The world was in terrible shape, and I'm glad we stood up and said what we believed; but a lot of the time we'd say these beautiful things about justice and fairness and equality, but we weren't so nice to each other. We'd be jealous and we'd gossip, and we'd be moody and difficult and rude and inconsiderate. Why do I say 'we'? I mean I would be all that- and if at the time I ever came near to knowing what I'd become, I'd dodge, I'd duck, I'd go on the offensive: the terrible Wall Street bankers. Lots of them were terrible- and so were lots of us.
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Turn off your radio. Put away your daily paper. Read one review of events a week and spend some time reading good books. They tell too of days of striving and of strife. They are of other centuries and also of our own. They make us realize that all times are perilous, that men live in a dangerous world, in peril constantly of losing or maiming soul and body. We get some sense of perspective reading such books. Renewed courage and faith and even joy to live.
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Two years ago, I was saying as I planted seeds in the garden, "I must believe in these seeds, that they fall into the earth and grow into flowers and radishes and beans." It is a miracle to me because I do not understand it. The very fact that they use glib technical phrases does not make it any less a miracle, and a miracle we all accept. Then why not accept God's miracles?
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The Sexual Revolution is a complete rebellion against authority, natural and supernatural, even against the body and its needs, its natural functions of child bearing. This is not reverence for life, it is a great denial and more resembles Nihilism than the revolution that they think they are furthering.
We have all probably noted those sudden moments of quiet - those strange and almost miraculous moments in the life of a big city when there is a cessation of traffic noise - just an instant when there is only the sound of footsteps which serves to emphasize a sudden peace. During those seconds it is possible to notice the sunlight, to notice our fellow humans, to take breath.
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The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us. When we begin to take the lowest places, to wash the feet of others, to love our brothers with that burning love, that passion which led to the cross, then we can truly say, 'Now I have begun'
I can write no other than this: unless we use the weapons of the spirit, denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Jesus, dying with Him and rising with Him, men will go on fighting, and often from the highest motives, believing that they are fighting defensive wars for justice and in self-defense against present or future aggression.
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