Vision Statement – Further Reading

Quotations, links and thoughts on the ideas from the Karen House Vision Statement.

1. Personalism:

“Personalism is a philosophy which regards the freedom and dignity of each person as the basis, focus and goal of all metaphysics and morals. In following such wisdom, we move away from a self-centered individualism toward the good of the other. This is to be done by taking personal responsibility for changing conditions, rather than looking to the state or other institutions to provide impersonal “charity.” (Aims and Means of CW)

“Compassion is a word meaning to suffer with. If we all carry a little of the burden, it will be lightened. if we share in the suffering of the world, then some will not have to endure so heavy an affliction. It evens out. What you do here in New York, [St. Louis,] helps those in China, [Iraq] as well as in the oasis where you are. You may think you are alone. But we are members of one another. We are children of God together.”  Dorothy Day fasting_cup

2. Community:

“We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know God 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. We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” – Dorothy Day

3. Works of Mercy, Works of War:

“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 responsibilities as children of God, heirs of heaven” (DD, 1945).

The Scandal of the Works of Mercy – Dorothy Day

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are: to admonish the sinner, to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to comfort the sorrowful, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive all injuries, and to pray for the living and the dead.

The Corporal Works are to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to ransom the captive, to harbor the harborless, to visit the sick, and to bury the dead.

When Peter Maurin talked about the necessity of practicing the Works of Mercy, he meant all of them. He envisioned Houses of Hospitality in poor parishes in every city of the country, where these precepts of God could be put into effect. He pointed out that we have turned to state responsibility through home relief, social legislation and social security, that we no longer practice personal responsibility, but are repeating the works of the first murderer, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” worksofmercywar

The Works of Mercy are a wonderful stimulus to our growth in faith as well as love. Our faith is taxed to the utmost and so grows through this strain put upon it. It is pruned again and again, and springs up bearing much fruit. For anyone starting to live literally the words of the early Church—“The bread you retain belongs to the hungry, the dress you lock up is the property of the naked”; “What is superfluous for one’s need is to be regarded as plunder if one retains it for one’s self”– there is always a trial ahead. “Our faith, more precious than gold, must be tried as though by fire.”

…We all want to love, we desire with such a great longing to love our neighbors, and our hearts are often crushed at rejections. But, as a Carmelite nun said to me last week, “It is the crushed heart which is the soft heart, the tender heart.”…

Houses Of Hospitality – Peter Maurin

  1. We need Houses of Hospitality to give to the rich the opportunity to serve the poor.
  2. We need Houses of Hospitality to bring the scholars to the workers or the workers to the scholars.
  3. We need Houses of Hospitality to bring back to institutions the technique to institutions.
  4. We need Houses of Hospitality to show what idealism looks like when it is practised.

4. Oppression Concepts

“Practicing anti-oppression work in real terms is not only confronting individual examples of bigotry, or confronting societal examples, it is also confronting ourselves and our own roles of power and oppression in our communities and the bigger picture. Though you may be a person that would never think to ever say anything racist/sexist/classist etc., by not realizing the power that you hold, and how your actions affect other people you will inevitably fall into sustaining and contributing to a larger system of oppression.” (-Personal Responsibility)

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”  ― Brené Brown

Levels of Analysis love-thy-neighbor

Terminology of Oppression

5. Liberation

Better Or Better Off – Peter Maurin

  1. The world would be better off, if people tried to become better.
  2. And people would become better if they stopped trying to be better off.
  3. For when everybody tries to become better off, nobody is better off.
  4. But when everybody tries to become better, everybody is better off.
  5. Everybody would be rich if nobody tried to be richer.
  6. And nobody would be poor if everybody tried to be the poorest.
  7. And everybody would be what she ought to be if everybody tried to be what she wants the other person to be.

“We confess to being fools and wish that we were more so… What we would like to do is change the world- make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And to a certain extent, by fighting for the rights of the workers, of the worthy and unworthy poor, we can to extent change the world. We can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever-widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing we can do but love, and dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as well as our friend.” – Dorothy Day

6. Personalism, Green Revolution

We know that we are all connected to the land, and seek to find creative ways of living this value within an urban house of hospitality. We challenge ourselves to use technology in appropriate and life-enhancing ways, and to resist human exploitation of the earth.

What Makes Us Human – Peter Maurin

  1. To give and not to take, that is what makes us human.
  2. To serve and not to rule, that is what makes us human.
  3. To help and not to crush, that is what makes us human.
  4. To nourish and not to devour, that is what makes us human.
  5. And if need be, to die and not to live, that is what makes us human.
  6. Ideals and not deals, that is what makes us human.
  7. Creed and not greed, that is what makes us human.

We promote a “green revolution,” so that it is possible to rediscover the proper meaning of our labor and our true bonds with the land; a distributist communitarianism, self-sufficient through farming, crafting and appropriate technology; a radically new society where people will rely on the fruits of their own toil and labor; associations of mutuality, and a sense of fairness to resolve conflicts. (Aims and Means of CW)

7. Easier to Be Good liberation

Peter’s was the green revolution, a call for a return to the villages and the land “to make that kind of society where it is easier for people to be good.”  – Dorothy Day

“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 place, to wash the feet of others, to love our brothers [and sisters] with that burning love, that passion, which led to the Cross, then we can truly say, ‘Now I have begun.'” – Dorothy Day

Brene Brown: TED Talk1 and TED2,  and books Daring Greatly, Rising Strong

8. Clarification of thought, What the Catholic Worker Believes

The first point in Peter Maurin’s program was the need for clarification of thought, the need to clarify the “theory of revolution.” He used to quote Lenin as saying, “there can be no revolution without a theory of revolution.”

We value manual labor, in a capitalist society that rejects it as inconvenient and undignified. People often don’t have access to meaningful work that pays a living wage.  Within our ability, we try to share our time and talents with each other, knowing that everyone has a gift to offer the larger world.

What the Catholic Worker Believes – Peter Maurin resistanc-is-fertile1 (1)

  1. The Catholic Worker believes in the gentle personalism of traditional Catholicism.
  2. The Catholic Worker believes in the personal obligation of looking after the needs of our sisters and brothers.
  3. The Catholic Worker believes in the daily practice of the Works of Mercy.
  4. The Catholic Worker believes in Houses of Hospitality for the immediate relief of those who are in need.
  5. The Catholic Worker believes in the establishment of Farming Communes where each person works according to their ability and gets according to their need.
  6. The Catholic Worker believes in creating a new society within the shell of the old with the philosophy of the new, which is not a new philosophy but a very old philosophy, a philosophy so old that it looks like new.

9. Resource Sharing

Houses of hospitality are centers for learning to do the acts of love, so that the poor can receive what is, in justice, theirs, the second coat in our closet, the spare room in our home, a place at our table. (Aims and Means of Catholic Worker)

Understanding class

 “On the plane of individual ethics we believe that a certain kind of poverty is the ideal economic rule of personal life. But by poverty in this sense we do not mean an indiscreet asceticism or a shameful miserliness. We refer rather to a contempt for the material attachments that enslave, a desire for simplicity, a state of adaptability and freedom, which does not exclude magnificence or generosity, nor even some striving for riches, providing such endeavours are not avaricious” (Emmanuel Mounier, The Personalist Manifesto)

10. Active Nonviolence shell of the old2

We believe in active nonviolence. In the setting of Karen House, this takes many forms, as we can be exposed to many forms of state and personal violence.  Sometimes living out nonviolence means patiently allowing a sandwich guest to vent; sometimes it means finding creative alternatives to calling the police in a tense situation; sometimes it means directly challenging state oppression in protests or direct actions. We acknowledge the ways that the term “nonviolence” has been used to silence certain voices, especially those of people of color, which we see itself as a  form of violence.  We promote active, risk-taking, powerful acts of nonviolence (both big and small) that promote love, connection and justice.

The clergy’s place is with the protesters in Ferguson

Solidarity, Nonviolence, and Ferguson: A Catholic Worker Reflection

11. No vision statement is as good as face-to-face interaction!  Call or visit us!