The choice was the Church


Dorothy Day wrote this in 1952 in her book The Long Loneliness:

“Thou wouldst not seek Him if thou hadst not already found Him,” Pascal says, and it is true too that you love God if you want to love Him. One of the disconcerting facts about the spiritual life is that God takes you at your word. Sooner or later one is given a chance to prove his love. The very word “diligo,” the Latin word used for “love,” means “I prefer.” It was all very well to love God in His works, in the beauty of His creation which was crowned for me by the birth of my child. Forster [her lover and father of her child] had made the physical world come alive for me and had awakened in my heart a flood of gratitude. The final object of this love and gratitude was God. No human creature could receive or contain so vast a flood of love and joy as I often felt after the birth of my child. With this came the need to worship, to adore. I had heard many say that they wanted to worship God in their own way and did not need a Church in which to praise Him, nor a body of people with whom to associate themselves. But I did not agree to this. My very experience as a radical, my whole make-up, led me to want to associate myself with others, with the masses, in loving and praising God. Without even looking into the claims of the Catholic Church, I was willing to admit that for me she was the one true Church. She had come down through the centuries since the time of Peter, and far from being dead, she claimed and held the allegiance of the masses of people in all the cities where I had lived. They poured in and out of her doors on Sundays and holy days, for novenas and missions. What if they were compelled to come in by the law of the Church, which said they were guilty of mortal sin if they did not go to Mass every Sunday? They obeyed that law. They were given a chance to show their preference. They accepted the Church. It may have been an unthinking, unquestioning faith, and yet the chance certainly cake, again and again, “Do I prefer the Church to my own will,” even if it was only the small matter of sitting at home on a Sunday morning with the papers? And the choice was the Church. (p. 139, Harper San Francisco edition of The Long Loneliness, pub. 1997)

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