"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Christian East and West as Seen in Three Extraordinary Women

I am very happy to be involved in a conference planned for May 2015 on the life and work of Dorothy Day, details of which may be had here. She was an extraordinary woman in herself, but what especially fascinates me is how much her life seems to run not only in roughly chronological parallel with two other of her contemporaries from the Christian East, viz., Catherine de Hueck Doherty and Mother Maria Skobtsova, but how her life and theirs ended up doing so much good in such strikingly similar ways. All three were different in their origins--Day as an American Episcopalian who became Roman Catholic, Doherty as Russian Orthodox who wound up in the Catholic Church in Canada, and Skobtsova as an early atheist who became Orthodox in France--but united in their strong pursuit of God and defense of God's beloved poor and suffering people.

One of the people coming to the conference to give a paper is the priest Robert Wild, author of the book Comrades Stumbling Along: The Friendship of Catherine de Hueck Doherty and Dorothy Day as Revealed Through Their Letters (Alba House, 2009), 173pp. His collection of their correspondence draws out some of the parallels between Day and Doherty, the latter of whom began life as a Russian Orthodox Christian of minor, pre-revolutionary nobility before ending her life married to a Melkite Greek Catholic priest and living a very simple, quasi-monastic life in a small town in eastern Ontario at Madonna House, which she helped to found.

Doherty's life has been explored in a number of books, including this collection edited by the Jesuit David Mecconi, Catherine de Hueck Doherty: Essential Writings as well as They Called Her the Baroness: The Life of Catherine De Hueck Doherty.

Mother Maria, who is perhaps more alike in her early life to Day than Doherty, has been getting more attention since her canonization by the Ecumenical Patriarch a decade ago now. Her life can be read about in such books as Mother Maria Skobtsova: Essential Writings  as well as Jim Forrest's book, aimed especially at children: Silent as a Stone: Mother Maria of Paris and the Trash Can Rescue.

All three women deserve continued exploration and study, and anyone willing to put a paper together on such parallels and connections would be most welcome to submit such a proposal to our conference here

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