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The Grace to Accept Being Pruned


The only answer to the mystery of suffering is this...

Dorothy Day 1916

...  every soul seeks happiness either in creatures (where it cannot be satisfied in the long run) or in God.  God made us for himself.  We must die to the natural to achieve the supernatural, a slow death or a quick one.  It is universal.  I tell you, most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.  All must die; it is a universal law very hard for us to realise.

If this mind or this flesh is an obstacle, we will suffer the more when this tremendous lover tries to tear from us all veils which separate us.  Some suffering is more visible, some hidden.  The more we long for love, the more all human love will be pruned…. It is a pruning, a cutting away of love so that it will grow strong and bear much fruit…. But still, suffering is a mystery as well as a penalty which we pay for others as well as for ourselves.  How gigantic was that first sin, that turning from God! From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning, Saint Paul says….

The mystery of suffering.  I feel presumptuous in writing of so high and lofty a thing.  It is because I am not now suffering that I can write, but it is also because I have suffered in the past that I can write.  I write to comfort others as I have been comforted.  The word comfort too means to be strong together, to have fortitude together.  There is the reminder of community.  Once when I suffered and sat in church in a misery while waves and billows passed over me, I suddenly thought, with exultation, "I am sharing suffering," and it was immediately lightened.



dayServant of God Dorothy Day. "The Grace to Accept Being Pruned."  From On Pilgrimage.1999, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Reprinted with permission. 

The Author

dday1ddayServant of God Dorothy Day (18971980) was an American journalist, social activist, and devout Catholic convert. In 1933, with Peter Maurin, she established the Catholic Worker. Day participated in the labor struggles of the 1930s, the Civil Rights movement, and nonviolent, pacifist opposition to WWII, Cold War militarism, and the Vietnam War, and her cause for canonization is open in the Catholic Church. She is the author of  The Reckless Way of Love: Notes on Following Jesus,  The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, From Union Square to Rome, All the Way to Heaven: The Selected Letters of Dorothy Day, Loaves and Fishes, On Pilgrimage, and Wisdom from Dorothy Day: A Radical Love.

Copyright © 1999 William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
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