On Pilgrimage December 1963

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On Pilgrimage - December 1963

Dorothy Day

The Catholic Worker, December 1963, 2, 6.

Summary: Notes the assassination of President Kennedy. Says she wants to write a book about how the retreats of the 1940s strengthened her. Goes on to stress the need for spiritual training. Acknowledges Peter Maurin's influence on her. (DDLW #810).

The gigantic nature of the struggle in which we are each one of us engaged, a struggle between the forces of good and evil was clearly shown to us this last month by the assassination of our President. This story of horror is still unfolding in the daily press. It is not for us to reiterate what all are reading in their daily papers and listening to on their radios. And all who read and listen are relating what occurred to all that went before, the recent past with its murder of little children in Birmingham, bombings and shootings in the South, the assassinations of the president of Viet Nam and his brother-in-law. Violence in the rest of the world more or less accepted as "a fact of life" inevitable in the struggle for a better world, but resulting in shocked grief and bitter tears by our own people when it happens to us.

I was in Chicago when I heard the news. I had just gotten off the bus from South Bend, where I had been speaking to Notre Dame students, seminarians, Brothers, and parishioners at the liturgical fair held in St. Therese' parish. I had gone to Nina Polcyn's whose guest I always am in Chicago, and she had left St. Benet's book shop on South Wabash to go to Mass with me at the Paulist church and then to lunch. The news came to us then over the radio and we could only sit and weep at the senseless violence that had erupted again, this time striking down a young and vital leader of a State, a husband, son and father.

Two days later, as we came from the liturgy in Fr. Chrysostom's Eastern rite church on West Fullerton, we heard the news of the second blow struck, another assassination, even more horrible than the first in that it took place in a police station, where men are supposed to be mindful of "law and order," the protection of the weak and innocent, and where all men are presumed innocent, so it is said, until they are proven guilty. To this we had come. To these low depths we had fallen.

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