Scholarly and popular interest in Dorothy Day has grown steadily during the past decade. Widely acclaimed as a pioneer of American social Catholicism, as well as for co-founding the Catholic Worker and the movement by the same name, Day's religious vision and lifework have played a dramatic role in modern American Catholic history, profoundly influencing consciences. In this perceptive new study, Brigid O'Shea Merriman, O.S.F., examines the development of Day's spirituality, astutely relating it to twentieth-century intellectual and cultural history. After her conversion to Catholicism in 1927, Dorothy Day met the French peasant-philosopher Peter Maurin in 1932 and together they founded the Catholic Worker newspaper and movement. In this work Day discovered a vocation that would combine her journalistic skills with her long-standing desire for sweeping social change and love of the poor. Merriman demonstrates that Day's leadership of this radical Catholic movement served as the locus for the development and fruition of her spirituality. A work of intellectual or spiritual history rather than biography, Searching for Christ explores Day's spiritual roots in literature, especially the Scriptures, along with her sensibility and her aesthetic vision, all of which have received too little attention up to now. The impact of Christian personalism, monasticism, and the retreat movement on Day's spirituality are also examined, including new material on Day's association with Thomas Merton and a critical analysis of the Lacouture retreat movement. Friendship remained a necessary component of Day's spirituality, and Merriman's final chapter discusses Day's devotion to and enduring friendship with the saints, as well as her warm relationships with a number of her contemporaries.
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