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The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist
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The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  1,522 ratings  ·  163 reviews
This inspiring and fascinating memoir, subtitled, “The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist,” The Long Loneliness is the late Dorothy Day’s compelling autobiographical testament to her life of social activism and her spiritual pilgrimage. A founder of the Catholic Worker Movement and longtime associate of Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day was eulogized in the Ne ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by HarperOne (first published 1952)
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Nov 04, 2013 sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Readers Interested in Social Justice; Progressive Catholics
Q: “Mr. Sheen are you a communist?”
A: “Oh, I’m far worse than that; I’m a Catholic!”
-- Martin Sheen (actor, activist, Catholic, and admirer of Dorothy Day)

This is the story of a woman who strove to live up to the moral vision of her Church and of beloved 19th Century novelists. Dorothy Day (1891-1980) was a former anarchist, socialist, pacifist, activist and convert to Catholicism. Along with her friend Peter Maurin, she founded the newspaper Catholic Worker, which preached nonviolence, simple
In many ways this is a difficult book - Dorothy was nothing if not difficult. Her reduction of Christianity to a lived pattern of daily actions (pray, feed the hungry, clothe the naked) leaves not much room for those things most of us view as essential (no matter how much she listened to the opera on the radio, or read Dostoevsky). It's a hard knock life.

But, oh, the joy that came like an oil strike from those years of intensity!

I was in New York City the night she died, riding a cab uptown, sp
Sep 04, 2007 Charles rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people inclined to stand there in awe
I'm not sure where to begin with this one. She comes across as such a real person, not a mystic, not a saint, but someone who lived a thoughtful and sincere life.... Someone who made some very difficult decisions in pursuit of what she saw as right.

I found myself marking down passages for further review throughout the book. Passages about how men and women act differently in social movements, bread riots, the draw of worship and ritual, law, creation, charity versus justice, "eat what you raise
Dec 05, 2014 booklady rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to booklady by: Sr. Jan Futrell
The Long Loneliness tells the life story of Catholic social activist Dorothy Day. It was required reading for our Spiritual Classics class. At the time, it seemed an unusual choice to me being too modern to yet be considered a ‘classic’. Viewed from the wider perspective, I believe Sr. Jan wanted us to see/learn the importance of active faith or faith-in-action as lived by this remarkable woman. Dorothy Day's life was a constant series of choices for God, not so much between good and evil but be ...more
P.J. Sullivan
This book reads like an autobiography, but is also about the author's conversion to the Catholic faith. A very significant conversion it was because it resulted in the Catholic Worker movement. Dorothy Day dedicated herself to the church but followed the Christian gospels beyond the church, into the realms of pacifism, voluntary poverty, and direct service to the poor. Her meeting with Peter Maurin provided the catalyst, and the rest is history. The creation of the Catholic Worker movement may s ...more
Sep 03, 2007 Heather rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: spiritual activists and catholics/christians
Dorothy Day is very inspiring to me. She founded the Catholic Worker. First it was a publication talking about the issues of the time (the 30's, 40's ?) and then they created Hospitality Houses to serve and house the homeless. She took the teachings of Jesus to heart, and practiced them in a very real way, and even defied the Catholic Church from time to time in her radical criticisms of society and capitalism, and the way the Catholic Church often skirted social justice issues. Other churches g ...more
Dorothy Day came of age amid the Great War, a child of struggling parents whose labors to make ends meet stayed with her even after they had achieved some success. Caught up by the social upheaval of the early 20th century, Dorothy moved among the ranks of Communists, anarchists, and draft-resisters. Her determination to fight for the poor changed directions after she joined the Roman Catholic Church, however, and in The Long Loneliness she recounts the efforts of her comrades, both radical and ...more
This was a great book by catholic social activist and co founder of the catholic workers movement Dorothy Day. Being an autobiography, it was awesome to see the transformation that this woman's life took. Inspiring to see the road Dorothy Day traveled as she discovered her purpose in life. The book challenges action on the part of christians to love your neighbor as yourself, and above yourself. Now I want to go live in a hospitality house and care for the poor and homeless!
This is a re-read. And it remains a favorite - not for the style of writing or for the way in which the story is told (i actually think that that leaves a good bit to be desired) - but i feel reassured by the character and ideology of Dorothy Day and have had new lessons, new thoughts to consider each time I've read it.
Dorothy Day was a journalist/writer and founder of the Catholic Worker movement in the 1930s. The Catholic Worker movement emphasized care for the poor, voluntary poverty, and communal living with a communist flavor. I'm not going to get into my misgivings about some aspects of the Catholic Worker movement. The book gave a great impression of urban life from the turn of the century through the WW II era. Day is at her best when she writes about her formative years and her Catholic conversion as ...more
I thoroughly relished the story of Dorothy Day's life--so much so that I took my time reading the book because I didn't want it to end. She started out very small, but gathered steam and a heart full of faith in God's providence, and accomplished much with very little in the way of personal resources.

She began her career as a writer/journalist at a very young age--when most are still trying to figure out what to major in in college. Around the same time she began a lifelong quest to, as I've hea
Barbara Backus
Of course, I'd heard of Dorothy Day, but until I read her autobiography I never realized the scope of her work for the poor, the outcast, farmhands and city workers. She was never the "holier-than-thou" type, but a down-to-earth woman who saw injustice and worked to better the lives of many. Her conversion to Catholicism meant the end of her common-law marriage but involved her deeper in her work.

When Dorothy Day died in 1980, the New York Times eulogized her as a "nonviolent social radical of l
This is a pretty terrible book written by and about a woman who seems to deserve better. I first read it in my more politically radical college days, and I remember that I didn't like it much but pretended I did to build some Christian social action street cred. I started re-reading it a few weeks ago, and this time I gave up at page 200. Day is just a colossal failure as a writer. She presents the reader with essentially a stream-of-consciousness piece, like a more somber Jack Kerouac who trave ...more
Christian Engler
The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day has long been held to be an important social document as well as a meaningful written Catholic memoir, because it delves deeply into the intimate conversion experience whereby there is a moving epiphany that changes that person so completely and totally. And The Long Loneliness illustrates that point quite clearly. Even before the Catholic Worker was ever founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, their approach to religious activism was almost on par with other ...more
Jon Cooper
About half way through. This is my first exposure to Day's writing, and I am underwhelmed - in the writing, that is, not in her. I don't find her writing engaging, although her story certainly is. (I wasn't surprised when she wrote about how others felt that her writing lacked some passion.) Still, it's well worth continuing and I am looking forward to part 3.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I just finished, and am thoroughly impressed with Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement. My opinion about th
Dorothy Day's life story is remarkable. In this, the story of her life, she goes into incredible detail about her family and her early days with a nostalgic faith and joy. She draws you into her life as a political activist turned social activist turned Catholic worker. And all this while falling for a man, having a baby out of wedlock and then having to choose between God and this man..

Throughout her life, weaves one common thread--her search for and obedience to God. Her love of God and His wi
I have read the taught this book so many times now and every time I do I find something new and wonderful about it. It is of course, a great way to study mid-century American religious history, which is why I teach it, but my secret is that I include it in my classes because I like reading it again and again. Day's commitment to social justice and self sacrifice is obviously inspirational and particularly relevant at the moment, but her articulation of her religious struggles is what keeps me de ...more
Charles Lewis
This is the life of a saint, though Dorothy Day said she never wanted to be called a saint. But if saints are witnesses, and models of Christian charity, then Day was a saint. This is one of those simple memoirs that slowly draws you into a world changed by conversion. It should be in the same category as The Confessions or Seven Storey Mountain. Day started the Catholic Worker movement and produced a penny newspaper called The Catholic Worker. She was neither left nor right, capitalist or socia ...more
I found myself refreshed learning about this kind of radicalism. Such passion for Christ, and yet so different from the familiar preachers, missionaries and such. Doris revealed to me a new approach for the faith and helped me see what poverty, sacrifice, grace and service for the Lord mean. I felt drawn into the world in which she lived and could use that position to re-evaluate my own. Her clear, expressive writing was a joy to read.
This book, an organic predecessor to Donald Miller, is well-written and very honest. The joining of Catholicism and what is basically a social communism does much to materialize a religion of Catholicism that has everything to do with reaching people where they live. As it is also written by a woman, it did much to reveal to me how the same ideas are viewed from the different perspectives of people who might share the same beliefs.
Jan 12, 2009 Kate added it
A book that made me re-evaluate my relationship with the Catholic church. In this book is a possibility for existence in a church that has become an institution.. Dorothy's acts of service are the core of Christianity and this is sometimes easy to forget. Her struggle with her political ideals in juxtaposition with her religious beliefs was one I could relate with.
Elizabeth Rhea
Legendary Catholic social activist and Catholic Worker Movement matriarch Dorothy Day here gives a poignantly simple and humble account of her spiritual journey, especially as it relates to the Catholic Worker Movement which was her life's work.

Dorothy Day is often quoted for saying, "Don't call me a saint; I don't want to be dismissed so easily." I'm guessing she'd be a little upset to learn that I've effectively adopted her as my Patron Saint. I've been pretty enamored since viewing Entertaini
Andrea Conarro
I am forever fascinated by the Catholic Worker movement and a big fan of Day. She had a way of seeing things--and certainly a faith--that I admire. This is one I pick up now and again to remind myself of what's important.
An essential memoir. "We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community. It all happened while we sat there talking, and it is still going on."
It was not as much of an in-depth personal account as I hoped for, but I suppose Dorothy Day told the information she thought was most relevant (and since she included a disclaimer at the beginning, about being a journalist and not a biographer, it is hard to hold it against her). She tells her story chronologically but also defines themes throughout her life.

You can sense the embarrassment and guilt she felt at times, but I had to read Robert Coles's biography to get the reflection/memoir I wa
Katelyn Beaty
An extraordinary life of an irreplaceable woman caught up in the radical ways of Christ.
The Long Loneliness is a work of contradiction. It fails to meet the defined criteria the autobiography as a form, but in that failure it emulates the life and philosophy of its subject, Dorothy Day. So, can we truly call it a failure when, taken as a whole, it connects the reader vividly and intimately with Day's vision?

In the early chapters, the work remains tightly focused upon the facts and realities of Day's childhood -- her early experiences in California, Chicago, and New York City. We g
Although somewhat a stream of consciousness style of writing, this was a good peek into a very interesting life of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, together starting the Catholic Worker Movement. There was a lot of sociopolitical terms that I was not that familiar, and I learned a bit about the early 20th century history involving social activism, anarchism, distributism, pacifism, and communism.
Most interesting was her conversion to Catholicism. Her passion to help the downtrodden and live a life
Highly recommend this book! I love how Dorothy Day lays out her thought process and how that grew and changed over time.

"I felt even at fifteen, that God meant man to be happy, that He meant to provide him with what he needed to maintain life in order to be happy, and that we did not need to have quite so much destitution and misery as I saw around and read of in the daily press." pg38

"Children look at things very directly and simply. I did not see anyone taking off his coat and giving it to the
I'm so glad I waited until this time to read this book. I have been planning to read it for a few years now, but this such the perfect moment for this read. At the start of her ministry with The Catholic Worker she writes that there were 13 million people unemployed in America. While much has changed in circumstances, opportunities and population growth, today that number is still very close--at 12.8 million unemployed. Dorothy turned her early acquaintance with communist activism into something ...more
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Dorothy Day was an American journalist, social activist, and devout Catholic convert. In the 1930s, Day worked closely with fellow activist Peter Maurin to establish the Catholic Worker movement, a nonviolent, pacifist movement that continues to combine direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf.

A revered figure within the U.S. Catholic community, Day's caus
More about Dorothy Day...
Loaves and Fishes The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day Dorothy Day, Selected Writings: By Little and by Little On Pilgrimage From Union Square to Rome

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“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” 100 likes
“It is people who are important, not the masses.” 23 likes
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