141+ Best Dorothy Day Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Dorothy Day was an American journalist, social activist, and Catholic convert. Day initially lived a bohemian lifestyle before gaining public attention as a social activist after her conversion. Inspirational Dorothy Day quotes will encourage you to think a little deeper than you usually would and broaden your perspective.

If you’re searching for inspirational activism quotes that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of profound Elizabeth Cady Stanton quotes, amazing Ella Baker quotes and top Emma Goldman quotes.

Famous Dorothy Day Quotes

Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul. – Dorothy Day

As for ourselves, yes, we must be meek, bear injustice, malice, rash judgment. We must turn the other cheek, give up our cloak, go a second mile. – Dorothy Day

People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do. – Dorothy Day

As we come to know the seriousness of the situation, the war, the racism, the poverty in our world, we come to realize that things will not be changed simply by words or demonstrations. Rather, it’s a question of living one’s life in a drastically different way. – Dorothy Day

My strength returns to me with my cup of coffee and the reading of the psalms. – Dorothy Day

We should live in such a way that our lives wouldn’t make much sense if the gospel were not true. – Dorothy Day

True love is delicate and kind, full of gentle perception and understanding, full of beauty and grace, full of joy unutterable. There should be some flavor of this in all our love for others. We are all one. We are one flesh in the Mystical Body as man and woman are said to be one flesh in marriage. With such a love one would see all things new; we would begin to see people as they really are, as God sees them. – Dorothy Day

No matter how corrupt the Church may become, it carries within it the seeds of its own regeneration. – Dorothy Day

The mystery of poverty is that by sharing in it, making ourselves poor in giving to others, we increase our knowledge of and belief in love. – Dorothy Day

If you are rushed for time, sow time and you will reap time. Go to church and spend a quiet hour in prayer. You will have more time than ever and your work will get done. Sow time with the poor. Sit and listen to them, give them your time lavishly. You will reap time a hundredfold. – Dorothy Day

My whole life so far, my whole experience has been that our failure has been not to love enough. This conviction brought me to a rejection of the radical movement after my early membership in the Socialist Party, the Industrial Workers of the World, and the Communist affiliates I worked with. – Dorothy Day

To love with understanding and without understanding. To love blindly, and to folly. To see only what is loveable. To think only of these things. To see the best in everyone around, their virtues rather than their faults. To see Christ in them! – Dorothy Day

One of the greatest evils of the day among those outside of prison is their sense of futility. Young people say, What is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. – Dorothy Day

With prayer, one can go on cheerfully and even happily. Without prayer, how grim a journey! – Dorothy Day

Love casts out fear, but we have to get over the fear in order to get close enough to love them. – Dorothy Day

God forbid we should have great institutions. The thing is to have many small centres. The ideal is community. – Dorothy Day

Communities are made up of the unlovable as well as the lovable. – Dorothy Day

Our rule is the works of mercy… It is the way of sacrifice, worship, a sense of reverence. – Dorothy Day

I felt that the Church was the Church of the poor,… but at the same time, I felt that it did not set its face against a social order which made so much charity in the present sense of the word necessary. I felt that charity was a word to choke over. Who wanted charity? And it was not just human pride but a strong sense of man’s dignity and worth, and what was due to him in justice, that made me resent, rather than feel pround of so mighty a sum total of Catholic institutions. – Dorothy Day

What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships? – Dorothy Day

The holy man was the whole man, the man of integrity, who not only tried to change the world, but to live in it as it was. – Dorothy Day

People, wherever they are, can make a community. – Dorothy Day

The only solution is love. – Dorothy Day

Life itself is a haphazard, untidy, messy affair. – Dorothy Day

Whatever I had read as a child about the saints had thrilled me. I could see the nobility of giving one’s life for the sick, the maimed, the leper. But there was another question in my mind. Why was so much done in remedying the evil instead of avoiding it in the first place? Where were the saints to try to change the social order, not just to minister to the slaves, but to do away with slavery? – Dorothy Day

You see I’m such a fool that I’m never afraid of appearing foolish. – Dorothy Day

Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up. – Dorothy Day

It is we ourselves that we have to think about, no one else. That is the way the saints worked. They paid attention to what they were doing, and if others were attracted to them by their enterprise, why, well and good. But they looked to themselves first of all. – Dorothy Day

We plant seeds that will flower as results in our lives, so best to remove the weeds of anger, avarice, envy and doubt, that peace and abundance may manifest for all. – Dorothy Day

Think what the world could look like if we took care of the poor even half as well as we do our Bibles! – Dorothy Day

Dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as well as our friend. – Dorothy Day

When you love people, you see all the good in them, all the Christ in them. God sees Christ, His Son, in us and loves us. And so we should see Christ in others, and nothing else, and love them. There can never be enough of it. There can never be enough thinking about it. – Dorothy Day

An individual can march for peace or vote for peace and can have, perhaps, some small influence on global concerns. But the same individual is a giant in the eyes of a child at home. If peace is to be built, it must start with the individual. It is built brick by brick. – Dorothy Day

If I have achieved anything in my life, it is because I have not been embarrassed to talk about God. – Dorothy Day

You will know your vocation by the joy that it brings you. You will know. You will know when it’s right. – Dorothy Day

To feed the hungry, clothe the naked and shelter the harborless without also trying to change the social order so that people can feed, clothe and shelter themselves is just to apply palliatives. It is to show a lack of faith in one’s fellows, their responsibilitie s as children of God, heirs of heaven. – Dorothy Day

Those who cannot see Christ in the poor are atheists indeed. – Dorothy Day

Poverty is a strange and elusive thing. … I condemn poverty and I advocate it; poverty is simple and complex at once; it is a social phenomenon and a personal matter. Poverty is an elusive thing, and a paradoxical one. We need always to be thinking and writing about it, for if we are not among its victims its reality fades from us. We must talk about poverty because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it. – Dorothy Day

We are all called to be saints, St. Paul says, and we might as well get over our bourgeois fear of the name. We might also get used to recognizing the fact that there is some of the saint in all of us. – Dorothy Day

We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, as the authorities are always accusing the Communists ‘of conspiring to teach [us] to do,’ but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering in the whited sepulcher of New York. – Dorothy Day

The biggest mistake sometimes is to play things very safe in this life and end up being moral failures. – Dorothy Day

What I want to bring out is how a pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. And each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. – Dorothy Day

Maybe I was praying for him then, in my own way. Does God have a set way of prayer, a way that He expects each of us to follow? I doubt it. I believe some people– lots of people– pray through the witness of their lives, through the work they do, the friendships they have, the love they offer people and receive from people. Since when are words the only acceptable form of prayer? – Dorothy Day

You can spend your time agonizing or organizing. – Dorothy Day

Common sense in religion is rare, and we are too often trying to be heroic instead of just ordinarily good and kind. – Dorothy Day

Women think with their whole bodies and they see things as a whole more than men do. – Dorothy Day

True obedience is a matter of love, which makes it voluntary, not compelled by fear or force. – Dorothy Day

Your love for God is only as great as the love you have for the person you love the least. – Dorothy Day

What we would like to do is change the world – make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended for them to do….We can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing that we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as well as our friend. – Dorothy Day

The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor. – Dorothy Day

I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least. – Dorothy Day

If you feed the poor, you’re a saint. If you ask why they’re poor, you’re a Communist. – Dorothy Day

Over and over again, people had to disobey lawful authority to follow the voice of their conscience. This obedience to God and disobedience to the State has, over and over again, happened throughout history. It is time again to cry out against our ‘leaders,’ to question (since it is not for us to say that they are evil) whether or not they are sane. – Dorothy Day

No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There’s too much work to do. – Dorothy Day

Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth. – Dorothy Day

The older I get, the more I meet people, the more convinced I am that we must only work on ourselves, to grow in grace. The only thing we can do about people is to love them. – Dorothy Day

We must talk about poverty, because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it. – Dorothy Day

Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system. – Dorothy Day

Do not give to the poor expecting to get their gratitude so that you can feel good about yourself. If you do, your giving will be thin and short-lived, and that is not what the poor need; it will only improvish them further. Give only if you have something you must give; give only if you are someone for whom giving is its own reward. – Dorothy Day

How necessary it is to cultivate a spirit of joy. It is a psychological truth that the physical acts of reverence and devotion make one feel devout. The courteous gesture increases one’s respect for others. To act lovingly is to begin to feel loving, and certainly to act joyfully brings joy to others which in turn makes one feel joyful. I believe we are called to the duty of delight. – Dorothy Day

I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions. – Dorothy Day

Turn off your radio. Put away your daily paper. Read one review of events a week and spend some time reading good books. They tell too of days of striving and of strife. They are of other centuries and also of our own. They make us realize that all times are perilous, that men live in a dangerous world, in peril constantly of losing or maiming soul and body. We get some sense of perspective reading such books. Renewed courage and faith and even joy to live. – Dorothy Day

I cannot worry much about your sins and miseries when I have so many of my own. I can only love you all, poor fellow travellers, fellow sufferers. I do not want to add one least straw to the burden you already carry. – Dorothy Day

I do not know how to love God except by loving the poor. I do not know how to serve God except by serving the poor…. Here, within this great city of nine million people, we must, in this neighborhood, on this street, in this parish, regain a sense of community which is the basis for peace in the world. – Dorothy Day

We must always aim for the impossible; if we lower our goal, we also diminish our effort. – Dorothy Day

There is plenty to do, for each one of us, working on our own hearts, changing our own attitudes, in our own neighborhoods. – Dorothy Day

We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship. – Dorothy Day

An act of love, a voluntary taking on oneself of some of the pain of the world, increases the courage and love and hope of all. – Dorothy Day

They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. – Dorothy Day

We cannot build up the idea of the apostolate of the laity without the foundation of the liturgy. – Dorothy Day

Words are as strong and powerful as bombs, as napalm. – Dorothy Day

Men are beginning to realize that they are not individuals but persons in society, that man alone is weak and adrift, that he must seek strength in common action. – Dorothy Day

I believe that we must reach our brother, never toning down our fundamental oppositions, but meeting him when he asks to be met, with a reason for the faith that is in us, as well as with a loving sympathy for them as brothers. – Dorothy Day

We believe in loving our brothers regardless of race, color or creed and we believe in showing this love by working for better conditions immediately and the ultimate owning by the workers of their means of production. – Dorothy Day

Knitting is very conducive to thought. It is nice to knit a while, put down the needles, write a while, then take up the sock again. – Dorothy Day

We are the nation the most powerful, the most armed and we are supplying arms and money to the rest of the world where we are not ourselves fighting. We are eating while there is famine in the world. – Dorothy Day

The legal battle against segregation is won, but the community battle goes on. – Dorothy Day

I firmly believe that our salvation depends on the poor. – Dorothy Day

Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily. – Dorothy Day

Together with the Works of Mercy, feeding, clothing and sheltering our brothers, we must indoctrinate. – Dorothy Day

The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them up. – Dorothy Day

My radical associates were the ones who were in the forefront of the struggle for a better social order where there would not be so many poor. – Dorothy Day

We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community. – Dorothy Day

First of all, let it be remembered that I speak as an ex-Communist and one who has not testified before Congressional Committees, nor written works on the Communist conspiracy. – Dorothy Day

It is penance to work, to give oneself to others, to endure the pinpricks of community living. – Dorothy Day

Freedom has its roots in religion… – Dorothy Day

We also know that religion, as the Marxists have always insisted, has, too often, like an opiate, tended to put people to sleep to the reality and the need for the present struggle for peace and justice. – Dorothy Day

Idealism in the young, I guess I’m saying, is curiosity as well as goodness trying to express itself. – Dorothy Day

When it comes to labor and politics, I am inclined to be sympathetic to the left, but when it comes to the Catholic Church, then I am far to the right. – Dorothy Day

Certainly we disagree with the Communist Party, as we disagree with other political parties who are trying to maintain the American way of life. – Dorothy Day

A conversion is a lonely experience. – Dorothy Day

And I was to find out then, as I found out so many times, over and over again, that women especially are social beings, who are not content with just husband and family, but must have a community, a group, an exchange with others. A child is not enough. A husband and children, no matter how busy one may be kept by them, are not enough. Young and old, even in the busiest years of our lives, we women especially are victims of the long loneliness. – Dorothy Day

To try to stop war by placing before men’s eyes the terrible suffering involved will never succeed, because men are willing (in their thoughts and imaginations at least) to face any kind of suffering when motivated by noble aims like the vague and tremendous concept of freedom … Or, in their humility (or sloth – who knows?) men are quite willing to leave decisions to others ‘who know more about it than we do. – Dorothy Day

When people are standing up for our present rotten system, they are being worse than Communists, it seems to me. – Dorothy Day

Tradition! We scarcely know the word anymore. We are afraid to be either proud of our ancestors or ashamed of them. We scorn nobility in name and in fact. We cling to a bourgeois mediocrity which would make it appear we are all Americans, made in the image and likeness of George Washington. – Dorothy Day

If we had had the privilege of giving hospitality to a Ho Chi Minh, with what respect and interest we would have served him, as a man of vision, as a patriot, a rebel against foreign invaders. – Dorothy Day

This is so rich a country that luxury has developed at the expense of necessities, and even the destitute partake of the luxury. We are the rich country of the world, like Dives at the feast. We must try hard, we must study to be poor like Lazarus at the gate, who was taken into Abraham’s bosom. – Dorothy Day

It is easier to have faith that God will support each House of Hospitality and Farming Commune and supply our needs in the way of food and money to pay bills, than it is to keep a strong, hearty, living faith in each individual around us – to see Christ in him. – Dorothy Day

So many sins against the poor cry out to high heaven! One of the most deadly sins is to deprive the laborer of his hire. There is another: to instill in him paltry desires so compulsive that he is willing to sell his liberty and his honor to satisfy them. We are all guilty of concupiscence, but newspapers, radios, television, and battalions of advertising men (woe to that generation!) deliberately stimulate our desires, the satisfaction of which so often means the degradation of the family. – Dorothy Day

We must recognize the fact that many Nazis, Marxists and Fascists believe passionately in their fundamental rightness, and allow nothing to hinder them from their goal in the pursuit of their mission. – Dorothy Day

When we have spiritual reading at meals, when we have the rosary at night, when we have study groups, forums, when we go out to distribute literature at meetings, or sell it on the street corners, Christ is there with us. – Dorothy Day

Once a priest told us that no one gets up in the pulpit without promulgating a heresy. He was joking, of course, but what I suppose he meant was the truth was so pure, so holy, that it was hard to emphasize one aspect of the truth without underestimating another, that we did not see things as a whole, but through a glass darkly, as St. Paul said. – Dorothy Day

We certainly can try to grow in love, and it is good practice, this giving what we’ve got, whether it is a cup of coffee or money to pay the grocery bill. – Dorothy Day

Too much praise makes you feel you must be doing something terribly wrong. – Dorothy Day

Charity is only as warm as those who administer it. – Dorothy Day

I was always much impressed, in reading prison memoirs of revolutionists, such as Lenin and Trotsky … by the amount of reading they did, the languages they studied, the range of their plans for a better social order. (Or rather, for a new social order.) In the Acts of the Apostles there are constant references to the Way and the New Man. – Dorothy Day

When it comes down to it, even on the natural plane, it is much happier and more enlivening to love than to be loved. – Dorothy Day

We’re living in an age of genocide. …And we do believe that there is not only the genocide of war, and the genocide that took place with the extermination of the Jews, but the whole program….of birth control and abortion is another form of genocide…. [T]hey claim the poor are bringing forth tremendous numbers of children and so the solution is to kill them off. – Dorothy Day

Our faith is stronger than death, our philosophy is firmer than flesh, and the spread of the Kingdom of God upon the earth is more sublime and more compelling. – Dorothy Day

For me Christ was not to be bought for thirty pieces of silver but with my heart’s blood. We buy not cheap in this market. – Dorothy Day

Often we comfort ourselves only with words, but if we pray enough, the conviction will come too that Christ is our King, not Stalin, Bevins, or Truman. That He has all things in His hands, that ‘all things work together for good for those that love Him. – Dorothy Day

The works of mercy are the opposite of the works of war, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, nursing the sick, visiting the prisoner. But we are destroying crops, setting fire to entire villages and to the people in them. We are not performing the works of mercy but the works of war. – Dorothy Day

I have been disillusioned, however, this long, long time in the means used by any but the saints to live in this world God has made for us. – Dorothy Day

I offered up a special prayer, a prayer which came with tears and anguish, that some way would open up for me to use what talents I possessed for my fellow workers, for the poor. – Dorothy Day

I can write no other than this: unless we use the weapons of the spirit, denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Jesus, dying with Him and rising with Him, men will go on fighting, and often from the highest motives, believing that they are fighting defensive wars for justice and in self-defense against present or future aggression. – Dorothy Day

It is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions…. – Dorothy Day

Writing is hard work. But if you want to become a writer you will become one. Nothing will stop you. – Dorothy Day

I too complain ceaselessly in my heart and in my words too. My very life is a protest. Against government, for instance. – Dorothy Day

Advent is a time of waiting, of expectation, of silence. Waiting for our Lord to be born. A pregnant woman is so happy, so content. She lives in such a garment of silence, and it is as though she were listening to hear the stir of life within her. One always hears that stirring compared to the rustling of a bird in the hand. But the intentness which which one awaits such stirring is like nothing so much as a blanket of silence. – Dorothy Day

Christ is God or He is the world’s greatest liar and imposter. – Dorothy Day

The only answer in this life, to the loneliness we are all bound to feel, is community. – Dorothy Day

It is only through religion that communism can be achieved, and has been achieved over and over. – Dorothy Day

It is not easy always to be joyful, to keep in mind the duty of delight. – Dorothy Day

It is people who are important, not the masses. – Dorothy Day

If you have two coats, one of them belongs to the poor. – Dorothy Day

We have all probably noted those sudden moments of quiet – those strange and almost miraculous moments in the life of a big city when there is a cessation of traffic noise – just an instant when there is only the sound of footsteps which serves to emphasize a sudden peace. During those seconds it is possible to notice the sunlight, to notice our fellow humans, to take breath. – Dorothy Day

We are not, most of us, capable of exalted emotion, save rarely. – Dorothy Day

The Sexual Revolution is a complete rebellion against authority, natural and supernatural, even against the body and its needs, its natural functions of child bearing. This is not reverence for life, it is a great denial and more resembles Nihilism than the revolution that they think they are furthering. – Dorothy Day

Recording happiness made it last longer, we felt, and recording sorrow dramatized it and took away its bitterness; and often we settled some problem which beset us even while we wrote about it. – Dorothy Day

If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other’s faults and burdens. – Dorothy Day

How much did I hear of religion as a child? Very little, and yet my heart leaped when I heard the name of God. I do believe every soul has a tendency toward God. – Dorothy Day

The work is more important than the talking and the writing about the work. – Dorothy Day

The only way to live in any true security is to live so close to the bottom that when you fall you do not have far to drop, you do not have much to lose. – Dorothy Day

Where were the saints to try to change the social order, not just to minister to the slaves, but to do away with slavery? – Dorothy Day

Thank God that He has permitted us to live among the present problems. It is no longer permitted to anyone to be mediocre. – Dorothy Day

The final word is love. – Dorothy Day

One of the disconcerting facts about the spiritual life is that God takes you at your word. – Dorothy Day

If I did not believe, if I did not make what is called an act of faith (and each act of faith increases our faith, and our capacity for faith), if I did not have faith that the works of mercy do lighten the sum total of suffering in the world, so that those who are suffering on both sides of this ghastly struggle somehow mysteriously find their pain lifted and some balm of consolation poured on their wounds, if I did not believe these things, the problem of evil would indeed be overwhelming. – Dorothy Day

When they call you a saint, it means basically that you are not to be taken seriously. – Dorothy Day

Paperwork, cleaning the house, dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently, which is to find some meaning in all that happens-these things, too, are the works of peace, and often seem like a very little way. – Dorothy Day

Where are the heroes and the saints, who keep a clear vision of man’s greatest gift, his freedom, to oppose not only the dictatorship of the proletariat, but also the dictatorship of the benevolent state, which takes possession of the family, and of the indigent, and claims our young for war? – Dorothy Day

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