The Works of Mercy are a wonderful stimulus to our growth in faith as well as love. Our faith is taxed to the utmost and so grows through this strain put upon it. It is pruned again and again, and springs up bearing much fruit. For anyone starting to live literally the words of the Fathers of the Church--"The bread you retain belongs to the hungry, the dress you lock up is the property of the naked;" "What is superfluous for one's need is to be regarded as plunder if one retains it for one's self"--there is always a trial ahead. "Our faith, more precious than gold, must be tried as though by fire."
Here is a letter we received today: "I took a gentleman seemingly in need of spiritual and temporal guidance into my home on a Sunday afternoon. Let him have a nap on my bed, went through the want ads with him, made coffee and sandwiches for him, and when he left, I found my wallet had gone also."
I can only say that the saints would only bow their heads and not try to understand or judge. they received no thanks--well, then, God had to repay them. They forbode to judge, and it was as though they took off their cloak besides their coat to give away. This is expecting heroic charity, of course. But these things happen for our discouragement, for our testing. We are sowing the seed of love, and we are not living in the harvest time. We must love to the point of folly, and we are indeed fools, as Our Lord Himself was who died for such a one as this.
. . .our hearts are often crushed at such rejections. But, as a Carmelite nun said to me last week, "It is the crushed heart which is the soft heart, the tender heart."
from Dorothy Day, Selected Writings, edited by Robert Ellsberg (Orbis Books, page 99)
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