Wisdom of a French peasant in the US

Peter Maurin, a French peasant and wandering scholar of the twentieth century, was born, in the  Languedoc region of France, on May 8, 1876. After working in Canada and Europe he ran into Dorothy Day in New York City. Together they started the Catholic Worker, a movement that has spread throughout the world, living with the poor and witnessing to the Gospel of Peace. He died in 1949. Peter Maurin wrote and “preached” in the style of his Easy Essays:

People who are in need
and are not afraid to beg
give to people not in need
the occasion to do good
for goodness’ sake.
Modern society calls the beggar
bum and panhandler and gives him the bum’s rush.
But the Greeks used to say
that people in need
are ambassadors of the gods.
Although you may be called
bums and panhandlers
you are in fact the ambassadors of God.
As God’s ambassadors
you should be given
food, clothing and shelter
by those who are able to give it.
Mohammedan teachers tell us
that God commands hospitality.
And hospitality is still practiced
in Mohammedan countries.
But the duty of hospitality
is neither taught nor practiced
in Christian countries.

Peter Maurin, Easy Essays, in The Catholic Worker, October 1933

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