Tag Archives: disarmament of the heart

Dorothy Day and the disarmed kingdom

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
Isaiah 11

The peaceable kingdom, where wolf and lamb lie die together and a little child leads them, is one of the most poignant readings for Advent.

In the midst of violence and upheaval all around us, in the midst of concerns about the future of the US and the world, in the midst of a deep sadness in the face of so many deaths here in our parish in Honduras in the last month or so, God offers us a vision of hope, a vision of peace.

So today’s readings help console me and move me to action. How can I help the lions and the lambs live together in peace? How can I help the lions disarm their hearts – as I seek to disarm my heart?

Also, today is the anniversary of the death of the Servant of God Dorothy Day on November 29, 1980. Her life among the poor, her advocacy of peace and nonviolence, and her deep love of God continue to inspire me and give me hope.

Dorothy Day wrote in 1938 of the disarmament of the heart.

“Today the whole world is in the midst of a revolution. We are living through it now – all of us. History will record this time as a time of world revolution. And frankly, we are calling for Saints…. We must prepare now for martyrdom — otherwise we will not be ready. Who of us if … attacked now would not react quickly and humanly against such attack? Would we love our brother [or sister] who strikes us? Of all at The Catholic Worker how many would not instinctively defend [themselves] with any forceful means in [their] power? We must prepare. We must prepare now. There must be a disarmament of the heart.”

this disarmament of the heart makes sense only in light of the Lordship of Jesus, the Word made flesh among the poor. The infant born in a stable is the source of our salvation and our safety.

As Dorothy Day write in 1966, she wrote in one of her Advent Meditations for The Ave Maria Magazine:

“When I go to the crib this year I will think, as I always do, that we are not dependent on the governments of this world for our safety, but “the government will be upon His shoulder.”

Disarming my heart, can I find safety and security in God this Advent?

Swords into plowshares

“They shall beat their swords into ploughs.”
Isaiah 2: 4

UN-disarm002

I have been blessed not to see much violence – despite living for a short time in El Salvador during the civil war, despite spending two weeks in Northern Ireland in the time of the troubles, despite making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and visiting in both Palestine and Israel, despite living in the country that has the highest murder rate in the world.

A few months ago I saw one side of the violence here when I transported a woman who had been attacked by her husband with a machete. About two weeks ago, a person I know was shot at.

And so the promise of Isaiah touches me deeply. It seems so outrageous, so utopian – both beautiful and so out of place. But I hope.

It is the hope of so many people here in Honduras  – not just the end of violence but the chance to grow food on one’s own land.

But the candidate who, according to the electoral tribunal got the most votes, had promised, in the face of violence: “I will do whatever has to be done.”

But St. Paul (Roman 13:13) warns us to put aside the works of darkness, which include “strife and jealousy” – or, as another translation puts it, “quarreling and jealousy.”

What does this entail?

I think we can learn a lot from Dorothy Day, who wrote this in an editorial in the September 1938 Catholic Worker:

“Today the whole world is in the midst of a revolution. We are living through it now – all of us. History will record this time as a time of world revolution. And frankly, we are calling for Saints…. We must prepare now for martyrdom — otherwise we will not be ready. Who of us if … attacked now would not react quickly and humanly against such attack? Would we love our brother [or sister] who strikes us? Of all at The Catholic Worker how many would not instinctively defend [themselves] with any forceful means in [their] power? We must prepare. We must prepare now. There must be a disarmament of the heart.”

If we want peace, we need that disarmament of the heart – not only in others and in political leaders, but first of all in ourselves.

And so, this Advent will be for me a war to disarm my heart, to open myself to love for all, to putting aside all that keeps me from loving God and my poorest brothers and sisters.

Lord, disarm my heart.

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The photo is a wall near the United Nations in New York City with the text of Isaiah 2.