Tag Archives: Peter Maurin

Maurin, Berrigan, Macedonia, and me

If I have my notes correct, today is the birthday of Fr. Dan Berrigan in 1921 and of Peter Maurin in 1876, two men who are important prophetic figures in the church in the US.

Peter Maurin, a French peasant, met Dorothy Day in 1932 and together they found themselves beginning a movement that continues to call the Church to live the Gospel with the poor. Peter Maurin had a vision and Dorothy Day had the desire to connect her new faith with the needs of the poor.

Peter Maurin was noted for his pithy poems, his “Easy Essays,” which often contained messages that are far from easy:

The world would be better off
if people tried to become better.
And people would become better
if they stopped trying to become better off.
For when everyone tried to become better off
nobody I better off.
But when everyone tried to become better,
everyone is better off.

Everybody would be rich
if nobody tried to become richer.
And nobody would be poor
if everyone tried to be the poorest.
And everybody would be what he ought to be
if everyone tried to be
what he wants the other fellow to be.

Dan Berrigan is a Jesuit priest, poet, prophet, and peacemaker – a man of God who has put his body where his words led him. As he is reported to have said:

Your faith is rarely where your head is at and rarely where your heart is at. Your faith is where your ass is at! Inside what commitments are you sitting? Within what reality do you anchor yourself?”

Where is my butt?

It’s here in Honduras. In a way, it’s here because I was open to the call when I visited in 2006 and heard today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles 16: 1-10. Paul wants to go a few places but the Spirit prevents him. Then he has a dream where a Macedonian tells him: “Come across to Macedonia and help us.”

So here I am, but is my butt really with the poor?

That’s the continuing question.

Prophetic words of Peter Maurin

Peter Maurin, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker, was born on May 8, 1876, in the Languedoc region of France.

He was a great inspiration to Dorothy Day, the other co-founder, and inspired many with his Easy Essays, free verse simple explanations of his philosophy and theology. They can be found on line here.

Here is one that should challenge all of us today:

The Word Liberal
The word liberal
is used in Europe
in a different way
from the way
it is used
in America.
In Europe
a liberal is a man
who believes in liberty
without knowing
what to do with it.
Harold Laski
accuses liberals
of having used
their intelligence
without knowing
what to do with it.
Liberals
are too liberal
to be radicals.
To be a radical
is to go to the roots.
Liberals
don’t go to the roots;
they only
scratch the surface.
The only way
to go to the roots
is to bring religion
into education,
into politics,
into business.
To bring religion
into the profane
is the best way
to take profanity
out of the profane.
To take profanity
out of the profane
is to bring sanity
into the profane.
Because we aim
to do just that
we like to be called
radicals.