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Day’s legacy is one which has been manifold in its reception.For some, Day remains an emblematic pacifist, standing against American militarism for the better part of five decades.
For others, Day is the paragon lay Catholic, exhibiting a life of radical devotion to the Church.
I will not be neglecting these legacies in this essay, but rather, I will show the interconnection of Day’s legacy as a lay Catholic and pacifist to one of her lesser-known legacies: friend of the Jews. First, I will briefly lay out Day’s doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ, a doctrine that emphasizes the union among all humanity that exists because of and in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
The dogma of the Mystical Body has tremendous social implications.
In short, all persons have been “ennobled” by Christ, as the first step in a process pointing toward the culminating work of participation in the life of the Church. But all men are members or potential members, as St.
1935, Day speaks more specifically about the Catholic doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ (the union of the presence of Christ with the present body of the Church), but her descriptions of the Mystical Body are governed by reference to the particular human person of Jesus: It is because we forget the Humanity of Christ (present with us today in the Blessed Sacrament just as truly as when He walked with His apostles through the cornfields that Sunday long ago, breakfasting on the ears of corn)—that we have ignored the material claims of our fellow man during this capitalistic, industrialist era.
We have allowed our brothers and sisters, our fellow members in the Mystical Body to be degraded, to endure slavery to a machine, to live in rat-infested holes.
We think of all men as our brothers then, as members of the Mystical Body of Christ.
“We are all members, one of another,” and, remembering this, we can never be indifferent to the social miseries and evils of the day.
Third, I will briefly explore the centrality of the doctrine for her pacifism.
Finally, I will explore the significance of tying together an affirmation of the Jews with Christian resistance to war.