Dorothy Day & the Sacrament of Duty

Paul Elie, in The Life You Save May Be Your Own:

Kings County, Brooklyn, is a vast and imposing place — a compound of several building, each of brown brick, with Romanesque windows and a red tile rood, as on a monastery. In the spring of 1918, with a flu epidemic spreading in the city, Dorothy Day, along with her sister, Della, began work as a nurse there. At the hospital … Day encountered the poor firsthand — changing their sheets, cleaning their bedpans, sponging their bodies, bearing their corpses to the morgue in the end. There, with a Catholic co-worker, she went to Mass. There, she acquired the habits of discipline, which another nurse called the “sacrament of duty.”


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