Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty

Kate Hennessy examines the complicated and poignant relationship between Dorothy Day and her daughter--Kate's mother, Tamar Hennessy. Day's journey of conversion and religiosity began with Tamar Hennessy's birth, yet the same experiences that pulled Day toward Catholicism--the beauty of the sacraments and the discipline of the faith--turned Tamar Hennessy away from it. She instead endured a bad marriage and a tightly regimented life that allowed little room for self-discovery.

Kate Hennessy follows in her grandmother's footsteps and peels away the layers to reveal the vulnerable Dorothy Day, a woman who possessed great love for her daughter. But it was complicated by Day's demanding role as social activist and leader of the Catholic Worker, the organization she cofounded with Peter Maurin to offer hospitality, dignity and hope to the poor and disenfranchised of New York City. And Tamar Hennessy competed with it for Day's attention: "That is the danger of holiness on your own doorstep, in your own family. Either you cannot see it for the view is too close, or if you do, you feel you haven't a chance of being the person she was. You feel it is a sad mistake you are related." Nevertheless, both daughter and granddaughter understood the project's enduring legacy, and both shared a love for it, no matter where their faith stood. In the end, Kate Hennessy finds peace with the two halves of her heritage, finding the beauty and spiritual sustenance so beloved by her grandmother. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

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