Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Another Holy Fool: Peter Maurin

Peter Maurin died on this date in 1949.

Maurin was co-founder and co-worker with Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker.  Dorothy Day considered him the holiest man she had ever known, as well as something of an eccentric.  Nothing wrong with that.
When Peter Maurin died on May 15, 1949, the New Deal order of welfare capitalism was ushering in an unprecedented period of prosperity that promised to satisfy every imaginable material desire. Catholics benefited materially from their support for this order, yet lost the family stability and communal solidarity that had marked them as a people apart in an earlier era. Twenty-five years later, when New Deal “statism” could no longer deliver the goods, many Catholics simply changed partners and danced to the tune of modern materialism’s other siren song, capitalism At present, we appear to be at the end of this second cycle of prosperity. As we ponder our next economic option, we might consider why it is that family and community structures that endured through centuries of material poverty have not been able to survive two generations of material prosperity. Which is more foolish: to think that social stability requires the subordination of material to spiritual ordering principles, or to affirm that social stability and spiritual renewal are compatible with the constant expansion of opportunities for material self-advancement? In reflecting on this question, few guides could be more reliable than Peter Maurin. - Peter Maurin:  A Fool for Christ
I think Pope Benedict would very much approve of Peter Maurin.  This past weekend while visiting Arezzo, and the Franciscan Shrine of La Verna, the Holy Father called on Catholics to show solidarity with the poor and 'to go beyond the purely materialistic ideologies that often mark our age and end up clouding our sense of solidarity and charity.' 
“Since the remotest times, attention to others has moved the Church to show concrete signs of solidarity with those in need, sharing resources, promoting simpler lifestyles, going against an ephemeral culture which has disappointed many and determined a profound spiritual crisis,” he said. - VIS


  1. He sounds wonderful, and eccentric too. Perfect. He'd certainly have been a regular at the Abbey Roads bar.

  2. Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin really took the Gospel seriously. They took Jesus at His word. When I first moved to the Twin Cities in the late 80s I bought a copy of "Easy Essays" and was hooked. I still have the tattered copy I bought at a bookstore in St Paul. I even took out a subscription to "The Catholic Worker". Though "Easy Essays" is definately a product of the times we could certainly profit from its' reading today.

  3. A wonderful quote I thought appropriate:

    "The eyes of faith behold a wonderful scene: that of a countless number of lay people, both women and men, busy at work in their daily life and activity, oftentimes far from view and quite unacclaimed by the world, unknown to the world's great personages but nonetheless looked upon in love by the Father, untiring labourers who work in the Lord's vineyard. Confident and steadfast through the power of God's grace, these are the humble yet great builders of the Kingdom of God in history."



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