Although none of these 20 women were elected to office, they all had a great influence on public opinion and public policy. The reformers profiled below exercised influence not only because of the number of people they mobilized, but also because of the moral force of their ideas.
It is good that we are unsettled right now as Americans. It is good that this is a moment which pushes our faces into the ugliness of our national reality as it is, and that will not allow us to simply to glance away as we wish that it was otherwise.
It's no surprise when American bishops talk about canonizing Dorothy Day as a saint, as they've done in recent years. For me, her life embodies the heart of Christianity because of the way she constantly tried to translate her faith into good works.
Of course we expect our graduates to have earning power. But the real power we expect them to exert is the power of their moral voice, the strength of their ethical backbone, the fortitude of their daily commitment to work for improvement of the human condition.
I have committed myself to being open to love in all its forms. However love arrives at the doorstep of my heart, I try to recognize it. At least, that is my intention. It isn't always easy. Sometimes it feels challenging. Sometimes it feels exhilarating.
There is only one U.S. religious group that is expected to grow to 100 million adherents by the middle of the century. Yet, to hear some critics, one might think the Catholic Church is slowly sinking in the U.S. religious landscape.
Leader of the Catholic Worker movement, Dorothy Day was a realist and she knew that people reflexively regard saints as plaster-cast paragons of perfection. But Dorothy Day also loved the saints, venerated the saints, and wrote more than once that "we are all called to be saints."
At present there is a standoff between the Vatican and the organization that represents 80 percent of American nuns. The hierarchy likely will break the stalemate right after the noisy election season. But what seems like a straight, rigid line looks more convoluted on further examination.
So what, in the end, do these new letters reveal? They certainly confirm the deep, passionate love described in her memoir, thus underscoring the incredible sacrifice Dorothy endured for the sake of her faith.
Demagogues like Coughlin and Beck use ever more shrill appeals to cause serious short-term turmoil but, in the process, turn their followers' hearts to stone. People are happier, Day believed, when they are good.
Jesus said that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. I invited Beck to a civil and respectful conversation about the issues at stake here, but he has chosen a different path.