Why This Issue
Many of our readers, if they know anything about the Catholic Worker in St. Louis—or the Catholic Worker movement at large—know that we offer hospitality. It is one of the key practices with which we are associated. In the minds of many people this may look very much like a charitable act: There are some people who because of the turns of history have more time, money, privilege, etc. and because of the largeness of their hearts they offer some to others. This is not, however, the fount out of which our own hospitality flows.
As Workers we choose to offer hospitality, and extol on its virtues in these pages, out of a response to the injustices of the world; as an effort to invite liberation into our own lives and salvation into our communities. We look at our society and see strains in it that strive to divide us. We look at a history that has created racism, sexism, and classism to separate humans from each other for the economic benefit of a few. We bemoan anything that separates human beings, knowing that these separations are fabricated in order to confuse us and to contribute to an unequal economic distribution. We resist these movements in history by striving for justice. We experiment with hospitality because we yearn to live in ways that, though imperfect, break down these barriers; ways that unite us as people, no longer rich or poor, black or white, woman or man.
Yet, we do not ignore these realities that are within each of us, our internalized classism, sexism, and racism, and because we choose to acknowledge these issues and place ourselves in situations where we encounter them daily, we can begin to liberate ourselves from them. If we continue to live in homogeneous groups, the oppressive practices that function from within us will continue unchecked.
So read on for more stories and thoughts on how we resist the injustices of the world and strive for our liberation. Jenny Truax shares about the affinity between Gandhi and the Catholic Worker and how our hospitality is resistance work, how it is inclusive of all people, and how it will transform our hearts. Teka Childress invites us into her world of Winter Outreach, painting a picture of some of the people she encounters and the importance of being treated humanely. Carolyn Griffeth enlightens us on the centrality of hospitality in the Bible, pointing out stories such as the woman who helped Elijah, the story of Zacchaeus, and of course stories of Jesus. She also shares stories from her life where she has seen beautiful acts of hospitality. Ben Schartman tells us how his experiences with hospitality helped to liberate him from isolation and powerlessness.
Megan Heeney has interviewed two people that have been connected with both Karen House and Kabat House in both giving and receiving hospitality and they share some insights into how it has altered their lives. Timmy Cosentino reminds us of the spiritual works of mercy in Catholic Worker Thought and Action. Finally, Heather brings us news of Kabat House, and Sarah Latham shares with us, in From Karen House, how a loving community brings freedom from fear, liberation, connectedness, and moments of heaven in our daily lives.
The authors invite us all to think of the simple ways we can open ourselves up more to inviting others into our lives, to make ourselves more vulnerable, to be more hospitable, and thus to resist the injustice in the world and struggle for a more loving world; a world where it is easier to be good and a world where we are walking the path of our own liberation.
- by James Meinert