Saturday, September 26, 2009

Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story (1996)

When I was taking classes to prepare for my baptism, the leaders at my church kept making references to the teachings and life examples of various saints and some lady named Dorothy Day. I had never heard of most of the saints they mentioned, and I sure as heck didn’t know who Dorothy Day was. One of the lay teachers at my church eventually clued us in a bit, explaining that Day had been a radical left-wing activist and journalist in the 1920s. She led a Bohemian life in New York City, lived with several men, and had an abortion. But in 1926, her daughter, Tamar, was born. Being a mother prompted a spiritual awakening in Day, and it led to her conversion to Catholicism. Her faith was central to her the rest of her life. Day used her talents to write for Catholic publications, and she founded the Catholic Worker movement. Her work with the poor emphasized the social teachings of Catholicism. Day was known for her pacifism and anti-war activism. After her death in 1980, some began to work to have her recognized as a saint.

In 1996, an independent film, Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story, dramatized her life with an impressive Hollywood cast including Moira Kelly, Martin Sheen, Heather Graham, and Brian Keith. At the time, some reviews were critical of the script and Sheen’s performance, but frankly I’m not a drama critic and thought the film was good. The filmmakers certainly had strong material to work with; Day lived a fascinating and inspiring life. I personally love to read stories of conversion and human growth. I don’t think we are fully alive if we don’t continue to evolve and grow into the person God intended. I don’t believe we are intended to be stagnant, and I enjoy understanding what led to significant shifts in an individual’s attitudes and beliefs. Others may have a different opinion, but I think Entertaining Angels does a good job of providing that understanding, and it is an amazing journey to observe. Day’s unwavering dedication to the poor and to be the face of God to those without hope continues to be an inspiration.

Deuteronomy 15:4 (New International Version)
“However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you.”


  1. I've written a biography of Dorothy Day that you might enjoy reading: Love is the Measure. Here's a link:

    Jim Forest

  2. The first full-length documentary on Dorothy Day is now available. See