Being A Catholic Worker: 100 Suggestions

I wrote this years ago for On the Edge. It’s been republished in multiple worker papers, its references always adapted to the local context. A friend recently called it up to memory, by requesting.

Being a Catholic Worker

100 Suggestions.                                                                                      Bill Wylie-Kellermann



Take the Sermon on the Mount very seriously.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Convene the kingdom of God over soup.

Compel them to come in.

Ask how far the line goes back.

Embrace holy mother poverty.

Try and figure out where allowance went last month.

Consider vigiling in the hospital emergency room to be an intercession.

Pray in places where it is forbidden.

Draw a line.  Stand on it.  Get arrested.

Do jail time as a monastic retreat or at least a vacation.

Reside in the margins.

Receive mail for guests who left years ago.

Suffer thievery.

Persevere in non-sequitur conversation.

Bless those who curse you, including guests.

Clarify your thoughts.  Be stunned at the phone bill.

Honor conscience, in yourself and others.

Swing the mop like a flashy dance partner.

Be skeptical of forms, bureaucracies, institutions, and people who put you on hold.

Refuse to be called a saint.

Keep an advent journal and share it with your friends.

Create a tradition, and nourish it.

Plot the demise of small rodents.

Try writing an easy essay.

Find out it’s harder than you think.

Learn to say you’re not on house today.

Agonize over your church.

Rage against patriarchy.

Never prepare a pre-sentencing statement.

Take your chances on the Holy Spirit.

Hold small children on your lap.

Find love a harsh and dreadful thing.

Find love.

Bless the food in the making.

Be civil when answering the phone at 3am.

(You may swear it if rings again immediately.)

Make the run to Gleaners and try not to bring back too much ice cream.

Devise new recipes for zucchini.

Discern the times.  Take time.  Give time.  Do time. Add Thyme.

There’s no such thing as too much garlic, but take it easy on the red pepper.

Dress (tastefully) from the clothing room.

Build a new society in the shell of the old.

Try and figure out who is pilfering toilet paper.

Find a new place to hide on your day off.

Read Gandhi in jail.

After awhile, throw away the I.O.U.’s

Reach your limit and put a guest out.

Argue over where the limits are.

Keep a stash of banners (liturgical and political) in the basement.

Don’t let the principalities get you down.

Whip up a carrot cake for someone’s wedding.

Walk the way of the cross through the streets of your city.

Study the faces of folk down and out.

Curse the filthy, rotten system.

Marvel at the survival skills of your guest.

Weep quietly in your room when necessary

Stay in touch.



Track down a foul smell. (Look behind the couch).

Pick through crates and trash at Eastern Market for edibles.

Be a go-giver.

Loan your car to excess.

Call yourself a personalist.

Clean wounds.

Figure out who keeps turning up the heat.

Scrounge for pampers in a crisis.

Practice non-violence.

Tipple the communion wine only on rare occasion.

Learn to juggle.

Refuse to keep records to get government money.

Refuse government money.

Hell, refuse to pay taxes.

Argue economics over coffee.

Argue over economics and coffee.

Pray more or less faithfully.

Do things for the love of Christ.

Have a painting party and serve burritos.

Put a candle in a jar.

Take it to a missile factory.

Wait for people to come and go.

Negotiate a household truce.

Scrub soup pots as an exercise in contemplation.

Visit prisoners. Be one.

Buy a farm.

Layout the paper with a flair for graphics.

Mark anniversaries.

Celebrate the Incarnation

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