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Peter Maurin

Peter Maurin

Peter Maurin took his first vows as a Christian Brother in 1895 in Paris. After the secularization of France in 1902, he became involved in a French Catholic social movement and later moved to Canada in 1909 and to the US in 1911. He co-founded the Catholic Worker with Dorothy Day in 1933.

His program of Roundtable discussions, houses of hospitality, and Catholic Worker farms remains central to the Catholic Worker Movement.

 

Photos of Peter Maurin courtesy of the Marquette University Archives

 

Additional resources:

Peter Maurin's Easy Essays (sample Easy Essays are included below)

Biography by Jim Forest 

 

Easy Essays

By Peter Maurin

 

The Duty of Hospitality

People who are in need

and are not afraid to beg

give to people not in need

the occasion to do good

for goodness sake.

 

Modern society calls the beggar

bum and panhandler

and gives them the bum’s rush.

But the Greeks used to say

that people in need

are the ambassadors of the gods.

 

Although you may be called

bums and panhandlers

you are in fact the Ambassadors of God.

As God’s Ambassadors

you should be given food,

clothing and shelter

by those who are able to give it.

 

Muslim teachers tell us

that God commands hospitality,

and hospitality is still practiced

in Muslim countries.

but the duty of hospitality

is neither taught nor practiced

in Christian countries.

 

The Municipal Lodgings

That is why you who are in need

are not invited to spend the night

in the homes of the rich.

There are guest rooms today

in the homes of the rich

but they are not for those who need them.

And they are not for those who need them

because those who need them

are no longer considered

as the Ambassadors of God.

 

Hospices

We read in

The Catholic Encyclopedia

that during the early ages of Christianity

the hospice (or the House of Hospitality)

was a shelter for the sick, the poor,

the orphans, the old, the traveler,

and the needy of every kind.

 

Originally the hospices (or

Houses of Hospitality)

were under the supervision of the bishops,

who designated priests

to administer the spiritual

and temporal affairs

of these charitable institutions.

 

The fourteenth statute

of the so-called Council of Carthage,

held about 436

enjoins upon the bishops

to have hospices (or Houses of Hospitality)

in connection with their churches.

 

Parish Houses of Hospitality

Today we need Houses of Hospitality

as much as they needed them then,

if not more so.

 

We have Parish Houses for the priests,

Parish Houses for educational purposes,

Parish Houses for recreational purposes,

but no Parish Houses of Hospitality.

 

Bossuet says that the poor

are the first children of the Church,

so the poor should come first.

 

People with homes should

have a room of hospitality,

so as to give shelter

to the needy members

of the parish.

 

The remaining needy

members of the parish

should be given shelter in a Parish Home.

 

Furniture, clothing, and food

should be sent to the needy

members of the parish

at the Parish House of Hospitality.

 

We need Parish Homes

as well as Parish Domes.

In the new Cathedral of Liverpool

there will be a Home

as well as a Dome.

 

So people no longer consider

hospitality to the poor

as a personal duty.

and it does not disturb them a bit

to send them to the city,

where they are given the

hospitality of the “Muni”

at the expense of the taxpayer.

 

But the hospitality that the

“Muni” gives to the down and out

is no hospitality

because what comes from the

taxpayers’ pocketbook

does not come from their heart.

 

So hospitality, like everything else,

has been commercialized.

So hospitality, like everything else,

must be idealized.

 

Better or Better Off

The world would be better off,

if people tried

to become better.

 

And people would

become better

if they stopped trying

to be better off.

 

For when everybody tries

to become better off,

nobody is better off.

 

But when everybody tries

to become better,

everybody is better off.

 

Everybody would be rich

if nobody tried

to be richer.

 

And nobody would be poor

if everybody tried

to be the poorest.

 

And everybody would be

what he ought to be

if everybody tried to be

what he wants

the other fellow to be.