Famous Quotes & Sayings

Jean Vanier Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Jean Vanier.

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When we start helping the weak and the poor to rise everyone will begin to change. Those who have power and riches will start to become more humble, and those who are rising up will leave behind their need to be victims, their need to be angry or depressed ... This is the spirituality of life, that helps people to rise up and take their place. It is not a spirituality of death. Jesus wants those who have been crushed to rise up and those who have power to discover that there is another road, a road of sharing and compassion. — Jean Vanier

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The illusion of being superior engenders the need to prove it; and so oppression is born. A bishop in Africa told me that, even though there were few Christians in the area, he had built his cathedral bigger than the local mosque. All this to prove that Christianity was a better, more powerful religion than Islam. So we build walls around our group and cultivate our certitudes. Prejudice grows on such walls. How did we, the human race, get to this position where we judge it natural not just to band ourselves into groups, but to set ourselves group against group, neighbour against neighbour, in order to establish some ephemeral sense of superiority? One of the fundamental issues for people to examine is how to break down these walls that separate us one from another; how to open up one to another; how to create trust and places of dialogue. — Jean Vanier

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Community as belonging ...
Each person with his or her history of being accepted or rejected, with his or her past history of inner pain and difficulties in relationships with parents, is different. But in each one there is a yearning for communion and belonging, but at the same time a fear of it. Love is what we want, yet it is what we fear the most. Love makes us vulnerable and open, but then we can be hurt through rejection and separation. We may crave for love, but then be frightened of losing our liberty and creativity. We want to belong to a group, but we fear a certain death in the group because we may not be seen as unique. We want love, but fear the dependence and commitment it implies; we fear being used, manipulated, smothered and spoiled. We are all so ambivalent toward love, communion and belonging. — Jean Vanier

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Community is the place where are revealed all the darkness and anger, jealousies and rivalry hidden in our hearts. Community is a place of pain, because it is a place of loss, a place of conflict, and a place of death. But it is also a place of resurrection. — Jean Vanier

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A growing community must integrate three elements: a life of silent prayer, a life of service and above all of listening to the poor, and a community life through which all its members can grow in their own gift. — Jean Vanier

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The response to war is to live like brothers and sisters. The response to injustice is to share. The response to despair is a limitless trust and hope. The response to prejudice and hatred is forgiveness. To work for community is to work for humanity. To work for peace is to work for a true political solution; it is to work for the Kingdom of God. It is to work to enable every one to live and taste the secret joys of the human person united to the eternal. — Jean Vanier

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Old age is the most precious time of life, the one nearest eternity. There are two ways of growing old. There are old people who are anxious and bitter, living in the past and illusion, who criticize everything that goes on around them. Young people are repulsed by them; they are shut away in their sadness and loneliness, shriveled up in themselves. But there are also old people with a child's heart, who have used their freedom from function and responsibility to find a new youth. They have the wonder of a child, but the wisdom of maturity as well. They have integrated their years of activity and so can live without being attached to power. Their freedom of heart and their acceptance of their limitations and weakness makes them people whose radiance illuminates the whole community. They are gentle and merciful, symbols of compassion and forgiveness. They become a community's hidden treasures, sources of unity and life. They are true contemplatives at the heart of community. — Jean Vanier

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Loneliness is the fundamental force that urgees mystics to a deeper union with God ... An experience of God quenches this thirst for the absolute but at the same time, paradoxiacally, whets it, because this is an experience that can never be total; by necessity, the knowledge of God is always partial. So loneliness opens up mystics to a desire to love each other and every human being as God loves them. — Jean Vanier

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All of us have a secret desire to be seen as saints, heroes, martyrs. We are afraid to be children, to be ourselves. — Jean Vanier

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One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn't as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing. — Jean Vanier

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I have discovered the value of psychology and psychiatry, that their teachings can undo knots in us and permit life to flow again and aid us in becoming more truly human. — Jean Vanier

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Community as forgiveness ...
Too many people come into community to find something, to belong to a dynamic group, to discover a life which approaches the ideal. If we come into community without knowing that the reason we come is to learn to forgive and be forgiven seven times seventy-seven times, we will soon be disappointed. — Jean Vanier

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But let us not put our sights too high. We do not have to be saviours of the world! We are simply human beings, enfolded in weakness and in hope, called together to change our world one heart at a time. (163) — Jean Vanier

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Community as openness ...
Communities are truly communities when they open to others, when they remain vulnerable and humble; when the members are growing in love, in compassion and in humility. Communities cease to be such when members close in upon themselves with the certitude that they alone have wisdom and truth and expect everyone to be like them and learn from them.
The fundamental attitudes of true community, where there is true belonging, are openness, welcome, and listening to God, to the universe, to each other and to other communities. Community life is inspired by the universal and is open to the universal. It is based on forgiveness and openness to those who are different, to the poor and the weak. Sects put up walls and barriers out of fear, out of a need to prove themselves and to create a false security. Community is the breaking down of barriers to welcome difference. — Jean Vanier

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Every child, every person needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person, needs to be celebrated. Only when all of our weaknesses are accepted as part of our humanity can our negative, broken self-images be transformed. — Jean Vanier

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Communion is at the heart of the mystery of our humanity. It means accepting the presence of another inside oneself, as well as accepting the reciprocal call to enter into another. Communion, which implies the security and insecurity of trust, is a constant struggle against all the powers of fear and selfishness in us, as well as the seemingly resilient human need to control another person. To a certain extent we lose control in our own lives when we are open to others. Communion of hearts is a beautiful but also a dangerous thing. Beautiful because it is a new form of liberation; it brings a new joy because we are no longer alone. We are close even if we are far away. Dangerous because letting down our inner barriers means that we can be easily hurt. Communion makes us vulnerable. — Jean Vanier

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A community that is growing rich and seeks only to defend its goods and its reputation is dying. It has ceased to grow in love. A community is alive when it is poor and its members feel they have to work together and remain united, if only to ensure that they can all eat tomorrow! — Jean Vanier

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To invite others to live with us is a sign that we aren't afraid, that we have a treasure of truth and of peace to share. — Jean Vanier

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There is nothing stronger than a heart which loves and is freely given. — Jean Vanier

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Community begins in mystery and ends in administration. Leaders move away from people and into paper. — Jean Vanier

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To love someone is not first of all to do things for them,but to reveal to them their beauty and value, to say to them through our attitude: 'You are beautiful. You are important. I trust you. You can trust yourself.' — Jean Vanier

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Each person is sacred, no matter what his or her culture, religion, handicap, or fragility. Each person is created in God's image; each one has a heart, a capacity to love and to be loved. — Jean Vanier

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True peace can rarely be imposed from the outside; it must be born within and between communities through meetings and dialogue and then carried outward. — Jean Vanier

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Instinctively, all children learn to hide their terrible feelings behind inner walls, the shadowy areas of their being. All the disorder and darkness of their lives can be buried there. They then throw themselves into their lives, into the search for approbation, into self - fulfillment, into dreams and illusions. Hurts and pain can transform into the energy that pushes children forward. Such children can then become individuals protected by the barriers they had to build around their vulnerable, wounded hearts. — Jean Vanier

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Maybe today some people see opposition between, on the one hand, a seemingly barren, old, institutional church, cut off from the world, looking after buildings, and worried about membership and attendance, and on the other hand, new communities, filled with life, enthusiasm, risk, openness and welcome, concerned about the big issues of the world - injustice, torture, peace, disarmament, ecology, a better distribution of wealth, the liberation of women, drug addiction, AIDS, people with handicaps, etc ... But we know that every community, with time, risks closing in on itself and becoming an empty institution governed by laws. The new communities of today can become the closed up, barren institutions of tomorrow. — Jean Vanier

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The weak and the poor are for us a source of unity. Jesus came into the world to change and transform society from a "pyramid" in which the strong and clever dominate at the top, into a "body", where each member of society has a place, is respected and is important. — Jean Vanier

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Many people confuse authority and the power of efficiency, as if the first role of people with responsibility is to take decisions, command effectively and so exercise power. But their role first of all is to be a person to whom others can turn for help and advice, to provide security, to affirm, to support, to encourage and to guide. — Jean Vanier

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Peace is the fruit of love, a love that is also justice. But to grow in love requires work
hard work. And it can bring pain because it implies loss
loss of the certitudes, comforts, and hurts that shelter and define us. — Jean Vanier

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This evolution towards a real responsibility for others is sometimes blocked by fear. It is easier to stay on the level of a pleasant way of life in which we keep our freedom and our distance. But that means that we stop growing and shut ourselves up in our own small concerns and pleasures. — Jean Vanier

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In community we are called to care for each member of the community. We can. Choose our friends but we do not choose our brothers and sisters' they are given to us, whether in family or in community." Jean — Jean Vanier

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To forgive is a gift of God that permits us to let go of our past hurts. — Jean Vanier

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Our humanity is so beautiful, but it needs to be transformed — Jean Vanier

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When we begin to believe that there is greater joy in working with and for others, rather than just for ourselves, then our society will truly become a place of celebration. — Jean Vanier

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The word "paracleta" means "the one who answers the cry." It is not possible to receive the Spirit unless we cry out, and unless that cry surges up from the consciousness of our own wound, our pain, and our brokenness. — Jean Vanier

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The strong need the weak as much as the weak need the strong — Jean Vanier

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The people with the best sense of what is essential to a community, of what gives and maintains its spirit, are often doing very humble, manual tasks. It is often the poorest person - the one who has a handica[p, is] ill or old - who is the most prophetic. People who carry responsibility must be close to them and know what they think, because it is often they who are free enough to see with the greatest clarity the needs, beauty and pain of the community. — Jean Vanier

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have learned that the process of teaching and learning, of communication, involves movement, back and forth: the one who is healed and the one who is healing constantly change places. As we begin to understand ourselves, we begin to understand others. It is part of the process of moving from idealism to reality, from the sky to the earth. We do not have to be perfect or to deny our emotions. — Jean Vanier

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To be in communion means to be with someone and to discover that we actually belong together. Communion means accepting people just as they are, with all their limits and inner pain, but also with their gifts and their beauty and their capacity to grow: to see the beauty inside of all the pain. To love someone is not first of all to do things for them, but to reveal to them their beauty and value, to say to them through our attitude: You are beautiful. You are important. I trust you. You can trust — Jean Vanier

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A tension or difficulty can signal the approach of a new grace of God. But it has to be looked at wisely and humanly. — Jean Vanier

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Children can then quickly discover that there is such a thing called truth; that they are not living in a chaotic world that is hypocritical, filled with only lies and pretense. Parents who admit to their children that they have been unjustly angry and ask for forgiveness are naming something: they are admitting that they are not perfect. Words and life can come together: the word can indeed become flesh. — Jean Vanier

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He who is or has been deeply hurt has a RIGHT to be sure he is LOVED. — Jean Vanier

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I do not believe we can truly enter into our own inner pain and wounds and open our hearts to others unless we have had an experience of God, unless we have been touched by God. We must be touched by the Father in order to experience, as the prodigal son did, that no matter how wounded we may be, we are loved. And not only are we loved, but we too are called to heal and to liberate. This healing power in us will not come from our capacities and our riches, but in and through our poverty. We are called to discover that God can bring peace, compassion and love through our wounds. — Jean Vanier

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Every human activity can be put at the service of the divine and of love. We should all exercise our gift to build community. — Jean Vanier

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Weakness, recognized, accepted, and offered, is at the heart of belonging, so it is at the heart of communion with another. — Jean Vanier

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And here, for me, is another profound truth: understanding, as well as truth, comes not only from the intellect but also from the body. When we begin to listen to our bodies, we begin to listen to reality through our own experiences; we begin to trust our intuition, our hearts. The truth is also in the "earth" of our own bodies. So it is a question of moving from theories we have learned to listening to the reality that is in and around us. Truth flows from the earth. This is not to deny the truth that flows from teachers, from books, from tradition, from our ancestors, and from religious faith. But the two must come together. Truth from the sky must be confirmed and strengthened by truth from the earth. We must learn to listen and then to communicate. — Jean Vanier

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We human beings are all fundamentally the same. We all belong to a common, broken humanity. We all have wounded, vulnerable hearts. Each one of us needs to feel appreciated and understood; we all need help. — Jean Vanier

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To love someone is to show to them their beauty, their worth and their importance. — Jean Vanier

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It is only when we stand up, with all our failings and sufferings, and try to support others rather than withdraw into ourselves, that we can fully live the life of community. — Jean Vanier

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Peace cannot he imposed by politicians or Churches. Peace has to grow within each person if it is to endure. Our society can only be healed when each person in it is healed. — Jean Vanier

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To be lonely is to feel unwanted and unloved, and therefor unloveable. Loneliness is a taste of death. No wonder some people who are desperately lonely lose themselves in mental illness or violence to forget the inner pain. — Jean Vanier

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The cry for love and communion and for recognition that rises from the hearts of people in need reveals the fountain of love in us and our capacity to give life. At the same time, it can reveal our hardness of heart and are fears. Their cry is so demanding, and we are frequently seduced by wealth, power and the values of our societies. We want to climb the ladder of human promotion; we want to be recognized for our efficiency, power and virtue. The cry of the poor is threatening to the rich person within us.
We are sometimes prepared to give money and a little time, but we are frightened to give our hearts, to enter into a personal relationship of love and communion with them. For if we do so, we shall have to die to all our selfishness and to all the hardness of our heart. — Jean Vanier

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Many people are good at talking about what they are doing, but in fact do little. Others do a lot but don't talk about it; they are the ones who make a community live. — Jean Vanier

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The friend of time doesn't spend all day saying: 'I haven't got time.' He doesn't fight with time. He accepts it and cherishes it. — Jean Vanier

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When we judge, we are pushing people away; we are creating a wall, a barrier. When we forgive we are destroying barriers, we come closer to others. — Jean Vanier

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Envy comes from people's ignorance of, or lack of belief, in their own gifts. — Jean Vanier

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Communion is the to - and - fro of love. It is the trust that bonds us together, children with their parents, a sick person with a nurse, a child with a teacher, a husband with a wife, friends together, people with a common task. It is the trust that comes from the intuitive knowledge that we are safe in the hands of another and that we can be open and vulnerable, one to another. Communion is not static; it is an evolving reality. Trust is continually called to grow and to deepen, or it is wounded and diminishes. It is a trust that the other will not possess or crush you but rejoices in your gifts and calls you to growth and to freedom. Such a trust calls forth trust in yourself. — Jean Vanier

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Look at your own poverty
welcome it
cherish it
don't be afraid
share your death
because thus you will share your love and your life — Jean Vanier

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People are longing to rediscover true community. We have had enough of loneliness, independence and competition. — Jean Vanier

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If community is for growth of the personal consciousness and freedom, and not just for the collective consciousness, with the security it brings, there will be times when some people find themselves in conflict with their community ...
This happens particularly when someone is called to personal growth and is in a group which has become lukewarm, mediocre and closed in on itself. The loneliness and anguish felt by this person can lead to a more intimate and mystical union with God. The person no longer finding support from the group cries out to God, "Let those who thirst come to me and drink," says Jesus. Those who suffer in this way find a new strength and love in the heart of God. Their communion with the father deepens.
The authenticity of their communion with God is shown as they continually try to love their brothers and sisters with greater fidelity, without judgment or condemnation. — Jean Vanier

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We have to remind ourselves constantly that we are not saviours. We are simply a tiny sign, among thousands of others, that love is possible, that the world is not condemned to a struggle between oppressors and oppressed, that class and racial warfare is not inevitable. — Jean Vanier

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We work for peace every time we exercise authority with wisdom and authentic love. — Jean Vanier

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I believe every act of violence is also a message that needs to be understood. Violence should not be answered just by greater violence but by real understanding. We must ask: 'Where is the violence coming from? What is its meaning? — Jean Vanier

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Community is not an ideal; it is people. It is you and I. In community we are called to love people just as they are with their wounds and their gifts, not as we want them to be. — Jean Vanier

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We who are rich are often demanding and difficult. We shut ourselves up in our apartments and may even use a watchdog to defend our property. Poor people, of course, have nothing to defend and often share the little they have. When people have all the material things they need, they seem not to need each other. They are self-sufficient. There is no interdependence. There is no love. — Jean Vanier

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At the same time, however, the necessity for economic change in our countries has led us to conceive laws and accept traditions often at the expense of the individual person. Just when many are becoming conscious of the fundamental heritage of the Judeo-Christian tradition to respect each human person, friend or foe, within the actual structure of our society to apply this truth. The very efficiency demanded by our technocratic industrial society renders the life of the old, the unstable and the handicapped almost impossible. as the values of efficiency, individualism, and wealth become the only motivations, they tend to stifle the profound aspirations of man so that little by little he loses all sense of fellowship and community. — Jean Vanier

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Communion is mutual trust, mutual belonging; it is the to-and-fro movement of love between two people where each one gives and each one receives. Communion is not a fixed state, it is an ... — Jean Vanier

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Each human being, however small or weak, has something to bring to humanity. As we start to really get to know others, as we begin to listen to each other's stories, things begin to change. We begin the movement from exclusion to inclusion, from fear to trust, from closedness to openness, from judgment and prejudice to forgiveness and understanding. It is a movement of the heart. — Jean Vanier

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Trust is a beautiful form of love. When we are generous, we give money, time, knowledge. In trust, we give ourselves. But we can only give of ourselves if we trust that we will be well received by someone. At what moment is trust born? There was a secret moment, known only to Claudia, when she recognized that she was loved. With that realization, Claudia entered into a relationship of belonging. The opening of Claudia's heart brought about a new opening in Nadine's heart, bringing her out of her own loneliness. That moment was the birth of communion between them. — Jean Vanier

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If we are to grow in love, the prisons of our egoism must be unlocked. This implies suffering, constant effort and repeated choices. — Jean Vanier

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We don't know what to do with our own pain, so what to do with the pain of others? We don't know what to do with our own weakness except hide it or pretend it doesn't exist. So how can we welcome fully the weakness of another if we haven't welcomed our own weakness? — Jean Vanier

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I am convinced that in the present time, in spite of the difficulties man has to meet another in a state of oblation, communion and gift of self, there are latent hidden forces in him which can be awakened in order to enable him to discover and live this reality of love and fidelity. In order to really penetrate into this mystery of the union of the couple, it is essential that each one acquire an interior maturity, a maturity that is perhaps rare. I would add that in order to be truly united and to remain truly faithful to one another, the couple must listen and be open to the Spirit of God who has reserved for Himself the science of the heart. The heart of man is satisfied only by the Infinite and to discover this Infinite in union he must open himself to the Spirit of God, a spirit of giving, of receiving. The union between the two spouses can thus deepen to such an extent that they enter in a mystical manner into the very life of God Himself. — Jean Vanier

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Stop looking for peace. Give yourselves where you are. Stop looking at yourselves, look instead at your brothers and sisters in need. Ask how you can better love your brothers and sisters. Then you will find peace. — Jean Vanier

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There is a struggle inside you between these two parts. It's as if at times your heart becomes a battlefield! The secret part, full of light, seems so small and weak in the face of the discouraging and morbid part, which seems enormous and overwhelming. However, if you light a small candle in a dark room, everything is lit up. It is a matter of trusting in this little light in the deepest part of your being which can gradually chase away the darkness. — Jean Vanier

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It was loneliness and insecurity that had brought Claudia to the chaos of madness. It was community, love, and friendship that finally brought her inner peace. This movement from chaos to inner peace, from self - hate to self - trust, began when Claudia realized that she was loved. — Jean Vanier

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Claudia lived a horrible form of madness which should not be idealized or seen as a gateway to another world. In l'Arche, we have learned from our own experience of healing, as well as through the help of psychiatrists and psychologists, that chaos, or "madness," has meaning; it comes from somewhere, it is comprehensible. Madness is an immense cry, a sickness. It is a way of escaping when the stress of being in a world of pain is too great. Madness is an escape from anguish. But there is an order in the disorder that can permit healing, if only it can be found. — Jean Vanier

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Our danger is to think that happiness will come from outside of us, from the things we possess or the power of our group, and not from within us, from the inner sanctuary of our being. — Jean Vanier

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Community as belonging ...
In many groups of people and clubs of all sorts (political, sports, leisure, liberal professions, etc.) people find a sense of security. They are happy to find others like themselves. They receive comfort one from another, and they encourage one another in their ways. But frequently there is a certain elitism. They are convinced that they are better than others. And, of course, not everyone can join the club; people have to qualify. Frequently these groups give security and a sense of belonging but they do not encourage personal growth. Belonging in such groups is not for becoming.
You can often tell the people who belong to a particular club, group or community by what they wear, especially on feast days, or by their hairstyle, their jargon or accent or by badges and colours of some sort. Grouping seems to need symbols which express the fact that they are one tribe, one family, one group. — Jean Vanier

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The language of elitism smells bad! It is not healthy to believe that we are the only ones to have captured truth and even less healthy to condemn others. — Jean Vanier

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The poor are always prophetic. As true prophets always point out, they reveal God's design. That is why we should take time to listen to them. And that means staying near them, because they speak quietly and infrequently; they are afraid to speak out, they lack confidence in themselves because they have been broken and oppressed. But if we listen to them, they will bring us back to the essential. — Jean Vanier

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We will only stay in community if we have gone through the passage from choosing community to knowing that we have been chosen for community. — Jean Vanier

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Growth begins when we begin to accept our own weakness. — Jean Vanier

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Community means caring: caring for people. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says: "He who loves community destroys community; he who loves the brethren builds community." A community is not an abstract ideal. — Jean Vanier

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Growth will come as we come closer to people who are different from us and as we learn to welcome and listen even to those who trigger off our pain. — Jean Vanier

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We can be seduced ... by powerful political groups that promise more wealth and lower taxes. Those with power can use clever, psychological tricks and play upon our weaknesses and brokenness in order to attract us to their way of thinking. We can be manipulated into illusion. — Jean Vanier

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The second call

The first call is frequently to follow Jesus or to prepare ourselves to do wonderful and noble things for the Kingdom. We are appreciated and admired by family, by friends or by the community. The second call comes later, when we accept that we cannot do big or heroic things for Jesus; it is a time of renunciation, humiliation and humility. We feel useless; we are no longer appreciated. If the first passage is made at high noon, under a shining sun, the second call is often made at night. We feel alone and are afraid because we are in a world of confusion. We begin to doubt the commitment we made in the light of day. We seem deeply broken in some way. But this suffering is not useless. Through the renunciation we can reach a new wisdom of love. It is only through the pain of the cross that we discover what the resurrection means. — Jean Vanier

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People in community sometimes believe that they know better than the others, or see themselves as 'saviours'. Community discernment implies that all members, or at least all those with responsibility, try together to discover its direction and the important things it is to do. The vital thing is that discernment is approached without passion, so that no one feels the need to convince others or to impose particular notions. If everyone listens to each other's ideas, the truth will gradually and calmly emerge. This can take a long time, but it is worthwhile, because once a decision has been made, each member of the community will have a personal commitment to the project. — Jean Vanier

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Children like Claudia, children who flee from relationships into a world of their own and who are unable to communicate verbally, need to be understood in a special way. It takes time and a great deal of attention, as well as wisdom and help from professionals, in order to learn how to interpret their cries and their body language which reveal the desires and needs they cannot name. — Jean Vanier

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When we love and respect people, revealing to them their value, they can begin to come out from behind the walls that protect them. — Jean Vanier

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When people say that they can only obey an authority in which they have total confidence, they are looking for an ideal father. . . . If the condition of obedience is emotional trust, the way is open to anarchy and the possible death of the community. — Jean Vanier

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To reveal someone's beauty is to reveal their value by giving them time, attention, and tenderness. To love is not just to do something for them but to reveal to them their own uniqueness, to tell them that they are special and worthy of attention. — Jean Vanier

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In any case, community is not about perfect people. It is about people who are bonded to each other, each of whom is a mixture of good and bad, darkness and light, love and hate. — Jean Vanier

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Prayer is a meeting which nourishes our hearts. It is presence and communion. The secret of our being is in this kiss of God by which we know we are loved and forgiven. In our deepest selves, below the levels of action and understanding, there is a vulnerable heart, a child who loves but is afraid to love. Silent prayer nourishes this deep place. — Jean Vanier

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That is the fundamental question; how to trust that she has a heart and that she can, little by little, receive love, be transformed by love, and then give love. — Jean Vanier

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Have patience ...
It is difficult to get people to understand that the ideal doesn't exist, that personal equilibrium and the harmony they dream of comes only after years and years of struggle, and even then only as flashes of grace and peace.
Loving is not only a voluntary act which involves controlling and overcoming our own sensibilities - that is just the beginning. It also demands a purified heart and feelings which go out spontaneously to the other. These deep purifications can only come through a gift of God, a grace which springs from the deepest part of ourselves, where the Holy Spirit lives. "I will give them a new heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 11:19). — Jean Vanier

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People may come to our communities because they want to serve the poor; they will only stay once they have discovered that they themselves are poor. — Jean Vanier

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Community, a place of healing and growth ...
There are more and more groups today oriented towards issues and causes ... They can become very aggressive and divide the world between oppressors and the oppressed, the good and the bad. There seems to be a need in human beings to see evil and combat it outside oneself, in order not to see it inside oneself.
The difference between a community and a group that is only issue-oriented, is that the latter see the enemy outside the group. The struggle is an external one; and there will be a winner and a loser. The group knows it is right and has the truth, and wants to impose it. The members of a community know that the struggle is inside of each person and inside the community; it is against all the powers of pride, elitism, hate and depression that are there and which hurt and crush others, and which cause division and war of all sorts. The enemy is inside, not outside. — Jean Vanier

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The fear of failure, of feeling helpless and unable to cope, had been built up in me ever since my childhood. I had to be a success. I had to prove my worth. I had to be right. This need to succeed and to be accepted, even admired by my parents and by those whom I considered my "superiors," was a strong motivating force in me and is a motivation at the heart of many human endeavours. — Jean Vanier

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The belly laugh is the best way to evacuate anguish. — Jean Vanier

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Sometimes it is easier to hear the cries of poor people who are far away than it is to hear the cries of our brothers and sisters in our own community. There is nothing very splendid in responding to the cry of the person who is with us day after day and who gets on our nerves. Perhaps too we can only respond to the cries of others when we have recognized and accepted the cry of our own pain. — Jean Vanier

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At the heart of the celebration, there are the poor. If [they] are excluded, it is not longer a celebration. [ ... ] A celebration must always be a festival of the poor. — Jean Vanier