Jean Vanier's Letter

Jean Vanier shares with us his joy at living with those who are weak and his new book.

Since the beginnings of L’Arche (August 1964), Jean Vanier has always wanted to communicate what he was living, wishing to create a network of friendship and fraternity, focused on those who are most marginalized in our societies – people living with an intellectual disability.   Through circular letters, he also wanted to thank those who generously supported him in the adventure of L’Arche.  In his latest such letter, that of August 2012 – that is 48 years after the founding of L’Arche – we find in him the same desire for unity, a sense of gratitude which is continually renewed and a significant network of friends and supporters.  Jean Vanier who has lived with the poorest among us, inspires in us an extraordinary sense of the human family

Here are some extracts from his letter. To read more

Life shared with those who are most fragile

«The weakest and most vulnerable people that we welcome to L’Arche and Faith and Light are extraordinary teachers. To live together is a moment of grace. And their poverty- sometimes so radical- has made me discover my own equally radical poverty: my fears, the obstacles preventing me from loving tenderly. These links that bind me to each person have opened up my heart, giving me a strength in love that makes patience and the other demands, (bearing all, etc.) easier and lighter. Through these ties of the heart, the support of the community and at times of professionals, but first and foremost through the Holy Spirit and the grace of God, everything becomes possible. But this does not preclude occasional struggles, those moments of tiredness or discouragement, which are more or less bearable. It is the same for us all. For me, life with those who are often seen as the lowest of the low is leading me to rise up with a joy that comes from God. »

A new book

«In the month of October, a new book of mine will come out: a book that is a bit different: “Les signes des temps à la lumière de Vatican II” («The signs of the times in the light of Vatican II»). This book, based on some interviews I’ve done, has already been published in Italy. Albin Michel, a publisher in Paris, came across it and wanted to publish it in France with some modifications and corrections. Here are some of the chapter headings which give you an idea of the contents: “From humiliation to humility, from normalization to transformation, from exclusion to meeting, from power to authority, from isolation to community, from the secret to the mystery.” They are reflections on events that I have lived and do still live in a society where we risk losing what it means to be human, and where the weak are so often despised. In rejecting them we reject our own weakness and littleness, we reject our own selves. We then live according to a false self: a desire to be the best, to be applauded, to climb higher in rank and power and property. Faith and Light and L’Arche lead us to discover that it is in going down deeper into ourselves, down into our heart of hearts, in our society and in our Church that we find life and light. Isn’t that the good news of the Gospel?»