Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Living in Community

Jean Vanier was born in Canada. After his career as a naval officer, he felt moved to change his life. He earned a doctorate in moral philosophy and in 1964 invited two men with Down's Syndrome to leave the institution and live with him. The simple act has turned into the L'Arche movement. The relationships he developed changed his life.

"Living with men and women with mental disabilities has helped me discover what it means to live in communion (community)with someone. 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 capcity 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 yourself." We all know well that we can do things for others and in the process crush them, making them feel that they are incapable of doing things by themselves. To love someone is to reveal to them their capacity for life, the light that is shining in them.

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