Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pope Francis was fortunate enough to meet Jean Vanier.



I'm sure Vanier felt the honor was his - but I suspect the Holy Father felt just as privileged.

Jean Vanier, is the founder of l'Arche, the organization where people without disabilities share the lives of those who are disabled.  They live together in community, they work together and serve one another - they share their lives together.

Before meeting with the Holy Father, Vanier was interviewed by Vatican Radio.  he had this to say:

He acknowledged a general malaise in the Church when ministering to people with disabilities. “Many people feel embarrassed before people with disability,” he said, adding that there are still priests who refuse to give Communion to people with disabilities.

“There is still work to do,” he said.

Many people also believe that one has to be a specialist to relate to people with disability. But the only need, he said, is to be human and to relate with the other with simplicity of heart.

He described Pope Francis as “super” in reference to his words and gestures regarding people with disability.

“He is the Pope of encounter in the profound sense of seeing the other as a human being, without judging,” said Vanier. “And I think he is teaching us that encounter is not about converting people or telling them something… but about looking at the other the way Jesus looks at them, with tenderness, kindness and love.” - Vatican Radio

There are one or two people with disabilities at the Mass I attend.  Sometimes they are loud and get excited.  I'm so happy they are there.  I love the variety of persons at the Masses I attend - even the noise they make.  Nothing is a distraction any longer, because we are together in prayer and worship and Holy Communion.  We are together.  Father gives Holy Communion to all who approach - the disabled - and me too.  

4 comments:

  1. Jean Vanier's "Daily Thoughts" from the L'Arche foundation are very inspiring. I usually send the ones most inspiring to my friends, acquaintances and family. I have heard some of his talks on "y outube" too, both in English and French; it's wonderful to find someone who cares about the people most neglected in this world. Thanks very much for the post, Terry. God bless you and ALL yr. readers..

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  2. Terry! Thank you so much for posting this. I have been waiting to hear that the two had finally met. So much of Franicis' language reminds me of Vanier's. I will have to look for more about their meeting. Living with a loved one with significant cognitive and behavior disabilities keeps me tuned in to all of this. My son won't sit through Mass, but he prays for people at the drop of a hat frequently throughout the day.
    Keep on writing. I like the surprise of what you will post next! Thank you for your hard work.

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  3. Love this post. My uncle had Down Syndrome. I am happy that he made his First Holy Communion when he was in his early teens. There is a young woman in our parish with DS. Her parents bring her to Mass every week. When her mom or dad take her up for Communion they have to make sure she gets a small piece of the Host so she won't choke. Sometimes this holds up the line for a minute or so but I am always happy she is able to receive. Someone asked me if she should receive if she doesn't know what (Who) she is receiving and I just said to them - she is closer to God than you or I will probably ever be in this life.

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  4. We should all aspire to be like Monsieur Vanier. He is a living saint, and I have great admiration, respect, and love for him.

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