Jean Vanier and companion.
"Let us never seek what appears to be great in the eyes of creatures... The only thing that is not envied is the last place." - S. Therese
Fr. Martin posted about a new video from Jean Vanier 'about the need to embrace human weakness, our own and others.'
In my opinion, Jean Vanier is a little soul - in the Theresian sense - much like Bl. Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity, as well as Madeleine Delbrel and many other hidden souls. Vanier expands the definition of ordinary life, to include the simple, the weakest of us. The imperfect, those some regard as defective.
I haven't watched the latest video as yet, but I read a wonderful interview in America from last year, and I'll share some thoughts Vanier shared during his interview with Sean Salai, S.J..
What gifts do mentally handicapped persons bring to society?
They have beautiful hearts, they don’t have big heads, they’re not people who want to know things. What they want to know is: “Do you love me?” Maybe that is what we all want to know: “Do you love me?” Maybe that is the heart of the Christian message: that Jesus loves us and therein is our joy. That is what people with disabilities reveal to us. That is the only one important thing; that it be revealed that Jesus loves me.
What is the philosophy of L’Arche?
The philosophy of L’Arche is very simple. The important thing is that people who have been pushed aside and humiliated, need to be shown that they are precious. So it’s living together in community that we reveal to each other that “you’re precious.” The wonderful thing is that when we live with people with disabilities, not only are they transformed because they discover they’re loved, but we also are transformed. That is the secret of the philosophy of L’Arche: that we transform each other in helping each other to become more human and more like Jesus.
Who are your role models in the Catholic faith, either living or dead?
The real role model is Jesus and he is revealed to us in the Gospels. We see how he lived, and the parables he told. For example, take the parable of the Good Samaritan where Jesus says: “do what he did,” that’s to say be compassionate. Jesus is an incredible role model and he teaches us to love each other as he loves. We only have to look at Jesus through the Gospel message to see how we are called to live.
What have you learned from living with the intellectually handicapped?
I have learned that the message of Jesus is really a question of humility. The incredible thing about Jesus is that he was with God, he was God, and he descended and became a human being. Not only did he become a human being, but he accepted to be rejected and crucified. The incredible thing is that these little people teach us how to grow in humility, and humility is to enter into a relationship with people who have been humiliated. It’s a beautiful way to learn how to live the Gospel message. - America
How to follow the little way ...
"It is to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God as a little child expects everything from its father; it is to be disquieted about nothing, and not to be set on gaming our living. ... To be little is not attributing to oneself the virtues that one practices. ... It is not to become discouraged over one's faults, for children stumble and fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much." - St. Therese
"Therese believed that God frequently allows us to experience in ourselves the same weaknesses which we deplore in others,,, [Thus] when we see ourselves fallen into those faults we are then more prompt to excuse them in others." - My Sister St. Therese, Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face
"'Sometimes it happens,' she went on, 'that despite their best efforts, some souls remain imperfect because it would be to their spiritual detriment to believe they are virtuous or to have others agree that they are.'" - ibid