Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Wisdom of Tenderness: Jean Vanier on Lived Compassion, L'Arche, and Becoming Human

From NPR's On Being with Krista Tippett, this is a replay of an engaging and uplifiting conversation with Jean Vanier, a Canadian Catholic philosopher turned theologian, humanitarian, and the founder of L'Arche, an international federation of group homes for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them.

Via Wikipedia:
In recognition of his contributions and humanness to the marginalized, Jean Vanier has received numerous distinctions and awards including the Companion of the Order of Canada, the Legion of Honour (France) and many awards from faith groups, among them the Paul VI International Prize, the Community of Christ International Peace Award, the Rabbi Gunther Plaut Humanitarian Award and the Gaudium et Spes Award. The asteroid 8604 was officially named Vanier in his honour in 2010.[6] He received the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award in 2013.[7]

The Wisdom of Tenderness: Jean Vanier on Lived Compassion, L'Arche, and Becoming Human

August 22, 2013

Considered by some to be a living saint, Jean Vanier created L'Arche, a model of community for people with mental disabilities that celebrates power in smallness and light in the darkness of human existence. The French Canadian philosopher and Catholic social innovator speaks about his understanding of humanity and God that has been shaped by Aristotle, Mother Teresa, and people who would once have been locked away from society.

Recommended Reading

Heart of L'Arche: A Spirituality for Every Day (L'Arche Collection)
Author: Jean Vanier
Publisher: Crossroad Publishing Company (1995)
Binding: Paperback, 96 pages

Becoming Human
Author: Jean Vanier
Publisher: Paulist Pr (1999)

Becoming Human is one of Jean Vanier's most beloved books, providing insight into his theology, anthropology, and spirit. And, The Heart of L'Arche (out of print but available used) is his lovely, slim history and introduction to L'Arche.

Links and Resources

L'Arche Internationale
This multilingual site serves as a great introduction to the mission, vision, and scope of the the worldwide movement that Vanier founded and now has roots in 131 communities. 
L'Arche USA
The central Web site for the 16 L'Arche communities in the United States. Pay attention to the photo gallery and letters to the communities from Jean Vanier, which are particularly compelling. 
Faith and Light (Foi et Lumiere)
Vanier also co-founded this worldwide association of organizations working to encourage people with disabilities in their spiritual lives.

"Journey to L’Arche"
Dutch Catholic priest and prolific spiritual author Henri Nouwen spent his professional life teaching at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard. But in the last decade of his life he lived at L'Arche Daybreak, near Toronto, Canada. Here's a sermon he gave on "meeting God in a whole new way" through being a member of this community.


In the Room with Jean Vanier

From a converted farmhouse at the Bishop Claggett Center in rural Maryland, a rare interview with Jean Vanier. Watch his conversation with Krista Tippett and observe how he speaks with his whole body, especially his hands.

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