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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Our Personal Poverty

"We cannot be compassionate unless we are aware of our own shortcomings - our poverty. We cannot enter into the suffering of another if we have not accepted our own suffering and the fact that we too are on the road to death. This is the reality of our common creatureliness and dependence. Only when we discover that God forgives our sin and rebellion can we begin to forgive the sin and rebellion of others. If we remain unaware of our sinfulness and therefore unaware of the mercy of God, we are in danger of going to the poor as a 'have' doing good to the 'have nots'. The recipient of our 'generosity' may be grateful for any help and advice, but will not feel that he or she has been deeply understood. We cannot approach the suffering of others unless we have suffered ourselves." Excerpt from 'A Door of Hope' by Jean Vanier

Acclaimed as the 'Canadian who inspires the world' (Maclean's Magazine) and 'Nation Builder of the Year' (The Globe and Mail, 2008), Jean Vanier is the founder of the international movement of L'Arche communities, where people who have developmental disabilities and the friends who assist them create homes and share life together. Jean Vanier has become a leader in consciousness-raising about the suffering of all who are marginalised. He is internationally recognised for his compelling vision of what it means to live a fully human life and for his social and spiritual leadership in building a compassionate society. He has written a number of best selling books. He resides in the original L'Arche community in France, when he is not travelling and speaking. A spokesperson for all who are marginalised, Jean Vanier has received many humanitarian awards.

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