Tag Archives: Jean Vanier

4 July, What do the Saints Know? Part II, 4: HOPE: The Gift of Filial Fear

The image of God having a ‘lap’ that we looked at in the last post chimes with the gift of the Holy Spirit that strengthens hope. St. Thomas calls the gift “filial fear” (II.II.19:9) – the fear not of a slave for his master, but of a son/daughter, “whereby”, he continues, “what we fear is not that God may fail to help us, but that we might withdraw ourselves from his help. Wherefore filial fear and hope cling together, and perfect one another.”

This reminds me of something Jean Vanier* said in a talk once that I was privileged to hear. He said that the only thing to fear in our relationship with God is not that we might get angry with God over the sufferings we are going through. Anger with God isn’t the problem. It is the fact that we might just start to ‘tune God out’ he said, just stop turning to Him, stop praying to Him, just switch off. This fear of switching God off is an excellent description of ‘filial fear’. The saints know themselves. They know that they are at risk of turning away from God. They don’t want to.

This loving language of leaning and clinging that St. Thomas uses in writing of hope suggests connaturality again. In the virtue of hope, it becomes connatural to lean more on God than on the self. We’re looking for the kind of mentality the saints have. A certain peaceful leaning-on-God-mentality must be what becomes connatural to them as hope grows within them.

SJC

*Jean Vanier, born in 1928, is a Catholic philosopher, theologian and author. In 1964 he founded L’Arche, an international federation of communities for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. His vision was that disabled individuals would live together in community as equals with those who are not disabled, in a sharing of life and of gifts that is profoundly healing and enriching for all community members. There are now L’Arche communities spread over thirty-seven countries. Jean Vanier has authored at least thirty books on religion, disability, community, human development. He has received numerous honours and awards, including the Community of Christ International Peace Award (2003), and the Templeton Prize (2015).

Images from L’Arche in India, England and Syria.

 

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A letter from Jean Vanier

jean.v.letter

Dear Friends, we have received this letter from Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche. To read the whole letter, click on the link.

WT.

I have often shared my wonder for the birds, but this time I am going to speak to you about the flowers.

Now, in early May, we have the sun and nice weather. Every day, I take a walk in my little garden, with my eyes looking down because I have to be careful where I walk: this means I notice the primroses.

201805-EN-LetterJV

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The Latest News from L’Arche at Asha Vani in India.

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Here is more news from the L’Arche Community called Asha Vani in India.

Tension is Good?

Jean Vanier said, “Communities need tensions if they are to grow and deepen. …Every tension, every crisis can become a source of new life if we approach it wisely, or it can bring death and division.” At Asha Niketan Nandi Bazar we have moments of grace and moments of challenge. I n the midst of tension, it is easy to feel sad, lonely, or angry (or all three). We must learn how to recognize and be present to these feelings in a healthy way. If we do not, they will begin to take joy and love from our own lives and the lives of those around us. In communities like Asha Niketan, this can be dangerous. We must use our challenges to help us practice patience, understanding, and communication. We must remember: every challenge creates an opportunity for growth; every challenge helps us to see the truth; and every challenge invites us to lean deeper into God’s love.

Bypass Update

As many of you know, we have been attempting to change the alignment of the Nandhi-Chengottukavu Bypass Road. Thanks to many efforts, a new alignment has been released that effects our community with less drastic results. We will lose land and a few older buildings ; however, we will be able to remain functioning as a community. Still, there are many persons

protesting the bypass completely. We wait to see what comes of these protests.

Feet Washing

Every year our community holds a feet washing ceremony, an important tradition upheld by L’Arche communities all over the world. This ceremony is from theChristian tradition, and imitates the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet on Holy Thursday. It is incredibly symbolic to Asha

Niketan ’s values of justice and equality. As we wash each other ’s feet, we are reminded that God created us to be equals, and to help one another as friends.

40 Year Celebration

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all those who supported and attended our 40th Anniversary Celebration on January 27th! Important messages, dance performances, musical performances, and an intentional drama made for a celebratory event. Thank you to everyone in the community for their the hard work and commitment. We recognize that the

event was not perfect, of course, but we would like to express our apologies for areas that were not considered well. Yet, the celebration aside, we are thankful to have lived a vibrant forty years of community life. Much has changed over the years, and more change is surely to come, yet our mission will remain the same : to be a sign of hope in the world that peace is possible. We will continue to be “home of hope” where people with and without intellectual disabilities can realize and practice theirgifts. And with this, we look forward to the next full and fantastic forty years to come.

Thikkodi Sports Day

On December 3rd, the community made its way to Thikkodi Beach for some friendly competition to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It was a long day full of sun, sweat, sand, and fun! Community members participated in events such as races, jumping competitions, and musical chairs. Each competition brought laughter and joy, leaving everyone feeling like a winner. Check out a short video on our YouTube channel!

Christmas and New Years

The community celebrated vibrant and cheerful Christmas and New Years celebrations.

With Christmas day came a full program which included family, friends, songs, prayer, a drama, dancing, gifts, and, of course, food. It was quite the day! New Years was a bit more relaxed with a smaller celebration between residential members on the evening of December 31st.

On Januar y 19 th we lost one of our beloved community members, Pajeesh. He shared life with us for over 18 years, and he will remain present in our hearts for years to come. His passing left us all fondly reflecting on moments, gifts, and lessons shared from his friendship. Prajeesh’s presence is deeply missed, but we know he has been welcomed into an infinitely joyful and loving community above.

Rest In Peace, Prajeesh

Happy Welcome

Over the past few months, we have said both, “Farewell” and “Welcome” to a number of community members. To those who have left the community, we wish you peace and success in the next step of your journey.

As for our newcomers, we wish you a warm and happy welcome! Aswanth, Ragesh, and Muhammad Salmin have been welcomed as core members in our day programmes. It has been exciting to see them begin to find their place, and offer their gifts. Vishnu has been welcomed as a residential core member in Deepalayam house, where he has brought a lively and playful spirit. Additionally, we have embraced two new assistants and one volunteer. Baskar has become an assistant in Prabalayam house, where he has shown a strong work ethic, as well as aptitude for fun and friendship. Felna has become an assistant in Anandalayam house, where she has brought a positive, youthful, and patient presence to the quiet home. And lastly, we have welcomed P raveena for a short term volunteer position, and she has been a joyful, confident, and helpful presence.

It is a joy to grow alongside these newcomers, and witness their gifts being discovered and shared with our community.

Community Founder Visit

In December we were graced with a visit from Chris Sadler the community’s founder! Her presence was inspiring and eye-opening. She has a beautiful connection with many community members, and, having been involved from the community’s beginning, she offers a unique perspective on our way of life. Thanks to her visit, we were able to share in some special moments and fun activities, and also open our eyes to areas where we are in need of adjustment and growth. We are so thankful for her inspiring storytelling, constructive suggestions, gentle encouragements, and, of course, her lovely laughter!

It was so hard to say goodbye. We wish her nothing but peace, joy, and presence for all her days.

(Note : Listen to her message to the community on our YouTube page, or read the transcription below)

Cinema Outing

I n February we took a group of over 60 community members out for lunch, a small program, and a movie. Needless to say, it was quite the outing! A ll were happy to share some time together outside the community grounds, and we even managed to grab the attention of the local news! How could we not with such a vibrant group ?

National Assembly 2017-2018

In January, representatives from Asha Niketan communitiesall over India came together for a week of formation and meetings at the annual National Assembly held this year in Calicut. L’Arche International Co-Leader, Stephan Posner, his wife, Yaël Posner, and L’Arche Asia Delegate, Tim Kearney, were also present. Yaël and our own international volunteer, Parker, headed the formation for the Core Member group throughout the week. Parker said, “This was a very special opportunity. We were from all over the world, and, despite our differences, we were able to foster legitimate relationships through creating art, taking walks, singing, dancing, eating, praying, and simply sitting together. I think we all learned a lot. ” There certainly was a lot of relationship building , learning, and sitting together for everyone throughout the week. Thank you to our leaders and the staff at SRC Christ Hall who worked hard to make it a success !

L’Arche International Co-Leader Visit

With the National Assembly being held so close to home, this means we were lucky enough to receive a visit from one of the L’Arche International Leaders, Stephan, and his wife, Yaël. They stayed with us for two nights and shared some special moments with our community. One evening, Stephan gave us some words of encouragement. He looked at Lancy, our eldest community member, and said, “This man is changing the world.” He was reminding us that we change the world one person at a time by building real mutual relationships with one another. Within these relationships we experience a personal change that opens our hearts and minds to greater understanding — hopefully one of greater gentleness, justice, and love. This change then spreads out into the world as we live out our lives with this new vision and energy. Needless to say, their visit was a very memorable experience for each

one of us !

National Leader Visit

We were happy to welcome Rajeevan at the beginning of March for his annual ivsit to our community. He held meetings with all the members of the community over the course of a few days. P rasannan, a core member from Prahbalayam House, talked with excitement for many days leading up to his meeting with Rajeevan. And although not many of us can match Prasannan’s excitement for meetings, meetings with Rajeevan are never dreaded because of the sincere concern, wise encouragement, and genuine conversation he always shares. We are thankful to have had him visit, and we are thankful to have him as our National Leader.

Tour Programmes

In March we went on two tours. One group went to Bangalore for three days, where they enjoyed a stay with the Asha Niketan Bangalore community. During their stay, they visited Lalbagh Park , the local zoo and safari, the local markets, and Infant Jesus Shrine. We cannot thank those at AN Bangalore enough for their very generous welcome and hospitality. Later, an additional group enjoyed a single day tour relaxing on a local houseboat. It was a full day of time shared togetherwith scenic views and a cool breeze off the water. Thank you to all who organized these successful and joyful tours!

A Message From Our Founder, Chr is Sadler

Greetings to you all.

Some people are kind enough to honor me with the name of Founder of Asha Niketan in Nandi Bazar, but this is not quite true. God is the foundation of all our lives. And there are many people behind me whom I would like to remember: Mr. Premanand who gave us the land, Gabriel who really helped to develop Asha Niketan in India, and Mr. Jayaprekash who was very helpful to me when I arrived in Calicut. And also Jean Vanier who founded L’Arche, and was a great inspiration to all of us.

Beside me are Subbaiyan, Gnanam, and Kanaran, and Haneefa and Unni, and also Mithran, Viswanthan, Lancy Ettan, and Remesh. I would like to say a few things, especially in honor of these four people with whom I have shared so many years.Viswanthan, who was the first of our founders to leave us from this earth, came from the mental hospital, came from a place of great degradation, and he amazingly brought to me and to many a spirit of resilience, cou rage, and joy. And Mithran, who came to us from Payyoli, and who has among many other things taught me to face my own fears. And Remesh, who struggled with inner voices and a whole history of bullying and rejection, but who taught me a lot about the funny side of life. And also how to keep dreaming and hoping . And I also want to remember Lancy Ettan whose gentleness has transformed many of us, and changed us into people who learn to listen to one another and care in the most gentle way, and then begin to treat ourselves and others with the same gentleness.

So these are the people I remember beside me as we started this community.

And now I want to remember and give thanks for all those who are in front of us. That is you. Each one of you is important. Each one of you matters. Each one of you has something unique to bring to our world. More than ever our world needs respect and healing . We need peace and joy, and the welcome of our differences. Our world needs us to be the best that we

can be.

Once Viswanthan was asked by a visitor, “To which God do you pray here?” And Viswanthan, in his inimitable capacity to be profound, said, “I do not know which God, all I know is that we pray in the light.” And a nother time he sang with h is whole heart, “Oh God, Oh God, I am here because of your love.” May our hope, our “asha,” be always

in light and in love. That’s it.

+91 49626 91620

ashacltnandi@gmail.com

Community Leader Noelia : noegrifell@hotmail.com

Chairman Dr. Sreedharan : drsridar@yahoo.co. in

ashaniketancalicutnandhibazar.org

@ashaniketannandibazar

Asha Niketan Nandi Bazar

Thank you for reading!

Want to Help?

Our community is always open to donations. At the moment we are looking for someone to donate some wooden furniture in both of our male residential homes. We have a number of

plastic chairs that are unable to withstand the daily use from community members. If you have furniture you would like to donate, or would like to sponsor new furniture, please contact our office by phone or email !

Additionally, all are excited for the coming Vishu holiday. If you arefeeling generous and would like to donate a Vishu gift to community members, we would be very excited to

accept! Core members are always in need of items such as clothing, soap, and other daily amenities. That said, all at Asha Niketan Nandi Bazar wish you a very joyful V ishu !

 

 

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September 2: L’Arche and Care VII -The roots of L’Arche.

Larmes de silence: Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier’s Tears of Silence (DLT, 1973) is the earliest book about L’Arche that I know, As an appendix he has a speech given at Church House in 1972, from which this is an extract.

This is the problem. We have created a society that rejects the weak. This is a terrible indictment of any society. It is a wonderful thing when you put your arms out in a welcoming attitude to a handicapped person; then something happens: his eyes begin to believe and his heart begins to dance and he begins in some way to become our teacher. . .

I begin to discover something: that this wounded person, a distorted face, a crippled hand, that the way the handicapped person looks at me, approaches me – all this does something to me, the wounded person calls me forth. And being called forth, I discover that I can bring him up some tiny little way.

The vocabulary has changed over forty years, but the message is clear. And although big subnormality hospitals are largely consigned to history, our society still rejects the weak, to the extent that parents will be put under tremendous pressure to abort a baby known to have Down’s syndrome.

We need to return, not so much to the 2oth century roots of L’Arche, but to the 1st Century roots of L’Arche, the Joyful Good News we are sent to proclaim to all nations.

(Tears of Silence is on sale in French and English through Abe Books.)

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August 28: Caring and L’Arche II – Reclaiming Care, part 1.

50.40. pilgrimage

James Cuming leads the Canterbury-based L’Arche Kent Community. Today and tomorrow we have his thoughts on ‘Care’ as it is lived out in L’Arche.

“Care”. The word promises so much yet its outworking can be so clinical.

L’Arche is an intentional faith community of mutually concerned, crazily diverse human beings. But we’re also an accredited, approved, qualified, rigorously inspected agency of health and social care. We’re a service provider and we deliver our service to service users. We practise care on clients. We’re a delivery agency, a utility company. Customer satisfaction is important to us. Why? Because we’re G-R-R-R-EAT! Because you’re worth it. Because I’m lovin’ it.

When did care move from being a verb to become a noun? When did care stop being something you felt and became something you delivered – a commodity – something to be traded, quality assured, ‘rigorously tested’, measured, accredited. When did society first start ‘doing’ care to people?

I’m being facetious. Care as a noun of course has a valid and entirely different definition to that of the verb. Providing ‘care’ to someone with particular needs enables the individual to live life with more freedom and independence which in turn offers more opportunity for them to care about—and be cared—for by another human being.

The great observation by Jean Vanier 50 years ago which led to the founding of the first L’Arche community was something so simple and obvious that it almost makes you wonder what all the fuss is about: when two people are genuinely and mutually concerned for one another, involved with one another, care for one another, both will change, both will grow.

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