96+ Best Jean Vanier Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Jean Vanier CC GOQ was a Canadian Catholic philosopher and theologian. In 1964, he founded L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 countries for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. Profoundly inspirational Jean Vanier quotes will brighten up your day and make you feel ready to take on anything.

If you’re searching for quotes from greatest philosophers that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of famous John Ruskin quotes, top Meister Eckhart quotes and greatest Rudolf Steiner quotes.

Famous Jean Vanier Quotes

When we love and respect people, revealing to them their value, they can begin to come out from behind the walls that protect them. — Jean Vanier

We have to remind ourselves constantly that we are not saviours. We are simply a tiny sign, among thousands of others, that love is possible, that the world is not condemned to a struggle between oppressors and oppressed, that class and racial warfare is not inevitable. — Jean Vanier

We all know well that we can do things for others and in the process crush them, making them feel that they are incapable of doing things by themselves. To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them. — Jean Vanier

Machines help us do things more quickly and efficiently, but they can also destroy some community activities. Machines can also throw the weakest people out of work and this would be sad, because their small contribution to the housework or cooking is their way of giving something to the community. People who are capable of doing things very quickly with the help of machines become tremendously busy, always active, in charge of everyone – a bit like machines themselves. — Jean Vanier

Community is not an ideal; it is people. It is you and I. In community we are called to love people just as they are with their wounds and their gifts, not as we want them to be. — Jean Vanier

Envy comes from people’s ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts. — Jean Vanier

I do not believe we can truly enter into our own inner pain and wounds and open our hearts to others unless we have had an experience of God, unless we have been touched by God. We must be touched by the Father in order to experience, as the prodigal son did, that no matter how wounded we may be, we are loved. And not only are we loved, but we too are called to heal and to liberate. This healing power in us will not come from our capacities and our riches, but in and through our poverty. We are called to discover that God can bring peace, compassion and love through our wounds. — Jean Vanier

A society which discards those who are weak and non-productive risks exaggerating the development of reason, organisation, aggression and the desire to dominate. It becomes a society without a heart, without kindness – a rational and sad society, lacking celebration, divided within itself and given to competition, rivalry and, finally, violence. — Jean Vanier

To be lonely is to feel unwanted and unloved, and therefor unloveable. Loneliness is a taste of death. No wonder some people who are desperately lonely lose themselves in mental illness or violence to forget the inner pain. — Jean Vanier

To love someone is not first of all to do things for them,but to reveal to them their beauty and value, to say to them through our attitude: ‘You are beautiful. You are important. I trust you. You can trust yourself.’ — Jean Vanier

There is a struggle inside you between these two parts. It’s as if at times your heart becomes a battlefield! The secret part, full of light, seems so small and weak in the face of the discouraging and morbid part, which seems enormous and overwhelming. However, if you light a small candle in a dark room, everything is lit up. It is a matter of trusting in this little light in the deepest part of your being which can gradually chase away the darkness. — Jean Vanier

We discover that we are at the same time very insignificant and very important, because each of our actions is preparing the humanity of tomorrow; it is a tiny contribution to the construction of the huge and glorious final humanity — Jean Vanier

When we begin to believe that there is greater joy in working with and for others, rather than just for ourselves, then our society will truly become a place of celebration. — Jean Vanier

A community that is growing rich and seeks only to defend its goods and its reputation is dying. It has ceased to grow in love. A community is alive when it is poor and its members feel they have to work together and remain united, if only to ensure that they can all eat tomorrow! — Jean Vanier

Put on light-coloured clothes and some perfume, take care of your body and do everything you can to fight against the forces of darkness. It is not an easy struggle, but it is worthwhile. — Jean Vanier

Loneliness is the fundamental force that urgees mystics to a deeper union with God… An experience of God quenches this thirst for the absolute but at the same time, paradoxiacally, whets it, because this is an experience that can never be total; by necessity, the knowledge of God is always partial. So loneliness opens up mystics to a desire to love each other and every human being as God loves them. — Jean Vanier

When we start helping the weak and the poor to rise everyone will begin to change. Those who have power and riches will start to become more humble, and those who are rising up will leave behind their need to be victims, their need to be angry or depressed….This is the spirituality of life, that helps people to rise up and take their place. It is not a spirituality of death. Jesus wants those who have been crushed to rise up and those who have power to discover that there is another road, a road of sharing and compassion. — Jean Vanier

The belly laugh is the best way to evacuate anguish. — Jean Vanier

But in another way, community is a terrible place. It is the place where our limitations and our egoism are revealed to us. When we begin to live full-time with others, we discover our poverty and our weakness, our inability to get on with people, our mental and emotional blocks . . . our seemingly insatiable desires, our frustrations and jealousies, our hatred and our wish to destroy. — Jean Vanier

Jesus is the starving, the parched, the prisoner, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the dying. Jesus is the oppressed, the poor. To live with Jesus is to live with the poor. To live with the poor is to live with Jesus. — Jean Vanier

I believe every act of violence is also a message that needs to be understood. Violence should not be answered just by greater violence but by real understanding. We must ask: ‘Where is the violence coming from? What is its meaning? — Jean Vanier

When children are loved, they live off trust; their bides and hearts open up to those who respect and love them, who understand and listen to them. — Jean Vanier

We who are rich are often demanding and difficult. We shut ourselves up in our apartments and may even use a watchdog to defend our property. Poor people, of course, have nothing to defend and often share the little they have. When people have all the material things they need, they seem not to need each other. They are self-sufficient. There is no interdependence. There is no love. — Jean Vanier

So we need places, laboratories, the creation of places which could be each one of our homes, where we invite people who are different, and we listen to each other, people of different class groups. — Jean Vanier

Community begins in mystery and ends in administration. Leaders move away from people and into paper. — Jean Vanier

The response to war is to live like brothers and sisters. The response to injustice is to share. The response to despair is a limitless trust and hope. The response to prejudice and hatred is forgiveness. To work for community is to work for humanity. To work for peace is to work for a true political solution; it is to work for the Kingdom of God. It is to work to enable every one to live and taste the secret joys of the human person united to the eternal. — Jean Vanier

Power always has a direction. It is always downward, towards the weak but power is often confused with what is right — Jean Vanier

When people love each other, they are content with very little. When we have light and joy in our hearts, we don’t need material wealth. The most loving communities are often the poorest. If our own life is luxurious and wasteful, we can’t approach poor people. If we love people, we want to identify with them and share with them. — Jean Vanier

A community is only a community when the majority of its members are making the transition from ‘the community for myself’ to ‘myself for the community’. — Jean Vanier

When we judge, we are pushing people away; we are creating a wall, a barrier. When we forgive we are destroying barriers, we come closer to others. — Jean Vanier

Every human being is a mixture of light and darkness, trust and fear, love and hate. — Jean Vanier

Each person is sacred, no matter what his or her culture, religion, handicap, or fragility. Each person is created in God’s image; each one has a heart, a capacity to love and to be loved. — Jean Vanier

Avoid the poison in your life that brings you turmoil. — Jean Vanier

At the heart of the celebration, there are the poor. If [they] are excluded, it is not longer a celebration. […] A celebration must always be a festival of the poor. — Jean Vanier

A Christian community should do as Jesus did: propose and not impose. Its attraction must lie in the radiance cast by the love of brothers. — Jean Vanier

The Word became flesh to communicate to us human beings caught in the mud, the pain, the fears and the brokenness of existence, the life, the joy, the communion, the ecstatic gift of love that is the source of all love and life and unity in our universe and that is the very life of God. — Jean Vanier

Every act of violence is also a message that needs to be understood. (23-24) — Jean Vanier

Prayer is like a secret garden made up of silence and rest and inwardness. But there are a thousand and one doors into this garden and we all have to find our own. — Jean Vanier

All of us have a secret desire to be seen as saints, heroes, martyrs. We are afraid to be children, to be ourselves. — Jean Vanier

There is nothing stronger than a heart which loves and is freely given. — Jean Vanier

So many in our world today are suffering from isolation, war and oppression. So much money is spent on the construction of armaments. Many, many young people are in despair because of the danger… — Jean Vanier

Every child, every person needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person, needs to be celebrated. Only when all of our weaknesses are accepted as part of our humanity can our negative, broken self-images be transformed. — Jean Vanier

To live with Jesus is to live with the poor. To live with the poor is to live with Jesus. — Jean Vanier

In the end, the most important thing is not to do things for people who are poor and in distress, but to enter into relationship with them, to be with them and help them find confidence in themselves and discover their own gifts. — Jean Vanier

Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don’t need a lot of money to be happy–in fact, the opposite. — Jean Vanier

It is only when we stand up, with all our failings and sufferings, and try to support others rather than withdraw into ourselves, that we can fully live the life of community. — Jean Vanier

If we love (the poor) people, we want to identify with them and share with them. — Jean Vanier

Look at your own poverty welcome it cherish it don’t be afraid share your death because thus you will share your love and your life — Jean Vanier

Growth begins when we start to accept our own weakness — Jean Vanier

Our danger is to think that happiness will come from outside of us, from the things we possess or the power of our group, and not from within us, from the inner sanctuary of our being. — Jean Vanier

In any case, community is not about perfect people. It is about people who are bonded to each other, each of whom is a mixture of good and bad, darkness and light, love and hate. — Jean Vanier

It is my belief that in our mad world where there is so much pain, rivalry, hatred, violence, inequality, and oppression, it is people who are weak, rejected, marginalized, counted as useless, who can become a source of life and of salvation for us as individuals as well as for our world. And it is my hope that each one of you may experience the incredible gift of the friendship of people who are poor and weak, that you too, may receive life from them. For they call us to love, to communion, to compassion and to community. — Jean Vanier

Life is a succession of crises and moments when we have to rediscover who we are and what we really want. — Jean Vanier

Every human activity can be put at the service of the divine and of love. We should all exercise our gift to build community. — Jean Vanier

Stop looking for peace. Give yourselves where you are. Stop looking at yourselves, look instead at your brothers and sisters in need. Ask how you can better love your brothers and sisters. Then you will find peace. — Jean Vanier

Love is to recognize that the other person is a person, is precious, is important and has value. — Jean Vanier

A community which refuses to welcome – whether through fear, weariness, insecurity, a desire to cling to comfort, or just because it is fed up with visitors – is dying spiritually. — Jean Vanier

People may come to our communities because they want to serve the poor; they will only stay once they have discovered that they themselves are poor. — Jean Vanier

A growing community must integrate three elements: a life of silent prayer, a life of service and above all of listening to the poor, and a community life through which all its members can grow in their own gift. — Jean Vanier

Love doesn’t mean doing extraordinary or heroic things. It means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness. — Jean Vanier

One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. — Jean Vanier

Communion is mutual trust, mutual belonging; it is the to-and-fro movement of love between two people where each one gives and each one receives. Communion is not a fixed state, it is an… — Jean Vanier

The people with the best sense of what is essential to a community, of what gives and maintains its spirit, are often doing very humble, manual tasks. It is often the poorest person – the one who has a handica[p, is] ill or old – who is the most prophetic. People who carry responsibility must be close to them and know what they think, because it is often they who are free enough to see with the greatest clarity the needs, beauty and pain of the community. — Jean Vanier

The poor are always prophetic. As true prophets always point out, they reveal God’s design. That is why we should take time to listen to them. And that means staying near them, because they speak quietly and infrequently; they are afraid to speak out, they lack confidence in themselves because they have been broken and oppressed. But if we listen to them, they will bring us back to the essential. — Jean Vanier

We work for peace every time we exercise authority with wisdom and authentic love. — Jean Vanier

The cry for love and communion and for recognition that rises from the hearts of people in need reveals the fountain of love in us and our capacity to give life. — Jean Vanier

I have discovered the value of psychology and psychiatry, that their teachings can undo knots in us and permit life to flow again and aid us in becoming more truly human. — Jean Vanier

I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes. — Jean Vanier

Community means caring: caring for people. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says: He who loves community destroys community; he who loves the brethren builds community. A community is not an abstract ideal. — Jean Vanier

If we are to grow in love, the prisons of our egoism must be unlocked. This implies suffering, constant effort and repeated choices. — Jean Vanier

People are longing to rediscover true community. We have had enough of loneliness, independence and competition. — Jean Vanier

The strong need the weak as much as the weak need the strong — Jean Vanier

Each person with his or her history of being accepted or rejected, with his or her past history of inner pain and difficulties in relationships, is different. But in each one there is a yearning for communion and belonging, but at the same time a fear of it. Love is what we most want, yet it is what we fear the most. — Jean Vanier

We can be seduced…by powerful political groups that promise more wealth and lower taxes. Those with power can use clever, psychological tricks and play upon our weaknesses and brokenness in order to attract us to their way of thinking. We can be manipulated into illusion. — Jean Vanier

True peace can rarely be imposed from the outside; it must be born within and between communities through meetings and dialogue and then carried outward. — Jean Vanier

To love someone is to show to them their beauty, their worth and their importance. — Jean Vanier

This evolution towards a real responsibility for others is sometimes blocked by fear. It is easier to stay on the level of a pleasant way of life in which we keep our freedom and our distance. But that means that we stop growing and shut ourselves up in our own small concerns and pleasures. — Jean Vanier

Many people are good at talking about what they are doing, but in fact do little. Others do a lot but don’t talk about it; they are the ones who make a community live. — Jean Vanier

A tension or difficulty can signal the approach of a new grace of God. But it has to be looked at wisely and humanly. — Jean Vanier

Wisdom is something that comes, little by little, through a lot of listening. — Jean Vanier

Each human being, however small or weak, has something to bring to humanity. As we start to really get to know others, as we begin to listen to each other’s stories, things begin to change. We begin the movement from exclusion to inclusion, from fear to trust, from closedness to openness, from judgment and prejudice to forgiveness and understanding. It is a movement of the heart. — Jean Vanier

It is difficult to make people understand that the ideal doesn’t exist, that personal equilibrium and the harmony they dream of come only after years and years of struggle, and that even then they come only as flashes of grace and peace. — Jean Vanier

The person in misery does not need a look that judges and criticizes but a comforting presence that brings peace and hope and life and says: ‘you are a human person: important, mysterious, infinitely precious, what you have to say is important because it flows from a humn person; in you there are those seeds of the infinite, those germs of love… of beauty which must rise from the earth of your misery so humanity be fulfilled. If you do not rise then something will be missing… Rise again because we all need you… be loved beloved.’ — Jean Vanier

Peace is the fruit of love, a love that is also justice. But to grow in love requires work — hard work. And it can bring pain because it implies loss — loss of the certitudes, comforts, and hurts that shelter and define us. — Jean Vanier

I remember that throughout history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it always…whenever you are in doubt that that is God’s way – the way the world is meant to be. Think of that and then try to do His way. — Jean Vanier

Love is an act of endless forgiveness. — Jean Vanier

We cannot grow spiritually if we ignore our humanness, just as we cannot become fully human if we ignore our spirituality. — Jean Vanier

People cannot accept their own evil if they do not at the same time feel loved, respected and trusted. — Jean Vanier

We don’t know what to do with our own pain, so what to do with the pain of others? We don’t know what to do with our own weakness except hide it or pretend it doesn’t exist. So how can we welcome fully the weakness of another if we haven’t welcomed our own weakness? — Jean Vanier

To invite others to live with us is a sign that we aren’t afraid, that we have a treasure of truth and of peace to share. — Jean Vanier

But let us not put our sights too high. We do not have to be saviours of the world! We are simply human beings, enfolded in weakness and in hope, called together to change our world one heart at a time. (163) — Jean Vanier

Many people confuse authority and the power of efficiency, as if the first role of people with responsibility is to take decisions, command effectively and so exercise power. But their role first of all is to be a person to whom others can turn for help and advice, to provide security, to affirm, to support, to encourage and to guide. — Jean Vanier

‘Going home’ is a journey to the heart of who we are, a place where we can be ourselves and welcome the reality of our beauty and our pain. From this acceptance of ourselves, we can accept others as they are and we can see our common humanity. — Jean Vanier

He who is or has been deeply hurt has a RIGHT to be sure he is LOVED. — Jean Vanier

Those we most often exclude from the normal life of society, people with disabilities, have profound lessons to teach us — Jean Vanier

The friend of time doesn’t spend all day saying: ‘I haven’t got time.’ He doesn’t fight with time. He accepts it and cherishes it. — Jean Vanier

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.