In one of his books Jean Vanier tells about a four-year-old boy who had cancer and lost his eyesight. When his mother was crying the boy took her hand and said, “Mum, don’t cry any more, I still have a heart to love you.”
Every person, no matter how small or weak he or she is, has a heart, created by God to love. This truth has been spread throughout the world for over 45 years by an outstanding contemporary thinker Jean Vanier. This truth lies in the core of our spirituality.
The centre of our spirituality is meeting with Jesus, present in the hearts of weak, poor, lonely, and suffering. According to Jean Vanier, spiritually is always connected with love. It is growing in love. And this growth takes place particularly through the relationships with poor, chosen and loved by God in a special way. For “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things, and the things that are not…” (1 Cor., 27-28).
“Why is it much easier for the poor, disabled to know the truth of love, to live light, live near God, than it is for us “normal people”? Isn’t it partially because of their disability, which makes them less inclined to the temptations of our spiritually ill world: we strive to be the first, stronger, to build a carrier, to enrich materially, seek fame? Isn’t it because of the suffering in which they, unlike anybody else, know how important love is, and therefore are open to the One who is the ultimate Love? And maybe this is the only profession, the only vocation given to them by God, especially when their disability is very pronounced – to be love, to witness love?..” Oleh Romanchuk writes in his book “The way of love.”
We believe that the highest value of every person lies not in the mental abilities, but in the heart. This is the message we, together with “L’Arche” and “Faith and Light” communities, want to proclaim to the epoch, engulfed in striving for success.
Fr. Oleh Zharovskyi: “Our spirituality is to live in touch with God and people”
In the contemporary world “spirituality” is referred to by very different things. Unfortunately, very frequently spirituality is understood as a synonym to dreaminess, detachment from life, seclusion in the world of ideas, illusions.
The spirituality of a Christian is different.
The spirituality of a Christ’s disciple is the spirituality of God’s Incarnation, who was Born to teach us to love. And love is never a dreamy illusion; love is always concrete: to be in close touch with people, their needs, requests, pain. The spirituality of a Christian is life in Holy Spirit, allowing Him to open in oneself, in the world, in every person the beauty of God’s creation. The Christian spirituality is getting to know the sacrificial love of the Savior and embrace of the Heavenly Farther.
For nearly two thousand years Christians have discovered various ways to foster their spirituality. Some created monasteries or lived as hermits, others served on missions, helped the sick, taught the poor, preaching Our Lord Jesus Christ in different ways.
One of such people, who found their way of Christian spirituality, is our contemporary and teacher – Jean Vanier.
Jean discovered Christian spirituality in the sublime creations of God, who are very often rejected, forgotten, disdained – in persons with special needs. He is the founder of international organizations of “L’Arche” and “Faith and Light”, fostering the Gift of people with special needs, revealing to the world the true vision of God’s creation, where nothing is or can be superfluous or discarded, preaching the truth about human being, wisdom of God’s Power, revealed in weakness.
It is the spirituality of Jean Vanier that we live by in our Emmaus Centre. We invite the Ukrainian society, organizations, every person to make a step together with us: from the world of illusions, prejudices and fears towards the truth, reality, wisdom; from being centered on our needs towards the acceptance of “others”, who are not like “me”; from being closed to other people’s sufferings towards the acceptance of those who suffer.
The spirituality of Emmaus is the spirituality of love to the whole world, the invitation to discover true love through the discovery of the gift of weak ones. We encourage to overcome egocentrism and open to Christ, who has loved each of us so much that He had Incarnated, lived, suffered, died, and risen. We invite to mortify our egoism and through the relationship of friendship with persons with special needs to touch the Suffering Jesus and to resurrect in the love of the Resurrected.
“… Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from evil modern age” (Hal.1, 4)