Winner of the 2015 Templeton Prize and numerous other international and prestigious honors, Jean Vanier lives a radical poverty of surrender in a time of fanatical acquisitiveness, economic disparity, and mounting bellicosity among nations. He is a philosopher of the heart, icon of wholeness, and justice activist.
Through such key notions as trust, community, relationship, and humility, Vanier has built up a network of service and nurturing growth spanning the globe: the L'Arche Movement. He has advocated for peace in a world that treasures its violence, written extensively about the very meaning of human personhood, and championed sensitivity to the diverse spiritual traditions that make up our world. His remarkable life has included rich friendships with Blessed Mother Teresa, St. John Paul II and Henri Nouwen.
Jean Vanier is a man of complexity and formal philosophical training, a scion of a family of national pedigree, and one of the seminal religious and inspirational figures of our time. In this volume, Michael Higgins focuses on Vanier's many interconnections—personal and conceptual—with the mighty and the humble, the pious and the secular, as well as the young and the seasoned.
Michael W. Higgins is vice-president for Mission and Catholic Identity at Sacred Heart University, past president of St. Jerome's University in Ontario and St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, a columnist, editor, radio documentarist, and television commentator. He is the author and co-author of numerous books, including Thomas Merton: Faithful Visionary (published by Liturgical Press); Power and Peril: The Catholic Church at the Crossroads; Stalking the Holy: In Pursuit of Saint-Making; and Genius Born of Anguish-the Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen.
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This is a brilliant exposition of an extraordinary man and the many influences that have shaped him and his prophetic vision. Higgins has entered deeply into Vanier's life story and presents it with fascinating detail. I have known Vanier and been involved with his L'Arche communities since the mid-sixties but every chapter of this beautiful book reveals to me new dimensions of both the man and his life work.
Bill Clarke, SJ, Spiritual Director, Ignatius Jesuit Centre, Guelph, Ontario
Michael Higgin's Jean Vanier: Logician of the Heart is an eloquent and moving meditation on what it means to be truly human in a "throwaway" culture where competition, corporate greed and inequality reign supreme. Vanier's work among the physically and intellectually vulnerable reveals the cost and joy of radical love. By emphasizing our common frailty and the openness and capacity of the disabled to allow Jesus to find repose in their hearts-he challenges us to enflesh tenderness in our own lives, become "God's refuge" in a largely uncaring world. A book to be treasured and reread.
James Clarke, poet, judge, author of L'Arche Journal: A Family's Experience in Jean Vanier's Community
Since 1964, Jean Vanier and many friends, with and without intellectual disabilities, have lived in community together. These international communities of L'Arche, and Faith and Light, show that peace on earth and goodwill among all people is possible. Michael Higgins brings his characteristic enthusiasm and wide-ranging cultural interests to this personal interpretation of the life and legacy of Jean Vanier.
Carolyn Whitney-Brown, PhD, editor of Jean Vanier: Essential Writings
Jean Vanier has for many years been a quiet, strange, unsettling voice of vulnerability and tenderness amid the clatter and anxiety of our age. He helps us make peace with our brokenness, and gently redirects us away from the exhausting and fatuous search for perfection and towards the embrace of humility. No-one knows the character and the hinterland better, or can approach them with more sensitivity and sureness of touch, than Michael W Higgins.
Brendan Walsh, The Tablet
Michael Higgins has understood the heart of Jean Vanier. He knows how to touch ours. He writes serenely about Vanier's life-changing work among the disabled and the destitute. In writing so he shows how they can change our hearts as well. His book is seriously engaging.
Jacques Monet, SJ, Director of the Canadian Institute of Jesuit Studies
This biography offers a perceptive account of Jean Vanier's life and thought. It is beautifully written and communicates to the reader the spiritual complexity of this remarkable man of faith. Special in Higgins' account is, in my opinion, his presentation of Vanier's life in its historical context-that is to say, in the decades before and after the Second Vatican Council, a span of time in which the Church opened itself to a new relationship to the world.
theologian Gregory Baum in The Ecumenist