Books of the Month, Volume 9

From Brokenness to Community – Book of the Month- Part 2

[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”0809133415″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”216″]Our Book of the Month for April is…

From Brokenness to Community
Jean Vanier

Paperback: Paulist Press, 1992.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

*** Kindle edition only $3.49!!!

We will be reading through the book this month, and posting discussion questions as we go. We hope you will read along with us, and share your thoughts and questions. (Or, even better, get a group of people at your church to read through the book together!)

Part 2:
Pages 14-25

Here are some quotes and questions, please use the comments below to share your own thoughts and questions.

<<<<<< Prev. Conversation: Part 1


Many people in our world today are living deep inner pain and anguish because as children they were not valued, welcomed, loved.  (14)

In what ways is this true in your own life?  How do you handle this pain?


Communion means accepting people just as they are, with all their limits and inner pain, but also with their gifts and their beauty and their capacity to grow: to see the beauty inside all the pain. To love someone is not first of all to do things for them, but to reveal to them their beauty and their value, to say to them through our attitude: “You are beautiful.  You are important. I trust you. You can trust yourself.”  (16).

How can we do a better job of welcoming people and caring for people in this way?


But this communion is not fusion.  Fusion leads to confusion. In a relationship of communion, you are you and I am I; I have my identity and you have yours. I must be myself and you must be yourself.We are called to grow together, each one becoming more fully himself or herself.  Communion, in fact, gives the freedom to grow. (17)

What does it look like for us to seek communion in this way in our church community? Is the leadership of our church leading us toward fusion or communion? 


[What] caused me the most pain [was] to discover who I really am, and to realize that maybe I did not want to know who I really was! I did not want to admit all the garbage inside me. And then I had to decide whether I would just continue to pretend that I was okay and throw myself into hyperactivity, projects where I could forget all the garbage and prove to others how good I was. (19)

In what ways do each of us suppress the “garbage” that is inside us? How do we create relationships and space in which we speak honestly about this garbage and the ways we suppress it?


[The people of L’Arche’s] cry for communion has taught me something about my own humanity, my own brokenness — that we are all wounded, we are all poor. But we are all the people of God; we are all loved and are being guided. They have taught me what it means to be with brothers and sisters in communion, in community. They have revealed to me the well of tenderness that is hidden in my own heart and which can give life to others. (24)

Do you agree with Vanier that “we are all wounded, we are all poor.”?  How can we find relationships in our own churches and neighborhoods, in which we can learn to be with the poor and wounded in similar ways?



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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at:

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