growth needs nourishment. material wealth does not nourish; love does, providing for ‘each individual person in a community.’ vanier continues, ‘the community as a whole, as a body, must also be nourished in love–not just individual members.’ material wealth is a distraction from growth, he observes: ‘cultures in rich societies are inciting people to an easy way of life. the values of wealth, power and pleasure are seductive. but the gospel values are calling us to love,… and to live poorly, trusting in god.’ later, vanier adds, ‘the journey towards wholeness implies a deepening of personal life in peaceful encounters with god and others, while living community life fully…. this journey is a long one and we will need plenty of personal and communal nourishment.’
growing up, i was addicted to television, which vanier calls a poison, ‘if it is looked at without discernment.’ i wasn’t too discerning. television ‘cuts people off from relationship…. television may stimulate the imagination but generally does not feed the heart.’ television is not true nourishment. true nourishment comes always from god/dess. we ask for it, our daily bread. to do god/dess’s will ‘is the essential nourishment for living our daily life.’
solitude offers a chance for nourishment, but so does community, for it is in community that we can love, live in relationship, and discover the wonder and joy of others. in others we find jesus, and in jesus is the word, the bread of life, the source of all nourishment. however, ‘a community–especially a christian one–will always be running against the tide of society, with its individualistic values … [and its] rejection of the people who get in the way…. so a true christian community will always be a stumbling block, a question mark and a source of unease for society…. a christian community will often be persecuted or rejected; people may belittle its ideal to make it less of a threat.’ nourishment ‘brings back hope and’ strength.
communities nourish in many ways. they provide not only needed inspiration but also rest and relaxation, food for thought, challenge, friendship (–‘to be nourished by the love of others is a call to become a nourishment for those who suffer and are alone in distress’–) and sharing and listening where we discover that ‘we are all in the same boat and all have the same fears…. people are nourished by humility, because humility is truth…. we are all responsible for the atmosphere of the community. we can nourish people with trust and love or we can poison them with sadness and all sorts of criticism.’ we especially have to listen to the poorest: ‘the poor are always prophetic. as true prophets, 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 things that are essential.’ together we share. alone we pray. we find jesus in both solitude and c. however, ‘the balance between solitude and community is difficult to find.’ he finds the connection expressed in the eucharist: ‘the eucharist links communal and personal nourishment…. the eucharist is celebration’ and sacrifice.
the eucharist nourishes, yet as devout as vanier is, he criticizes the church (finally), noting ‘the polarity within the church between the body of christ [especially the priests] and the poor…. the church became terribly clerical; priests carried all the power. forgotten was the mystery of the church as a community. with the priests assuming all the power somehow the poor have been forgotten. the church remained centred upon the eucharist and worship, but lost sight of its other pole: the broken body of the poor and the community of believers called to welcome them…. frequently [the church] is no longer a visible sign of the kingdom of love.’