TWJ Week 4: Refresher on the Spirituality of L’Arche

Published 17 July 2018

Excerpts taken from Peace at the Heart of L’Arche, p. 16-17

The spirituality of L’Arche is to descend the ladder of human promotion to be with the weak and the poor, to build family and community with them, to serve them. It is not just to do things for the, but to befriend them, to live simply with them.


In the biblical vision, to eat together means to become friends, to enter a covenant, to be bonded together as brothers and sisters. In L’Arche assistants are not there essentially to do things for people with disabilities but rather to become their friends, their brothers and sisters. We are bonded together in a covenant of love; we are of the same family. This does not exclude, of course, our doing things for them nor that we be competent in teaching skills and in our care for them, nor that we known how to dialogue verbally with those who are able to receive and appreciate such communication. But it is to say that what is specific in L’Arche is the covenant of love that binds us all together.

This bonding implies eating together and such realities as presence, communion, and touch. It means there is communication of the heart through our bodies. There is a whole new mode of communicating through the way we touch and look and laugh, the way we listen, the way we are present to others. This is most evident with those who have severe disabilities, who cannot talk or walk, but it is true with all our people. They are more sensitive to body language than to verbal language, though both are necessary.

It is easy to lose sight of the spirituality of L’Arche while getting caught up in the motions of daily life. Today, we take a moment to read Jean’s words and remember the importance of the covenant of love. One of my favorite aspects of L’Arche is the dedication to eating dinners together as a community. Life can be hectic and it can be easy to forgo a sit-down meal, but there is something special about breaking bread and sharing time with others. How do you live the spirituality of L’Arche in your daily life?