We have just celebrated the Resurrection of our Divine Lord and we would like to talk to you about the relationship between resilience and resurrection or how in his/her life each human being experiences death and resurrection. How is Gerard, an abused child, going to find the strength to start a family and to be a thoughtful and loving father? How do the people crushed by concentration camps, dictatorships, wars… find the strength to start again like Barbara, the singer, who was raped during the war and who wrote: ‘I had to be quiet to survive. But I succeeded since I sing’? Saint Augustine said too: ‘The power of Christ created us and His weakness recreated us.’
Thus this recreation may be the resilience that is to say the capacity of a person to go on living, developing and having plans for his/her life despite the trauma(s) he/she went through. It is ‘living with’ the trauma that is part of life. More than resisting, it is learning to live with this trauma too.
A famous sentence that may sum up the notion of resilience is from Nietzsche: ‘What dœs not kill makes stronger’.
All the psychologists and those who work with children and teenagers are aware that children have the potential to resist, to develop even in the most serious situations, that they have resources to give or restore a meaning to their lives so long as they are helped, supported, accompanied if possible for a long time. That is the reason why we go on praying for the children recommended to us even if they have become adults. Our discreet help in the secret of the Communion of the Saints may also help these children to move forward on the way to healing.
Thus resilience is the capacity to mobilize one’s forces while acknowledging that one is weak and vulnerable.
What a child went through cannot be forgotten but he/she can make of it something positive. Often to rebuild his/her life, a child goes and sees a person in whom he confides about his/her difficulties. From then on he can start rebuilding his/her life. Often too the criterion of a successful resilience is their open-mindedness. Many of these children, once they are adults, with a plan for a renewed life, begin to serve those who are suffering from what they themselves suffered from.
Isn’t this capacity to turn the forces of death that haunt these abused children for whom we pray humbly into forces of life a reality of the Mystery of the Resurrection of Christ who was aroused from death?
About resilience Stefan Vanistendael said in an article published in March 2006 on the website: http://www.croire.com/index.jsp
‘Christ freed us from this deep alienation within ourselves and showed us another way: our broken life, our wounds can be turned into a new, unexpected life […] I think, at least if we accept the idea that the resurrection begins already on earth this regeneration may happen here and now. Christ showed that this process would continue beyond time and space, beyond our natural limits. It neither justifies nor glorifies human sufferings, but it may alleviate despair and open the future to happiness.’
Thus Christ who assumed all the sufferings, in particular the sufferings of abused children, who died and rose from the dead, showed us through the Mystery of Easter the force of life source of Love that God puts within each of these children, within each of us.
Our humble prayer must show his hope which one Easter Morning inspired Charles Peguy to write: ‘My God, it as if all was new, as if all was beginning this morning.’
We are proposing to you several texts that are nearly all drawn from today’s Easter Vigil liturgy.
May our prayer first give thanks to our God and Father for putting prayer at the hearts of our lives.
 - Stefan Vanistendael is deputy General Secretary of the International Catholic Child Bureau, in charge of the Research and Development Department. Legally a French association, the International Catholic Child Bureau, created in 1948, is an international, non-governmental organisation providing help and protection for children.