Item 1629 - Descend with the mind into the heart: the call to unceasing prayer

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Reference code

CA ON00389 1-9-1-1629

Title

Descend with the mind into the heart: the call to unceasing prayer

Date(s)

  • August 1980 (Creation)

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Item

Extent and medium

5 p. of textual records

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(1932-1996)

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This item is a five page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Descend with the Mind into the Heart; the call to unceasing prayer’, published in Sojourners, August 20, 1980, pp: 20 – 24. This is the third part of a series which included articles on solitude and silence. Nouwen begins by stating ‘solitude and silence can never be separated from the call to unceasing prayer’. He also, once again uses stories from the desert fathers beginning with Arsenius to point to the importance of prayer. Nouwen, in his first part of this article headed, Prayer of the Mind, suggests that most ministers would say that prayer is of the utmost importance but that in fact, they don’t do it. ‘The contrast between the great support for the idea of prayer and the lack of support for the practice of it is so blatantly visible that it becomes quite easy to believe in the ruses of the evil one which Amma Theodora describes with such vivid detail. These ruses are identified as: 1) to make us think of prayer as an activity of the mind 2) a viewpoint that restricts the meaning of prayer to thinking about God. Nouwen states that ‘both these views of prayer are the products of a culture in which high value is place on mastering the world through the intellect’. Nouwen then goes on to discuss what he identifies as the prayer of the heart ‘which leads to that rest where the soul can dwell with God’. Nouwen identifies in his concluding section entitled ‘Prayer and Ministry’ three disciplines of prayer: 1) Nurtured by short prayers 2) unceasing and 3) all-inclusive. Nouwen concludes this third article by stating: ‘When we have been remodeled into living witnesses of Christ through solitude, silence and prayer, we will no longer have to worry about whether we are saying the right thing or making the right gesture, because then Christ will make his presence known even when we are not aware of it’.

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Access copies (2) available in Access Copies - Published Works, Articles by Nouwen, Box 1.

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Item is 3 of a series of 3 articles. See also Published works series - items 1626 and 1627.

Publication note

Published in Sojourners (August 1980): 20-24.
This article is published in a slightly revised form in: Nouwen, Henri, The Way of the Heart, The Spirituality of the desert fathers and mothers, HarperCollins, New York, 1981.

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Accession Number

2000 01

Location

Box 295

Previous Item Number

20-81

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