Item 1635 - Encounter in solitude

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Reference code

CA ON00389 F4-9-1-1635

Title

Encounter in solitude

Date(s)

  • February 1981 (Creation)

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6 p. of textual records

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(1932-1996)

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This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Encounter in Solitude’ and is an excerpt from his book ‘The Way of the Heart’ published in The Sign, February, 1981, pp. 12 - 17. Nouwen introduces the article by speaking of the desert fathers and mothers, in particular he writes of the life of St. Anthony ‘the father of monks’. Nouwen identifies in the life of Anthony the profound importance of solitude and states, ‘When he emerged from his solitude, people recognized in him the real “healthy” man, whole in body, mind and soul’. Nouwen expresses concern that the lives of many people are ‘horrendously secular’. Nouwen identifies ‘the two main enemies of the spiritual life: anger and greed. He also suggests that the very busyness of life can be a way to avoid solitude, being alone with God. Nouwen describes solitude as ‘the furnace of transformation’. ‘Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter – the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self’. Nouwen speaks then of the fruit of solitude, ‘ it is compassion’. He concludes by stating, ‘In a world that victimizes us by its compulsions, we are called to solitude where we can struggle against our anger and greed and let our new self be born in the loving encounter with Jesus Christ. It is in this solitude that we become compassionate people…’

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Published in Sign (February 1981): 12-17.
This item was previously published in a revised form entitled 'Solitude and Contemporary Ministry' in Sojourners, June 1980,pp 14 - 18. (see item 1626, Box 295).
This item is an excerpt from: Nouwen, Henri, 'The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers', HarperCollins, N.Y., 1981.

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Accession Number

2000 01

Location

Box 295

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