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University of St. Michael's College, John M. Kelly Library, Special Collections Item
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Recording of Henri Nouwen speaking on the Gospel of St. John

Item consists of five audio cassettes of seminars on the topic of the Gospel of St. John given by Nouwen during his stay at L'Arche Trosly-Breuil in 1985-1986 at the request of Jean Vanier. Nouwen refers to this course in his work, "Road to Daybreak." SR2010 13 03 v1: "St. Jean I: Prologue- The glory of god", December 19, 1985; SR2010 13 03 v2: "Gospel of John: Spirituality and peacemaking"; the recording includes a discussion on the individual experience and proclamation of God. Though the cassette lists the date April 11, 1983 it is believed that the initial recording was taped over by the Gospel of John seminar sometime during 1986 when this seminar series was given. SR2010 13 03 v3: "St. Jean III: The movement of XT= downward prologue", January 1, 1986; SR2010 13 03 v4: "St. Jean IV", February 23, 1986; SR2010 13 03 v5 "St. Jean V- Sharing- Nocodeme", dated April 3, 1986. The content focuses on Bible passages in which Nicodemus is featured.

Recording of a homily by Henri Nouwen

Item consists of one audio cassette featuring a homily by Nouwen on October 27, 1985, likely at L'Arche Trosly-Breuil. The title of the homily was "Healing Bartimaeus" or "Guerison d'un Aveugle Bartimaeus". Nouwen focuses on the Gospel of Mark 10: 46-52, in which Bartimaeus was healed.

Recording of Nouwen on prayer and reconciliation

Item consists of two audio cassettes of a recording of a talk given at a retreat for Long Term Assistants of the Northern European Zone in Bruges, Belgium (Retreat ALT Brugge), which took place in Bruges, Belgium in June 1994. The item consists of two cassettes SR2010 13 05 v1 and SR2010 13 05 v2. Volume 1 has Prayer on side A and Reconciliation on side B. Volume 2 has Reconciliation on side A and Prayer on side B.

Historical structures re: Collective committees, jobs circa 1985

Item consists of a binder of materials documenting the structure of the New Catholic Times and its committees, the process of producing and distributing the newspaper, financial information for the corporation, job descriptions, and other aspects of the corporation's activities. The material appears to have been compiled as a manual for a specific purpose or person.

Documents of incorporation

Item consists of a microfiche copy of the letters patent of incorporation and the initial notice to the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations of the directors for the New Catholic Times.

Catholic New Times

To Meet the Poor is to Meet Jesus

Item consists of 1 videocassette featuring a talk given at a Faith and Sharing Retreat held from August 1-4, 1985. Jean Vanier is the speaker, and the title is, "To meet the Poor is to Meet Jesus". It is tape 1. Vanier spoke on the following: Trust, Meeting with Jesus, Jesus Reveals Who We Are, and Jesus Reveals Himself (part 1).

Photograph of unidentified Catholic New Times readers

Item consists of one photograph of unidentified Catholic New Times readers. Three women, dressed in winter outerwear, are seen reading the newspaper while seated outside. Behind them is a banner that reads "US USSR Peace by Peace" and a smaller, partially hidden banner, that reads "Choose [?]!"

A critical analysis

This item consists of a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘A Critical Analysis’ published in Ave Maria National Catholic Weekly, 3 June 1967, p. 11-13, 30. Nouwen discusses the rise and popularity of the Pentecostal movement at Notre Dame University in Indiana and states that the article ‘is an attempt to clarify certain issues and to be of some help in an honest evaluation’. Nouwen looks at the phenomenon from three perspectives: 1) A Historical Perspective: He writes of the past and current religious atmosphere at Notre Dame. Here he credits an article by Killian McDonnell. O.S.B. (The Ecumenical Significance of the Pentecostal Movement) where there is a discussion of the ‘sobriety’ and ‘objectivity’ of Roman Catholic liturgy in contrast to the more emotional freedom and sense of belonging in the Pentecostal services. Nouwen suggests that this latter may answer a need in the new more ambitious and competitive atmosphere at the university. 2) A Psychological Perspective. Here Nouwen asks how we can evaluate this new movement by asking several questions: Does it heal or hurt? He suggests that evidence leads to a conclusion that while there may be a short term benefit ‘it is very doubtful that it will cure deep mental suffering’. He also asks ‘Can it be dangerous’? He states that ‘for those who are not prepared every inducement of a strong emotion can break and do serious harm. He also suggests that for those who do not receive the ‘gifts’ such as tongues or joy there then may be the question ‘what is wrong with me’. This leads to the need for direction, guidance and care. Finally he asks: Does it create community? Nouwen suggests that the powerful emotions of belonging and sharing, may risk creating a community that is inward and elitist. ‘the Pentecostal movement creates a situation of oneness and togetherness, which makes the community highly self-centered and hinders the development of the autonomous Christian…’. 3) A Theological Perspective: here Nouwen is asking if the Pentecostal movement is reflecting the theological developments of Vatican II and suggests that it may not meet the new stress on incarnational theology. He concludes the article by stating: ‘the new wave of Pentecostalism at Notre Dame University obviously answers a burning need in many students. It worries many who are concerned about the effects on the mental health of some…It places heavy responsibility on the leaders of the movement, and it disturbs many theologians’ but it also offers a chance to come to a new realization of the crucial importance of the valid religious experience – as an authentic part of the Christian life’.

A psychologist on priests' identity crises

Item consists of a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: "A psychologist on priests' identity crises" published in The National Catholic Reporter, 17 May 1967, p. 6. The article is about three perceived threats to the mental health of priests. These are described in terms of problems with time, with space and with self-understanding. 1) The new priest starts by giving his whole time to his ministry with little or no demarcation between work and rest. He thrives on being at the center, being available to everyone all the time. In time , because there is little change in fact, this can and does frequently lead to being ‘ an irritated, empty, routine, tired man’. In addition, at a daily level there is no demarcation of time between ‘work’ and ‘home’. No time to stop and reflect or even pray. 2) ‘Besides a healthy use of time, a healthy use of place is of great importance for the mental health of the priest’. Because he is always at work there is no space to find rest; because the people he lives with are the people he works with, there is no personal space. The demarcation lines of authority are vague and unhealthy. ‘…healthy spacing not only refers to healthy defining of places and rooms, but also connected with that, to healthy clarification of responsibilities and authority which belong to the different roofs under which we live’. 3) With a lack of privacy and no demarcation of personal, private relationships the priest often lacks a firm self-identity. ‘Without a spiritual life and a good friend he is like a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal’. In addition, there is a lack of clarity of his role as a professional, he receives little praise from anyone including superiors so he does not know how well he is doing. The author stresses the importance of the priest’s everyday confrontation with living theology in the people he serves and that is not used or appreciated.

The new pastor

This item consists of a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: The New Pastor, published in the National Catholic Reporter, December 4, 1968, p. 6. This article was written shortly after the Second Vatican Council. In this article Nouwen is raising questions about the role of the pastor following the upheavals that are affecting the church. He states as the underlying concern, "Familiar channels through which we could function and reach thousands of men, women and children are leaking or completely broken down…we feel ourselves victims of a religious strip tease in which the critical modern man is insisting we remove one vestment of office after another…" In order to discuss what he feels can be the role of the priest in this new situation he uses two major headings: 1) How can the parish priest be an efficient and skillful pastor in our modern society? and 2) How can he remain a whole and integrated man in a rapidly changing world , which by its own nature is constantly challenging his own commitment? Under heading 1) Nouwen suggests that a pastor should be able to offer his parishioners three things a) a climate in which questions which challenge faith can be raised without fear b) a word given by the pastor to others which is uniquely tailored to the need of the individual: "a word directed to the highly individual needs of our suffering fellowman can create new life" and c) a home in a parish which provides "intimacy with a vital balance between closeness and distance" for the parishioner. Under heading 2) Nouwen provides three further headings a) Silence which is necessary for the priest to listen to God and his own deepest center b) Friendship. Here Nouwen suggests the need of the pastor to find friendship outside of the parish, most particularly in what he suggests should be a carefully formed group that lives together in the rectory and c) Insight. "By insight, we mean a sound perspective of the pastor on the significance of his own priesthood". Nouwen concludes the article by stating: "when a priest is well-prepared for his task and is in lasting communication with those he wants to serve, he can fulfill his task without fear. With a realistic confidence in his abilities, with a sense of inner harmony and most of all with trust in the value of his service, he can be a free witness for God, who can strengthen hope, fulfill love and make joy complete".

The death of Dr. King

This item consists of a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: The Death of Dr King, published in the National Catholic Reporter, December 18, 1968, p. 4. This article is a subjective reflection by Nouwen on the atmosphere, experience and people he encountered following the death of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. Nouwen uses a number of headings : 1) The News – this begins in Chicago where he first hears of King’s assassination. He describes the muted responses of the people he meets, 'Martin Luther King was dead, killed, assassinated. Everybody knew it but nobody wanted to know it'. 2) The Party – Here Nouwen describes the atmosphere at a party following his talk and notes particularly that most people are avoiding speaking of Dr King’s death. 3) The Cool City – moves on to Topeka, Kansas where Nouwen reflects on the contrast between the ‘slickness and artificiality’ and ‘the madness’. ‘We were killing the prophets…Between the hollow voices of those who tried to advertise their latest product, it became clear that violence was cutting through the thresholds of restraint. Topeka seemed a cool and indifferent city’. 4) In Kansas City Nouwen visits a young man in prison for draft evasion. This young man speaks of the influence of Dr King on his life and the lives of his fellow prisoners and the atmosphere in the prison: ’when they heard that he was dead they doubled the guards. They did not understand that we were just crying, my Afro-American friends and me’. 5) The Cab Driver –this speaks of Nouwen’s decision to change his plans and travel to Atlanta for the funeral. He describes his encounter at the airport with a cab driver who is also going. The cab driver shares with Nouwen: ‘ Dr King just tried to take Christ’s words seriously. He realized he had to follow him all the way. What would happen if we really would do just that?’ The remainder of the article describes the atmosphere in Atlanta: ‘It was a special occasion in which happiness and joy merged with sadness and distress. Perhaps it had never been different for them.’ Nouwen concludes this article by reflecting on his hope despite all the ‘anger, grief and frustration’. ‘I knew that out of my exhaustion a new faith could grow, a faith that it is possible to love’.

Feature review

This item consists of a 3 page book review by Henri Nouwen and Joseph Wissink of A Search for God in Time and Memory by John S. Dunne C.S.C., Macmillan Publishing. The authors begin the review by stating that ‘John Dunne has written a great book. Certainly not an easy book but a personal, unique and insightful study worth entering as deeply as possible.’ Nouwen and Wissink indicate that the subject of the book is ‘ how is God relevant to modern man in his search for meaning?’ ‘The autobiographies of men like Augustine, Luther, Pascal, Newman, Kierkegaard, Sartre, Camus and Jung serve as the main data for the quest...’. Nouwen and Wissink describe the book as: having a unique clinical and empirical touch; as having a high degree of insight…’which does not lead to a proud “now I know” … but to a compassionate understanding that the night can pass into day and to some inkling of the turning point which lies ahead’. They go on to describe Dunne’s method suggesting that ‘A better title might be “From Time Out of Mind to Time Within Mind” because the whole book is based on the process of bringing to one’s mind the time that is absent from the mind’. The reviewers then go on to describe what this means : ‘Here we are meeting the great time history books are written about. We all live in it, but it is not the exclusive property of anybody, unless maybe of God, or death…what is the place of my life in this great time, in the death time or, hopefully, God’s time?’. Nouwen and Wissink end the review by stating, ‘Again, this is a great book. It offers more than a new idea, a new concept or a new insight. It offers a new perspective on life for modern man’.

Education to the ministry

This item is a 9 page copy of a paper given by Henri Nouwen entitled : Education to the Ministry included in Integrating the Disciplines in Theological Education; Report of the Twelfth Biennial Meeting of the Association of Professional Education for Ministry, June 15 – 18, 1972 Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota, p. 8 – 16. Nouwen indicates at the beginning of his paper that his intention is to ‘present to you some ideas on ministry from the perspectives of hospitality in the hope that these can help us to see how the spiritual and professional life of the minister are related and what the implications of this relationship are for seminary formation’. Nouwen outlines his thoughts under three headings followed by his conclusion: 1) Ministry as Hospitality, 2) Ministry and Spirituality and 3) Education to the Ministry. In 1) Ministry as hospitality, Nouwen opens by saying that ‘the call to ministry is the call to be a host to the many strangers passing by.’ But he also points out that our attitudes toward strangers are ambivalent : sometimes hostile, sometimes hospitable and that the minister is to convert hostility into hospitality. It is ‘the opening of an opportunity to others to find their God and their way’. In 2) Ministry and Spirituality Nouwen asks how the minister can remain faithful to hospitality to the stranger. He suggests that ‘This will come to pass only when ministry is undergirded by spirituality,.. when the outer movement from hostility to hospitality is supported by an inner movement from property to poverty. Poverty means that my identity in the final analysis is not determined by what I can do, say or think, but by what God’s Spirit can do, say and think in me’. This then allows the pastor to be open and not defensive and free to listen. In section 3) Education to Ministry, Nouwen outlines three general principles: 1) The first and most important ministerial task of every educator is to help the student face his own condition and that of the world realistically and without fear. 2) The second principle in education to the ministry is to help the student become available to himself, that is to become at home in his own house. 3) The third principle to guide us in education for the ministry is the principle of compassion. This latter principle Nouwen suggests, is powerful in a world which is ‘on the edge of suicide’ as a ‘power for world peace in which the many barriers visible in prisons, hospitals, ghettos and war fields can slowly be taken away and in which this world can become again a hospitable place for man.’

Find your center

This item is a half page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: Find Your Center, published in the National Catholic Reporter, May 3, 1974. This article is a continuation of Nouwen’s article from the National Catholic Reporter, April 26, 1974. He introduces this article by saying,” To live a Christian life means to live in the world without being of it. It is in solitude that this inner freedom can grow”. The entire article is a development of his statement that” A life without a lonely place, that is, a life without a quiet center,, easily becomes destructive since by clinging to the results of our actions as our only way of self-identification we become possessive and defensive and tend to look at our fellow human beings more as enemies to be kept at a distance than as friends with whom we share the gifts of life”. Nouwen discusses the importance to Jesus of his times of solitude and silence which fed his ministry and enabled him to face his death. The article concludes,” When you are somewhere able to create the lonely place in the middle of your actions and concerns, your successes or failures can slowly lose some of their powers over you.”

Protecting intimacy

This item is a half page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Protecting Intimacy’ published in the National Catholic Reporter, May 10, 1974. Nouwen begins this article by stating,”A most painful thing to say is that intimate love does not take our loneliness away but protects it and converts it into solitude. Therefore intimacy is first of all a protecting intimacy allowing us to move from loneliness to solitude.” Nouwen then goes on to give an example of a family whose mode of living is to avoid pain in their relationships. Nouwen suggests that “this world is full of lonely people trying hard to love each other without succeeding. The question is if this is not largely due to the fact that we are not able to face the pain of our loneliness”. Nouwen concludes by stating,“ Intimacy,..does not mean entering the other with an intruding curiosity or a hungry need for satisfaction. Intimacy touches gently, intimacy does not take, but gives, does not suffocate but lets grow, does not conquer and possess but sets free and keeps free.”

Finding the friendly space

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Find the Friendly Space: Post Easter probing into the heart of worship’, published in ‘The Episcopalian” June 1973, P. 9 – 10 & 44. Nouwen opens the article by relating the story of the meeting of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus with the risen Jesus. Following the breaking of bread the two disciples recognize Jesus and return to Jerusalem with joy to tell the others. Nouwen states that this story is important because ‘it helps us realize that liturgy is hospitality’. He then goes on to say that ‘We need to look at our liturgical ministry as a way to create a friendly space’. After discussing what liturgy is not Nouwen states, ‘ liturgy is the indication of simple boundaries, a book, a table, a small piece of bread and a small cup of wine, within which the God of power and might can appear to us as…the God with us, the humble servant, the son of man. In the space created by these simple, basic human symbols, we can be touched by what is deeper that our own self-understanding and wider than our own life experience and can lift our hearts above the immediacy of our daily pains and sorrows.’ Nouwen then goes on to look at this in more detail. He concludes by drawing attention to several things: He states that ‘every liturgy must be highly flexible in terms of closeness and distance…that we especially today, should be open to a variety of liturgical celebrations’. All of this, he suggests requires ‘flexible and sensitive priests’. He reminds the reader that ‘Any celebration that does not move us outward is in constant danger of degenerating into a cozy, self-feeding, stuffy clique’.

Hospitality

This item is a 28 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘ Hospitality’ published in Monastic Studies, Number 10, by Mount Savior Monastery, Pine City, New York, Easter 1974. Nouwen has divided his article into 3 major divisions 1. From Hostility to Hospitality 2) Forms of Hospitality and 3) The Dynamics of Hospitality. Nouwen begins 1. By saying ‘it is God who reveals to us the movement of our lives. It is not a movement from weakness to power, but a movement in which we can become less and less fearful and defensive, and more and more open to the other and his world. This movement allowing us to receive instead of to conquer is the movement from hostility to hospitality’. Nouwen follows with some examples of difficulties arising from the presence of hostility which prevents hospitality. He then describes hospitality as meaning ‘primarily the creation of a space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. It is not an attempt to change people, but to offer the free space where change can take place.’ Nouwen discusses the difficulties in our society of creating this hospitable space and ends the section by saying ‘To convert hostility into hospitality, to change the stranger from hostis to hospes, from enemy to friend, asks for a persistent attempt to create the free space where such a conversion can take place. In section 2. Nouwen indicates his intention as ‘to show how different forms of service can be seen as hospitality. He identifies the forms of service as: teaching, preaching, counseling, organizing and liturgical celebration. In his conclusion to this section Nouwen says, ‘ …they are all forms of ministry by which we create space for the stranger, space where he can enter into deeper contact with himself, his fellowman and his God’. In a short third section 3.The Dynamics of Hospitality, Nouwen speaks of ‘receiving and confronting’ by which he means by the latter, setting boundaries. The second heading is entitled ‘participation in a certain plenitude’. Here, Nouwen states, ‘ The people who have had the most influence on me in my life…are men and women who never tried to convert me, change me, or make me do or not do certain things. …They were people who were so much in touch with themselves, were so self-possessed and eradiated so much inner freedom, that they became a point of orientation for my own search’.

The poverty of a host

This item consists of a 5 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘The Poverty of a Host’, published in Monastic Studies, No. 10, Easter 1974 by Mount Savior Monastery, Pine City, New York, p. 65 -69. Nouwen begins this article by stating,‘ Poverty makes a good host. This paradoxical statement needs some more explanation. In the context of hospitality I like to focus on two forms of poverty’. The two forms Nouwen describes as 1) Poverty of Mind and 2) Poverty of Heart. Nouwen focuses particularly on these two forms of poverty as they apply to ministry. With regard to poverty of mind Nouwen describes it by saying, ‘ Someone who is filled with ideas, concepts, opinions and convictions cannot be a good host. There is no inner space to listen, no openness to discover the gift of the other.’ With regard to poverty of heart Nouwen says, ‘ Even more important than poverty of mind is poverty of heart. When our hearts are filled with prejudices, worries, jealousies, there is little room for the stranger…Poverty of heart creates community…’ Nouwen concludes the article with the following ‘ Ministry, diakonia, service, care – they are all expressions for an attitude toward our neighbor in which we perceive life as a gift which we have received not to own but to share.’

Listen to the inner voice

This item is a half-page article entitled: Listen to the Inner Voice by Henri Nouwen, published in the National Catholic Reporter, May 17, 1974. Nouwen continues his emphasis on the difference between loneliness and solitude. The article begins with Nouwen saying, “ Sometimes I wonder if the reason so many people ask support, advice and counsel from so many is not, for a large part, due to the fact that they have lost contact with their innermost self and are no longer able to listen to the voices speaking in the center of their solitude.” Nouwen uses an extensive quote from R. M. Rilke to someone who asks about his vocation as a poet. Rilke emphasizes the need to look inward, to question whether there is necessity. Nouwen goes on to say “As long as I am trying to run away from my loneliness I am constantly looking for distractions with an inexhaustible need to be entertained and kept busy. Then I become a passive victim of a world asking for my idolizing attention…but when I have converted my loneliness into solitude, the world starts losing its claim on me…”.

A time for quiet, a time for action

This item is a half page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘ A Time for Quiet, a Time for Action’ published in the National Catholic Reporter, April 26, 1974, p.11. This article begins with a quotation from Mark 1:32 -39, “In the morning long before dawn he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there”. Nouwen then points to all the action in Jesus’ life that surrounds these words and develops the idea of the importance to Jesus’ fulfillment of his ministry of these moments alone and at prayer. “ In the lonely place Jesus finds the courage to follow God’s will and not his own, to speak God’s words and not his own, to do God’s work and not his own”. He then states as the goal of this article, “I want to reflect on this lonely place in our own lives”. Nouwen suggests that we tend to know that we too need a lonely place and silence and that without it there is a danger that our lives will be governed only by what we ‘do’. He says, “practically all of us think about ourselves in terms of our contribution to life”. In the remainder of the article Nouwen suggests that our attempts to find our identity in the busyness of the world is leading many people to depression and anxiety. Nouwen emphasizes the importance then of silence and solitude in human life: “ Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures”.

Out of solitude, healing

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, Out of Solitude, Healing, published in the National Catholic Reporter, c. May 24, 1974. Renewing the theme of solitude from his previous articles (April and May) Nouwen states, “In solitude history becomes Kairos, which means history converts from a random collection of disconnected events into a constant opportunity for a change of heart and mind”. He goes on to say in clarification, “When history becomes Kairos, I am called to search for hope even in the middle of crying cities, burning hospitals and desperate parents and children”. Kairos, Nouwen suggests brings the depths of the heart into the actions of mind and hand; in Kairos which we touch in solitude, our actions are transformed. Nouwen concludes, “Every time in history that men and women have been able to respond to the manifestations of evil and death as to a Kairos, a historic opportunity, an inexhaustible source of generosity and new life has been opened, offering hope far beyond the limits of human prediction”.

Openness can get stale

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Openness can get Stale’ published in the National Catholic Reporter, June 21, 1974, p. 13. Nouwen begins the article by stating, ‘There is a false form of honesty that suggests nothing should remain hidden and everything should be said, expressed and communicated’. The article suggests that a lack of boundaries in relationships and a lack of silence and solitude can lead to a violation of our ‘inner sanctuary’. Nouwen writes that for all the openness we offer to one another there is however, still a ‘desire for protective boundaries by which man and woman do not have to cling to each other but can move graciously in and out of each other’s circle’. He then asks how we can find the road to conversion, ‘the conversion from loneliness into solitude. Instead of running away from my loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, I have to carefully protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude’. Nouwen ends the article with a reference to his own struggles with this issue and concludes by stating, ‘The few times however in which I followed the counsel of my severe masters and listen silently to my restless heart I started to sense that in the middle of my sadness there was joy, that in the middle of my fears there was peace, that in the middle of my greediness there was compassion and that indeed in the middle of my irking loneliness I could find the beginnings of a quiet solitude’

Loneliness contagious

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: Loneliness Contagious, published in the National Catholic Reporter, May 31, 1974. In this article Nouwen speaks of loneliness as a pervasive experience in modern life. He speaks first of his own loneliness and then states “ Loneliness is one of the most universal human experiences but our contemporary western society has heightened the awareness of our loneliness to an unusual degree”. He describes the loneliness people feel in crowded subways or at parties even though the images or words of welcome seem to imply warmth and closeness. “The language with which we are surrounded suggests anything but loneliness… it is a language which reveals the desire to be close and receptive to the stranger, but which in our society sadly fails to heal the pains of our loneliness, because the real pain is felt where we can hardly allow anyone to enter”. Nouwen concludes “The roots of loneliness are very deep and cannot be touched by optimistic advertisement, substitute love images or social togetherness”.

Marriage as ministry

This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Marriage as Ministry’, published in Notre Dame Journal of Education, Vol. 5, No. 2, Summer 1974, p. 101 – 106. Nouwen has divided this article into two parts: 1) Marriage as the binding of each other’s wounds and 2) Marriage as the healing of the suffering guest. Nouwen begins the first part by stating, ‘ What is man’s wound?...Words such as alienation, separation, isolation and loneliness have been used to indicate man’s wounded condition. I like to use the word loneliness in this context and try to understand our loneliness in the context of marriage’. Nouwen asks if ‘we are not trying to avoid a confrontation with our basic human loneliness ‘ by looking for another to fill all the loneliness of human life. He suggests that a marriage relationship is healing when the ‘love between husband and wife means a deep respect for the holy center where they are different, where they cannot reach each other, but must remain strangers’. He goes on to say that ‘many marriages are ruined because neither partner was able to fulfill the hidden hope that the other would take his or her loneliness away’. In part 2, Nouwen writes of how marriage, ‘can become a form of ministry not only to each other, but to strangers as well’, but that this is most healing when the stranger can enter into the space on their own terms, where the relationship between the couple creates ‘room for the other and…a friendly space where he can feel free to come and go, to be close and to take distance, to rest and to play, to talk and to be silent, to eat and to fast’. Nouwen suggests that in such a space each is free to recognize and own the loneliness and pain of the other which is a reality of human life. Nouwen concludes the article by saying, ‘Marriage is a ministry because marriage is where we can bind each other’s wounds with care and heal with our carefully protected wounds the many who pass us on their way. Loneliness is man’s wound.’

Encounter loneliness

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, Encounter Loneliness, published in the National Catholic Reporter, June 7, 1974, p.11. This article continues the focus on loneliness found in the article of May 31, 1974. Nouwen opens the article by stating, “Basic human loneliness threatens us and is so hard to face. Not seldom we will do every possible thing to avoid the confrontation with the experience of being alone and not seldom we are able to create the most ingenious devices to prevent ourselves from being reminded of this condition”. Nouwen speaks of our culture’s tendency to avoid loneliness; to fill all available time with activity. He suggests however that society also suffers because individuals also believe that they can take others’ loneliness away. “When my loneliness drives me away from myself into the arms of my companions in life, I am in fact driving myself into excruciating relationships, tiring friendships and suffocating embraces”. Nouwen goes on to develop the possibility that loneliness or unsatisfactory relationships can drive people into violence. He suggests at the conclusion that there must always be a private, ‘mysterious’ place in each person in order to develop community and healthy personal relationships.

Openness can get stale

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Openness can get Stale’ published in the National Catholic Reporter, June 21, 1974, p. 13. Nouwen begins the article by stating, ‘There is a false form of honesty that suggests nothing should remain hidden and everything should be said, expressed and communicated’. The article suggests that a lack of boundaries in relationships and a lack of silence and solitude can lead to a violation of our ‘inner sanctuary’. Nouwen writes that for all the openness we offer to one another there is however, still a ‘desire for protective boundaries by which man and woman do not have to cling to each other but can move graciously in and out of each other’s circle’. He then asks how we can find the road to conversion, ‘the conversion from loneliness into solitude. Instead of running away from my loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, I have to carefully protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude’. Nouwen ends the article with a reference to his own struggles with this issue and concludes by stating, ‘The few times however in which I followed the counsel of my severe masters and listen silently to my restless heart I started to sense that in the middle of my sadness there was joy, that in the middle of my fears there was peace, that in the middle of my greediness there was compassion and that indeed in the middle of my irking loneliness I could find the beginnings of a quiet solitude’

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