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Solitude and community

This item is an 11 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled,‘ Solitude and Community’, published in Worship, January 1978, pp. 13 – 23. Nouwen begins the article by noting that many people who live in community are asking how to find space and time for themselves because the intensity of community life has proved difficult. Nouwen identifies the purpose of this article as; ‘to offer some reflections on solitude in community in the hope that for some communities these ideas may offer new strength to remain faithful to the vision which originally brought them together’. Nouwen begins by identifying two viewpoints about the role of solitude in community which he considers false or too limited: 1) Solitude over against community and 2) Solitude in Service of community. This latter he clarifies solitude considered as simply ‘a tool in the service of life together’. Under the heading, ‘Solitude and Community’ Nouwen suggests what he sees as the real relationship between the two: ‘Solitude without community leads us to loneliness and despair, but community without solitude hurls us into a “void of words and feelings”’. He then goes on to state,’ I now would like to develop this view in more detail by relating solitude to intimacy, clarity and prayer’. In discussing what he intends by ‘intimacy’ Nouwen states that in solitude members of community may grow closer to each other. Nouwen states that constant talking things out without the depth provided by solitude, does not lead to communal growth. He suggests that ‘in solitude we are given the awareness of a unity that is prior to all unifying actions’. With regard to ‘clarity’ Nouwen states, ‘In solitude we begin to see more clearly and are more able to distinguish between what can be shared and what should be left unspoken’. In discussing ‘prayer’ Nouwen says the following ‘When I speak of prayer I refer less to saying prayers than to living a prayerful life in which eating and drinking, sleeping waking, working and praying are all done to the honor and glory of God’. Nouwen concludes the article by pointing out the difficulty of living out what he has said because of the many forces against, it but that it would be important then to consider ‘Education to solitude…is an important task for communities…’

Letting go of all things

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘ Letting Go of All Things’, published in Sojourners magazine, May 1979, pp. 5& 6. This article is identified as a ‘response to “The Work of Prayer” a project of Sojourners to pray for peace in face of the arms race. Nouwen begins by asking what this call might mean: does it represent a failure of action? A turning to God because turning to people didn’t help much? A capitulation to quietism? A dramatic gesture? Nouwen believes not: ‘I believe that the Sojourners are discovering a dimension of prayer they did not see before…I see their call not as an invitation to retreat into a familiar piety , but as a challenge to make a radical move toward prayer as “the only necessary thing”’. Nouwen suggests prayer as a dying to self, an opening to God, is the ground from which people move out into the world of action. Nouwen concludes, ‘ When …our act of prayer remains the act from which all actions flow, we can be joyful even when our times are depressing, peaceful even when the threat of war is all around us, hopeful even when we are constantly tempted to despair.

Article about Nouwen's feelings after attending the June 1980 Community of Communities Theological Conference

This item is a one column article by Henri Nouwen with no title but part of a larger article entitled ‘Hearing Heart to Heart, responses to a theological conference on prayer, published in Sojourners, October 1980, p.23,24. Nouwen begins by identifying his physical and emotional tiredness when he arrived at the conference but then states, ‘My week [at Woodland Park] will stick in my mind as one of the most hopeful events of my life’. Nouwen states that he does not speak of hope as optimism but the hope and trust in God who promises ‘unwavering faithfulness’. Nouwen then goes on to state that he learned from the conference that there are two essential aspects to the common life: prayer and resistance. Prayer holds the community steady and resistance is ‘an act of visible protest against the powers who are bent on waging war even at the cost of the destruction of humanity’.

Temptation: the pull toward upward mobility

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Temptation’, published in Sojourners,Vol. 10, No. 7, July , 1981, pp. 25 -27. This is part two of a three part series. Nouwen begins by stating that the spiritual life is ‘the life of the Spirit of Christ within and among us’. He then suggests that there is also the ‘Evil One’ who roams among us and tempts us away from the life of Jesus. This article looks at the three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness. The first temptation Nouwen identifies as the temptation to be relevant. ‘This temptation touches us at the center of our identity. In a variety of ways we are made to believe that we are what we produce’. The second temptation Nouwen identifies as the temptation to be spectacular. ‘We have come to believe that a service is valuable when many attend, a protest meeting is worthwhile when television cameras are present…’ Nouwen suggests that we value things that get a great deal of attention but forget the quiet unobtrusive ways of Jesus. The third temptation is the temptation to be powerful. Nouwen suggests we long for power, but the more we have the less we are satisfied. He goes on to point out that the only power that ‘works’ is the power of God which is often seen as powerlessness. ‘We do not belong to the world. We belong to God’.

Spiritual direction

This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled 'Spiritual Direction' published in Worship, Collegeville, Minnesota, Volume 55, Number 5, September, 1981, pp. 399 - 404.
Nouwen begins this article by stating his definition of spiritual direction. ‘Spiritual direction is direction given to people in their relationship with God’ Nouwen then goes on to say ‘I would like to offer a few ideas which might help in defining the nature of this ministry…which might begin to suggest some concrete ways in which this ministry can be practiced’. Under his first heading which speaks about the movement ‘from absurdity to obedience’ Nouwen defines the first as the root of ‘deaf’ and the second as the root of ‘listening’. Nouwen speaks of the difficulty of moving from the busyness of the absurd/deaf life to being willing to hear and then gain the discipline of obedient following of God. In his second section Nouwen speaks of ‘The three disciplines of the spiritual life’. These disciplines are identified as: the discipline of the church, the discipline of the Book and the discipline of the heart. Nouwen concludes his article by suggesting that at this time in history when many traditional ways of living are breaking down and people are turning to religious leaders for guidance, this is more than ever a time to consider spiritual direction.

Entering the heart of God

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Entering the Heart of God’, published in The Catholic Agitator, February 4, 1984, pp. 4-5. This article is identified as a condensation from a talk which Nouwen gave in Pasadena, Ca. on October 10, 1983. Nouwen opens the article by stating, ‘Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we say, “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again”. I have repeated those words over and over again daily, but since I went to Central America they have taken on new meaning for me’. In the first section of the article entitled ‘Christ has died”, Nouwen says that in his visit to Nicaragua ‘I saw Christ being crucified again’. He reminds people that even though they may have many troubles at home the Christian also enters into the heart of God who ‘became all humanity’ and that there is therefore a broader responsibility for one another. Nouwen discusses his hope that the church in Central America would at least be providing a word of peace and hope but that instead he found division and confusion. In the second section entitled, ‘Christ has risen’ Nouwen begins by stating that this means that ‘there is no pain or agony or confusion or conflict that has the final say’. Nouwen speaks of the meeting between a number of Americans and some women of Nicaragua who had lost children, husbands and others to U.S. supported violence from Honduras. The Americans asked forgiveness for the actions of their government and in a moment of powerful presence, it was given. ‘They wanted us to be free from our guilt so that we could speak for them and for peace. In the third section entitled, ‘Christ will come again’ Nouwen says that that moment will be when Christ does not ask if you were successful but what we have done ‘for the least of these’.

Intimacy, fecundity and ecstasy

This item is a 7 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Intimacy, Fecundity and Ecstasy’ published in Radix, May/June 1984, N 8 – 23, pp. 8 – 12, 22-23. Nouwen begins with a quotation from John’s Gospel, Chapter 15, and introduces a connection with this gospel passage and the work of Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche. ‘Out of that experience of living with severely handicapped people, Jean Vanier came to a conclusion, a kind of vision, that all human beings have three rights, or three privileges. They are the right and privilege of intimacy, the right and privilege of fecundity, and the right and privilege of ecstasy’. Nouwen then goes on to discuss each of these three ‘rights’. He begins by noting how difficult intimacy is for modern people; that people are unhappy and often at the mercy of their needs and the wounds of generations. Nouwen then asks, ‘Is there another way of living?’ and suggests that when Jesus says ‘make your home in me’, the answer is to be found there. With regard to fecundity, Nouwen begins by distinguishing between fruitfulness and productivity. He goes on to describe our society’s need to measure and control and duplicate, which he sees as productivity. Fruitfulness, Nouwen describes as a gift of vulnerability. ‘Probably the most important quality of fruit is that we have to leave it alone in order for it to grow’. In the final section on ecstasy Nouwen speaks of joy, the joy given by Jesus. Nouwen suggests that so many people live at a level of busyness, boredom and a sense of meaninglessness. He suggests that to be ecstatic is to move out of a state of being static; being willing to change and grow; to choose life. Nouwen concludes by saying,’ Wherever we live, we can live celebrating ecstatically, always having a party. There’s something new, a smile, because God is with us and we want to live’.

Letting go of all things

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: ’Letting Go of all things’, published in Baptist Peacemaker, Vol. V, No. 2, April 1985, pp. 1 & 5. It was previously published in Sojourners, May, 1979.
Nouwen begins by stating ‘The call to prayer is not an invitation to retreat to a familiar piety, but a challenge to make a radical move toward prayer as “the only necessary thing”’. Nouwen suggests prayer is a dying to self, a call to martyrdom, an opening to God, and is the ground from which people move out into the world of action. Nouwen quotes from a recent book by holocaust survivor Floris B. Bakels about the power prayer had for him in the camp. Nouwen writes about our ambivalence toward prayer, being drawn to it and yet resistant to it because of the demands we feel will be made by God. Nouwen concludes, ‘ When …our act of prayer remains the act from which all actions flow, we can be joyful even when our times are depressing, peaceful even when the threat of war is all around us, hopeful even when we are constantly tempted to despair’.

Liberation: freedom to love

This item is a 1 ½ page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: ‘Liberation: Freedom to Love’, published in Together by World Vision International, April-June 1985, No. 7. This item is identified as excerpts from Nouwen’s prologue to Gustavo Gutierrez’ book ‘We Drink from our own Wells’. Nouwen begins by stating, ‘The spirituality of liberation is deeply rooted in the lived experience of God’s presence in history’. Nouwen then writes that Gutierrez believes liberation theology cannot be reduced to a political movement nor is it a ‘theological rationale for a class struggle’. Nouwen states that Jesus is the center of the movement and Jesus loves both the oppressed and the oppressor. Nouwen reiterates a theme he has spoken of before that the spiritual well-being of the Americas, north and south are tied together and that the ‘inflamed’ cord of Central America that binds them together is reminding us that there is a deep spiritual crisis that involves the whole of the Americas. He concludes, ‘ In the name of millions of the nameless poor, Gustavo Gutierrez reaches out a hand to us and calls us to open our hearts again to the life-giving Spirit of Jesus…’

Living in joyful ecstasy

This item is a 5 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘, Living in Joyful Ecstasy, The House of God a Home amid an anxious World’, published in Sojourners, Vol. 14, No. 8, August/September 1985, pp. 27 – 31. This is part 3 of a three part series. Nouwen begins by stating that he does not believe ecstasy is simply for the mystical few but is in fact, for all Christian people. ‘I consider it very important to reclaim the word ‘ecstasy’ for all Christian people who strive to move from the house of fear to the house of love’. Nouwen then points to Jesus emphasis that he has come to bring joy and that all are called to remain in that joy. Nouwen moves from this introduction to a section entitled,’ Ecstasy and Fear’ and begins by stating that ‘just as fear prevents intimacy and fecundity, so too it makes ecstasy impossible’. He suggests that fear makes us cling to routine, to sameness and fear of change. Nouwen speaks of the people of L’Arche with whom he spent time and notes both the presence of routine but also the journey from fear to joy.’ If the world is a fearful place where you need all of your emotional energy just to survive, there is little capacity to move from one way of being alive to another…Where all has become fear, joy cannot be’. In the next section entitled, ‘Ecstasy and Love’ Nouwen points to the great difference between ephemeral happiness and deep joy. Deep joy is the joy of Jesus. It is a joy that holds both happiness and sorrow, good times and bad. ‘[Joy] is the solid ground from which new life can always burst forth’. In a final section entitled, ’A New International Order’ Nouwen moves on to write of the fears that are causing nations to build barriers and to fights battles rather than seek reconciliation and peace. He points to Jesus’ call to ‘the nations’ as well as to individual people. Nouwen notes the situations in Central and South America as places in which fear has brought nations almost to the brink of nuclear war. Nouwen concludes by stating, ‘The word “ecstasy” has opened a new perspective on joy as an essential element of a truly Christian spirituality. It is the constant moving away from the static places of death into the place where life can be recognized and celebrated’.

Saying no to death

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Saying No to Death’ published in Fellowship the journal of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Vol. 51, No. 9, September, 1985, pp. 9 – 11. Nouwen begins the article by citing a visit to an exclusive preparatory school where everyone seemed polite, intelligent and good mannered. However, at some point they all watched a film containing great deal of violence which was obviously entertaining to the young audience. Nouwen points to ‘the fact that a large portion of contemporary entertainment is fascinated with violence and death’. Nouwen then goes on to write of the various ways in which human beings live death which includes hatred, fear, judgment of others, desire to destroy what we fear. By judging others Nouwen suggests we play God but ‘everyone who plays God ends up acting as the demon’. Nouwen goes on to state that the peacemaker never plays God, never judges but sees others as fellow sinners and fellow saints. He suggests that, ‘As peacemakers we must have the courage to see the powers of death at work even in our innermost selves’. Nouwen points to our need to see ourselves as forgiven people rather than living in self-hatred which brings depression and fear and a form of death. In contrast to death Nouwen suggests that ‘Life mean mobility and change. Wherever there is life there is movement and growth’. Nouwen concludes by stating that ‘real resistance [to death] requires the humble confession that we are partners in the evil we seek to resist’.

Peace, a gift we receive in prayer

This item is an 11 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Peace, A Gift We Receive in Prayer’, published in the New Oxford Review, Vol. LII, No. 7, September 1985, pp. 7 – 18. It is indicated that this is part 1 of a 3 part series entitled: A Spirituality of Peacemaking. Nouwen opens the article by asking, ‘Must it remain this way? Must war drums constantly disturb us? Must we hear over and over that we need more and stronger weapons to safeguard our values and our lives?’. Nouwen goes on to describe his own struggle from hesitation to describe himself as a peacemaker to an understanding of the need to do so. Nouwen states, ‘I hope to show how peacemaking can no longer be regarded as peripheral to being a Christian’. ‘Christians today … have to find the courage to make the word peace as important as the word freedom’. Nouwen then goes on at some length to speak about the peacemaker as one who prays. ‘Prayer is the beginning and the end, the source and the fruit, the core and the content, the basis and the goal of all peacemaking’. Nouwen describes peace as a divine gift which is received in prayer. It is in prayer, he suggests, that we find ourselves part of wounded humanity, one like those who create war. ‘Only when we are willing repeatedly to confess that we too have dirty hands even when we work for peace, can we fully understand the hard task of peacemaking’. Nouwen references the gospels and the words of Jesus about the prayer of the peacemaker and the receipt of the gift of love in the relationship with Jesus that comes from prayer. ‘Nothing is more important in peacemaking than that it flows from a deep and undeniable experience of love’. Nouwen describes prayer as ‘the first and foremost act of resistance against the arms race’. Nouwen concludes by referencing a story from one of the desert fathers and by stating, ‘ When we can see our own sinful self in a tranquil mirror and confess that we too are warmakers, then we may be ready to start walking humbly on the road to peace’.

Saying "no" to death in all its manifestations

This item is an 8 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: ‘Saying “No” to Death in All its Manifestations’, published in the New Oxford Review, Volume LII, No. 8, October 1985, pp. 10 – 18. It is identified as Part II of a three part series. Nouwen begins by speaking of his experience of the Jewish holocaust when he was a child in Holland and of his awareness of the questions asked after, how could we let this happen? Nouwen realizes that now he is a well-educated adult and cannot claim that he does not see the horrors of the current nuclear threat or the injustices of American and other societies. He goes on to state, ‘Peacemaking is not an option any longer but a holy obligation for all people whatever their professional or family situation. Peacemaking is a way of living that involves our whole being all the time.’ Nouwen continues to write about the nuclear threat of the annihilation of the world as we know it; the way in which people who oppose it are treated unjustly; the way in which we enter into an ‘all pervasive fascination with death that is an integral part of our daily lives.’ Nouwen describes what he sees as the reality that ‘violence [is] mental before it is physical’. He writes that when we refuse to see others who are different as our brothers and sisters that is the beginning of future violence and death. He goes on to say, ‘I am moved by the idea that a peacemaker never judges anybody’ and that we become better peacemakers when we are able to forgive ourselves and others for our humanity. Nouwen then suggests, ‘Peacemaking requires clear resistance to death in all its manifestations…Real resistance requires the humble confession that we are partners in the evil that we seek to resist’.

Saying a humble, compassionate, & joyful "yes" to life

This item is an 8 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Saying a Humble, Compassionate, & Joyful “yes” to Life’ published in the New Oxford Review, Vol. LII, No. 9, November 1985, pp. 19 – 26. This item is identified as being Part III of a series entitled, ’A Spirituality of Peacemaking’. Nouwen begins by reminding the reader that in a previous part he discussed the need for us to say ‘No” to death. He then goes on to say ‘Resisting the forces of death is only meaningful when we are fully in touch with the forces of life we want to uphold’. Nouwen writes that it is more powerful to work for the forces of life than to face directly, the forces of death into which we may be drawn and unable to resist. Nouwen writes of the need of the Peacemaker to work with the forces of life which is a gentle, vulnerable force in order to resist death. Nouwen writes at length about resistance and suggests that there are three aspects of life that are important to one who is a resister, a peacemaker: humility, compassion and joy. Nouwen then discusses at length these three aspects of life. Nouwen concludes this section by stating, ’Thus the “No” to death can only be fruitful when spoken and acted out in the context of a humble, compassionate, and joyful “yes” to life. Resistance becomes a truly spiritual task only when the “no” to death and the “yes” to life are never separated’. In the last part of the article Nouwen writes of demonstrations of peaceful resistance that he has experienced and about which he expresses a certain level of ambivalence. Nouwen speaks of the peacemaker’s need for prayer and concludes the article by stating, ‘It is hard for me to see how resistance can be fruitful unless it deepens and strengthens our relationship with God. Prayer and resistance, the twin pillars of Christian peacemaking, are two interlocking ways of giving expression to the peace we have found in the dwelling place of God’.

The spirituality of peacemaking

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘The Spirituality of Peacemaking’ published in The Lutheran, February 5, 1986, pp. 12 – 14. Nouwen writes of the peacemaker as one who prays. ‘Prayer is the beginning and the end, the source and the fruit, the core and the content, the basis and the goal of all peacemaking’. Nouwen describes peace as a divine gift which is received in prayer. It is in prayer, he suggests, that we find ourselves part of wounded humanity, one like those who create war. ‘Only when we are willing repeatedly to confess that we too have dirty hands even when we work for peace, can we fully understand the hard task of peacemaking’. Nouwen references the gospels and the words of Jesus about the prayer of the peacemaker and the receipt of the gift of love in the relationship with Jesus that comes from prayer. ‘Nothing is more important in peacemaking than that it flows from a deep and undeniable experience of love’. Nouwen concludes, ‘Prayer – living in the presence of God – is the most radical peace action we can imagine’.

Excerpt from The living reminder

This item is a short paragraph by Henri Nouwen printed in The Builder, May 1986 and is identified as an excerpt from Nouwen’s book, ‘The Living Reminder’. The paragraph begins ‘A sustaining ministry requires the art of creative withdrawal so that in memory God’s Spirit can manifest itself and lead to the full truth’.

The fullness of divine love: reflections on a Russian Pentecost icon

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘The Fullness of Divine Love: Reflections on a Russian Pentecost Icon”, published in Sojourners, Vol. 15, No. 6, June 1986, pp. 24 – 27. This article is a reflection on Andrei Rublev’s icon, The Descent of the Holy Spirit’ a Russian icon painted toward the end of the 15th C. Nouwen writes that he is sharing the results of his prolonged reflection on this icon. Nouwen first stresses that he sees that ‘God reveals the fullness of divine love first of all in community’ rather than relying just on the individual. Nouwen says that he intends to show in more detail, three aspects of the spiritual life as he sees this in the icon. The first heading he entitles: ’The God Within’ and it results from the quietude he sees in the grouping in the icon as contrasted with usual Pentecostal activity in much art. ‘The Pentecost icon is such a masterpiece precisely because it draws us into the heart of the mystery of God’s self-revelation’. The second heading he entitles: ‘The community of Faith’ and here he begins ‘The Spirit within, the Spirit of the God of love, the Spirit of the Living Christ is the Holy Spirit who creates a new community among those who believe’. The third heading he entitles: ‘Liberating the World’. This part is reflecting on the figure at the bottom of the icon in what seems to be a dark cave. Here Nouwen believes that that leads into the need of the community to go out to the world to bring the light and love of the Spirit. Nouwen concludes ‘The Descent of the Holy Spirit is a door that leads us into the mystery of God’s inner life’.

Running from what we desire: Yet God's jealous love pursues us

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Running from What We Desire’, published in Partnership, Volume 3, No. 4, July – August 1986, pp. 32 – 35. Nouwen opens this article on prayer by relating a story of his own resistance to praying and that of others. He asks what it is that keeps us from praying and identifies fear as the most important factor. Nouwen believes that this fear comes from some underlying awareness of the kind of God we have. ‘Prayer means letting God’s creative love touch the most hidden places of our being, and letting Jesus’ way of the cross, his way of downward mobility, truly become our way’. Nouwen continues the article by saying we must not be afraid of God, we must not be afraid of Jesus and we must not be afraid of the Holy Spirit.

Working for peace: saying "no" to death requires saying "yes" to life

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Working for Peace’ published in The Church Herald of the Reformed Church in America, Vol. XLIII, No. 18, October 18, 1986, pp. 11 – 13. This is identified as the second of two articles on Peacemaking. Nouwen opens the article by stating, ‘ As peacemakers we must have the courage to see the powers of death at work even in our innermost selves…’Nouwen speaks of that within us which does not accept ourselves and that this is ‘one of the greatest enemies of the peacemaker’. Nouwen speaks of the central message of the Gospel which is that we are forgiven and this truth can help us overcome our fear of ourselves and of others. Nouwen writes of the need to resist, resist the forces of death and to affirm life. He speaks of the need for joy even in the face of pain. Nouwen concludes by saying, ‘Prayer cannot be fruitful unless it brings us into a new and creative relationship with people. Resistance cannot be fruitful unless it deepens and strengthens our relationship with God. Prayer and Resistance, the two pillars of Christian peacemaking…’This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Working for Peace’ published in The Church Herald of the Reformed Church in America, Vol. XLIII, No. 18, October 18, 1986, pp. 11 – 13. This is identified as the second of two articles on Peacemaking. Nouwen opens the article by stating, ‘ As peacemakers we must have the courage to see the powers of death at work even in our innermost selves…’Nouwen speaks of that within us which does not accept ourselves and that this is ‘one of the greatest enemies of the peacemaker’. Nouwen speaks of the central message of the Gospel which is that we are forgiven and this truth can help us overcome our fear of ourselves and of others. Nouwen writes of the need to resist, resist the forces of death and to affirm life. He speaks of the need for joy even in the face of pain. Nouwen concludes by saying, ‘Prayer cannot be fruitful unless it brings us into a new and creative relationship with people. Resistance cannot be fruitful unless it deepens and strengthens our relationship with God. Prayer and Resistance, the two pillars of Christian peacemaking…’

The journey from despair to hope

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘ The Journey from Despair to Hope’ published in Praying by the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company, No. 17, Mar-Apr. 1987, pp. 4 – 7. Nouwen begins the article by stating that Jesus, from the place of despair in death, speaks to us not of optimism or pessimism but hope. Nouwen identifies three levels of despair current in human life: ‘in interpersonal relationships, in global ways throughout the planet and in our church’. Nouwen goes on to say, ‘ I want to look at each of these ways of despair and then, drawing upon the hope Jesus offers us, try to say a word of hope in response’. In the first area of interpersonal despair Nouwen suggests that we tend to find relationships so often unsatisfactory, people cannot love us in a way that fulfills our deep need. Nouwen suggests that we have forgotten ‘the first love’ which is God’s love for us and that is our hope. ‘Freedom comes when you know with your heart that you are loved’. In the second level Nouwen points to our despair with the global situation and his sense that we almost prefer death to life in uncertainty. ‘But Jesus says “no” to death’. Nouwen states that we need to live without judgment, trusting in life. ‘Life is basically hidden. It is small and begs for constant care and protection. If you are committed to always saying “yes” to life, you are going to have to become a person who chooses it when it is hidden’. With regard to the third level of despair: in the church, Nouwen identifies this as particularly hard to bear but suggests that ‘we are called to be a community. We are called to be together, in a fellowship of the weak to proclaim Jesus as Lord’.

Holding ground

This item is a 9 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Holding Ground’, published in CALC Report by Baltimore Clergy and Laity Concerned, Vol. XIII, No. 2, sometime in Spring or summer 1987, pp. 12 – 20. This article is taken from a talk given by Henri Nouwen in March 1987 to Baltimore CALC’s March Conference ‘Responding in Faith as the Americas Meet’. Nouwen begins by describing a recent visit to the L’Arche community in Sujappa Honduras where he met Raphael a man who was deeply handicapped. ‘I wondered what this silent and completely dependent, handicapped young man was telling me about the Central American conflict and the Christian response to it’. Nouwen then describes the various Central American points of conflict and suggests that he understood Raphael to be, in his powerlessness, revealing a new meaning to Jesus’ words ‘Hold your ground before the Son of Man’. “His broken crucified body warned me never to surrender to fear, to pray unceasingly and to act faithfully…’.Nouwen then goes on to speak in the section entitled Prayer about prayer as the way to keep hearts focused and united. Nouwen speaks of the injustice involving the Indian people of Central America, the presence of what he calls the ‘descending Christ’ among them and the importance of prayer as being rooted in him before being able to act. In the section entitled Action, Nouwen first points to much action which seems to have achieved nothing. Nouwen then identifies as being most Christian that action which comes from ‘the place of forgiveness, reconciliation, community and compassion’. Nouwen then points to the importance of action having the quality of being able to receive, which is about recognizing the gifts of all. Nouwen also points to the importance of action as needing to be communal, of the whole Christian community, of the church. Nouwen concludes: ’ By speaking about prayer and action in response to the Central American reality, I have tried to restate concretely the Christian call to be in the world without belonging to it, to work for peace and justice while never losing touch with the One in whom we find our identity, to say “No” to the power of death while staying truly alive, to act courageously while praying confidently’.

Trying to avoid temptations when among the famous & successful: on not being distracted by power & wealth

This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Trying to Avoid Temptations when among the Famous and Successful’, published in New Oxford Review, June 1987, pp. 9 – 14. This item is the ninth installment in a series of articles reflecting on the year Nouwen spent at L’Arche, Trosley Breuil, France, 1985/6. The items in this installment cover dates from April 26 – May 22, 1986. The first two entries are reflections on the day’s gospel readings: asking in Jesus’ name and Jesus as the vine and the pruning of the branches. Nouwen speaks of the suffering of the pruning process ‘but they need to be cut away so that more fruit can grow’. He goes on to say, ‘The great challenge is to continue to recognize God’s pruning hand in my life’. The next item is written on Ascension day and Nouwen writes of the way this L’Arche community celebrates it. He describes the key points of a talk given by Jean Vanier on peacemaking. Nouwen then speaks of his busyness and yet his sense that he is accomplishing nothing. The remaining items cover a trip he then made to Boston, New York, Pittsburgh and Washington to visit friends and to give talks. Nouwen writes of the stress and anxiety he experiences in his friends and his desire that they should see another way of living that he himself has found in L’Arche. Nouwen meets in this trip some he calls ‘the rich and the powerful’ including Murray McDonnell in New York and members of the United States Senate in Washington and their thirst to hear about Jesus, ‘Give us a word from God, speak to us about Jesus…do not stay away from the rich who are so poor…’. Nouwen in one entry reflects on what ‘welcoming a little child in my name means’. Finally, Nouwen writes of being asked to give the commencement address at a Presbyterian Seminary. When he speaks with the seminarians he is surprised to hear them speaking more like professional businessmen than ministers. ‘When I asked them how important Jesus was for them, they said there was a tendency to speak more about God than about Jesus’. Nouwen determines that he will speak of Jesus in his address. At the commencement ceremony Nouwen meets two old friends, Fred Rogers also known as Mr Rogers and John Fife a co-founder of the sanctuary movement.

The passion of Marthe Robin

This item is a 7 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘The Passion of Marthe Robin’, published in The Catholic Digest, November 1987, pp. 30 – 39. This is a series of excerpts from the diary of Henri Nouwen from the year he spent at L’Arche, Trosly Breuil, France in 1985/6. The entries in this article focus entirely on his visit to the house and room where Marthe Robin lived and died. Nouwen reflects and prays, with his friend Bernard, in her room on several occasions and speaks about the influence of Marthe on many people and especially on Père George Finet, the founder of the Foyers de Charité. Nouwen and his friend also visit the main Foyer de Charité and Fr. Finet in Chateauneuf de Galaure, France, also the place where Marthe Robin lived her life of prayer and suffering.

Holy week meditations

This item is a 5 page series of Holy Week meditations by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘ Holy Week Meditations’, published in ‘Praying’ a journal of the National Catholic Reporter, March-April, 1988, No. 23, pp. 4 – 9. Some of these excerpts have appeared in Nouwen’s Road to Daybreak, published in 1988 and are written during his time at l’Arche Trosley Breuil in France. The mediations begin with Palm Sunday and Nouwen is pondering Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem and writing of the words spoken by Pere Thomas during the service. Monday is written in the form of a prayer. Tuesday begins with Jesus in John’s gospel ‘one of you will betray me’. Nouwen writes of Jesus being ‘handed over’ and moving from activity to passivity. Wednesday Nouwen writes of the positions of Peter and of Judas and the choices one makes to trust in God’s mercy and the other to despair in the face of his betrayal rather than trust. Thursday Nouwen describes his participation in the Holy Thursday service at the l’Arche community in Paris and speaks of being touched deeply by the washing of the feet. ’I saw a glimpse of the new kingdom Jesus came to bring. Everybody in the room knew how far they were from being a perfect expression of God’s love. But everybody was also willing to make a step in the direction to which Jesus pointed’. Good Friday which Nouwen describes as both a day of suffering and a day of hope. Nouwen writes of seeing Christ’s body lying across the whole world and the immense suffering of humanity. Holy Saturday Nouwen writes of the Easter Vigil, and sees ‘the celebration of the resurrection of the body is also the celebration of the daily care given to the bodies of these handicapped men and women. Nouwen ends the mediations with Easter Sunday. A quiet Eucharist at Mdme Vanier’s house and the discussion after the Mass. ‘The five of us sitting in a circle around the table with a little bread and a little wine…knew deep in our hearts that for us too all had changed, while all had remained the same’.

Praying with icons

This item is a 5 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Praying with Icons’ in the Forum section of the National Catholic Reporter, Vol. 24, No. 25, April 15, 1988, pp. 7 – 11. This item consists of edited excerpts from Nouwen’s book: Behold the Beauty of the Lord’; commentaries on four Russian icons. The first icon Nouwen looks at is Rublev’s Holy Trinity painted in 1425. Nouwen begins by stating ‘To live in the world without belonging to the world summarizes the essence of the spiritual life’ which reminds us that our true home is with God. Nouwen goes on to write that ‘I have never seen the house of love more beautifully expressed than in [this] icon. Nouwen writes that this icon has helped him to enter more deeply into the mystery of God and yet remain fully engaged in the ‘hate and fear-filled world’. Nouwen ends this meditation by stating,’ The longer we pray with the icon and the deeper our heart is drawn toward that mysterious place where circle and cross are both present, the more fully we come to understand how to be committed to the struggle for justice and peace in the world while remaining at home in God’s love’. In the second icon, The Virgin of Vladimir painted in the 12th C., Nouwen begins by describing the importance of this icon through the centuries. He then begins by writing first of her eyes, then her hands and finally, the child in her arms. Nouwen also writes, ‘Contemplating this icon was a profound experience for me. It was the experience of being lifted up through the intercession of the Blessed Mother into the inner life of God’. The third icon, The Savior of Zvenigorod, Nouwen writes first of his longing always, to see the face of Christ and in this 15th C., somewhat damaged icon by Andre Rublev, Nouwen sees a face in which he ‘saw what I had never seen before and felt what I had never felt before’. Nouwen speaks of his face and then states, ‘what finally makes seeing Rublev’s icon such a profound spiritual experience are the eyes of the Savior. The fourth icon is a 15th C. Russian icon entitled ‘The Descent of the Holy Spirit’. Nouwen describes how gazing upon this icon helps move his head knowledge to his heart. He suggests that the iconographer ‘has chosen to paint the deepest meaning of Pentecost. He wants to express the inner event’. Nouwen concludes by writing, ‘ All four icons speak of a God not hidden in the dazzling splendor of the divine light, but in reaching out to a world yearning for freedom…’

The place of his presence

This item is a half- page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘The Place of his presence’ published in The Lutheran, December 14, 1988, Vol. 1, No. 18, p. 15. This item is written in the form of a prayer to Jesus in his poverty, rejection and powerlessness asking Jesus’ to be with Nouwen and all his people especially at their poorest.

Adam's peace

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Adam’s Peace’ published in the Rosebank Biblical College Journal ‘Link’, March 1989, pp. 1 -3. This item is reprinted from the journal of World Vision, August/September 1988. Nouwen begins by describing his move from the intellectual atmosphere of Harvard to the l’Arche community for the mentally handicapped at Daybreak. Nouwen writes of the atmosphere of loving equality at his house and then begins to write of Adam Arnett for whom Nouwen had some responsibility. Nouwen describes Adam as a totally dependent man who could not speak nor care for himself and who suffered daily with grand mal seizures. As he began to know Adam however, Nouwen says, ‘Out of this broken body and broken mind emerged a most beautiful human being offering me a greater gift than I would ever be able to offer him’. Nouwen uses the remainder of the article to write of Adam’s role as a man of peace, a peacemaker. ‘Adam’s peace is first of all a peace rooted in being’. Nouwen compares this with the desire of many people to strive for success and for self-worth rather than accepting much more just ‘to be’. Nouwen writes of the importance of the heart over the mind; of the heart as the center of our being where God is. Nouwen writes of the ways in which Adam helps to create community among all those who are committed to his care. Nouwen writes, ‘I’ve told you about Adam and his peace to offer you a quiet guide with a gentle heart, a little light for walking through this dark world’. As Nouwen concludes the article he writes of Jesus, the Prince of Peace; Jesus whose peace is found in weakness. Nouwen begins his conclusion by then turning to us and saying, ‘I say to you: do not give up working for peace. But remember that the peace you seek is not of this world…Keep your eyes on the one who is poor with the poor, weak with the weak, and rejected with the rejected. That one is the source of all peace’.

Adam's peace

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Adam’s Peace’, published in Seventh Day Adventist journal ‘Signs of the Times’, May 1989, pp. 2 – 4. Although this article does not attribute its source it is taken from the journal of World Vision, August/September 1988. It was originally a talk given by Nouwen at Harvard University. Nouwen begins by describing his move from the intellectual atmosphere of Harvard to the l’Arche community for the mentally handicapped at Daybreak. Nouwen writes of the atmosphere of loving equality at his house and then begins to write of Adam for whom Nouwen had some responsibility. Nouwen describes Adam Arnett as a totally dependent man who could not speak nor care for himself and who suffered daily with grand mal seizures. As he began to know Adam however, Nouwen says, ‘Out of this broken body and broken mind emerged a most beautiful human being offering me a greater gift than I would ever be able to offer him’. Nouwen uses the remainder of the article to write of Adam’s role as a man of peace, a peacemaker. ‘Adam’s peace is first of all a peace rooted in being’. Nouwen compares this with the desire of many people to strive for success and for self-worth rather than accepting much more just ‘to be’. Nouwen writes of the importance of the heart over the mind; of the heart as the center of our being where God is. Nouwen writes of the ways in which Adam helps to create community among all those who are committed to his care. Nouwen writes, ‘I’ve told you about Adam and his peace to offer you a quiet guide with a gentle heart, a little light for walking through this dark world’. As Nouwen concludes the article he writes of Jesus, the Prince of Peace; Jesus whose peace is found in weakness. Nouwen begins his conclusion by then turning to us and saying, ‘I say to you: do not give up working for peace. But remember that the peace you seek is not of this world…Keep your eyes on the one who is poor with the poor, weak with the weak, and rejected with the rejected. That one is the source of all peace’.

Because of Adam

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Because of Adam’, published in The Reader’s Digest, January 1990, pp. 114 – 116. This item is condensed from an article published in Weavings, March/April 1988. Nouwen begins by stating that he has recently moved from academia to living at the l’Arche community of Daybreak with men and women who have mental disabilities. He describes being assigned to help a very severely handicapped man named Adam Arnett. Nouwen describes his daily routine with the totally helpless 25 year old man and his growing awareness that Adam was doing more for him than he for Adam. ‘This severely handicapped young man, whom outsiders sometimes describe with very hurtful words, started to become my dearest companion’. Nouwen goes on to describe the very special effect Adam has on the people with whom he lives and the peace that, because of Adam’s need, helps them to work together.

Story demonstrates true meaning of compassion

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Story demonstrates true meaning of compassion’, published in The Liberal, March 13, 1991, p. B7. The Liberal appears to be a publication from Richmond Hill, ON. This item is a story of an old man who risks his own life to save a scorpion caught in a branch by water. It is not an original story by Nouwen but he concludes by stating, ‘[This story] challenges us to show that to embrace is more human than to reject, that to kiss is more human than to bite, to behold is more human than to stare, to be friends is more human than to be rivals, to make peace more human than to make war – in short that compassion is more human than strife.’

Unchanged by the world

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Unchanged by the World’ published in Sojourners, August-September, 1991, Vol. 20, No. 7, pp. 28/29. This volume of Sojourners is noted as being the ‘20th Anniversary Issue’ and Nouwen’s article is referencing that. Nouwen opens the article by stating that the life and work of Sojourners reminds him of the little boy who asked the prophet ‘Dear Prophet, why do you keep prophesying when nobody listens to your words and when nobody changes their lives? The remainder of the article suggests that it is Sojourners future role ‘to keep calling its readers to live the brokenness of the world and their own brokenness under the blessing.’

Creating space to mourn our losses

This item is a half- page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Creating Space to Mourn our Losses’ published in the meditation section of The Catholic New Times, March 29, 1992, p. 3. The item is identified as Part Two of a five-part series featuring the text of a talk by Nouwen for the 25th anniversary of Christian Counselling Services in Toronto. The archives has only the first 3 parts. Nouwen begins by stating ‘ When it is true that we all are healers through the Spirit who lives within us, we are called to create safe spaces to mourn our losses’. Nouwen describes the society we live in as one which does not support weakness, vulnerability, mourning. This, Nouwen suggests, gives rise to secrets, secrets which people hold in and do not share and therefore, do not mourn. ‘The Spirit of God within us says: “Mourn, my people, mourn. Let your pain rise up in your heart and burst forth in you with sobs and cries”’. Nouwen goes on to say that insofar as we allow ourselves to feel our pain ‘Healing starts not where our pain is taken away, but where it can be shared and seen as part of a larger pain.’

Adam's peace

This item is a one-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Adam’s Peace’, published in ‘The Christian Reader’, March/April 1992, p.40. The article is identified as an excerpt from, ed. Robert Durback: ‘Seeds of Hope’, a Henri Nouwen Reader. Nouwen opens the article by describing his move from academia to the L’Arche community of Daybreak and his introduction to Adam, a severely handicapped man for whom Nouwen is asked to help care. Nouwen describes his initial discomfort but after time realizes that this man ‘who by many outsiders is considered an embarrassment, a useless creature who should not have been allowed to be born, had started to become my dearest companion’. In time Nouwen recognizes the presence of Jesus, the Prince of peace in him.

Forgiveness: the name of love in a wounded world

This item is a 10 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Forgiveness: The Name of Love in a Wounded World’, published in ‘Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life’, Vol. VII, No. 2, March/April 1992, pp. 6 – 15. The thoughts found in this article are identified as later to be found in Nouwen’s book, “The Life of the Beloved’. Nouwen begins the article by stating that in the stress and pressure of modern life he had ‘begun to wonder whether there was a single, simple word that might address the deep yearning of contemporary men and women for hope, trust, love and a vision larger than their own changing perspectives…That word is Beloved’. Nouwen goes on to describe how he began to see that word as applying to himself and to all; that it is a word of love from our ‘first love’, God. Nouwen sees self-rejection as one of the most powerful forces to be overcome in order to see ourselves as beloved. Nouwen suggests that we tend to seek our self-worth from human loves which of their nature will fail us. Nouwen goes on to describe ‘the experience of being called the Beloved is the experience of communion’, which he believes is the longing of all human hearts. ‘The treasure of communion is hidden in the ground on which we stand. That is our holy ground’. Nouwen then writes of the power of forgiveness, ‘Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly’…’we need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour…’ Finally Nouwen writes of the freedom to love that comes with awareness of being the Beloved. ‘Once we are free from the expectation of rewards, we no longer select those to whom we offer our love’.

You can go home again

This item is a two page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘You can go home again’, published in Salt: for Christians who seek social justice’ by the Claretians, Vol. 12, No. 4, April 1992, pp. 29 – 30. This article is identified as excerpts from Nouwen’s forthcoming book The Return of the Prodigal Son. Nouwen begins the article by describing his first encounter with Rembrandt’s painting and his powerful response to it coming as it was at a vulnerable time for Nouwen. Nouwen then goes on to write of the biblical story from which the painting and Nouwen’s writing is coming. Nouwen relates the story of the younger son and Nouwen’s own sense of finding himself in the story. ‘Over and over again I have left home. I have fled the hands of blessing and run off to faraway places searching for love! This is the great tragedy of my life and of the lives of so many I meet on my journey’. Nouwen concludes, ‘ Here the mystery of my life is unveiled. I am loved so much that I am left free to leave home. But the Father is always looking for me with outstretched arms to receive me back…’

An invitation to joy

This item is a 5 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘An Invitation to Joy’ published in the journal ‘Praying’ by the National Catholic Reporter, May-June 1992, pp. 4 – 9. This item is identified as an excerpt from Nouwen’s ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’. Nouwen begins the article by stating, ‘I am not used to the image of God throwing a big party’. He then goes on to identify biblical passages where God is said to be throwing banquets and rejoicing and to suggest that ‘Celebration belongs to God’s kingdom. God not only offers forgiveness, reconciliation and healing, but wants to lift up these gifts as a source of joy for all who witness them’. Nouwen writes of his own inability to see joy in a dark world but notes how Jesus sees joy and cause for celebration in very small, seemingly insignificant moments. ‘For God numbers never seem to matter’. ‘People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness but they choose not to live in it’. Nouwen concludes by saying ‘When I first saw Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son, I never could have dreamt that becoming the repentant son was only a step on the way to becoming the welcoming father. I now see that the hands that forgive, console, heal and offer a festive meal must become my own’.

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