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Recording of who are we? : exploring our Christian identity

Item consists of a sound recording (SR114) of Nouwen speaking of our identity as humans and as Christians. Some themes include relationships, belovedness, community, love and communion with others and God. The original address took place at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, County Kildare Ireland in 1991.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on Mourning and dancing

Item consists of a sound recording of Nouwen speaking at the Center for Social Concerns in South Bend, Indiana. This was a three day event from March 19-22, 1992. The audio cassettes are from March 21 when Nouwen spoke on the subject of mourning and dancing. Also includes singing, prayers and stories from core members of different L'Arche Communities. SR115v1 contains part I; SR115v2 contains part II.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on Caring for the whole person: the relationship between spirituality and medical care

Item consists of a sound recording of Nouwen speaking at York Central Hospital, in Richmond Hill on June 3, 1992. Nouwen spoke on the subject of spirituality and medical care. Some topics covered include forgiveness during times of grave illness, the experience of being near death, and the need to shift caring for the sick away from viewing illness as "the great enemy" and death as failure. Nouwen talks of the necessity of befriending illness and death, and to address and accept mortality.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on the spirit blows where it pleases: Judith Hollister lecture series

Item consists of a sound recording of Nouwen speaking at Wainwright House as part of the Judith Hollister Lecture Series. Nouwen reflected on the theme of interfaith dialogue through his own spiritual journey and his experience in community at L'Arche. Carl MacMillan and Bill van Buren accompanied Nouwen and spoke about the history of L'Arche generally and Daybreak specifically. The date of Nouwen's talk is not known, although it is believed he gave this talk on the spur of the moment when visiting New York City for other purposes.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on Spirituality of fundraising

Item consists of a sound recording of Nouwen speaking at the Marguerite Bourgeoys Family Service Annual General Meeting in Toronto. Nouwen spoke on the spiritual aspects of fundraising. Nouwen states that, in the gospel, fundraising is a form of ministry, and those who donate are offered an opportunity to participate in a vision: as opposed to begging, which is done in times of crisis. The spirit of the individual donating is enriched by the sharing of resources.

Recordings of Henri Nouwen at Kanuga Conferences

Item consists of 6 audio cassettes of talks given by Nouwen at the Kanuga Conference Center, March 17 - 19, 1993.
SR119 v1: "Opening Remarks and Introduction - Wed. a.m.";

  • SR119v.1_a – 47:16

Starts with music – Announcer: Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville, North Carolina, presents, “The Beloved Community” with Henri Nouwen.

Nouwen is introduced by an unknown man. This man welcomes Nouwen, Sr. Sue Mosteller, and Bill van Buren. He then introduces Fr. Bennet Simms, a Bishop of the church, friend of Kanuga, and member of the Bowen committee. Simms introduces Nouwen, and mentions that Nouwen receives forty invitations to speak each week, so that alone tells them how fortunate they are to have Henri and his friends among them.

Nouwen begins with a word about himself, and says he wanted to be a priest since he was four years old. He says it is a privilege to not be there alone, and he started to realize more and more that Jesus was saying to go two by two or three by three. Nouwen hopes the conference thinks of them as a little community sent out by their community to minister to them. He doesn’t think of himself as giving ministry, but as coming to share their lives.

Sr. Mosteller briefly speaks about the L’Arche Daybreak community, a brief history, its goals, what it’s like to live there.

Van Buren speaks about his life at Daybreak, and that he lives in an apartment now. He got quite nervous and couldn’t speak, so Nouwen asked him questions to help him along.

Nouwen begins by speaking about the voice of God, and how it speaks to him and to us. Jesus came to show us how to live, and our journey comes from listening to that voice of Jesus. It’s a very soft voice, a very non-intrusive voice. God was in that gentle voice. That’s the word we have to hear, you are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter. We have to help each other hear that voice so we can live in this world that requires from us to make a contribution. He asks people to listen to the voice and look for where the word speaks to them, and to descend from the mind into the heart. He asks them to use inner silence where they can listen for the voice, and to be silent while at the retreat, and not in discussion.

SR119 v2: "Henri Nouwen Address I - Wednesday Afternoon";

  • SR119v.2_a – 47:14

Starts with music – Announcer: Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville, NC, presents, “The Beloved Community” with Henri Nouwen.

Nouwen begins by writing Latin words on a white board: O adoramus te domine. He says this afternoon, he would like to speak about adherence, and being connected in an intimate way with God, and to adhere in prayer.

Song: O adoramus te domine. Nouwen gives instructions during the song on how to sing (louder, softer, etc.).

Speaks about the text that they reflected on in the morning. He says, “Our spiritual life will really depend on our willingness to hear the voice that calls us to be the beloved.”

Nouwen talks about living the spiritual life. He begins by talking about life, and draws a line on the white board, and talks about our short chronologies. Merton spoke about our clock time – the clock keeps ticking, and it goes by quite fast. It is important for us to look at our lives, and look at our time. We walk with a question: who am I? That is a very central question. We want to be useful people, and do things that give us a sense of doing something significant in life. If we cannot do anything anymore, we feel threatened somewhere in the basis of our being. To be useless is a threat. There are quite a lot of people who cannot do anything. People with disabilities suffer not because they cannot talk or walk, but because they feel they are useless, they are not doing something that makes other people proud of them, and the feel a burden. If you cannot do something useful, you start to feel marginal in society. Not for nothing that we give trophies – what can we show for it?

Van Buren talks about his heart, and the difficulties he’s been having (pacemaker). He felt anxious. Nouwen talks about van Buren’s anxiety.

I am what other people say about me. I am what I have. We become like puppets, manipulated by the world. A lot of what we call ministry or pastoral care is about keeping people above the line (of happiness and depression), even though you know you can only do it so long. Nouwen says, this is not where our identity is rooted. We are not what we do, what people say about us, what we own. Our identity, our belonging, is not of this world. Our belonging is that we belong to God who calls us beloved children, beloved daughter, beloved son. Before Jesus started his public ministry, he was affirmed as the beloved. You are the beloved child, that is who you are. Jesus walked through his life from that moment, all the way until the cross, with the knowledge that he is the beloved. People love him, people hated him. All ups and downs, constant. But Jesus knew he belonged to his God, but he had heard that voice reverberating in his total being. If you read the gospels, that’s what Jesus is holding onto; “everybody will betray me, everybody will abandon me, but my Father will not abandon me. All that I am doing among you, I am doing because the Father that calls me the beloved is sending me to do this. Just as I don’t belong to the world, Jesus says, so you don’t belong to the world, because the voice that speaks to me is speaking to you.”

Suddenly, we realize these three things that give us our identity in fact are part of the temptation.

SR119v.2_b – 47:15

Nouwen says, “I don’t have to prove that I am beloved, I don’t have to rpove that I am loveable by doing things, by owning things, by having a good name, that is not necessary, I am already the beloved. That is who I am. Because long before I could love or be loved, I was loved. Love one another, because God has loved you first, and therefore this is the experience of God’s first love. The love that was there before your parents, teachers, friends, church, etc. decided to love you and hurt you. Real hurt doesn’t come from people who don’t love you, it comes from people who want to give you deep love.”

Nouwen asks them to reclaim, in a deeper way, the truth: throughout all the ups and downs of history, your personal history, social history, world history, you are meant to become the place of sanctification, the place where you become holy. God wants you to live a life and every time you are in touch with life, you know the truth.

There are a few minutes of silence, then singing. An unknown man then asks people to write in their journals on the talk, write for a few minutes, then go to their groups to discuss, and keep silent in between.

SR119 v3: "Henri Nouwen Address II - Wed. Evening";

  • SR119v.3_a – 47:07

Starts with music – Announcer: Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville, NC, presents, “The Beloved Community” with Henri Nouwen.

Nouwen is introduced by an unknown man, who says that they would like to hear more about this deep truth of life at the center.

Nouwen teaches them a song, “Jesus, Jesus, Let Me Tell You What I Know.”

Nouwen then talks about claiming who we are, that we are the beloved sons and daughters of God. A story about claiming that is the story of the prodigal son. Nouwen talks about his experience of not having time to pray or be with God, and he wasn’t even desiring it anymore (he was travelling a lot and speaking all over, 1984 or so). Nouwen then went to France at an invitation by Jean Vanier. While there, one of the first things he saw was the poster featuring part of the Rembrandt painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son. Over the following year, that painting started to captivate part of his imagination. Someone invited him to go to Russia with them, and Nouwen had to be there, and went to Russia just to be with the painting.

Nouwen then describes the painting (all the components), and his experience of looking at it at the Hermitage. He looks at his own life through the eyes of each person involved in the Prodigal Son story (the father, the older son, the younger son).

SR119v.3_b – 47:07

Nouwen continues to talk about the Prodigal Son. Our lives change, and we can see ourselves as the younger son, the elder son, and the father. You’re not supposed to stay a son, a child, you’re supposed to grow up and become a father. We have to come home to Him. Nouwen says he has realized he is older than the son and is now the father. He is coming home more and more.

Song – Jesus, Jesus, Let me tell you what I know.

Sr. Sue Mosteller speaks from 17:50. She talks about trying to discover the heart of the father, the heart of God. Through Rembrandt’s painting, we discover the heart of the father, which hopefully will become our heart. She says, “We’ve been talking today about being the beloved, and that’s beautiful, because it makes us children of God. Love can’t stop. If I am loved, then I have no choice but to love. The remarkable life of Jesus shows us that, through all his ups and downs… that through all his painful moments of suffering… Jesus teaches us by his life. Jesus became love. Jesus became the one who loved.”

Mosteller talks about wanting to save people in pain. Our challenge is how to we not get rid of what causes pain, but how do we live with pain? She tells a story of a woman named Joanne, with regard to relationships and pain. We have to step over our pain to welcome each other home, and love each other for who we are. We hurt each other in our relationships, but we have to give love, forgive each other. That is the love of the father. As we take on the image of the ones who love us, then our love begins to come back into the world and into the church. The father yearns for the communion of the father, and stoops to plead with his son out of love.

Nouwen concludes by saying tomorrow will be the conclusion. It is important to realize that our ability to become the father also has to do with our having come home. He talks of Jesus as the younger son, and then the older son.

Song: Where there is charity and love (in Latin).

SR119 v4: "Henri Nouwen Address III - Thurs. Morning";

  • SR119v.4_a – 47:00

Starts with music – Announcer: Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville, NC, presents, “The Beloved Community” with Henri Nouwen.

Group starts with a song:“in this place, Lord, we glorify today; in our hearts, Lord, we glorify today; in your church, Lord, we glorify today; in our world, Lord, we glorify today”

Nouwen mentions that this morning they had a reading from Romans, and that reading helped them to reflect on what they heard yesterday: that we are the children of God and heirs. Jesus came to us not only to tell us who we are, but to live who we are. The life of Jesus is really the life of the beloved; he came to live it, not just as an example. We can be invited to follow him, but to follow him in a way so we become like him. We become living Christs, we became more and more beloved.

Nouwen then talks about being a child of God. Being a child of God is different for each of us. It isn’t a general reality, it’s some very concrete and very specific. As a child of God who claims his true childhood and his true home, we are called to be the parent, like the father, like the mother. Our ministry and whole life in the world is to be a parent, and to welcome people home who are lost, to embrace them, and not ask too many questions, and have the freedom to say “you are welcome.” This is the walk to spiritual adulthood. It is not chronological, you don’t become a child, then a parent. You have to remain in touch with your childhood to become a parent. We are parents for each other, and we call each other to claim our childhood. Obedience and authority belong together.

Nouwen asks for some questions, which are too difficult to hear, relating to the spiritual journey.

Song: unknown title.

Sue answers the questions and talks about finding balance in belovedness. The child is never balanced, and we move back and forth.

Nouwen concludes by talking about living the mystical life, which is a life in communion with God. Out of that communion comes communion with one another. Out of that comes the life of ministry in the world.

SR119v.4_b – 46:58

Nouwen begins by talking about gravitate to the voices that tell the truth that he is the beloved. He has to allow his community to declare him the beloved when he is really depressed. He says, “Emotionally I am not there at all, but people in the community are saying ‘you feel awful, rejected, useless, I want you to keep acting according to the knowledge beyond all of these rejections, you still are the one who is loved with an everlasting love. Can we help you at least act according to that truth?.’” You have to acknowledge and embrace the anger and know it, but do not let the sun go down on it. When you fall asleep, go to sleep as a child of God, and not as the angry one, and be able to let others speak for you if you are not able to speak yourself.

Nouwen discusses fundraising, and using that as an opportunity to do ministry. Fundraising is a way to call people to a new way to make their resources available for the growth of the Kingdom. Every meeting, be it business or financial or otherwise, has to be prayerful.

This is where power and hierarchy come into play. Nouwen says, “If we talk about power in the church, we somewhere have to believe that the power has to be a power that’s born out of our powerlessness. The power of Jesus comes out of the cross, it’s the power of God’s love that comes from His vulnerability. The spiritual power comes from our confession. It’s the downward mobility of Jesus, Jesus’ coming down to us. God revealed His power in powerlessness. God revealed his divinity by stripping Himself of His divinity and living powerless. He died and suffered, and so revealed His glory to the world.”

Nouwen wants us to claim our spiritual freedom and power by letting go of burdens that we carry. Claim the burdens, talk about them, cry about them, feel them, and gradually you will let them go and discover that there is no longer an oppressive presence. You were hurt, but now you are free from it.

Bill van Buren briefly speaks about what is hard for him in community, and anger. Henri helps him along by asking questions. Bill says to go somewhere to pray, and not to take our your anger on the people around you. He also talks to other people about his anger.

Nouwen also mentions Vincent van Gogh, and how van Gogh was able to see something special in very ordinary realities (Postmaster, two paintings of sunflowers).

Nouwen then concludes by talking about the life of the beloved, and being taken, blessed, broken, and given. He starts with the gospel of Luke, the story of Emmaus, and Jesus being recognized by taking the bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it. To recognize the presence of Jesus that is the presence of the beloved, is these four realities: taking, blessing, breaking, giving.

SR119 v5: "Henri Nouwen Address IV - Thurs. Evening";

  • SR119v.5_a – 47:10

Starts with music – Announcer: Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville, NC, presents, “The Beloved Community” with Henri Nouwen.

Simple song, “The Lord is my Shepherd, This I Know”

Nouwen briefly mentions the sunflowers paintings by Vincent van Gogh, “You know, you like these flowers. But you look up close, they’re quite miserable. They’re in bad shape. But together, they look quite nice. That’s what community is about.” He also quotes a letter by van Gogh to his brother, in which he talks about painting the beauty of ordinary people (he doesn’t paint them with halos). Nouwen says he uses these paintings as a symbol – we are little people that are great in God’s eyes.

Nouwen then speaks about discipline and discipleship. Without discipline, there is no discipleship. Without discipleship, discipline becomes oppressive. Discipline is the human effort to create space for God, it’s to create boundaries, the spiritual boundaries in which God can exist. In this space, God can speak to us as individuals or as a community. We have to be there to be guided. The discipline is to make discipleship possible by creating space where we can hear the voice of the shepherd and discover God’s place in our life.

Nouwen reads a passage from scripture (what passage??), where he wants to use it to identify the parts of the spiritual life. “Now it happened in those days that Jesus went onto the mountain to pray. He spent the whole night in communion with God… power came out of him that cured them all.”

Jesus spent a night in communion with God. In the morning, he created a community around him. In the afternoon, he ministered with the community around him. This is the order of God: communion, to community, to ministry. These three words are the disciplines of the spiritual life. You are the beloved, who is taken, blessed, broken, and given. As the beloved you are called to live a life of communion, to always create community, and to minister. That doesn’t happen without discipline, and without creating a space where you can commune with God. Nouwen says, “The first and most holy call is to live in communion with God, so that you can live in the name of God, be in the name, and speak and act eventually in the name. The name is your home, that’s where you belong… Communion with God always wants to become community. Community with one another in the name of God always becomes ministry. Communion, community, and ministry are the three disciplines of the mystical life.”

Song: The Lord is my wisdom, this I know

Sr. Sue Mosteller speaks from 23:15 on about the story of community and the spiritual journey. She discusses chapter three of Exodus. She asks, what are the signs of how God leads us? What are the things that we can be grateful for? One of the things we can do in communion is be grateful, and give thanks. Furthermore, on the journey, there are two things that would help us as a community: giving forgiveness, and asking for (and receiving) forgiveness.

SR119v.5_b – 47:08

Sr. Sue Mosteller continues her talk on community and the spiritual journey.

She says we must also celebrate together. Celebration is like a sign of heaven, and we must learn to celebrate each other in our communities. At each birthday in the Daybreak community, they will each take time to say what a gift that person is to the household. She mentions a film they watched earlier on Linda, and how people gave thanks for her. In celebration, something happens and flows between us, which is of God. We are on holy ground, we have a celebration, and we are in a sacred place.

She finishes with two stories of members of the L’Arche community. The first, about Christmas shopping with Bill (not van Buren) and Frank. Bill went so slowly, and carefully chose gifts for each person in a meaningful way. When we celebrate, it comes from love of someone. Celebrations allow our hearts to rejoice so we can go back to the journey and the struggle. The second story is about David, who likes to answer the phone, but was confused one day by a collect call. Sue says, “There is a call, it is a collect call. We pay along the line. Walk together, journey together, because we’re going to talk heart to heart.”

Nouwen teaches a simple song to call out their lighter side: “Jesus took my burden, and he rolled it in the sea.”

The tape ends with a sketch by members of the conference, with a parody of a vestry meeting. Tape ends at 26:00.

SR119 v6: "Henri Nouwen Address V - Friday Morning".

  • SR119v.6_a – 47:26

Starts with music – Announcer: Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville, NC, presents, “The Beloved Community” with Henri Nouwen.

Unknown man – welcoming Nouwen for his last address, talks about having gratitude for Henri’s ministry in the world.

Nouwen briefly mentions that L’Arche Daybreak has decided to build a retreat center in the center of their community. They want to do this because they have discovered an enormous gift that people with mental handicaps have: they lead people closer to God. Nouwen and Sue Mosteller have given a lot of retreats, but they would like to give retreats in their community, because people who are silent can show and give their presence. The people at the retreat might forget the words of Henri and Sue, but they will not forget the presence of the poor among them. Jean Vanier and others have said that Nouwen should consider his ministry and the ministry of the community, which is to call people to live a better life.

The conference then sings a song, “Spirit of the Living God,” which uses the four words they used yesterday: take us, bless us, break us, give us.

Nouwen puts up the images from the day before, and briefly talks about one of the paintings by Vincent van Gogh, in order to give them a feeling of home. Van Gogh painted it near the end of his life, and it is clearly shaking and moving. It Is a house on the way home, a home on the way home. We live in this world, and it is a beautiful world, but it is also filled with intensity, and colour, and vitality. Van Gogh was always able to go to the center, as if everything was filled with this passion and intensity. When you go home tonight, you’ll see it’s a home, filled with intensity and life and joy and pain, but it is a home on the way home. We are in this world, not alone, but together, in the name of Christ, and we are moving towards home.

Sr. Sue Mosteller reads a text, “And Jesus said to them, go out to the whole world. Proclaim the Gospel to all creation. These are the signs… you will lay your hands on the sick, and they shall recover. This is the Word of the Lord.”

Nouwen then talks about how they will all not simply be leaving a conference, but they are all being sent out, and are commissioned. He says, “You and I are sent out from this place where we formed community, where we lived something together. We are sent out to minister… Ministry flows freely out of communion and community.” He says that we worry about how to minister, but we must ask ourselves: do I live in communion? Do I live community wherever I go? Community is a way of being in the world, and we must make community wherever we go in this world. It is when you live a life of communion and community that ministry will flow from you. Do not worry about what to say when you come to your judges; everyone is a judge in this world. But commune with God, and make community.

Nouwen mentions the Abbery of the Genesee, and gives an anecdote in which he was told that he must always be prepared to talk about Jesus, and he should not have to prepare in advance.

Ministry is to lay down your life for your friends, and to live your life in the presence of your friends. This is the ministry of presence: be present for people, be there. Nouwen wanted to be here with Sue, Bill, and those people at the conference, and they wanted them to be here with them. Ministry is to be present, to be with each other, to suffer with each other, to listen. Trust that we are called to be the incarnation of God in this world, and let people confess to you, share with you, and be open to receive them. You are there to listen, “yes, I hear you. God hears you.” Nouwen says, “Jesus didn’t work hard to cure people. In fact, all those who touched him were cured. Jesus noticed that a power went out of him. You have to believe that’s happening when people touch you. You are healing, you will heal people. Jesus said, go out and you will cure people. You don’t have to figure out what it all means, you don’t have to set the conditions for what the definition of cure is.” As we are present to people, there will be a new sense of joy, and this is a joy of being a member of the human race and discovering you are one person among many – a member of the people of God.

Nouwen mentions Thomas Merton, and his discovery that we are all people of God, and we all belong to each other and to God together.

Also important, like being present, is to dare to keep leaving. We experience some leaving every day in our lives. If we are truly present in each minute, when we leave, we will send out our spirit. Jesus said, “It is good that I go.” Now we know that the love of God that we received in His presence (and in each other’s presence), will stay with us. In our leaving, you will discover a spirit of God that is larger than my presence can embrace. We are leaving. Not just from here, but we live short lives, and we will leave. The question is, is it a good leaving? Is it a good dying? Can we somewhere say, it is good for you that I go, because I can send the spirit of Jesus that I have lived with? Trust in the fruitfulness of our lives, dare to be vulnerable, dare to leave. In this, we will bear fruit, because we were present.

SR119v.6_b – 47:25

Ministry is to minister with presence and absence. You cannot be absent well if you have not been present well. Be where you are completely so you can leave well. This conference is a way of being present. The more we celebrate that, the better it is that we leave. Nouwen says, “We leave not with guilt and shame of what we haven’t done or said. We were here with each other, and we trust that when we go out from this place, all sorts of fruits will be made. People who will touch you will be cured. God sends you out, and you are safe.

Nouwen thanks them for inviting him, Sr. Sue Mosteller, and Bill van Buren. He says, “Your affection, your presence, your friendship to us, that’s what ministry is about. It’s not just me ministering to you. Real ministry always, always flows both ways.” The conference was organized with love and care, and it was all to help them all be present, and feel safe together. When they leave, they have a lot to share with their communities, and the word Kanuga will have a different meaning.

Sr. Mosteller speaks and thanks them for allowing her to come, and to talk to them, and for welcoming her. She says it was also good for her to be with Bill, since they no longer live in the same house (Bill calls out, “Thank God for that!” which leads to much laughter by the conference attendees). Mosteller thanks them, and says that they have confirmed her.

Bill van Buren speaks and thanks them for having him.

An unknown man concludes and thanks Nouwen, Mosteller, and van Buren for being there, and they now send them out with love.

Prayer: the way to a transparent life

Item consists of a sound recording of Nouwen speaking at the Eighth Annual Missouri Liturgical Congress at Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Missouri. Nouwen speaks about prayer and the effect that prayer has on our ordinary lives. Nouwen says that the world "loses its opaqueness and becomes transparent" to individuals who regularly pray.

Recording of Henri Nouwen at C.R.K in 1993

Item consists of a sound recording of Nouwen speaking to an audience in Dutch. A search of Nouwen's appointment calendar for 1993 indicates Nouwen was in Europe in June and later in October and November. It is likely that he spoke during one of these visits. He may have spoken on the topic of pr. gebed gemeenschap verkondiging.

Recording of reflections with Henri Nouwen: St. James Church, November 11, 1993

Item consists of two cassettes of Nouwen speaking at St. James Church in New York City on November 11, 1993. Two speakers lead before Henri begins his part of the talk: Mother Madeleine Mary, Superior at the monastic Community of The Holy Spirit in New York, speaks first. Carl MacMillan, a member of L'Arche Daybreak, speaks second, and introduces the overall purpose of L'Arche, and introduces Henri. Henri leads the audience in singing a hymn. Topics discussed by Nouwen include caring and ministry, the importance of community, and solitude. After the formal talk, Nouwen takes questions from the audience. A member of the audience asks how sexuality fits into these topics: Nouwen discusses how sexuality reflects our need for belonging, intimacy, and communion.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on Seeds of faith: Henri Nouwen talks with Mike Ford

Item consists of a sound recording of a broadcast of an interview of Nouwen with Mike Ford. The interview took place on August 28, 1992 in Northampton, and was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on July 11, 1993. Mike Ford introduces Nouwen, and explains how his own interest in Nouwen grew through reading Nouwen's book, "Reaching Out." Nouwen discusses with Ford in the interview how seeing a poster of the Rembrandt painting "Return of the Prodigal Son" at a L'Arche community in Northern France evoked a feeling of homecoming in Nouwen. He recounts his trip to Leningrad to see the original painting, and his growing awareness that he can see himself as all three major figures in the painting: the younger son (through the feeling of coming home), the elder son (who still holds onto anger), and the father (Nouwen's role as a father receiving others home). Nouwen also discusses the challenges that arise when living in a community.

Personalizing theology: conversations on ministry

Item consists of three audio cassettes: Staying Alive: Alone and Together (1 hr. 22 min.); Being Faithful: Engaging the Powers (48 min.); Praying: Faith to Faith (51 min.). Nouwen speaks on the first cassette (SR13v1). Nouwen is in conversation with the interviewer, as well as two other interviewees: Sister José Hobday and Bob Warner.

Recording of Henri Nouwen for an R.C.I.A. course

Item consists of sound recordings made by Nouwen during his writing sabbatical in Freiburg, Germany for an R.C.I.A. course in Toronto. The tapes were not numbered by Nouwen, but the subjects have been identified in Nouwen's hand. SR130v1: "Creed III, Jesus: God- with- us"; SR130v2: "18th March 1993, Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead, 15 minutes"; SR130v3: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, 15 minutes."

Recording of Henri Nouwen for an R.C.I.A. course

Item consists of sound recordings made by Nouwen during his writing sabbatical in Freiburg, Germany for an R.C.I.A. course in Toronto. Titles for the tapes include:
SR133v1"About God the Creator, Henri Nouwen, Jan. 1993";
SR133v2"About Jesus the Reedemer [sic], Henri Nouwen, Feb. 1993";

  • SR133v.2_a – 46:31 (ends at 14:40)

Nouwen begins with, “Dear friends. It is good to be with you again.” It is a letter, and he is speaking just to the recorder. He says he is enjoying his time in Freiburg, and is getting rested and is excited to begin writing again. He arrived very exhausted, but is feeling better now, and is grateful to be in Freiburg.

He continues talking about the creed and Jesus. He discusses the second statement of the creed, which is, “I believe in Jesus Christ.”

Jesus is the redeemer, the savior. We have to have a personal understanding of our need to be saved. If you don’t feel the need to be saved from anything, then you can hardly be excited about a savior. He talked before about God as a creator, and in the Genesis story, God wanted to be sure that the human person would remain obedient to him, and would remain centered on Him who has created man. The question of what is good and what is evil is God’s question, and we cannot decide that. We consider the story about the fall and sin of Adam and Eve, and it is a story in which the human person forgets that he or she is not God. He or she can only be truly happy, really, truly, fully human, when he or she continues to give honour to the God who has created him or her.

If we look at the journey of the Jewish people as is written in the Old Testament, we see that one of the main temptations is the temptation of idolatry. We are always tempted to forget that God is God and not we. We give power to created beings or created ideas or created events, and before we know it, we expect of other beings something that only God can give. We expect from events, ideas, books, art, music, something that only God can give. This temptation is constant, and it always gets us into trouble because we have a heart that will only truly be satisfied with perfect fulfillment, and only God can give that. This idolatry traps us, makes us victims, and it makes us addicted. We are trapped there, like we are trapped in drugs or alcohol, we can be trapped by desires for fame or success, or money, and so on. We need someone to un-trap us. Jesus is the savior, the one who comes to get us out of our trap, to redeem us from our imprisonment, to set us free. Only God will satisfy the deepest desires of the heart. Only God loves us in a way that corresponds to the desires of our heart.

Nouwen concludes by saying he is missing everyone, and is grateful to Nathan [Ball] that he visited. He says it is wonderful that in this way [the tapes] they can support each other and keep each other’s faith and support each other’s hopes.
SR133v3 "The Resurrection of Jesus #4, Henri Nouwen, Feb. 1993";

  • SR133v.3_a – 46:46 (ends at 22:51)

Nouwen begins with “Dear friends,” like a letter. He says he has just returned from France, where he attended the funeral of Pere Thomas, the co-founder of L’Arche, and a very holy man with great spiritual vision, that gave Nouwen and many others a great amount of spiritual support. Pere Thomas was the man who gave the vision to Jean Vanier of L’Arche and to many others who came to him.

Nouwen reflects in this talk on resurrection, and how the death of Pere Thomas deepened his hope for the resurrection and his faith in the resurrection. The resurrection is the central point of his faith. In the creed it says, “Jesus descended to the dead. On the third day, he rose again.” Jesus was born among us, lived among us, suffered among us, and died among us. In this, God was with us in every respect.

The resurrection of Jesus was the event from which we have come to understand everything else. Without the resurrection, everything else that we say about Jesus loses its meaning. Nouwen reads from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, the 15th chapter, and summarizes that our hope in the resurrection is based on our faith in the resurrection of Jesus. “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without substance, and so is our faith.” The resurrection of Jesus, therefore, gives meaning to all of the preaching of the church. All that we say of the birth, life, and suffering and death of Christ, finds its final meaning in the resurrection. If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, he would have been just another interesting prophet, and would not have been our redeemer, the one with the power to raise us from death. Nouwen says, “Resurrection is that event by which God overcomes the powers of death, by which God liberates us from our final slavery, which is our slavery to death. Paul says Jesus came to take the sting out of death, so death no longer is our final destiny. It’s really important to see that the resurrection of Jesus is the linchpoint of our faith, the fore point, the central point, around which everything hinges, everything moves.”

Nouwen says that resurrection is a hidden event. Jesus appears to those who have loved him, known him, been close to him. The resurrection is an intimate encounter in love. The resurrection wasn’t a spectacle in Jerusalem, but something that happened in the margin of society and gradually became the core of the preaching of the apostles and disciples of Jesus. They went around and said that they had seen Him, and he is our redeemer. We have discovered this through his resurrection. He came to free us from all forms of darkness. That preaching started to take place, here and there, and gradually it became more general and then it went beyond the Jewish world. It is this message that we have to hear with our hearts.

Secondly, the resurrection says that love is stronger than death. Love is something which comes from God, and love that comes from God is there to stay, it is eternal. We love in the body and with the body, with our eyes, hands, words, gestures, embraces. God says to us, “I love you. I sent Jesus into the body so you can see Jesus, touch him, be with him.” The resurrection is saying that all is not in vain, all that is real and lasting is listed up in God. Love is incarnate in the flesh the flesh itself is being redeemed and lifted up. Love is eternal because it comes from God.

Thirdly, the suffering that we live in our life leaves its marks on our body, and also in the resurrection. Jesus showed the disciples his wounds in his hands and sides, and told them to look at him and touch him. When they saw him, they saw him with his wounds, glorified wounds that are no longer suffering, but wounds that show who He is. Jesus shows us the way he has lived and suffered, and his suffering is being lifted up through his body to God, not as suffering, but as a way that gives him a unique way of being. Our suffering, too, is not in vain, and it will be glorified in our bodies, and it gives us our unique identity. Each of us has our own painful experiences, weakness, and struggles. They shape our life and give our body its form. What we say, write, talk about, and do depends on the way we suffered in our love. This is where our wisdom and our sadness comes from. We believe that we are shaped by our suffering life, but all that will be transformed.

This is an important point in L’Arche, where we so much are focused on the body. The work for the body, with the body, is really the work that is sacred, because the body is sacred, and because the body is not simply there to vanish, but to be finally lifted up in the resurrection and be given glory. Nouwen says, “Resurrection doesn’t mean the bones will be used again, but a new body will be given to us, and the new body will carry in itself all that we have lived in the body that has been laid to rest. That bodily life, that bodily suffering, that bodily spirit will be honored in death.”

Nouwen concludes his discussion of the resurrection by talking about Jesus’ having descended to the dead. Jesus descended to the dead to assemble all the people who had died before, to lift them up. Jesus died for all people, not just those who live now or will live in the future, but those who have lived in the past. Jesus descended to take them with Him into the life of God. That makes it clear that resurrection is for all people.

Nouwen then says that these are the core statements of faith that he can make, and he hopes they use these as a starting point for their own discussion and reflections. He thanks Cassie and Nathan for helping him to be a part of this community reforming, and he prays that they can grow together in their faith and deepen their love for one another, and ask God to show us the way. He finishes by saying, “Much love, and hopefully we’ll see each other again soon.”
SR133v4 "RCIA- I Believe in the Holy Spirit #5, Henri Nouwen";
SR133v5 "Jesus - The Compassionate God, Henri Nouwen, Feb., 1993, 15 minutes".

It is likely these tapes were made from the originals sent by Nouwen from Freiburg, and distributed to students in the class.

Recordings of Henri Nouwen's lectures on ministry and spirituality

Item consists of an amateur sound recording of Spirituality and Ministry lectures given by Nouwen at Yale Divinity School between September 21 and December 1977. SR14v1 - Vocation and Temptation; SR14v2 - Temptation; SR14v3 - The Compassionate Way. November 6, 1977; SR14v4 - Obedience to God; SR14v5 - Compassion of God, September 21, 1977.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on the Covenant Commission Retreat

Item consists of six audio cassettes of talks given at the Commission Covenant Retreat held in May 1994. The Retreat was for L'Arche community leadership about how members are living their covenant as part of L'Arche Community. SR145 v1: "Robert - Opening the Dialogue"; SR145 v2: "Claire - The Meaning of Human Affectivity"; SR145 v3: "Jo Lenon - Sexual Education: How to Educate"; SR145 v4: "North American Culture and the Plan of God"; SR145 v5: "Henri Nouwen - Personal Growth"; SR145 v6: "Margaret O'Donnell - The Needs in our Cities Today".

Recording of Henri Nouwen at Comiss awards

Item consists of a recording of Nouwen at the Dialogue '94: A Call to Partnership conference sponsored by Comiss at the Milwaukee Exposition and Convention Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Nouwen received the Comiss award which is presented periodically to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of Pastoral Care, Counseling and Education.

Recording of auf die stille horen

Item consists of a sound recording (SR153) of an interview of Nouwen with Peter Modler in Freiburg, Germany. Nouwen speaks on his experience at the Genesee Abbey and being the Beloved.

Recording of an interview of Henri Nouwen with Peter Modler

Item consists of a sound recording of an interview of Nouwen with Peter Modler. Nouwen speaks on his experience at the Genesee Abbey. This tape appears to be the original recording for a tape later produced by Verlag Herder entitled "Auf die Stiller Horen". The interview is in German.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on That all may worship conference

Item consists of a recording of a talk given by Nouwen at the Pathways Awareness Foundation conference "That all May Worship" held on April 22, 1996, a conference to talk about including people with mental disabilities in worship. Nouwen's talk was entitled "The Vulnerable Journey". He spoke about 1.) the vision of God (our belovedness); 2.) the way of Jesus; 3.) the work of the Spirit. Cardinal Bernadin gave the opening address. The conference took place at St. Monica Parish, Chicago.
This talk is referenced in Sabbatical Journey entry on Apr 22 where he describes his preparation and events of the day including lunch with Cardinal Bernardin.

Recording of Henri Nouwen at Trent Clergy Conference June 1991

Item consists of a sound recording of talks Nouwen gave at the 1991 Diocesan Clergy Conference for the Anglican Church of Canada between June 3 and June 5, 1991. The Conference took place in Peterborough, Ontario at the Trent Conference Centre. The theme of the conference was "Living the Spiritual Life - A Conference of Priestly Spirituality". SR159 v1: "Monday evening" [cassette consists of music]; SR159 v2: "Tuesday morning"; SR159 v3: "Tuesday afternoon"; SR159 v4 "Tuesday evening"; SR159 v5 "Wednesday morning".

Aging and Ministry

Item consists of talks on "Aging - A Way to Darkness" (SR2 v1, side 1), "Aging - A Way to Light?" (SR2 v1, side 1), "Detachment and Compassion in the Minister" (SR2 v2, side 1) and "Ministry to the Aging" (SR2 v2, side 2). The talk explores three forms of rejection: by society (segregation), by dying friends (desolation), and by inner self (loss of self).

Recording of introduction to the spiritual life lectures

Item consists of amateur recordings of lectures from Introduction to the Spiritual Life taught by Nouwen at Harvard Divinity School in Spring 1984. The two audio cassettes contain a number of lectures from this course. SR24 v1 contains lectures on Patiently, Waiting, and In Expectation. SR 24 v2 contains lectures on Temptation and Downward Mobility.

The Christ-memory in our lives

This item consists of a video recording from 1975 of Henri Nouwen giving a lecture called "The Christ Memory in Our Lives." The talk poses the question 'How do we live life in the memory of Jesus Christ?' In the talk, Nouwen discusses the Memory of Christ as a healing, sustaining, guiding experience and process of recollection.
The content of this lecture was later developed into The Living Reminder: Service and Prayer in the Memory of Jesus Christ published in 1977.

Recording of the lonely search for God

Item consists of: SR4 v1, side 1 "Introduction: From Loneliness to Solitude", side 2 "From Loneliness to Solitude (continued); SR4 v2, side 1 "From Hostility to Hospitality", side 2 "From Hostility to Hospitality (continued); and SR4 v3, side 1 "From Illusion to Prayer", side 2 "Prayer and Community".

Recording of Henri Nouwen on the spirituality of peacemaking

Item consists of an amateur recording of Nouwen speaking to a group of CPE (Christian Pastoral Education) supervisors. He was scheduled to speak about Vocation, Temptation and Formation in Ministry but after 5 weeks in Switzerland decided to speak on the subject of peacemaking, specifically the church's response to the call for peace.

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