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University of St. Michael's College, John M. Kelly Library, Special Collections Item
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Item consist of a reprinted article, which is reprinted from The Primacy of the Heart, Cuttings from a Journal.

Choosing joy

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Choosing Joy’ published in ‘New Covenant’, November 1992, pp. 7 -9. This item is identified as an excerpt from Nouwen’s ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’. Nouwen begins by stating ‘I am not used to the image of God throwing a big party’. Nouwen goes on to write of the various instances in scripture in which Jesus speaks about banquets of celebration. ‘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 goes on to write of Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal and his reflections on it, finding himself in the returning son, the older son and finally, the father. ‘God rejoices. Not because the problems of the world have been solved, not because all human pain and suffering have come to an end…no, God rejoices because one of his children who was lost has been found’. Nouwen describes his difficulty in being able to rejoice in small things, scarcely noticed things. ‘The father of the prodigal son gives himself totally to the joy that his returning son brings him. I have to learn from that. I have to learn to “steal” all the real joy there is to steal and lift it up for others to see’. Nouwen goes on to examine the ‘radical difference’ between cynicism and joy. ‘Every moment of each day I have the chance to choose between cynicism and joy’. Nouwen ends by remembering that the younger son must grow in maturity and that he, Nouwen, and we are called not just to recognize ourselves in the two sons, but to become the father.

Christ of the Americas

This item is a 10 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Christ of the Americas’, published in America magazine, April 21, 1984, Vol. 150. No. 15, pp. 293 – 302. This item was later published in Nouwen, Henri: The Road to Peace, ed. John Dear, 1998. In this article Nouwen is writing about the situation then current in Central America, specifically, Nicaragua which he had just visited. Nouwen states that he believes that the ‘suffering Christ of North America and the suffering Christ of South America were one’. Nouwen divides the article into three sections: Christ has Died, 2) Christ has Risen, 3) Christ will Come Again. In the first section, Nouwen states that there is no suffering which has not been suffered by God. ‘There can be no human beings who are completely alone in their sufferings since God, in and through Jesus, has become…God with us’. Nouwen goes on to say that the people of Nicaragua are our brothers and sisters and that no political ideology should blind us to that. Nouwen states that he had hoped to find the Nicaraguan church as a support to the people who are suffering but sees instead, division. ‘I had to hold on to the truth that the tearing apart of the Word outside as well as inside the church was the bitter fruit of five centuries of unfaithfulness’. 2) In this section, Christ has Risen, Nouwen begins by asking,’ Can we face the death of Christ without knowing about his resurrection?’ ‘Christ is risen means that guilt, loneliness, hunger, poverty, war and devastation no longer have the last word.’ Nouwen uses an example of this, a meeting he attended with some women on the border with Honduras who had lost family and suffered greatly from soldiers armed and supported by the American government. Nouwen describes in this meeting as a moment of unexpected forgiveness. In 3) Christ will Come Again, Nouwen suggests that this is about Christ returning as judge. The question asked of each person will not be how successful you have been but ‘what have you done for the least of mine?’. This question will be asked of nations as well as individuals. Nouwen writes of the fears of the United States government and their harsh treatment of a small, poor nation as resulting from a fear of communism and of the Soviet Union. Nouwen end s this section by suggesting ‘The Lord who becomes one of us in humility does not really judge us. He reveals to us what we have become to one another’. Nouwen concludes the article by stating how crucial prayer is and will be in our efforts to ‘keep our eyes fixed on Jesus’ to bring peace to our world.

Christ's simultaneous absence & presence: tasting the sweetness of the Lord

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Christ’s Simultaneous Absence and Presence’, published in the New Oxford Review, Vol. LIV, No. 1, January/February 1987, pp. 4 – 7. This item is part 5 of a 10 part series which are entries from a diary written by Nouwen during his stay at L’Arche, Trosly-Breuil, France , 1985 – 86. The first entry for February 9 is written from Freiburg and Nouwen is describing his visit to the Munster and a painting of the crowning of Mary. Nouwen finds the painting has lost touch with Mary as the poor and humble servant of the gospel. Nouwen also writes of need for Protestant and Catholic to continue the careful listening they are trying to do now. The next entry, a week later, and Lent has begun. Nouwen writes of his difficulty with fasting but his need for it. ‘I hope and pray that fasting will drive the demons away, and give me a clearer eye for the presence of the One in whose absence I fast’. The next day Nouwen is again at the Munster, at first standing in the snowy empty square outside and then within, where he goes to confession and walks home ‘with a heart full of peace’. The next day is a visit with his friends Franz, Reny and Robert Johnas to Colmar for Mass. The next two entries are reflections on the Gospel of the day, Matthew 25 on the need to serve Jesus in the ‘least’ ‘where is hidden the real joy and peace my heart searches for’. And the gospel which speaks of making peace with people you are at odds with. The last entry, dated February indicates Nouwen has returned to L’Arche and is a reflection on suffering.

Clowning in Rome: reflections on solitude, celibacy, prayer, and contemplation

Item consists of a book which Nouwen wrote based on four lectures given to the English-speaking community in Rome, calling attention to four clown-like elements in the spiritual life. The book has been divided into the following: Introduction; I: Solitude and Community; II: Celibacy and the Holy; III: Prayer and Thought; IV: Contemplation and Ministry; Conclusion.
As is stated on the back cover: "During these five months in Rome it wasn't the red cardinals nor the Red Brigade who had the most impact on me . . . the real and true story was told by the clowns. . . . The clowns remind us with a tear and a smile that we are sharing the same human weakness."

Compassion

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled Compassion, published in Exchange, Summer 1976, pp. 8 – 10. Nouwen begins this article by saying ‘The word “compassion” always brings to mind a relationship with people…to be with a suffering human being, to suffer with him or her.’ He then asks if it is not possible also to speak about compassion with God which he sees as the basis for our compassion with others. Nouwen sees the dynamic of compassion with God as rooted in Jesus. ‘The great mystery of the spiritual life is that it is a life of union with God. But this union with God is a union through Jesus Christ who suffered all the pains of the world and carried these pains with him into his intimacy with the Father’. Nouwen goes on to say that ‘We cannot carry the pains of our world in our own mind but we can carry [them] in the mind of Jesus Christ’. Nouwen concludes the article by stating ‘Our hearts and minds are too small to carry the burdens of the world but in God’s mind and heart there is room for all that hurts’.

Compassion

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Compassion: Bringing us Together’, published in The Sign, October 1976, p. 38. Nouwen begins the article with the example of the monk Thomas Merton’s growth in compassion as he lived his life in the monastery. Though unrecognized by Merton until he began teaching student monks, ‘he realized that they were sent to him to lead him away from his own paralyzing fear into a new and creative relationship with others.This sequence of events in Merton’s life reveals something of the mysterious way in which compassion belongs to the core of any type of community life’. Nouwen describes compassion as a discovery and fellowship with ‘the other’ and it is this which helps creates community. Nouwen suggests however, that we should not be sentimental about people who are compassionate and points to a number of examples of people who were both compassionate and yet in some sense, difficult: Van Gogh, J.H. Newman, Dag Hammarskjold, Merton. Nouwen concludes by stating, ‘The Christian community is a community in which people are sounding through to each other the great love of God which binds them together. The gift of compassion makes it possible for us to recognize this love in each other and bring it to the forefront’.

Compassion in the art of Vincent van Gogh

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen, entitled, ‘Compassion in the Art of Vincent Van Gogh, published in The Catholic Worker, May 1976, PP 3,4,12. This article was previously published in the journal America, March 13, 1976. In this article Nouwen uses the letters to his brother Theo and the paintings of the Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh to write of the expression of compassion in a human life. Nouwen states as the aspects of compassion he wishes to look at in the following way: ‘When we read Vincent’s letters and contemplate his paintings and drawings, three aspects of compassion come into focus: solidarity, consolation and comfort’. He then goes on with regard to these aspects to say, ‘When we say, “Blessed are the compassionate,” we do so because the compassionate manifest their human solidarity by crying out with those who suffer. They console by feeling deeply the wounds of life, and they offer comfort by pointing beyond the human pains to glimpses of strength and hope. 1) Solidarity: Nouwen suggests that although a sense of human solidarity might seem obvious that capacity has receded in our society. But he describes Vincent’s sense of it: ‘He realized that the road to human solidarity is painful and lined by weeping willows, but once Vincent found his aim in life, nothing, absolutely nothing, could hold him back’. 2) Consolation: Nouwen begins this aspect ‘when we have given up our desire to be different and have recognized our intimate solidarity with the human condition, then consolation can manifest itself. In Vincent Van Gogh, Nouwen sees consolation growing out of the artists desire to ‘come in touch with the heart of life as he saw it in the poor of spirit… for him, to draw meant to draw out of his fellow human beings that which binds them together’. Nouwen concludes this section by stating, ‘Consolation indeed asks for the sincere struggle to reach into the center of human brokenness; out of its common depths compassion can be expressed’. 3) Comfort: ‘Comfort…is the great human gift that creates community. Those who come together in mutual vulnerability are bound together by a new strength that makes them into one body’. Nouwen goes on to describe how Van Gogh especially in his later life tried to comfort by ‘drawing out of the dirtiest corners of life a ray of light’. Van Gogh’s own suffering of loneliness, obscurity and mental anguish, did not obscure the reality that ‘it is the sun that has made Vincent famous’.

Compassion: a reflection on the Christian life

Item consists of a book which Nouwen co-wrote with McNeill and Morrison about compassion. The book has been divided into the following: Preface; Acknowledgments; Introduction; Part One: The Compassionate God, 1 God-with-Us, 2 Servant God, 3 Obedient God; Part Two: The Compassionate Life, 4 Community, 5 Displacement, 6 Togetherness; Part Three: The Compassionate Way, 7 Patience, 8 Prayer, 9 Action; Conclusion; Epilogue; Notes.
As is stated on the front jacket flap: "In this provocative book of meditations, three teachers of pastoral theology challenge us to make God's compassion manifest through the disciplines of prayer and action."

Compassion: solidarity, consolation and comfort

This item is a 5 and a half page article by Henri Nouwen, entitled, ‘Compassion: Solidarity, Consolation and Comfort, published in America magazine, America Press Inc., New York, March 13, 1976, pp. 195 – 200. In this article Nouwen uses the letters to his brother Theo and the paintings of the Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh to write of the expression of compassion in a human life. Nouwen states as the aspects of compassion he wishes to look at in the following way: ‘When we read Vincent’s letters and contemplate his paintings and drawings, three aspects of compassion come into focus: solidarity, consolation and comfort’. He then goes on with regard to these aspects to say, ‘When we say, “Blessed are the compassionate,” we do so because the compassionate manifest their human solidarity by crying out with those who suffer. They console by feeling deeply the wounds of life, and they offer comfort by pointing beyond the human pains to glimpses of strength and hope. 1) Solidarity: Nouwen suggests that although a sense of human solidarity might seem obvious that capacity has receded in our society. But he describes Vincent’s sense of it: ‘He realized that the road to human solidarity is painful and lined by weeping willows, but once Vincent found his aim in life, nothing, absolutely nothing, could hold him back’. 2) Consolation: Nouwen begins this aspect ‘when we have given up our desire to be different and have recognized our intimate solidarity with the human condition, then consolation can manifest itself. In Vincent Van Gogh, Nouwen sees consolation growing out of the artists desire to ‘come in touch with the heart of life as he saw it in the poor of spirit… for him, to draw meant to draw out of his fellow human beings that which binds them together’. Nouwen concludes this section by stating, ‘Consolation indeed asks for the sincere struggle to reach into the center of human brokenness; out of its common depths compassion can be expressed’. 3) Comfort: ‘Comfort…is the great human gift that creates community. Those who come together in mutual vulnerability are bound together by a new strength that makes them into one body’. Nouwen goes on to describe how Van Gogh especially in his later life tried to comfort by ‘drawing out of the dirtiest corners of life a ray of light’. Van Gogh’s own suffering of loneliness, obscurity and mental anguish, did not obscure the reality that ‘it is the sun that has made Vincent famous’.

Compassion: the core of spiritual leadership

This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Compassion, The Core of Spiritual Leadership’, published in Occasional Papers by the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, Collegeville, Minnesota, March 1977, No. 2. Nouwen begins the article by stating that his discussion of compassion as the core of spiritual leadership can be looked at in three areas: 1) The phenomenology of compassion. How does compassion manifest itself? Answer: In solidarity.2) The ascesis of compassion. How is compassion disciplined? By voluntary displacement. 3) The theology of compassion. How is compassion lived out in the light of the gospel? In discipleship. Nouwen then goes on to discuss each of these areas. 1) Solidarity. ‘Solidarity, as the manifestation of compassion, does not mean resignation to the sad fact that we are about the same as other human beings, but it means desire to participate in our human sameness as fully and deeply as possible’. Nouwen discusses the implications of solidarity for the spiritual leader and states ‘ Not critical observation, but compassionate participation; that is the vital source of all authority.’ He suggests Jesus as the divine manifestation of compassionate authority. 2) Displacement. Nouwen identifies compassion as a gift rather than something that can be learned. Nouwen suggests that displacement is the discipline of compassion and uses a dictionary definition to define it: ‘to move or to shift from the ordinary or proper place’. In the concrete this means, according to Nouwen, moving away from ‘what is ordinary and proper’ and getting in touch with our own ‘inner brokenness as well as with the brokenness of our fellow human beings’. He concludes the section by stating, ‘ And so, the discipline of displacement is the mysterious way by which the expression of compassionate solidarity becomes possible. 3) Discipleship. Nouwen’s principle point here is described by him, ‘Every human attempt to be compassionate independent of Christ is doomed to failure. The discipline of compassion only makes sense as an expression of discipleship’. He further clarifies, ‘ In Christ we can do a little thing while doing much, we can show care without being crushed and we can face the pains of the world without becoming gloomy, depressed or doomsday prophets’. Nouwen concludes the article by stating that the school in which all this is taught is the school of prayer.

Compulsions led him to a monastery

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Compulsions led him to a Monastery’, published in The Catholic Witness, Oct 7, 1976. This article is an excerpt from: Nouwen, Henri, ‘The Genesse Diary, Image Books, Doubleday & Co., Garden City, New York, 1976. Nouwen begins this article by describing his distracted and restless life and his lack of time for prayer and quiet which leads him to spend seven months living the monastic life at the Abbey of the Genesee in upstate New York. He speaks of his desire to be different, sensational but discovers that ‘in recent years, I have become increasingly aware of the dangerous possibility of making the word of God sensational’. During his time at the monastery he asks the Abbot, John Eudes Bamberger, how, when he returns to his busy life, he can develop a deep prayer life. Bamberger’s answer is, he says, simple: ‘ The only solution is a prayer schedule that you will never break without consulting your spiritual director’. This schedule will include setting a firm time which cannot be changed and to remain at prayer however ‘useless’ this time appears to be. Nouwen concludes by suggesting that though he is distracted and unclear what his prayer may be doing for him, in retrospect he senses that he is growing.

Contemplation and ministry: making the clouded clear

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Contemplation and Ministry’ published in Sojourners, June 1978, pp. 9,11-12. Nouwen begins the article by asking what is the relationship between contemplation and ministry?. He answers by stating ‘The contemplative life is a life with a vision and life of ministry is the life in which this vision is revealed to others’. He speaks then of a spiritual discipline which leads to movement in life from opacity to transparency. Nouwen uses three examples to discuss this: Nature, Time and People. With regard to Nature Nouwen believes that we are no longer able to let nature minister to us; rather we use and abuse it. With regard to Time, Nouwen suggests that time has become almost an enemy rather than a present moment full of God; a kairos. He suggests that ‘the contemplative life is the life in which time slowly loses its opaqueness and becomes transparent’. With regard to People, Nouwen states ‘ contemplation as seeing what is really there has a very significant meaning in the context of interpersonal relationships…here we can begin to see the intimate connection between contemplation and ministry’. Nouwen concludes by discussing briefly two other important aspects of contemplative prayer for ministry: simplicity and obedience.

Coping with the seven o'clock news: compassion in a callous world

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Coping with the Seven O’Clock News: Compassion in a callous world’, published in Sojourners, September 1977, Vol. 6, No. 10, pp. 15 & 18. Within the article is a separate article by Henri Nouwen called, ‘Portrait of Compassion” about his friend Joel Filartiga, which includes a full page illustration by Dr Filartiga, pp 16 & 17. In the first article Nouwen describes how hard it is for most people to feel a sense of compassion when inundated nightly by ‘pictures of starving babies, dying soldiers, burning houses, flooded villages and wrecked cars’. He attributes this difficulty in feeling compassion to the sense of being overwhelmed by the massiveness of it and our inability to feel we can do anything. Nouwen then says ‘When information about human suffering comes to us through a person who can be embraced, it is humanized’. He uses Thomas Merton as an example of one who received letters from all over the world speaking about human suffering and says, ‘ In these letters Merton saw the world with its pains and joys; they drew him into a real community of living people with real faces, real tears and real smiles’. Nouwen uses this as an example to suggest that compassion must be rooted in solidarity and community. Nouwen suggests that in our world which tends to value difference, uniqueness, it is our sense of community and our common humanity which will bring about compassion.
In the article about Paraguayan Doctor Joel Filartiga Nouwen speaks of the doctor’s life serving the very poor of his area, of his defense of the poor and his sharp criticism of the regime. He suggests that because the government could not hurt Joel, they kidnapped, tortured and killed his 17 year old son. Nouwen believes that through the father’s suffering for his people and his son, came very powerful drawings which Nouwen and his fellow authors wanted to use in their writings on compassion.

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.’

Creating true intimacy: solidarity among the people of God

This item is a 5 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘ Creating True Intimacy: Solidarity among the People of God’, published in Sojourners, Vol. 14, No. 6, June 6, 1985, pp. 14 – 18. This is the first part of a 3 part series. Nouwen begins the article by writing of the ubiquitous reality of fear in the world and reminds the reader of Jesus’ words, ‘Do not be afraid’. Nouwen writes of the power of fear when he states, ‘Fear can never give birth to love’ and then asks, ‘ Are we so unused to living without fear that we have become unable to hear the voice of love? ‘ . Nouwen then suggests that there is an invitation to us from Jesus to leave the house of fear and live in the house of love. Throughout this article Nouwen writes of the work of Jean Vanier the founder of the l’Arche communities. It is Jean who spoke to Nouwen of ‘the three essential qualities of a life together in the house of love: intimacy, fecundity and ecstasy’. This article Nouwen writes, is about Intimacy and includes the headings Intimacy and Fear, Intimacy and Love, Intimacy and Solidarity. Nouwen suggests that fear builds up walls which prevent intimacy: ‘fear prevents us from forming an intimate community in which we can grow together, everyone in his or her own way’. Love on the other hand, is the ‘true friend’ of intimacy. Jesus is the home where we can live without fear and we can reach this home in part through prayer that opens our hearts. Nouwen then writes that though we tend to see intimacy as ‘smallness, coziness’ it is the source of solidarity. People ‘come to the awareness that the intimacy of God’s house excludes no one and includes everyone. They start to see that the home they found in their innermost being is as wide as the whole of humanity’. Again, speaking of the work of Jean Vanier, Nouwen concludes by stating, ‘The intimacy of the house of love always leads to solidarity with the weak’.

Creative ministry

Item consists of a book which Nouwen wrote about ministry. The book has been divided into the following: Introduction: Beyond Professionalism; Chapter I: Beyond the Transference of Knowledge, Teaching; Chapter II: Beyond the Retelling of the Story , Preaching; Chapter III: Beyond the Skillful Response, Individual Pastoral Care; Chapter IV: Beyond the Manipulation of Structures, Organizing; Chapter V: Beyond the Protective Ritual, Celebrating; Conclusion; Epilogue.
As is stated on the front flap: " . . [I]n this thoughtful examination of the various complex tasks that are part of [life, Nouwen], a well-known representative of the progressive movement within the Church . . . explores the need to infuse the daily pastoral work of the minister with a new creative spirituality in order to make it truly meaningful."

De magneet van Ars

Item consists of an article which discusses Nouwen's visit to Ars [according to a brief translation].

De vraag naar God in schraletijden

Item consists of an article titled De vraag naar God in schraletijden [The question of God in lean times] by Jurjen Beumer. The article is a discussion of a new form of Christian spirituality, and talks about Nouwen and his spirituality. There are two copies of the article. One is a newspaper clipping, and the other is a print-out on computer paper that has been photocopied.

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

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

Desert wisdom: sayings from the desert fathers

Item consists of a photocopy of an introduction which Nouwen wrote while in Peru and in which he stated in part: ". . .this book is a work of love, the fruit of a deep friendship and a way of whispering into your ears what Abba Bessarion whispered into the ears of Abba Doulas: 'God is here, and God is everywhere.'"

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