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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.

Parents and children

This item is a 1 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Parents and Children’ published in The Denver Catholic Register, Wed. January 30, 1980, p.15. The heading of the page says ‘1980 Family Year’. This article is an excerpt from Nouwen, Henri, ‘Reaching Out, Image Books, Doubleday, N.Y. 1975. Nouwen introduces the article by speaking of the relationship between parents and children as one of hospitality. He says, ‘Our children are our most important guests, who enter into our home, ask for careful attention, stay for a while and then leave to follow their own way’. He suggests that children are strangers parents need to get to know. Parents offer a safe home where children can ask questions without fear. Nouwen points to Baptism, the child’s entry into the church community, as one important source of support in an increasingly isolating society. Nouwen concludes, ‘ A good host is not only able to receive his guests with honor and offer them all the care they need but also to let them go when their time to leave has come’.

The monk and the cripple: toward a spirituality of ministry

This item is a 10 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘ The Monk and the Cripple: Toward a Spirituality of Ministry’ ,which was a talk published in ‘Growing Together, Conference on Shared Ministry’ by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on the Laity and the United States Catholic Conference Department of Education/Young Adult Ministry’, February 1980. Nouwen begins his talk by identifying what is the heart of Christian ministry: ‘that ministers are men and women without power who live in the Name of their Lord and who often see him when they least expect it’. In the first major section entitled ‘Without Power’ Nouwen states, ‘ To be a minister means above all to become powerless… to speak with our powerlessness to the condition of powerlessness which is so keenly felt but so seldom expressed by the people of our age’. Nouwen then speaks of the temptation of the minister to give up the sense of powerless to be professional, to be competent and powerful. Nouwen identifies a second temptation as that of wanting to be a spiritual pioneer or the temptation to individualism. There is for Nouwen, the further temptation to cling to the minister’s role with regard to the Word and Sacrament as privileged and therefore, powerful. In the second major section entitled ‘In the Name’ Nouwen says, ‘Here we touch the mystery of ministry. Ministers are powerless people who have nothing to boast of except their weaknesses. But when the Lord whom they serve fills them with blessing they will move mountains and change the hearts of people wherever they go.’ Nouwen suggests that this aspect of ministry can only be fed by prayer which leads the minister to intimate communion with God. In the final section entitled, ‘ Seeing God’ Nouwen says’ This is the secret of ministry: it is the ongoing discovery of God’s presence in the midst of the human struggle and the joyful proclamation of that discovery’. Nouwen concludes the talk ‘Thus ministers are seers who reach out to their people to reveal to them God’s presence in their lives and to call them together to make this divine presence manifest in communal celebration’.

The monk and the cripple: toward a spirituality of ministry

This item is a 10 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘ The Monk and the Cripple: Toward a Spirituality of Ministry’ ,which was a talk published in ‘Growing Together, Conference on Shared Ministry’ by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on the Laity and the United States Catholic Conference Department of Education/Young Adult Ministry’, February 1980. Nouwen begins his talk by identifying what is the heart of Christian ministry: ‘that ministers are men and women without power who live in the Name of their Lord and who often see him when they least expect it’. In the first major section entitled ‘Without Power’ Nouwen states, ‘ To be a minister means above all to become powerless… to speak with our powerlessness to the condition of powerlessness which is so keenly felt but so seldom expressed by the people of our age’. Nouwen then speaks of the temptation of the minister to give up the sense of powerless to be professional, to be competent and powerful. Nouwen identifies a second temptation as that of wanting to be a spiritual pioneer or the temptation to individualism. There is for Nouwen, the further temptation to cling to the minister’s role with regard to the Word and Sacrament as privileged and therefore, powerful. In the second major section entitled ‘In the Name’ Nouwen says, ‘Here we touch the mystery of ministry. Ministers are powerless people who have nothing to boast of except their weaknesses. But when the Lord whom they serve fills them with blessing they will move mountains and change the hearts of people wherever they go.’ Nouwen suggests that this aspect of ministry can only be fed by prayer which leads the minister to intimate communion with God. In the final section entitled, ‘ Seeing God’ Nouwen says’ This is the secret of ministry: it is the ongoing discovery of God’s presence in the midst of the human struggle and the joyful proclamation of that discovery’. Nouwen concludes the talk ‘Thus ministers are seers who reach out to their people to reveal to them God’s presence in their lives and to call them together to make this divine presence manifest in communal celebration’.

The desert counsel to flee the world

This item is a 5 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘The Desert Counsel to Flee the World’ which is part one of a 3 part series published in Sojourners, pp. 14, 15 – 18, June 1980. Nouwen introduces the article by speaking of the desert fathers and mothers, in particular he writes briefly of the life of St. Anthony ‘the father of monks’. Nouwen identifies in the life of Anthony the profound importance of solitude and states, ‘When he emerged from his solitude, people recognized in him the real “healthy” man, whole in body, mind and soul’. Under the heading ‘The compulsive minister’ Nouwen expresses concern that the lives of many ministers are ‘horrendously secular’ busy with meetings, people, agendas, services. He suggests the very busyness of this life can be a way to avoid solitude, being alone with God. In the next section entitled, ‘The furnace of transformation’ Nouwen identifies solitude as the furnace of transformation. ‘Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter’. Here, the minister encounters himself or herself in the struggle to die to the false self, to meet God and ‘to be with him and him alone’. In the final heading entitled ‘A Compassionate Ministry’ Nouwen suggests that the life of prayer in solitude is the source of the quality of compassion for the minister. He concludes by stating, ‘In a world that victimizes us by its compulsions, we are called to solitude where we can struggle against our anger and greed and let our new self be born in the loving encounter with Jesus Christ. It is in this solitude that we become compassionate people…’

Silence, the portable cell: the word which creates communion

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Silence, The Portable Cell’, published in Sojourners, July 1980, pp. 22, 24 – 26. This item is part two of a three part series. Nouwen begins by using examples from the writings of the Desert Fathers. He then states, ‘Silence is a way to make solitude a reality… It can be seen as a portable cell taken with us from the solitary place into the midst of our ministry. It is solitude practiced in action.’ Nouwen’s first section discusses what he calls ‘Our wordy world’ and suggests that we no longer trust another’s words because everything is talked about, not much held in silence. In the next section entitled ‘Silence’ Nouwen takes from the Desert Fathers three aspects of silence: Silence makes us pilgrims, Silence guards the fire within and Silence teaches us to speak. Nouwen’s concluding section is entitled: The Ministry of Silence and is divided into three headings: Silence and Preaching, Silence and Counseling and Silence and Organizing. Nouwen concludes by stating ‘These examples of silence in preaching, counseling and organizing are meant to illustrate how silence can determine the concrete shape of our ministry. But let us not be too literal about silence. After all, silence of the heart is much more important than silence of the mouth’.

Reflections on compassion: convention keynote address

This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled,’ Reflections on Compassion’ which was the Keynote address at the annual assembly of the Catholic Health Association of Canada, published in the C.H.A.C. Review, July/August, 1980. Nouwen opens his talk with a quotation from the Letter to the Philippians 2: 1 – 11. In his introduction he begins by asking the people if they think they are compassionate which he suggests means ‘ to enter, with other people, where it hurts; to enter places of pain; to be there where people are suffering’. He suggests that we do not of our own accord do this and that it is God only who is compassionate. Nouwen suggests that one reason we are not compassionate is that we are too competitive. He goes on to state that God who is in no way in competition with us nevertheless became like us but not to take ’our pains away but to share them, to enter them and to become fully part of them. Nouwen asks his audience to think of those people who are most meaningful to us. Are they not the people who remain alongside us in our need? Nouwen speaks of Jesus’ powerful response of caring as described in the scriptures; a caring that comes from his ‘gut’. ‘Jesus felt the pain so deeply, he trembled so deeply that he trembled people to new life. He was moved, and out of that inner divine movement new health, cure and change came about’. Nouwen then speaks of the distinction between cure and care. Cure without care can be harmful, even violent. ‘Care broadens your vision; care makes you see around you; care makes you aware of possibilities’. Finally, Nouwen speaks of the possibility of being compassionate both in presence and absence.

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’.

Do not worry all things will be given: spiritual life

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘ Do Not Worry, All Things will be Given’, published in the Catholic Agitator September, 1980, Vol. 10 No. 7, pp. 1 – 3. Nouwen begins the article by stating ‘Worrying is such a part and parcel of our daily life that not worrying seems not only impossible but even undesirable’. Nouwen then outlines his intentions for the article, ‘In the first section I will discuss how worrying affects our daily life. In the second part I hope to show how Jesus responds to our paralyzing worries by offering us a new life, a life in the Spirit. Finally, in the last section I want to offer some specific disciplines which can cause our worries to slowly lose their power over us and allow us to experience unceasingly the freedom of God’s Spirit’. In Part I Nouwen speaks of our lives as being filled with busyness and yet also being unfulfilled. In Part II, Nouwen points to Jesus’ busy and yet focused life and suggests that Jesus in his Spirit wants that for us too. ‘Poverty, pain, struggle, anguish, agony and even inner darkness may continue to be part of our experience. They might even be God’s way of purifying us. But life is no longer boring, lonely, resentful or depressing because we have come to know that everything that happens is part of our way to the house of the Father’. In Part III Nouwen speaks of the need each of us has for both solitude and community as the way to this fulfilment.

Moving from absurdity to obedience

This item is a quarter-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Moving from Absurdity to Obedience’ published in Faith at Work, September/October 1980, p. 7. This item is part of an article entitled ‘What is the Goal of Spiritual Growth?’ Nouwen suggests that spiritual growth is ‘ a gradual development from an absurd life to an obedient life’. Nouwen identifies the origin of the word absurd as ‘surdus’ which means deaf and of obedience as ‘audire’ which means to listen. ‘An absurd life is a life in which we remain deaf to God. An obedient life is a life in which we try to listen carefully to his voice calling us to freedom’.

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’.

A prayerful life

This item is a short quote from Henri Nouwen’s book The Way of the Heart and is entitled, ‘A Prayerful life’ published in Christopher News Notes, N.Y. , No. 279. No year is identified but the file suggests ‘after 1981’. The quote outlines the need in prayer to ‘include all people’.

Spiritual direction

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Spiritual Direction’, published in Reflection by Yale University Divinity School and Berkeley Divinity School, Connecticut, January 1981, Vol. 78, No. 2 pp. 7 - 8. 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.

Encounter in solitude

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

The selfless way of Christ

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘The Selfless Way of the Christ: Downward mobility as Christian vocation’, published in Sojourners, June , 1981, pp. 12- 15. This is the first of a three part series (see July and August 1981). Nouwen’s introduction notes that ministry ‘is a true witness only when it emerges out of a genuine personal encounter, a true experience of love’. He goes on to say that this personal encounter and love is with Jesus Christ and these articles will probe the ‘direct relationship between our ministry and our spiritual life… [and] the radical claim the gospel puts upon us’. Nouwen writes that this commitment in ministry must be all inclusive, total. ‘One cannot be a little bit for Christ’. After the introduction the first section is entitled ‘Upward Mobility’ Here, Nouwen speaks about the reality that our society values more than anything, the idea that upward mobility is good and to fail in this is a failure of life. In the second section entitled ‘Downward Mobility’, Nouwen states that the ‘story of our salvation stands radically over and against the philosophy of upward mobility’. Nouwen examines a number of biblical quotations which support this. Nouwen concludes the section by stating that ‘following Jesus on the downward road means entering into a new life, the life of the Spirit of Jesus himself’. Nouwen entitles his final section ‘The Spiritual Life’, Nouwen asks if this downward mobility can really be an option, if it is really too much and needs to be mitigated. Nouwen’s theme here is that the disciple, the minister who listens to the Spirit of Christ will be free to take the downwardly mobile path.

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’.

A self-emptied heart: the disciplines of spiritual formation

This item is a three page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘A Self-Emptied Heart: The Disciplines of spiritual formation’, published in Sojourners, Vol. 10, No. 8, August , 1981, pp. 20 – 22. This is part three of a three part series. Nouwen begins this article by stating that discipleship requires discipline. He identifies three disciplines in particular: 1) the discipline of the church – ‘by which we remain in touch with the true story of God in history. Nouwen identifies the importance of the church community ,’ The attention to the presence of Christ in our own personal story can only remain free from self-deception when we remain attentive to the presence of Christ in the daily life of the church’. 2) The discipline of the book – here Nouwen emphasizes the necessity of reading the scriptures deeply and meditatively. 3) The discipline of the heart – ‘The discipline of the heart is the discipline of personal prayer which…leads us not just to our own heart, but to the heart of God’. Nouwen concludes this series of three articles, ‘We are called to follow Christ on his downwardly mobile road, tempted to choose the broad path of success, notoriety, and influence, and challenged to subject ourselves to spiritual disciplines in order to gradually conform to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ’.

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.

The Genesee diary: report from a Trappist monastery

This item is a 5 page excerpt by Henri Nouwen from ‘The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery, published in The Sunday Democrat and Chronicle, Upstate New York Magazine, Sunday September 27, 1981, pp. 12 – 19. This item includes short excerpts from the 7 month stay of Nouwen at the Abbey in 1975 in which he describes his own struggles and insights; his sense of the importance of community life; the humanity of the contemplative vocation; the daily round of work and the liturgy.

Called from darkness: a Lutheran worship celebration in support of the second special session on disarmament of the United Nations at jazz vespers

This item is a 7 page talk given by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Called from Darkness’ given to a Lutheran Worship Celebration in support of the Second Special Session on Disarmament of the United Nations at Jazz Vespers, published in Sermons at St. Peter’s Church, Sunday, June 13, 1982. Nouwen identifies his intention in this talk to reflect on a ‘spirituality of peacemaking’ using three key words: prayer, resistance and community. In his discussion of prayer Nouwen first speaks of the difference between speaking out of our needs: for affection, attention, power and speaking from our relationship with God rooted in prayer. ‘Now prayer is that slow process in which we move away from that dark sticky place of our needs into the light of Christ’. Nouwen also identifies prayer as an act of resistance, ‘resistance against this needy, sucking and frightening go-around’. Nouwen then reflects on the word resistance. ‘Resistance means to say No! No! No! against all the forces of death’. Nouwen speaks about the power then of life and our resistance to it and that is our struggle not just in the big things in life but the small. Nouwen goes on to suggest that resistance is not just to say No! but even more to say yes. ‘Resistance in the deepest sense means to continuously proclaim that God is a God of the living, that God is a God of life’. Nouwen also states that ‘Resistance is prayer because it is a proclamation and a confession of the living God’. In discussing the third word ‘community’, Nouwen identifies community as the place of prayer and resistance. The person who acts towards peace with the support of community is rooted in a place of acceptance and forgiveness. Nouwen concludes the talk by saying that he believes the most important point is that ‘community is to be a Eucharistic community’.

Latin America: living with the poor

This item is a two page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Latin America: Living with the poor’, published in the National Catholic Reporter, September 17, 1982, pp. 7 – 8. This item is an excerpt from Nouwen’s book, ‘Gracias: A Latin American Journal’. This article consists of five diary entries Nouwen made in his time spent in Peru and Bolivia. In his entries Nouwen struggles with the contrast of his usual life and the life of the very poor in which he is trying to be immersed. He describes visits with colleagues to a place where handicapped children are helped; visits with children whose need for physical comfort is great; the children who are without parents and in need of food; and a visit to a new library where the children and others can come and read. He comments on the great thirst these young people have for learning.

On All Souls, Bolivia's living dine with the dead

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled,’ On All Souls, Bolivia’s living dine with the dead’, published in the National Catholic Reporter, October 29, 1982, P. 12/13. This item is an excerpt from Nouwen’s book, ‘Gracias: A Latin American Journal’. In this excerpt Nouwen describes a visit on November 2, All souls Day, to a cemetery with thousands of others to remember and to share with the dead. Nouwen describes a sense he had earlier in the day in which he felt strongly, ‘part of the meaning of life for the living is their opportunity to pray for the full liberation of those died before them’. Nouwen describes what he saw as he entered the cemetery, ‘Thousands of people were sitting and walking around the graves as though they were camping out with their beloved ones who had died’. He goes on to describe the young boys who offer at each grave to pray for the deceased and in return receive gifts of food. In his conclusion Nouwen says, ‘ When I returned home I had the feeling that the poor Indians of Cochabamba had given me a glimpse of a reality that mostly remains hidden in my rational, well planned and well protected life. I had heard voice, seen faces and touched hands that pointed to a divine love in which the living and the dead can find a safe home’.

Service

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Service’, published in America, November 27, 1982, p. 325. This is an excerpt from Nouwen’s book, Gracias!: A Latin American Journal’. In this excerpt Nouwen writes of his sense of the power of the vocation to pray living amidst the poor of Cochabamba in Bolivia. He says, ‘True prayer always includes becoming poor. When we pray we stand naked and vulnerable in front of Our Lord and show him our true condition’. Part of the need for prayer as Nouwen describes it, using Psalm 80 as an example is to call God to task, ‘for challenging Him to make His love felt among the poor, is more urgent than ever’.

Prayer and peacemaking

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled:’ Prayer and Peacemaking’ published in the Catholic Agitator by the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, December 1982, Vol. 12, No. 10. Nouwen begins by stating, ‘A peacemaker prays. Prayer is the beginning and the end, the sources and the fruit, the core and the context, the basis and the goal of all peacemaking.’ Nouwen uses the image of dwelling place throughout: do we live in the dwelling place of fear or the dwelling place of Jesus. ‘Praying is living in the house of the Lord’. Nouwen then goes on to describe what he sees as the ‘depth of human need’: our need for attention, affection, influence, power, and to be worthwhile. He then asks ‘why is it that our own needs are spoiling even the most altruistic gestures?’ Nouwen heads the next few sections: Those who hate peace; Dark works of conflict; Holy duty, which outline his sense that fear is one of the most powerful forces which fight against peace. Nouwen then speaks of the gospel message that prayer drives out fear and that only peacemaking rooted in Love is real peacemaking. He concludes: ‘The life of prayer, the spiritual life, thus becomes not one of the obligations peacemakers should not forget, but the essence of all they do, think or say in the service of peace’.

Gratitude

This item is a two page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Gratitude’, published in America, December 4, 1982. This article is an entry from Nouwen’s book entitled, Gracias! Nouwen in this entry begins by reflecting, ‘Gratitude is becoming increasingly important for those who want to bring the good news of the Kingdom to others’. He goes on to state, ‘ Gratitude is the habit of mind that enables us to receive the hidden gifts of those we want to serve and to make these gifts visible to the community as a source for celebration.’ Nouwen develops the theme of the minister/missionary whose need is to realize their own poverty and to be willing to receive as well as to give. Nouwen concludes by stating, ‘Seeing God in the world and making Him visible to each other is the core of ministry as well as the core of the contemplative life’.

Humility

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Humility’ published in ‘America’, December 11, 1982, p. 372. The item is an excerpt of two entries from Nouwen’s book, ‘Gracias!.Nouwen opens the article by reporting something said by Tom Burns, a Maryknoller: ‘the poor consider as a gift what we claim as a right’. Nouwen goes on to say how we think in terms of our right to food, health, shelter and education which then leads us to see these as possessions to be defended. Nouwen then states that a ‘basic sense of gratitude is indeed one of the most visible characteristics of the poor, I have come to know’. In the second entry Nouwen asks why people become missioners. He suggests two of the most ‘damaging’ motives as guilt and desire to save. Nouwen identifies the great challenge which ‘is to live and work out of gratitude’. He follows this by suggesting that when the missioner comes to realize ‘that our guilt has been taken away and that only God saves, then we are free to serve, then we can live truly humble lives’.

Faith and war in Nicaragua

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled Faith and War in Nicaragua, publisher unknown, date conjectured at 1983. There is a side comment that 'these comments are from a speech Nouwen made July 27, in Washington D.C. Nouwen begins the article by stating that he sees the spiritual destinies of the two Americas, North and South as being intimately connected. He points to what he describes as the ‘fraying of the chord called Central America, which binds these two continents together’ as being caused not simply by economic, social, political or military reasons, but also spiritual ones. Nouwen then speaks of a visit he made to a small village on the border of Nicaragua and Honduras where he speaks with the people who had suffered deeply in a war supported, Nouwen suggests, by the United States. He then describes a moment of forgiveness asked for and given and he says he experiences ‘an incredible hope’. Throughout the article Nouwen sees Christ as the binding force of the hope.

The spirituality of peacemaking

This item is a 12 page article/talk by Henri Nouwen entitled The Spirituality of Peacemaking, given on the occasion of the celebration of the anniversary of the Norbertine Foundation of the Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, on November 18, 1982. Nouwen opens by suggesting that various of the Beatitudes ‘jump out’ at certain historical times. He states his sense that for this time the question is ,’how are we going to live out “blessed are the peacemakers”? Nouwen states that this is a question for all Christians and all churches. Nouwen states that he wishes to use the words of Jesus, ‘May you have peace in Me; in the world you will have trouble. I have come to conquer the world’. Nouwen goes on to say that he wishes to use these words to speak about peace in terms of prayer, resistance and community. Nouwen suggests that human beings act out neediness, woundedness, aggression and this is a barrier to peace. ‘But I say that Jesus Christ came to take us out of that interlocking world of needs…Prayer and the life of prayer is the life in which we move out of that dwelling place of needing and move towards the house of the Lord’. Nouwen follows this by suggesting that prayer gives us the ability to resist evil, to resist being overcome by suffering and death. Finally, Nouwen states that ‘it is the community that helps us to see the true meaning of prayer and resistance’. Nouwen concludes by stating that ‘we are a Eucharistic people and that is to be peacemakers’.

Thoughts from Henri Nouwen

This item consists of 7 pages of printed notes from a talk given by Henri Nouwen in Washington, D.C. in the Spring of 1983 to an unidentified meeting of Religious Sisters. The first section is entitled: ‘Intimacy: the Discipline of Prayer’. The section begins with questions: Where have you made your home? Where do you belong? Where do you have your address so you can be addressed? Nouwen links these questions with Jesus’ announcement that he will live in us. Nouwen discusses the need we all have to be liked, to be respected, to be successful. ‘The more compliments we get, the more we seem to need.’ Nouwen describes humanity’s struggles with this through all time, the violence and greed associated with this and then reminds us that the Good News of the Gospel can break the network. ‘To do this takes a discipline of prayer because in the WORD intimacy is nurtured and developed’. In the second section entitled: Fecundity: Discipline of Community Nouwen reminds us that we are called to be fruitful and to help others to be so as well. Nouwen sees that this discipline develops in community where we recognize God in our neighbor. The third section is entitled: Ecstasy: Discipline of Healing. Nouwen identifies ecstasy as a ‘life of joy’ and states that we have to move out of the static place. We are to move out of the place of safety and security ‘and to move to the openness of life’.

Solitude is the furnace of transformation

This item is a photocopy of a ½ page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Solitude is the furnace of Transformation’ published in The Episcopalian, June 1983. This item is identified as an excerpt from Nouwen, Henri: The Way of the Heart, The Seabury Press, 1981. Nouwen opens by writing of the call of Anthony one of the desert fathers into solitude where ‘ he had to face his enemies – anger and greed – head –on and let himself be totally transformed. That, Nouwen suggests, is necessary for all ministry to be fruitful.

Reflections of Fr. Henri Nouwen after a month in Nicaragua

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Reflections of Fr. Henri Nouwen after a month in Nicaragua and appears to be notes made by someone from a talk given by Nouwen at the Catholic University, July 1983. Some of this material appears in Nouwen, Henri: The Road to Peace , ed. John Dear, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, N.Y., 1998 and in an article entitled ‘Christ of the Americas’, published in America, April 21, 1984. Nouwen begins by stating that ‘God wants…North and South America…to live in peace and express their faith together’. He goes on to describe the inflamed and dangerous situation of ‘the chord that binds them’ Central America. Nouwen describes some of the people he listened to in his visit to Nicaragua and his feelings about the role played by the churches and the government including that of the United States. He sees hope in the situation even in face of the injustice and terrible hardship.

Henri Nouwen: a call to peacemaking

  • CA ON00389 F4-9-1-1653
  • Item
  • [between July 27 - September 15, 1983]
  • Part of Henri Nouwen fonds

This item is a 5 page article, an adaptation of a talk, by Henri Nouwen entitled, A Call To Peacemaking, prepared by World Peacemakers Inc, founded in The Church of the Savior, Washington, D.C., summer 1983. Nouwen begins by stating that his returning from Nicaragua to the United States to give this and other talks resulted from an unintended month-long stop in Nicaragua on his way to Peru. Nouwen states that his visit made him aware of the turmoil and potential possibility of war in Central America and he felt he needed to return to the United States in order to ‘say, loudly and clearly, let us work together to prevent war’. He goes on to state that he has, for some time, seen that the ‘spiritual destiny of North America is somehow intimately connected with the spiritual destiny of Latin America’. Nouwen states then, that he wishes to speak as honestly as he can of what he experienced in Nicaragua. He describes his desire to listen to as many voices as he could from government, church and people. From his discussion with government people he identifies several points: 1) ‘I learned…that the revolution …has given the people a new sense of dignity 2) ‘From my observations …the revolution is a deeply Christian event. Nouwen felt the leaders have been ‘formed in a deep way’ by the word of God and their own suffering, 3)’What you see and hear is that the revolution is for the people, for the poor’. From his experience of the church in Nicaragua, which he describes as ‘divided’, ‘polarized. ‘I suddenly realized the enormous pain and agony of the church.’ It was when Nouwen spoke with ‘the people’ that he finally felt he understood what his task was; why he was there. From the people he discovered that there was still much suffering in their lives in spite of the revolution although to some extent it was recognized that this was caused by outside forces such as the American economic blockade. However in spite of this suffering he felt a measure of hope but also a certainty that the United States must not interfere any longer. Nouwen concludes by stating he has a whole new awareness of the words of the Mass: ‘Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again’.

Henri Nouwen's plea for Nicaragua

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, Henri Nouwen’s Plea for Nicaragua, published in the Forum section of the National Catholic Reporter, August 26, 1983. This is a photocopy of the original article. Nouwen begins this article by stating, ‘Having been for some time in Nicaragua, I feel a deep and painful urge to cry out to all who can hear me: please allow this country to live and be a sign of hope!’ Nouwen describes throughout the article the border attacks ‘by armies organized and supported by the United States’. Nouwen reports on the history of the Sandanista revolution in 1979, the deep Christian roots of its leaders and its hope to be allowed peacefully to rebuild their society. Nouwen describes the ever-present threat of war with United States backed rebels in Honduras on the northern border. Nouwen spends much of the article writing on his trip to the border region with an American reporter and an American forester who had offered his services to the government. Nouwen describes the people they meet on this journey and is especially struck by their hope for their country and its relatively new government. Nouwen concludes the article by stating, ‘ My most fervent prayer was that the people of the United States, especially Christians, would do all within their power to stop the destructive policy of the U.S. government toward this small, courageous and hopeful people, and express in any way possible their solidarity with their suffering brothers and sisters of Nicaragua’.

Simple joys: a week from the journal of Henri Nouwen, during his days in Peru

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Simple Joys: a week from the journal of Henri Nouwen, during his days in Peru’, published in The Other Side, September 1983. This article is a chapter from Nouwen’s book ‘Gracias’ covering the dates January 24 to January 31, 1982. In Nouwen’s first entry, for the 24th January, he writes about the fact that it is his 50th birthday and describes the various celebrations and calls that he received. Nouwen writes, ‘Within a few years…I will no longer be on this earth. The thought of this does not frighten me but fills me with a quiet peace’. For the next day he describes a lecture given to a group of women about the history of Peru and how they came to live life as they do. The third day he describes the vigilance needed against pickpockets and robbers but also tells a story which describes the pitfalls of hyper-vigilance. The following entry speaks of the gift of the children and their affection for him. Another day includes a visit to the beach with some colleagues and following that Nouwen describes the ever-present dust of Pamplona Alta and how it permeates everything. In the final entry for the week he speaks of saying Mass and realizing that unlike Jesus to whom people listened intently, he is facing a congregation who may not be listening. Nouwen realizes that when his actions match his words, his words will have power.

Gratitude

This item is a 1½ page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Gratitude’, published in Radix Magazine, Sep/Oct. 1983, p. 23 - 24. This item is an entry from Nouwen, Henri: Gracias: A Latin American Journal. Nouwen begins the article by stating, ‘I have been thinking about the significance of gratitude in mission work’. He suggests that gratitude has not been a strong element in the life of missionaries. Nouwen then goes on to say, ‘True missioners are people who are hunting for the divine treasure hidden in the heart of the people to whom they want to make the good news known….The great paradox of ministry therefore, is that we minister above all with our weakness, a weakness that invites us to receive from those to whom we go’. Nouwen concludes by suggesting that gratitude is not a psychological disposition but a virtue that is only a fruit of prayer, ‘This viewpoint explains why true ministers, true missionaries, are always also contemplatives’.

Caring presence: reflections

This item is a 2 column article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Caring Presence’, published in SCJ News, October, 1983, Vol. 5, No. 2, p. 4. This item is an excerpt from Nouwen, Henri: Out of Solitude. Nouwen begins the article by asking, ‘What does it mean to care?’ He suggests that the word ‘care’ has often been misused and offers several examples. Nouwen goes on to say ‘… we tend to look at caring as an attitude of the strong toward the weak, of the powerful toward the powerless’. However, Nouwen suggests that real caring is when another shares our pain, touches our wounds with a ‘gentle and tender hand’. Nouwen concludes by stating, ‘To care means first of all to be present to each other…presence is a healing presence because they accept you on your terms and they encourage you to take your own life seriously…’.

We drink from our own wells

This item is a 4 page book review by Henri Nouwen published in America magazine, October 15, 1983, pp.205 – 208. Nouwen is reviewing a book by Gustavo Gutierrez entitled ‘We Drink From Our Own Wells: The Spiritual Journey of a People’ and that is also the title of the review. Nouwen opens the review by noting Gutierrez’ earlier book entitled ‘A Theology of Liberation’ which he suggests ‘soon became a charter for many Latin American theologians and pastoral workers’. Nouwen then goes on to describe this new book as ‘the nuanced articulation the Christ-encounter as experienced by the poor of Latin America in their struggle to affirm their human dignity and claim their true identity as sons and daughters of God’. Nouwen then goes on to describe his own personal experience of hearing Gutierrez speak before this book was written and his sense of the effect of his spirituality on those who were working for the poor in Latin America. Nouwen quotes Gutierrez “Poverty means death” and goes on to describe what this involves, ‘This death is not only physical but mental and cultural as well. It refers to the destruction of individual persons, peoples, cultures and traditions’. Nouwen then outlines three aspects of the spirituality of liberation described in the book: 1) that it is impossible to reduce liberation theology to a political movement, 2) that it is Christ-centered and 3) that is drawn from the concrete daily experiences of the Christian communities in Latin America. Nouwen states toward the conclusion, ‘When Gustavo Gutierrez points to freedom as the goal of a spirituality of liberation, he connects the struggle of the people of Latin America with the spiritual struggle of all the great Christians throughout the centuries’. Nouwen concludes the review with a re-iteration of his own sense that the spiritual destinies of the Americas are closely linked.

The suffering Christ: peacemaking across the Americas

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘The Suffering Christ’, published in The Other Side, December 1983, Issue 147, pp. 16 – 19. This article is identified as an adaptation of a talk given by Henri Nouwen during a vigil for peace and non-intervention in Central America which was held in Philadelphia, Fall 1983. Nouwen opens the article by stating, ‘As people of God we are called to know God. Yet we who live in North America will never fully know God if we ignore the way God speaks to us through the people of South America’. This theme runs through the article which asks people to become involved in the struggles and sufferings currently in Central and South America. Nouwen describes his own attempts to understand what is happening there by going himself to Nicaragua. He states that the more people he talked to, the more confused he became and the more aware of deep divisions even among Christians. He asks ‘How can one live in such a world and be faithful? How can one live in a country in which even the Christians are growing more and more suspicious of one another? How can one live in that world and find one’s own spiritual center?’ Nouwen’s answer is to look at the ‘deep truth of those words we repeat so often: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”. For Nouwen there is the revelation of God’s suffering in the men, women and children of Central America; Nouwen then sees that because Christ is risen ‘that Jesus has overcome death; he has overcome evil and agony. Nouwen then states, ‘“Christ will come again”. What does this mean for us today?’ His answer is that Christ will not ask us if we have been successful but what we have done to serve the least of Christ’s people. Nouwen concludes by asking, ‘Are we willing to be weak and vulnerable with those who suffer? Are we willing to sit in solidarity with them and share their sorrow, their anxiety, their agony?’.

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’.

Henri J.M. Nouwen on prayer

This item is a ¾ page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘On Prayer’, published in Reflections, St. Luke’s Parish newsletter for Week VI of Spring, 1984, April 8 – April 14. The location of this parish is not identified. The item is identified as an excerpt from, Nouwen, Henri: With Open Hands, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN., 1972. Nouwen begins by speaking of the connection between prayer and silence. He suggests however, that for many people ‘silence has become a real disturbance’. Nouwen then goes on to speak of inner silence which, he suggests, when it comes is a gift, a promise. ‘It is the silence of the ‘poor in spirit’ where you learn to see your life in its proper perspectives’. He also suggests that ‘prayer is acceptance’.Nouwen concludes the excerpt by stating, ‘Above all, praying means to be accepting toward God who is always new, always different’.

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.

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’.

Rublev's icon of the trinity: a reflection on the spiritual life

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity, A Reflection on the Spiritual Life’, published in The Harvard Divinity Bulletin of Harvard University, June-August 1984, Vol. XIV, No. 5, pp. 8 – 9. Nouwen introduces the article by asking, ‘How can we live in the midst of a world marked by fear, hatred and violence and not be destroyed by it?’ He describes this as the essence of the spiritual life and speaks about the icon as reflecting ‘the house of love’. From meditation upon this house of love we can move into the world to be present to but not to be part of, this world. Under the heading: ‘The Icon: A Gentle Invitation’ Nouwen speaks about the effect that contemplation of this icon had upon him. In the second section entitled, ‘Where Heart Speaks to Heart’, Nouwen speaks of how contemplation of the icon ‘reveals the inner beauty of God’. In a third section entitled, ‘The Circle, The Cross and Liberation’, speaks of the link between the cross and love in our world today. Finally, in a section entitled, Spirituality: The Source of Confident Commitment, Nouwen concludes by saying, ‘I pray that Rublev’s icon will teach many how to live in the midst of a fearful, hateful and violent world while moving always deeper into the house of love’.

Intimacy and solidarity

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Intimacy and Solidarity’, published in The Round Table, by The Catholic Worker movement, St. Louis, MO, Autumn, 1984, pp. 3 – 6. Nouwen begins the article by stating, ‘The words we most need to hear during these turbulent days are: “Do not be afraid”’. Nouwen then goes on to describe the power of fear current in society. He suggests however that fear omnipresent as it is need not be considered acceptable; that it is still possible to live in ‘the house of love’. Nouwen identifies Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche movement as the one who helped him to see that ‘intimacy, fecundity and ecstasy are the three qualities of a life together in the house of love’. Nouwen goes on to talk about ‘home’,’ homelessness’ and suggests that intimacy is the first and most obvious quality of home. Nouwen writes of the connection between intimacy and what people might think is counter-intuitive, solidarity with others. The solidarity in intimacy is Nouwen’s sense of the meeting of all human beings, in the heart of Jesus. ‘Living in the intimacy of God’s home we can come to see that the God who loves us with a perfect love includes all human beings in that love without in any way diminishing the unique quality of this love for each individual person’. Nouwen concludes the article by again referencing Jean Vanier and his work with mentally handicapped people especially as it is a reminder of solidarity with the weak, the poor, the ‘inefficient’.

Spiritual direction

This 3 page item is part 1 of an article by Henri Nouwen entitled Spiritual Direction, published in The Word, a publication of Christ Episcopal Church, Oil City, Pa., September, 1984, pp. 7 – 9. In the introduction Nouwen defines spiritual direction and identifies his intention in the article: ‘ In these reflections, I would like to offer a few ideas which might help in defining the nature of this ministry of spiritual direction and which might begin to suggest some concrete ways in which this ministry can be practiced’. This article, which is the first of 3, focuses on ‘The Movement from Absurdity to Obedience’. Nouwen suggests that absurd living is being deaf to God, being unable to find the silence to hear God in our busy lives. He then indicates the reality of obedience: ‘The obedient life forms the other end of the spiritual spectrum. The word obedience includes the word “audire’ which means “listening”…’ Nouwen speaks, finally about the difficulty of the road from absurdity to obedience.

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