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Henri Nouwen fonds
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Dictionary of pastoral care and counselling

Item consists of a photocopy of the title page and a definition Nouwen co-wrote with J. Imbach for "God's Will, Acceptance of." He included a section titled: "1. A Life According to God's Will" and "2. Pastoral Implications."

Disappearing from the world

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Disappearing from the World’, published in The Sign, November, 1976. Nouwen opens with a quote from Thomas Merton describing his monastery as ‘a place in which I disappear from the world as an object of interest in order to be everywhere in it by hiddenness and compassion. To exist everywhere, I have to be nowhere’. Nouwen suggests the word ‘displacement’ for his movement towards compassion. He states that compassion is a gift but that it requires discipline. He states, ‘The discipline of displacement is a discipline by which we unmask the illusion of “having it put together in a special way” and get in touch with our reality, which is that we are pilgrims on the way, broken people in search of healing, unfulfilled people looking for the One who can fulfill us, sinners asking for grace’. Nouwen concludes by suggesting the necessity of two things: community that leads to prayer and prayer that leads to community.

Discipleship

Item consists of a book in which Nouwen has written the foreword, stating in part: "It is a prophetic book in a time in which few people dare to speak unpopular but truly healing words. What makes Arnold's words so healing is that they are not based on an idea, an ideology or a theory, but on an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ."

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.

Does the news destroy compassion?

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Does the News Destroy Compassion?, published in The Sign, September, 1976, pp.25 -27. Nouwen begins this article by making reference to the monk, Thomas Merton who read no newspapers, nor watched television, nor listened to the radio but who had a strong sense of solidarity with humanity. Nouwen quotes Merton ‘ My first duty is to start to live as a member of a human race that is no more and no less ridiculous than I am myself’. This, Nouwen suggests, lead Merton to compassion. ‘It was because of this compassionate solidarity that Merton was able to speak out and to offer criticism…to distinguish illusions from reality’. Nouwen then speaks about our modern exposure daily to images and descriptions of deep human suffering that we can do nothing about. He says, ‘ I am wondering, more and more, if day-to-day confrontation with human suffering with which identification is impossible does not, in fact, create more anger than love and more disgust than compassion’. He then asks, ‘How can I become a compassionate person?. Nouwen indicates that most of Merton’s information came from personal sources, letters, from individuals rather than collectivities. “In these letters Merton saw the world with its pains and joys; these letters brought him in contact with a living community of people who had real faces, real tears, and real smiles’. Nouwen concludes the article ‘A compassionate person has an eye for small things and is able to trust in the simple response. The great temptation is to make things so complex that any response seems inadequate and meaningless’.

Drawing closer to God and man

This item is a 7 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Drawing Closer to God and Man’ published in Sign, May 1976, Vol. 55, No. 8, pp. 10 – 16. This is part two of a two part article (see Sign, April 1976). It is an excerpt from, Nouwen, Henri: The Genesee Diary, Report from a Trappist Monastery. In this article Nouwen continues to reflect on his 7 month stay at the Abbey of the Genesee in New York State. Nouwen reflects on a number of aspects of his experience under some of the following headings: 1) Boring Work. Nouwen finds the boredom of the manual labor he is given each day makes him feel angry and frustrated. Under the guidance of the Abbot, he begins to discover that ‘manual work, indeed, unmasks my illusions, it shows how I am constantly looking for interesting, exciting, distracting activities to keep my mind away from the confrontation with my nakedness, powerlessness, mortality’. 2) Silence. In this section Nouwen describes his growing awareness of the ambiguous feelings that arise in him when he talks too much and does not seek silence. 3) Scheduled Prayer. In seeking a deep prayer life for his return to his busy work, Nouwen is advised by the Abbot to have a scheduled time of prayer daily that can never be broken without permission of his spiritual advisor. 4) Monastic Capitalism. Nouwen discusses in this section his experience of the marketing wisdom of the monks in the selling of their bread. 5) Center of the world. Abbot Eudes describes the monastery as ‘the center of the world’. Nouwen reflects that ‘Insofar as the monastery is the place where the presence of God in the world is most explicitly manifest and brought to consciousness, it is indeed the center of the world’. 6) Total Commitment. Nouwen asks the Abbot about total commitment because ‘I have had a glimpse of the reality of being unconditionally committed to Christ in a total surrender to him. In that glimpse, I also saw how divided I still am, how hesitantly I commit myself, with what reluctance I surrender’. 7) Thanksgiving. Nouwen has been asked to speak to the community about his experience with them. He speaks in terms of The Lord, the world, the brethren, and the saints and what he has learned of each. 8) Epilogue. Nouwen writes the epilogue more than 6 months after he has left the Abbey and reflects on how little he feels the experience has changed him. However, he sees it as having given him strength to support him in ‘the Garden of Gethsemane and the long, dark night of life’.

Durf met on-zekerheid te leven

Item consists of a newspaper clipping of an article about Henri Nouwen from the Algemeen Dagblad. Article is titled "Durf met on-zekerheid te leven," [Dare to live with uncertainty] and the tagline is "Father Harry Nouwen (38) schreef een bestseller in de Ver. Staten" [Father Harry Nouwen wrote a bestseller in the United States]. Article also mentions Paul Nouwen. The photograph in the article is of Paul and Henri Nouwen.

Easter: no easy victory

This item is a two page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: ‘Easter: No Easy Victory’, published in St Anthony Messenger, March 1975, pp. 12 – 13. In this article Nouwen compares the journey of Jesus from Palm Sunday and its praises, to the suffering of Jesus at Good Friday and his resurrection at Easter. He says: ‘We all want the resurrection without the cross, healing without pains, growth without crisis. We can even say that much of the way we build a culture is to avoid pain, to keep distance from it, and not to look at it’. Nouwen goes on to say that Jesus ‘did not come take our pains away. The way from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday is the patient way, the suffering way…showing our pains as the gateway to God. Nouwen concludes by stating:’ When we understand the many small deaths, the many small farewells as God’s work, then slowly we are able to see our life as the continuing invitation to become more and more free for him whose heart is greater than ours and who came to show us the patient way to Easter Sunday’.

Education to the ministry

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

Een parel in Gods ogen: gedachten over de betekenis van een mensenleven

Item consists of a book written by Nouwen about living a spiritual life. The book is a Dutch translation of Life of the beloved: spiritual living in a secular world. The book has been divided into the following: Acknowledgements; Prologue: A Friendship Begins; Being the Beloved; Becoming the Beloved 1. Taken; 2. Blessed; 3. Broken; 4. Given; Loving as the Beloved; and Epilogue: A Friendship Deepens.

Ein gutiges herz

Item consists of an excerpt from Was Mir am Herzen Liegt, Meditationen.

En ondertussen kiemt het zaad: schriftmeditaties

Item consists of a Dutch translation of Let All God's Glory Through, which features excerpts from Nouwen's books: Lifesigns (in Chapter 10), and The Genesee Diary = Vreemdeling in het Paradijs (in Chapter 11).

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…’

Encounter loneliness

Item consists of an article which is an excerpt from the upcoming book, Reaching Out. Note in the article: the text "will appear in a revised and enlarged form in the book: Reaching Out."

Encounter loneliness

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

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’.

Excerpt from Gracias

This item is a short quote from Nouwen, Henri: Gracias!: A Latin American Journal, published at the top of the contents page of The Plough, No. 11, July /August 1985 by Hutterian Brethren, Rifton, N.Y. Nouwen identifies his sense that the poor often have a clearer sense of good and evil than do the wealthy who create many grey areas. ‘This intuitive clarity [of the poor] is often absent from the wealthy, and that absence easily leads to the atrophy of the moral sense’.

Excerpt from The living reminder

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

Excerpts from With open hands

This item consists of 2 short excerpts from Henri Nouwen’s book ‘With Open Hands’ published in The Newsletter of the New Hampshire Cursillo, Manchester, New Hampshire, May 1985, p. 2 & p. 4. The first excerpt is about prayer and God’s deep desire to give himself to us. The second excerpt is also about prayer and describes prayer as living. ‘ There are as many ways to pray as there are moments in life’.

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.

Feature review

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

Feed my sheep: sermons on contemporary issues in pastoral care

Item consists of a book in which Nouwen has contributed the chapter beginning on p. 13 titled: "Insight and Availability" which first appeared in the book: Creative Ministry. He states in part: "Pastoral care means in the final analysis: offering your own life-experience to your fellow human beings and, as Paul Simon sings, to lay yourself down like a bridge over troubled water."

Find your center

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

Finding our home

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Finding Our Home’, published in Breakthroughs , by Moral Re-Armament, Inc., Washington, D.C., July 1985, p. 10. This item is identified as an excerpt from an MRA International conference speech given by Nouwen in June 1985. Nouwen begins by identifying the contrast between being deaf to what we do not want to hear and being willing to listen. He states, ‘Fear has always something to do with the unknown in us. It’s amazing to see how many people are afraid first of all of themselves and of what goes on in their own hearts’. Nouwen then suggests that ‘I see the spiritual life as one in which we have to move out of the house of fear into the house of love’.

Finding the friendly space

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

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