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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."

The taste of new wine

Item consists of a book in which Nouwen has written the foreword, stating in part: "The Taste of New Wine is today as important as it was when it was first published. . . .Indeed God's spirit blows where it wants, and the renewal of the church in large part, comes from the people of God who trust in their own spiritual gifts. . . ."

A dry roof and a cow: dreams and portraits of our neighbours

Item consists of a book in which Nouwen has written the introduction, stating in part: "I trust that, as we let the words and images in this book penetrate our hearts, we will experience a deep desire to do whatever possible to make the dream of a worldwide community of love and peace become a reality."

Mijn laatste biecht

Item consists of a book written by Nouwen's father, which includes an excerpt from Henri's book: Met de dood voor ogen = Our Greatest Gift.

A dry roof and a cow: dreams and portraits of our neighbours

Item consists of a pamphlet in which Nouwen has written the introduction, stating: "The people portrayed in the book 'are in touch with something larger than a wish for a gift from a stranger who might come along and show pity on them. They are in touch with a dream that makes them visionaries of a new future.'"

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).

Life and holiness

Item consists of a book in which Nouwen has written the introduction. Nouwen states in part: "'What book do I give to someone who wants to know what being-a-Christian looks like?' This is definitely the book. It is not a book about doctrines or dogmas but about the life in Christ."

Practical counseling tools for pastoral workers

Item consists of a book in which, on p. 15, Nouwen is quoted from Reaching Out : The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. "To live a spiritual life, writes Henri Nouwen, 'means first of all to come to the awareness of the inner polarities between which we are held in tension.'"

Talking together: exploring the Christian year with under fives: themed dialogues, activities, music and prayers

Item consists of a book in which Nouwen has written the foreword, stating in part: "I am deeply convinced that anyone who will use this book to help little toddlers to keep their hearts open to God's gracious presence in their lives not only will offer a great blessing to the little ones but also receive a great blessing for themselves."

From magic to faith: religious growth in psychological perspective

This item consists of a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: From Magic to Faith: religious growth in psychological perspective, published in National Catholic Reporter, 27 September, 1967, p. 7. In this article Nouwen examines the growth or not, of religious maturity beginning with the new baby and ending with the adult man (sic). A. In the section covering the first five years the author identifies several stages: becoming aware that we are not the center of our world and that there are objective realities outside us that we cannot control; the formation of language in which we discover that our first words ‘give us a mysterious power over things which can in later life be part of our use of religious prayer in a magical and not mature way; a ‘third step out of the magical world is the formation of our conscience. This is formed in our contact with others and here the author relates some questions from Freud about our identification of God with our father. B. In the section covering school years 6 – 12 Nouwen identifies this time as one in which the child is exposed to a larger world, new and different values and new interests. The mature religion resulting from this he suggests will be ‘integral in nature…flexible enough to integrate all new knowledge within its frame of reference. …essential for a mature religion is the constant willingness to shift gears’. C. Here are discussed the adolescent years. These the author describes as a time of a more complicated inner and outer world with many conflicts; a time of facing and accepting or not, the shadow part of each person and the effect on the maturity of religious growth. D. This is the stage of the young adult. This is the time of leaving the family atmosphere and going away to study. ‘As we enter college we take with us many religious concepts and ideas which seemed obvious, and which we never questioned. The question is, whether or not we have the courage to put question marks behind many things; if we can allow ourselves to doubt without losing all ground.’ E. In this final section Nouwen discusses the adult man (sic). ‘One facet of adulthood which has special significance for our religious attitude is that the mature adult mind is characterized by a unifying philosophy of life’. Without this unifying philosophy Nouwen suggests that boredom may characterize life. He describes boredom as ‘the isolation of experience’…’every day seems to be just another day, indifferent, colorless and bleak’. Mature religion’s unifying power fulfills here a creative function. Nouwen states finally, ‘We started folded in our mother’s womb, one with the world in which we lived. We slowly unfolded out of the magical unity into autonomous existence in which we discovered that we were not alone but stood in a constant dialogue with our surroundings.

Homosexuality: prejudice or mental illness?

This item consists of a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: Homosexuality: Prejudice or Mental Illness? published in The National Catholic Reporter, 29 November, 1967, p. 8. The author is examining two ways of viewing the reality of male homosexuality in his time without, he says, wishing to decide ‘who is right and who is wrong’. The first section discusses homosexuality as a problem of prejudice with three areas emphasized: A) Homosexuality and projection. Prejudice arises, Nouwen suggests, out of our fear of our own sexual uncertainty and ‘feelings which we don’t wish to acknowledge’. B) Homosexuality and the self-fulfilling prophecy. ‘This theory of the self-fulfilling prophecy suggests, just like the theory of projection, that the major problem is one of prejudice. It is our false definition of what a homosexual is which causes the exact behavior which we despise.’ C) Homosexuality in the bible and medieval Christianity. Nouwen outlines several biblical passages which are often used to ‘try to prove that homosexuality is especially sinful, deserving of punishment or suffering...’ He concludes this section by suggesting that these passages are usually misinterpreted. The second section of this article discusses homosexuality as a mental disorder. Nouwen asks here, ‘to what degree do we have to consider homosexuality as a mental disorder with deeper roots than the feelings or ideas of the surrounding culture?’ He then goes on to discuss two standpoints: 1) The psychoanalytic approach and 2) The phenomenological approach. In 1) he quotes from a letter of Sigmund Freud to a concerned mother to show Freud’s kindness and sympathy and also discusses a study done by I. Bieber in 1962. In his discussion of 2) the phenomenological approach he uses material extensively from a study by Hans Giese in 1958 about the homosexual man. Two sub-sections here are: 1.How does the homosexual experience his own body? And 2) How does the homosexual experience himself in the world? This material is followed by a section entitled: Homosexuality and Pastoral Care in which he states: ‘We believe that in our pastoral relationship with our fellow man we can try to understand the deep suffering of the homosexual in the light of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, and make him free for unconditional hope’. The final section of this article is entitled Practical Considerations. These are, Nouwen suggests, his own rather than scientific conclusions. He states here that, ‘Our general attitude toward homosexuality should be free from anxiety and fear, not to speak of disgust and rejection. By a relaxed and understanding relationship to our homosexual fellow man, we might help him more than by an overly-moralistic concern which requires change as a condition for friendship’.

Report on the possibility and desirability of love

This item consists of a two page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: On the possibility and desirability of love, published in The National Catholic Reporter, April 10. 1968, pp. 7-8. Nouwen begins his article by asking if love is possible at all. ‘Is there a spark of misunderstanding in every intimate encounter, a painful experience of separateness in every attempt to unite, a fearful resistance in every act of surrender?’ He then states that he intends to describe what he calls two main forms of existing: 1) a power or ‘taking’ form and 2) a forgiving form. He then finally intends to ask the crucial questions, ‘Is love a utopian dream or a possibility within our reach?’ There are three major headings in the article: 1) The taking form, 2) The forgiving form and 3)The possibility of love. In 1) Nouwen describes the taking form as a form of power. We objectify the other, we try to control, to manipulate vulnerabilities and weaknesses and classify and label others. ‘This leaves us with the suspicion that the reality which we call “love” is nothing other than a blanket to cover the real fact that a man and a woman conquer each other in a long, subtle skirmish of taking movements in which one is always the winner who manipulates the other… we find ourselves doomed to the impossibility of love’. In 2) Nouwen describes the forgiving form as one of trust, openness and vulnerability. He suggests some characteristics of love. Love is truthful, tender and asks for total disarmament. He asks: ‘Can we ever meet a fellow man without any protection? Reveal ourselves to him in our total vulnerability? In 3) The possibility of love, Nouwen attempts to answer these questions. He begins by noting that life is often a very painful fluctuation between the two desires to take and to forgive. ‘And we have good reasons to be afraid. Love means openness, vulnerability and confession.’ Again, Nouwen asks if real love is possible and answers by saying that it is not if ‘the only real and final solution to life is death’. He then points to the person who he suggests has broken through the vicious circle and quotes from the prologue to the Gospel of John which speaks of Jesus breakthrough. ‘Suddenly everything is converted into its opposite. Darkness into light, enslavement into freedom, death into life, taking into giving, destruction into creation and hatred into love’. He concludes by stating that ‘the core of the Christian message is exactly this message of the possibility of transcending the taking form of our human existence.

Anton T. Boisen and theology through living human documents

This item consists of a 15 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: Anton T. Boisen and Theology through living human documents, published in Pastoral Psychology, Volume 19, No. 186, September 1968, p. 49 – 63. This issue of Pastoral Psychology is an Anton T. Boisen Memorial Issue and consists of 9 articles of which Henri Nouwen’s is the last. In this article Nouwen looks at Boisen’s important development of the use of the case study in the clinical training of theological students. Because this development of the case study arose out of Boisen’s confrontation with his own psychotic breakdown in 1920, Nouwen focuses much of this article on the life of Boisen, the relationships that formed his direction from his study of languages, forestry and finally, the ministry. Nouwen states: "In a way, we can say that Boisen’s own psychosis became the center of his identity…there he found his true vocation: the ministry to the mentally ill. There he found the main concepts of his most important publication, The Exploration of the Inner World and there he found the basis of his idea for the clinical training of theological students." The article has a number of headings: The Man, The Central Experience (his psychotic breakdown), The input (here Nouwen discusses some of the people who deeply influenced Boisen), The Outcome (here is discussed his development of the case method, Growth through Conflicts (the growth of the case method and evolutions which Boisen found difficult) and The Last Years (covers the years from Boisen’s retirement until his death in 1965 at the age of 89).

Generation without fathers: Christian leadership of tomorrow

This item consists of an 8 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, Generation without Fathers: Christian Leadership of Tomorrow, published in Commonweal, June 12, 1970, pp 287 – 294. The article begins with an old Jewish story in which a young fugitive hiding in a village is handed over to soldiers by the Rabbi in order to save the people. The Rabbi is then informed that he should have met the young man and then he would have known he was handing over the Messiah. Nouwen then goes on to say as introduction, ‘We are challenged to look into the eyes of the young man and woman of today running away from our cruel ways. Perhaps just that will be enough to prevent us from handing him over to the enemy and enable us to lead him out of his hidden place into the middle of his people to redeem them from their fears.’ Nouwen then discusses what he sees are certain behavioral trends in the lives of those who are ‘in the process of becoming’. Throughout the article Nouwen quotes both from a book by David Riesman entitled The Lonely Crowd and a paper by Jeffery K. Hadden in Psychology Today, October 1969. Nouwen heads the first section of this article The Man of Tomorrow. He describes these people as the children of the lonely crowd who exhibit three characteristics: Inwardness, Fatherlessness and Convulsiveness. Nouwen uses a definition of the inward generation from the work of Hadden: ‘It is the generation which gives absolute priority to the personal and which tends in a remarkable way to withdraw into self’. In the subsection entitled Parents but no Fathers Nouwen states,‘ We are facing a generation which has parents but no fathers, a generation in which everyone who claims authority …is suspect from the very beginning’. In this generation the authority figures are ones peer group with all the tyranny that can involve. Convulsiveness is described as ‘A fundamental unhappiness with their world, a strong desire to work for change, but a deep doubt that they will do better than their parents and a nearly complete lack of any kind of vision or perspective’. In the section of this article entitled Tomorrow’s Leader, Nouwen outlines the characteristics of the Christian leader needed for today’s youth. There are three characteristics suggested: 1. The leader as the articulator of the inner events, 2) The leader as a man of compassion and 3) The leader as a contemplative critic. Each of these sections is discussed fully and summarized at the end. Nouwen states,’ The Christian leader who not only is able to articulate the movements of the Spirit but also is able to contemplate his world with a compassionate but critical eye may expect that the convulsive generation will not choose death as the ultimate desperate form of protest, but instead the new life of which he has made visible the first hopeful sign.

Nuclear man: in search for liberation

This item is a 7 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: Nuclear Man: In search for Liberation, included in Reflection, Volume 70, No. 1, the quarterly journal of Yale Divinity School and the Berkeley Divinity School, New Haven, Connecticut, 1972. Nouwen opens the article by describing nuclear man as someone who “does not look forward to the fulfillment of a great desire, nor does he expect that something great or important is going to happen. He looks into empty space and he is only sure that if there is anything worthwhile in life it must be here and now”. Nouwen then states that the purpose of his article is “1. to come to a deeper understanding of our human predicament and 2) to hope to discover in the midst of our present ferment new ways to liberation and freedom”. 1) In the first section Nouwen describes nuclear man as “one who realizes that his creative powers hold the potential for self-destruction and can be characterized by Robert Jay Lifton’s 3 categories of a)’ historical dislocation’ which include the realization that “symbols used by his parents cannot possibly have the unifying and integrating power which they have for people with a pre-nuclear mentality”. There is a lack of continuity with the past. In b) ‘Fragmented Ideology’, there is a condition of “fast-shifting value systems” and nuclear man finds that he “does not believe in anything that is always and everywhere true and valid”. In c) ‘A search for new Immortality’ Nouwen states, “ When man is not able anymore to look beyond his own death and to establish for himself means to relate to what extends beyond the time and space of his own life, he loses his desire to create and with that the excitement of being human”.2) In the second section entitled Nuclear Man’s way to Liberation Nouwen outlines “two main ways by which [nuclear man] tries to break out of his cocoon and fly: the mystical way and the revolutionary way”. a) “The mystical way is the inward way. Man tries to find in the center of his own inwardness, a connection with the ‘reality of the unseen’, with ‘the source of being’, with ‘the point of silence’. b) In The revolutionary Way Nouwen describes someone who “is tired of pruning the trees and clipping branches and wants to pull out the roots of a sick society”. Nouwen concludes this article by asking “Is there a third way, which we can call a Christian way?”. In this third way Nouwen describes Jesus as bringing together in himself both mystic and revolutionary and so “in this sense he remains also for nuclear man the way to liberation and freedom”.

To teach: reveal, affirm

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled , ‘To Teach: Reveal, Affirm’, published in the National Catholic Reporter, c. October 18, 1974. In this article Nouwen looks at teaching as an activity of hospitality and outlines two important tasks: 1) Revealing and 2) Affirmation. The teacher’s task is to ‘reveal to students that they have something to offer…to help them see not that they still have a lot to learn, but that their own life experiences, their own insights and convictions, their own intuitions and formulations are worth serious attention’. Nouwen goes on to speak of affirmation, ‘what is revealed as good, worthwhile, as a new contribution, needs affirmation’. Nouwen states that it especially in religious education that revelation and affirmation are of great importance. He suggests that students find it difficult to care for religious instruction when their own experiences are not touched. ‘Why should we speak about the way to someone who does not realize there are many roads? How can people desire the truth when they don’t even know they have any questions?’

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’.

Week four: cost of discipleship

This item is a series of excerpts from the works of Henri Nouwen published in: ‘Renew, Season IV, Our Lady of Providence, no earlier than 1976, pp. 9 – 10, 12 – 13, 16. The first series of excerpts entitled ‘The Cost of Discipleship’ from Nouwen, Henri, With Open Hands, outlines the dangers of being a disciple who speaks truth. ‘You are Christians only so long as you look forward to a new world, so long as you constantly pose critical questions to the society you live in…so long as you stay unsatisfied with the status quo…The excerpt goes on to suggest that the one who lives like this, as Jesus lived, will be persecuted but will bring new life. The second series of excerpts from Nouwen, Henri, Out of Solitude is entitled, 'Healing of the Disciple'. In this section the focus of the excerpts is on the importance of curing and caring. Nouwen suggests that curing without caring, without entering the pain of the other ‘is as dehumanizing as a gift given with a cold heart’. The third series of excerpts is also from Out of Solitude and is entitled, 'Mission of the Disciple'. The first excerpt begins ‘Every human being has a great, yet often unknown gift to care, to be compassionate, to become present to the other, to listen, to hear and to receive’. Nouwen goes on to suggest that we do not use these gifts to their fullest because we avoid the vulnerability involved. The item concludes with Nouwen stating, ‘By honest recognition and confession of our human sameness we can participate in the care of God who came, not to the powerful but powerless, not to be different but the same, not to take our pain away but to share it. Through this participation we can open our hearts to each other and form a new community’.

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’.

Living the questions: the spirituality of the religion teacher

This item is an 8 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled,’ Living the Questions: The Spirituality of the Religion Teacher’, published in the Union Seminary Quarterly Review, Volume XXXII, Number 1, Fall 1976 by Union Theological Seminary, New York. Nouwen outlines the purpose of this article, “ I would like to explore the spirituality of the teacher by focusing on three aspects of teaching: 1) Teaching as the affirmation of the student’s search; 2) Teaching as the giving of oneself to the student; and 3) Teaching as the disclosure of the Lord in the relationship between teacher and student.’ In 1) Nouwen suggests that the role of the teacher of religion is ‘not to offer information, advice or even guidance but to allow others to come into touch with their own struggles, pains, doubts and insecurities – in short, to affirm their lives as a quest’. In 2) Here, Nouwen suggests that the teacher must be both vulnerable and a witness. With regard to allowing the teacher to be vulnerable he says, ‘Who wants to be vulnerable and say with confidence,” I don’t know!”. To be a religion teacher calls for the courage to enter with the student into the common search.’ The teacher shares with the students their common searching humanity. In 3) Nouwen says, ‘To be a teacher is to disclose through your own person this mystery of God… To disclose the questioning Lord, therefore, requires the humble confession of our basic human ignorance and powerlessness’. Nouwen concludes by pointing out that for the reasons he has outlined, the teacher of religion may not be very popular in a success-oriented world. Raising more questions than offering answers is vital but, he suggests, a few students may listen to the voice of God and be able to follow it.

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’.

The minister as the wounded healer: pastoral care and counseling

This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘ The Minister as the Wounded Healer’ published in Pulpit Digest, November-December 1976. Nouwen’ s first heading in this article is ‘The Wounded Minister’ and he opens by stating, ‘ This means that he who wants to announce the liberation is not just called to care for his own wounds but even to make them into the main source of his healing power’. Nouwen asks which wounds these might be and suggests the words alienation, separation, isolation and loneliness. He finds the word ‘loneliness is closest to our immediate experience and therefore most fit to make us aware of our broken condition’. Nouwen finds loneliness to be one of modern humanity’s deepest wounds, one which we make painful attempts to break through. However, he goes on to say ‘the Christian way of life is not to take away our loneliness but to protect and to cherish it as a precious gift’. Nouwen believes that the minister’s gift is to embrace this loneliness in his own life and use it to share his own broken humanity with those he serves. The next heading entitled, ‘The Healing Minister” asks the question, ‘how does healing take place?’ Nouwen speaks here of care and compassion but develops the theme of hospitality. ‘Hospitality is the virtue which allows man to speak through the narrowness of his own fears and to open his house for the stranger with the intuition that salvation comes to us in the form of a tired traveler’. In this way the minister who has come to terms with his own loneliness can offer a healing hospitality. Nouwen concludes by stating ‘No minister can save anyone. He can only offer himself as a guide to fearful people…because a shared pain is no longer paralyzing but mobilizing when it is understood as a way to liberation’.

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.

'What do you know by heart?': learning spirituality

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, “‘What do you know by heart?’: Learning Spirituality”, published in Sojourners, August , 1977, pp. 14 – 16. Nouwen begins this article outlining his theme by using a story which he says ‘expresses in a simple but powerful way the importance of spiritual formation in theological education’. Nouwen then goes on to speak of the inadequacy in theological studies of ‘head’ knowledge. What is also needed he says is ‘heart’ knowledge; spiritual formation. Nouwen suggests three themes which he says are important in the context of theological education: Lectio Divina, silence and guidance. By Lectio he means the prayerful, meditative reading of scripture. By silence he suggests the ground for the word to bear fruit. He says, ‘In silence the word of scripture can be received and meditated on.’ Nouwen talks of guidance as the need for someone competent to help the student through the pitfalls of spiritual formation. Nouwen then goes on to stress in addition that ‘Christian spirituality is in essence communal’. ‘All of this suggests strongly that spiritual formation in theological education includes ongoing formation in community life’. Nouwen sees the need then for emphasis on the communal in classroom, worship, and responsibility for one another. He says, ‘So spiritual life is always communal. It flows from community and it creates community’. Nouwen concludes the article by stressing the role of the Holy Spirit in all spiritual life and ends with the following conclusion:’ Spiritual formation gives us a free heart able to see the face of God in the midst of a hardened world and allows us to use our skills to make that face visible to all who live in darkness’.

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.

Boisen and the case method: roots of the case method in the work of Richard Cabot

This item is a 21 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Boisen and the Case Method’, published in The Chicago Theological Seminary Register, Boisen Centennial Issue, Winter 1977, Vol. LXVII No.1. The first section entitled ‘ Roots of the Case Method in the work of Richard Cabot’, outlines Boisen’s meeting with Dr Richard C. Cabot, MD at the Andover Theological Seminary. Nouwen states, ‘The meeting of Cabot and Boisen not only made the start of the clinical training movement possible, but also offered him the model for the theology through living human documents’. Nouwen discusses Cabot’s teaching and training methods and his idea for a clinical year for theological students. Nouwen discusses Cabot’s Clinicopathological Conferences. This work and the volume which resulted from it ‘gave Boisen the clue for much of his later work: the case study method. This method moved from the theoretical learning found in seminaries to the ‘investigation of living human documents’. When Boisen moved to be Chaplain at the Worcester State Hospital he insisted that he be allowed to do research and to have ‘free access to the case records, the right to visit patients on all the wards, to attend staff meetings where the cases being discussed and to be recognized as part of the therapeutic team’. Nouwen suggests that this was the beginning of the acceptance of Chaplains as an important part of the therapeutic program for patients. Nouwen describes Boisen’s core idea for the use of the case system, ‘that certain types of mental disorder and certain types of religious experience are alike attempts at reorganization…’ Nouwen then speaks of Boisen’s limitations in his understanding and use of the case system as relating to his own personal experience of mental illness. He then outlines a case history of ‘Jonah’ that Boisen frequently used in his teaching and as a tool for training. In conclusion, Nouwen says, ‘ …his idea of training is based on the theoretical principle that theology should derive it authority not from books, but as in every science worth of its name, from observable and controllable data…[Boisen says] I wanted them to learn to read human documents as well as books’.

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.

The hell of mercy: confronting Merton's spirituality

This item is a 1 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘The Hell of Mercy’, published in the journal, Sojourners, December 1978, p.19. Nouwen writes of his interpretation of Thomas Merton's "small, but very penetrating book," 'Contemplative Prayer'. Nouwen discusses how, rather than Merton leading us into morbidity, Merton is actually illustrating how entirely dependent we are on God's mercy.

Solitude: the inner fabric of Chrisitian community

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Solitude’, published in Sojourners magazine, March 1979.A version of this article appeared in the January 1978 issue of Worship magazine. Nouwen begins the article by stating that people often ask, ‘How do I find time and space for myself?” in Christian community. Nouwen goes on to say that he wants to begin by speaking of ‘two commonly held viewpoints on the role of solitude in community which I consider false, or at least limited’. Nouwen identifies these two viewpoints as: 1) Solitude over against community which he feels is a battle between the needs of the individual and the needs of the community and 2) Solitude in service of community. Here, he suggests, ‘we do not look at solitude as time and space for the individual in contrast to the community, but …solitude is seen as good for the members of the community because they can return from it refreshed and restored and better able to engage in the common task’. This he feels, may be seen as arising out of weakness, or a need for a break. Nouwen states that for him, the best understanding of the need for solitude is that it is ‘participating fully in the growth of community. It is a fallacy to think that we come closer to each other only when we talk together…solitude opens us to the awareness of a unity pre-existent to all unifying actions.’ Nouwen also speaks of solitude in terms of ‘clarity’ in which in solitude members of the community can sort through feelings and values before introducing them to the group. Finally, Nouwen speaks of solitude as ‘prayer’. Nouwen concludes by stating ‘ When solitude is given its central place, communities will be able to resist not only the flagrantly visible ills of our society, but also the evils whose roots reach into the depth of our being and threaten the life of our community itself’.

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.

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.

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’.

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