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University of St. Michael's College, John M. Kelly Library, Special Collections
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Aging and ministry

Item consists of an article from the book Aging, which was to be published in September 1974.

L'Arche in North America: home, healing and hope

This item is a 5-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘L’Arche in North America: Home, Healing and Hope’, published in ‘Letters of L’Arche’, No. 76, 1992, pp. 2 – 6. Nouwen is writing this at the time of the funeral of Pere Thomas Philippe, one of the founders of L’Arche. Nouwen senses that Pere Thomas’ legacy of the vision of L’Arche will continue to live, ‘he can bring a rich harvest’. Nouwen goes on to ask ‘how to be l’Arche in North America’? Nouwen sees three core words that will bear much fruit: Home, Healing and Hope. I. Home: Nouwen sees L’Arche as being home especially for the core members many of whom have experienced living in institutional places that were not ‘home’. Nouwen goes on to describe the sense of homelessness that many in North America experience: actual homelessness, but also places where people live without a welcome, places where people live in loneliness, places where people live alone together. Nouwen notes that the Assistants who come to L’Arche have and do experience this homelessness as well. Nouwen sees that home at L’Arche provides a place to be home but also to be a place of mission and a recognition that we are still journeying home. II. Healing: ‘The great paradox of L’Arche is that, while no one is cured, everyone is healed’. Nouwen speaks of the great suffering that has been experienced by the core members but also by the Assistants. All seek healing. ‘It is clear that we are all handicapped that we all need to offer each other healing by the way we live together’. III. Hope: ‘L’Arche invites people, barely respected or acknowledged by our society, to become witnesses of hope’. ‘Joy, peace, acceptance, truthfulness, the ability to welcome, to forgive and to celebrate; these are only some of the gifts handicapped people have to offer…This knowledge of the ‘gift of the poor’ has been a great inspiration in L’Arche over the years, and has made L’Arche into a true sign of hope’.

The beloved of God: the spiritual search for meaning in living and dying

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled. ‘The Beloved of God’, published in Sojourners, Vol. 21, No. 8, October 1992, pp. 22-23. This item is identified as an excerpt from Nouwen’s forthcoming book, Life of the Beloved. Nouwen begins by writing, ‘As the one who is chosen, blessed, broken and given, you are called to live your life with a deep inner joy and peace’. Nouwen goes on to say that our lives are changed radically when we recognize ourselves as being sent into the world. ‘Put simply, life is a God-given opportunity to become who we are, to affirm our own true spiritual nature, claim our truth, appropriate and integrate the reality of our being, but most of all , to say yes to the One who calls us the Beloved’. Nouwen goes on to write then, of the meaning of our life and death; the reality of the ‘hereafter’ and suggests that ‘Eternal life is not some great surprise that comes at one at the end of our existence in time; it is rather, the full revelation of what we have been and have lived all along’.

The duet of the Holy Spirit: when mourning & dancing are one: healing life's hurts

This item is a 7 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘The Duet of the Holy Spirit: When Mourning and Dancing are One’, published in New Oxford Review, Vol. LIX, No. 5, June 1992, pp. 5 – 12. Parts of this article have been published in The Catholic New Times, Toronto, March/April 1992 and in a revised form in a posthumous book, ‘Turn My Mourning into Dancing, 2001. Nouwen begins the article by writing about healing as the skill not only of healing professionals but of all: ‘ It belongs to the heart of our Christian vision that all of us, whether we have degrees or not, are called to be healers’. Nouwen then goes on to suggest that ‘healing is mourning as well as dancing’; that without facing and accepting the dark side of our existence healing cannot occur. ‘But true healing calls us to face the harsh realities of our lives and to come to grips with the truth that, while we live in a world subject to the power of the Evil One, we belong to God’. Nouwen’s next focus is upon facing and mourning our many losses in life rather than pretending all is fine. Nouwen suggests that we need to let go our illusions of control in order for true healing to occur. We need, as well, to help others to do this if we ourselves are to be healers and we all need a safe place to enter this process. Nouwen then goes on to say ‘To heal is to let the Spirit call us to dance’. ‘Can you feel the freedom that rises up in you when you have been stripped naked and have nothing to inhibit your movements …’ Nouwen describes two movements of the dance: forgiveness and celebration and concludes the article identifying the presence then of the song of gratitude and of joy.

Living under God's blessing: wholeness

This item is an article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘ Living Under God’s Blessing’ published in Alive Now!, March/April 1992, p.5. This item is the first of two excerpts from Nouwen’s lecture at the Scarritt-Bennett Center, 1991. The second article is found in file 1774, Box 298. Nouwen begins by saying’ Jesus came to reveal to you that you are as much a child of God as Jesus is…’ He concludes this excerpt by stating, ‘The great call of Jesus is to put your brokenness under the blessing’.

The spiritual life: inward disciplines

This item is a two page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Inward Disciplines: The Spiritual Life’, published by Alive now!, March/April, 1992, pp. 26-7. This item is a short excerpt from a lecture by Henri Nouwen at the Scarritt-Bennett Center, 1991. Nouwen begins by quoting from an unknown translation of Ps. 139. Nouwen then states ‘The spiritual life starts at the place where you can hear God’s voice’. Nouwen concludes this short excerpt by stating that the spiritual life also starts ‘where you dare to claim the first love’.

Forgiveness: the name of love in a wounded world

This item is a 10 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Forgiveness: The Name of Love in a Wounded World’, published in ‘Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life’, Vol. VII, No. 2, March/April 1992, pp. 6 – 15. The thoughts found in this article are identified as later to be found in Nouwen’s book, “The Life of the Beloved’. Nouwen begins the article by stating that in the stress and pressure of modern life he had ‘begun to wonder whether there was a single, simple word that might address the deep yearning of contemporary men and women for hope, trust, love and a vision larger than their own changing perspectives…That word is Beloved’. Nouwen goes on to describe how he began to see that word as applying to himself and to all; that it is a word of love from our ‘first love’, God. Nouwen sees self-rejection as one of the most powerful forces to be overcome in order to see ourselves as beloved. Nouwen suggests that we tend to seek our self-worth from human loves which of their nature will fail us. Nouwen goes on to describe ‘the experience of being called the Beloved is the experience of communion’, which he believes is the longing of all human hearts. ‘The treasure of communion is hidden in the ground on which we stand. That is our holy ground’. Nouwen then writes of the power of forgiveness, ‘Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly’…’we need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour…’ Finally Nouwen writes of the freedom to love that comes with awareness of being the Beloved. ‘Once we are free from the expectation of rewards, we no longer select those to whom we offer our love’.

The cutting edge: selections from the editor's library to challenge your thinking

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen published in a column from ‘The War Cry’ entitled ‘The Cutting Edge’ by the Salvation Army, February 23, 1991, p. 3. This item is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Nouwen’s book, ‘Clowning in Rome’, 1979. Nouwen is writing on the need to pray and opens by suggesting that we tend to think of prayer as one thing to do among many. He then goes on to speak of St Paul’s injunction to pray without ceasing. ‘[Paul] asks us to pray day and night, in joy and in sorrow, at work and at play without intermissions or breaks’. The remainder of the article discusses how we may do this but references further material in the chapter which is not included in this article.

Tidings of great joy: every day is a holy-day

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: ‘Tidings of Great Joy: Every Day is a Holy-Day’ published in 'News from Celebration', December 1990, pp. 1,3,4. This article is identified as being adapted from Nouwen’s book, ‘Lifesigns’. Nouwen opens with words about the evolution of the celebration of Christmas from experiencing the ‘deep, lasting joy of Emmanuel, God-with-us’ to ‘the shallow happiness of busy people’. Nouwen writes of the deep joy that Jesus offers as a divine gift: ‘the joy of Jesus lifts up life to be celebrated fully’. Nouwen identifies joy and celebration as a way in which faith in the God of life is lived. Nouwen suggests that joy is deep and can be present even amidst very hard times. Finally, Nouwen, after speaking about his life in L’Arche, says that ‘community is the place where God completes our lives with his joy’.

A sudden trip to Lourdes: by-passing the excitement of Berlin

This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘A Sudden Trip to Lourdes, published in New Oxford Review, Vol. LVII, No.7, September, 1990, pp. 7 - 13. Nouwen begins by stating that he is writing this in Lourdes during an unexpected divergence from his planned visit to Berlin. ‘The question for me was: How to live [the next decade]? The answer came quietly: In deep communion with Jesus’. Nouwen reflects on the water – of Baptism, of healing at the baths, on the rain. Nouwen goes to confession where the priests says to him, ‘Don’t be afraid to be poor, alone, naked, stripped of all your familiar ways of doing things. God is not finished with you yet’. Nouwen reflects on the innocence of Mary, of Bernadette and of his own. He reflects on Jesus’ passion in the Stations of the Cross and on the resurrection. After three days in Lourdes, Nouwen feels it is time to leave and he returns to the L’Arche community at Trosly. Nouwen, reflects as he is in the train returning to Paris, ‘I know that every time I choose for my innocence I don’t have to worry about the next 10 years. I can be sure I am not alone, but with him who called me to live as God’s child’.

A glimpse behind the mirror: reflections on death and life

This item is an 11 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘A Glimpse behind the Mirror: Reflections on Death and Life’ published in Weavings, A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life, Vol. IV, No. 6, November/December 1989, PP. 13 – 23. This article is about Nouwen’s experience with possible death after a road accident. Nouwen begins the article by describing the accident, his experience of the hospital emergency room and intensive care ward. Nouwen describes his gradual awareness that he might die; that he was at peace. ‘I kept thinking that dying was quite possible and that I had to prepare myself and my friends for it. And so I let myself enter a place I had never been before: the portal of death.’ Nouwen describes his experience of the presence of the love of Jesus and his deep sense of wanting to make the journey of dying to life. Nouwen is hesitant however because he knows there are relationships unhealed and forgiveness not yet given nor received. Nouwen slowly realizes that he will not die and believes that he has work to do. ‘I believe that I am asked to proclaim the love God in a new way.’ Pondering the way Jesus was in the world Nouwen asks, ‘Can I become like Jesus and witness to what I have seen? Yes, I can live in God and speak to the human reality’. Nouwen concludes the article with a quote from Phil. 1:21 -26, words of Paul that Nouwen hopes will be his guide.

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