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Henri Nouwen fonds
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The man of tomorrow

Item consists of a typed copy of an article by Rev. James T. McHugh (Director, Family Life Division, USCC) titled "The Man of Tomorrow." In the article, McHugh references Nouwen and an article by Nouwen in Commonweal in 1970 in which Nouwen discusses behavioral patterns and social trends in order to present what the 'man of tomorrow' will be like.

The living reminder: service and prayer in memory of Jesus Christ

Item consists of a book which Nouwen first presented in the form of three lectures at the International Conference of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and the Canadian Association for Pastoral Education. The book has been divided into the following: Prologue; The Minister as a Healing Reminder, Introduction, The Wounds, The Healing, The Healer, Conclusion; The Minister as a Sustaining Reminder, Introduction, The Sustenance, The Sustaining, The Sustainer, Conclusion; The Minister as a Guiding Reminder, Introduction, The Guidance, The Guiding, The Guide, Conclusion; Epilogue.
As is stated in the front flap: ". . . . In three chapters he [Nouwen] formulates and answers a new and compelling question: Who am I as a living memory of God?"

The living Spirit

Item consists of an excerpt from Here and Now: Living in the Spirit.

The journey from despair to hope

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘ The Journey from Despair to Hope’ published in Praying by the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company, No. 17, Mar-Apr. 1987, pp. 4 – 7. Nouwen begins the article by stating that Jesus, from the place of despair in death, speaks to us not of optimism or pessimism but hope. Nouwen identifies three levels of despair current in human life: ‘in interpersonal relationships, in global ways throughout the planet and in our church’. Nouwen goes on to say, ‘ I want to look at each of these ways of despair and then, drawing upon the hope Jesus offers us, try to say a word of hope in response’. In the first area of interpersonal despair Nouwen suggests that we tend to find relationships so often unsatisfactory, people cannot love us in a way that fulfills our deep need. Nouwen suggests that we have forgotten ‘the first love’ which is God’s love for us and that is our hope. ‘Freedom comes when you know with your heart that you are loved’. In the second level Nouwen points to our despair with the global situation and his sense that we almost prefer death to life in uncertainty. ‘But Jesus says “no” to death’. Nouwen states that we need to live without judgment, trusting in life. ‘Life is basically hidden. It is small and begs for constant care and protection. If you are committed to always saying “yes” to life, you are going to have to become a person who chooses it when it is hidden’. With regard to the third level of despair: in the church, Nouwen identifies this as particularly hard to bear but suggests that ‘we are called to be a community. We are called to be together, in a fellowship of the weak to proclaim Jesus as Lord’.

The immaculate conception of the blessed virgin Mary

Item consists of a manuscript of "The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary", a sermon given by Nouwen for Advent. Nouwen suggests that Mary believed and was therefore prepared when visited by the angel Gabriel. Her life was her preparation for her call.

The icon of the Virgin of Vladimir: an invitation to belong to God

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘ The Icon of the Virgin of Vladimir: An Invitation to Belong to God’, published in America, N.Y. May 11, 1985, Vol. 152, No. 18, pp. 387 – 390. Nouwen begins the article by asking, ‘To whom do we belong– the world… or God and God’s people’? He then goes on to state that during a recent 30 day retreat he found himself ‘drawn into [the] mysterious intimacy [of the icon] and came to know by heart its urgent invitation to belong to God’. Nouwen first writes of his impression of the eyes of the Virgin in the icon. He sees the eyes as gazing ‘upon the infinite spaces of the heart where joy and sorrow are no longer contrasting emotions, but are transcended in spiritual unity’. Nouwen then describes the hands of the Virgin as leading the viewer to Jesus. After the hands Nouwen moves to the child as portrayed in the icon. ‘The tender embrace of this mother and Child is far from a sentimental event. It is the portrayal of the mysterious interchange between God and humanity made possible by the Incarnation of the Word’. Nouwen concludes the article by suggesting that the icon portrays what it means to belong to God.

The holy obligation of peacemaking

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘The Holy Obligation of Peacemaking’ published in The Lutheran, Vol. 24, No. 4, February 1986, pp. 14 – 15. This item is identified as Part II of a three part series previously published in the New Oxford Review. Nouwen begins by describing his childhood experience in Holland of the holocaust and the questions he had about why people didn’t act. He then writes of his own struggle now with the growth of the nuclear position of the United States. Nouwen reminds himself that now, as an educated, mature adult he can never say ‘I didn’t know what was going on’. Nouwen then writes of his awareness that the nation he now lives in, the United States, is now a nuclear nation that threatens other nations. ‘It is obvious that all who believe that God is a God of life, especially we who proclaim that Jesus Christ came to live among us to overcome the powers of death, must say a clear and unambiguous ‘no’. Nouwen concludes by stating that ‘resistance is no longer an option…non resistance makes us accomplices to a nuclear holocaust…’

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.

The healing community

Item consists of an article called "The healing community" by Jean Vanier. The article is about healing and wholeness through belonging and the community.

The gulf between East & West

Published in New Oxford Review 61, no. 4 (May 1994): 7-8, 10-16.
Item is 2 of a series of 2 articles. See also Published works series, box 299, item 1805.

The gift of solitude

This item is a two page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘The Gift of Solitude” published in Faith At Work, Volume 89, No. 3, April 1976, p. 28-29. In this article Nouwen is discussing the necessity of solitude in family life allowing each member to have the space to grow. “…the family is a special witness to the general Christian and human vocation to live a life in which solitude leads to intimacy and intimacy to solitude’. Nouwen states that we live in a world in which what we ‘do’ defines who we are and therefore leads us to believe that we must be constantly occupied. Nouwen then states that ‘the first gift of family members to each other is the gift of solitude, in which they can discover their real selves’. He states that allowing solitude for a married couple increases the intimacy between them and between and with their children. Nouwen concluded, ‘In their solitude and intimacy, they evoke a love which transcends the limits of human togetherness; they evoke a divine love of which they have become visible witnesses’.

The fullness of divine love: reflections on a Russian Pentecost icon

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘The Fullness of Divine Love: Reflections on a Russian Pentecost Icon”, published in Sojourners, Vol. 15, No. 6, June 1986, pp. 24 – 27. This article is a reflection on Andrei Rublev’s icon, The Descent of the Holy Spirit’ a Russian icon painted toward the end of the 15th C. Nouwen writes that he is sharing the results of his prolonged reflection on this icon. Nouwen first stresses that he sees that ‘God reveals the fullness of divine love first of all in community’ rather than relying just on the individual. Nouwen says that he intends to show in more detail, three aspects of the spiritual life as he sees this in the icon. The first heading he entitles: ’The God Within’ and it results from the quietude he sees in the grouping in the icon as contrasted with usual Pentecostal activity in much art. ‘The Pentecost icon is such a masterpiece precisely because it draws us into the heart of the mystery of God’s self-revelation’. The second heading he entitles: ‘The community of Faith’ and here he begins ‘The Spirit within, the Spirit of the God of love, the Spirit of the Living Christ is the Holy Spirit who creates a new community among those who believe’. The third heading he entitles: ‘Liberating the World’. This part is reflecting on the figure at the bottom of the icon in what seems to be a dark cave. Here Nouwen believes that that leads into the need of the community to go out to the world to bring the light and love of the Spirit. Nouwen concludes ‘The Descent of the Holy Spirit is a door that leads us into the mystery of God’s inner life’.

The freedom to dance

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘The Freedom to Dance’, published in the Meditation section of the Catholic New Times of Toronto, ON., April 12, 1992, p. 3. The item is from Nouwen's lecture "A Time to Mourn. A Time to Dance" which he gave at Christian Counselling Services' "Celebration 25," on February 4 and 5, 1992 in Toronto. Nouwen begins the article by stating, ‘The Spirit of healing that makes us mourn is the same Spirit that makes us dance’. Nouwen suggests that mourning and dancing are never separated. He goes on to say ‘To heal is to teach people to dance in the awareness that their many losses, when mourned deeply, are the basis of the choreography of their dance’. Nouwen asks, ‘Can you feel the freedom that rises up in you when you have been stripped naked and have nothing to inhibit your movements anymore?’ Nouwen concludes the article by telling a story about a friend of his who visited his father who has Alzheimer’s.

The faces of community

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘The Faces of Community’, published in The Catholic Worker, March – April, 1978, p. 3 & 7. Nouwen begins the article by pointing out the competitive nature of society and its emphasis on outstanding performance by individuals. Nouwen goes on to suggest that in this atmosphere it ‘is not surprising that our sense of self, our self-esteem, begins to depend increasingly on those aspects of our life in which we are different from others’. Nouwen suggests that this is not a value of the Gospel. Nouwen quotes from Paul (Philippians 2:3-5) and states that on the basis of that, we are required to look for our identity ‘not where we are different or outstanding but where we are the same’. ‘It is the experience of the unconditional love of God that allows us to recognize our common human brokenness and our common need for healing’ which lies at the heart of community.

The extraordinary witness of Marthe Robin: to suffer with Jesus

This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘The Extraordinary Witness of Marthe Robin’, published in New Oxford Review, Vol. LIV, No. 4, May 1987, pp. 4 – 10. This item is 8th in a series of articles reflecting on the year Nouwen spent at L’Arche, Trosley Breuil, France in 1985/6. Marthe Robin was a French woman born in 1902 and died in 1981, who was considered by many to have extraordinary spiritual experiences. She has been said to have influenced the lives of many people through her spiritual advice and way of living. The entries in this article focus entirely on his visit to the house and room where Marthe Robin lived and died. The entries are dated April 13, 1986 - April 19. Nouwen reflects and prays, with his friend Bernard, in her room on several occasions and speaks about the influence of Marthe on many people and especially on Pere George Finet, the founder of the Foyers de Charite.

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.

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…’

The death of Dr. King

This item consists of a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: The Death of Dr King, published in the National Catholic Reporter, December 18, 1968, p. 4. This article is a subjective reflection by Nouwen on the atmosphere, experience and people he encountered following the death of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. Nouwen uses a number of headings : 1) The News – this begins in Chicago where he first hears of King’s assassination. He describes the muted responses of the people he meets, 'Martin Luther King was dead, killed, assassinated. Everybody knew it but nobody wanted to know it'. 2) The Party – Here Nouwen describes the atmosphere at a party following his talk and notes particularly that most people are avoiding speaking of Dr King’s death. 3) The Cool City – moves on to Topeka, Kansas where Nouwen reflects on the contrast between the ‘slickness and artificiality’ and ‘the madness’. ‘We were killing the prophets…Between the hollow voices of those who tried to advertise their latest product, it became clear that violence was cutting through the thresholds of restraint. Topeka seemed a cool and indifferent city’. 4) In Kansas City Nouwen visits a young man in prison for draft evasion. This young man speaks of the influence of Dr King on his life and the lives of his fellow prisoners and the atmosphere in the prison: ’when they heard that he was dead they doubled the guards. They did not understand that we were just crying, my Afro-American friends and me’. 5) The Cab Driver –this speaks of Nouwen’s decision to change his plans and travel to Atlanta for the funeral. He describes his encounter at the airport with a cab driver who is also going. The cab driver shares with Nouwen: ‘ Dr King just tried to take Christ’s words seriously. He realized he had to follow him all the way. What would happen if we really would do just that?’ The remainder of the article describes the atmosphere in Atlanta: ‘It was a special occasion in which happiness and joy merged with sadness and distress. Perhaps it had never been different for them.’ Nouwen concludes this article by reflecting on his hope despite all the ‘anger, grief and frustration’. ‘I knew that out of my exhaustion a new faith could grow, a faith that it is possible to 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.

The compassionate God

Item consists of a portion of a journal article about prayers, the compassion of God, the beautiful God, the giving God, and the coming God.

The communion of love

Item consists of a book in which Nouwen has written the foreword, stating in part that "The awareness that this book will offer that divine space ["a new and open space where God dwells and invites me to dwell with him"] to many of my brothers and sisters in Christ fills me with great joy and gratitude."

The clown

Item consists of a typescript of "The Clown", a sermon on clowns, ministry and weakness. Nouwen uses the circus as an image for our world. He suggests that people keep the circus functioning, as do people in our world. The clown is the one we identify with because he stumbles and makes mistakes like us. Christ was the clown to announce by his life that we are not what we perform. The minister's final task is to announce that God loves us beyond what we can ever perform. Thus we can laugh at our weakness.

The clever retort

Item consists of a copy of a newspaper article called "The clever retort", by John Berendt. The article is about examples of witty and clever retorts throughout history.

The brothers Karamazov as teachers of Christian faith

Item consists of a copy of an article called "The brothers Karamazov as teachers of Christian faith", by Donald Nicholl. The article is about how the characters in the book "The brothers Karamazov" by Dostoyevsky are the best teachers of religion in the late twentieth century.

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 Teresa Group, Diane Marshall - July 4 - 5, 1995

File consists of promotional material for The Teresa Group. Annotations on the material indicate Nouwen and Sue Mosteller were to meet with Janet Marshall Eibner and Diane Marshall one evening in July.

The Surprising Journey of Father Lonergan

Item consists of a photocopy of an article by Kenneth Rexroth titled "The Surprising Journey of Father Lonergan". In the article, Rexroth describes a theological conference at St. Leo College in Florida in honour of Bernard Lonergan, SJ, and describes the beliefs of Lonergan.

The Society for the Propagation of the Faith

File consists of materials relating to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, including an accompanying pamphlet for an audio cassette which features a speech by Pope John Paul II given at World Mission Sunday on October 19, 1986; a pamphlet titled "Message of Pope John Paul II for "World Mission Day" 1986" from October 19, 1986; a pamphlet with the label 'Special Leaflet' which is titled "The theme 'With Jesus, let's build peace in the world'"; a pamphlet with the label 'Leaflet 2A' with the title "Material for the Liturgy" which features readings to be used and suggestions for homilies. All texts mention 1986 as being the International Year of Peace.

The Scott Mission - May 3, 1993

File consists of correspondence and other material from Margaret Cheung, regarding Nouwen giving a talk at The Scott Mission staff development training seminar, Toronto, Ontario. Includes a history of the Mission, the Mission goals and objectives, and "The Scott Mission Annual Report 1992-93."

The Plough Publishing House

File consists of business correspondence concerning a request for Nouwen to recommend an article by Juergen Moltmann about the Sermon on the Mount to his acquaintances and students. Includes a copy of Moltmann's article. File also includes a letter from Nouwen to Clare Stober of the Plough Publishing House in response to her request for an endorsement of a manuscript titled Why We Live in Community.

The Norton Presbyterian Church - May 7, 1995

File consists of a letter and other material regarding Nouwen leading the teaching/worship service at Norton, Presbyterian Church in Darien, Connecticut. Includes copies of discussion outlines for an Ecumenical Lenten Study on "With Burning Hearts."

The Mutual Group account

  • CA ON00389 F4-6-3-1446-1, 1446-2
  • File
  • May 1989 - January 1994
  • Part of Henri Nouwen fonds

File consists of material regarding Nouwen's The Mutual Group (mutual funds) account. Includes correspondence, application forms, statements, annual reports, and informational pamphlets and booklets from The Mutual Group.

The Lutheran Magazine

File consists of business correspondence concerning Nouwen's contribution to the March edition of the magazine entitled Reflection - Lent leads us to choose Christ's Way.

The Liberal

File consists of draft manuscripts of Nouwen's The Prodigal Son I and The Prodigal Son II - Gratitude printed in the December 26, 1991 and January 1, 1992 issues of The Liberal.

The Laity - resources file

File consists of materials regarding laity such as copies of articles, newsletters and conference information.

The Gospel of John - reading notes

File consists of two pages of handwritten notes by Nouwen on the book L'evangelie de Jean et son temoignage spirituel, by Paul Marie de la Croix, O.C.D. (Desclee de Brouwer, 1958). These notes contain the heading "The Gospel of John" and note the spiritual formation of the Evangelist.

The Genesee diary: report from a Trappist monastery

The item consists of a book which Nouwen wrote about the seven months he spent at the Abbey of the Genesee in upstate New York during 1974. The book has been divided into the following: Introduction; 1 June: A Stranger in Paradise; 2 July: You Are the Glory of God; 3 August: Nixon and St. Bernard; 4 September: Pray for the World; 5 October: Strangers and Friends; 6 November: Many Saints but One Lord; 7 December: Waiting Quietly and Joyfully; Conclusion; References.
As is stated in the front flap: "Participating fully in the life of the monastery by working in the bakery, helping in the construction of a new chapel, and following the daily hours of prayer, Nouwen brought many typical human experiences and questions to his spiritual director: questions about the aim of the contemplative life and the place of prayer and politics in his life, but also feelings of impatience, jealousy, and self-depreciation, excitement over new spiritual insight, and struggle with the subtle difficulties of allowing Jesus Christ to be the center of his existence."

The Genesee diary: report from a Trappist monastery

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

The General Theological Seminary - March 27 - 28, 1995

File consists of correspondence, from Rev. James Fenhagen, and other material regarding Nouwen's participation as a speaker at the College of Bishops program at the General Theological Seminary in New York City. Nouwen spoke on the topic of Christian anthropology, "The Misery and Grandeur of Humanity." While in New York City Nouwen also gave a sermon and a talk at St. James Church. The talk was entitled "Holy Week as Spiritual Journey." Includes brochures, bulletin and information sheets. Also includes the March 1995 issue of Contactblad Mertonvrienden (Dutch).

The Gathering - Cancun, Mexico - November 2 - 4, 1995

File consists of correspondence and other material regarding Nouwen participation at The Gathering Conference in Cancun, Mexico as a speaker and biblical teacher. Nouwen gave the closing plenary at the conference entitled "Can You Drink the Cup? The Challenge of the Spiritual Life." Nouwen was accompanied to the conference by Nathan Ball and Joe Vorstermans. Includes newsletters, brochures, a postcard, hotel bills, copies of forms for reservations, taxes, and speaker recording authorization. Also includes the contents of a binder from the conference including floor plan, agenda, attendees, course descriptions, music, affinity groups, and the next conference.

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