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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."

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).

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

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

Latin America: living with the poor

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

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

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

Faith and war in Nicaragua

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

The spirituality of peacemaking

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

Thoughts from Henri Nouwen

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


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

Christ of the Americas

This item is a 10 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Christ of the Americas’, published in America magazine, April 21, 1984, Vol. 150. No. 15, pp. 293 – 302. This item was later published in Nouwen, Henri: The Road to Peace, ed. John Dear, 1998. In this article Nouwen is writing about the situation then current in Central America, specifically, Nicaragua which he had just visited. Nouwen states that he believes that the ‘suffering Christ of North America and the suffering Christ of South America were one’. Nouwen divides the article into three sections: Christ has Died, 2) Christ has Risen, 3) Christ will Come Again. In the first section, Nouwen states that there is no suffering which has not been suffered by God. ‘There can be no human beings who are completely alone in their sufferings since God, in and through Jesus, has become…God with us’. Nouwen goes on to say that the people of Nicaragua are our brothers and sisters and that no political ideology should blind us to that. Nouwen states that he had hoped to find the Nicaraguan church as a support to the people who are suffering but sees instead, division. ‘I had to hold on to the truth that the tearing apart of the Word outside as well as inside the church was the bitter fruit of five centuries of unfaithfulness’. 2) In this section, Christ has Risen, Nouwen begins by asking,’ Can we face the death of Christ without knowing about his resurrection?’ ‘Christ is risen means that guilt, loneliness, hunger, poverty, war and devastation no longer have the last word.’ Nouwen uses an example of this, a meeting he attended with some women on the border with Honduras who had lost family and suffered greatly from soldiers armed and supported by the American government. Nouwen describes in this meeting as a moment of unexpected forgiveness. In 3) Christ will Come Again, Nouwen suggests that this is about Christ returning as judge. The question asked of each person will not be how successful you have been but ‘what have you done for the least of mine?’. This question will be asked of nations as well as individuals. Nouwen writes of the fears of the United States government and their harsh treatment of a small, poor nation as resulting from a fear of communism and of the Soviet Union. Nouwen end s this section by suggesting ‘The Lord who becomes one of us in humility does not really judge us. He reveals to us what we have become to one another’. Nouwen concludes the article by stating how crucial prayer is and will be in our efforts to ‘keep our eyes fixed on Jesus’ to bring peace to our world.

Spiritual directions

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Spiritual Direction” . It is part 3 of a series of 3 published in The Word, Christ Episcopal Church, Oil City, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., November 1984, pp. 5 & 12. This item appears to be an excerpt from Reflection by Yale University Divinity School and Berkeley Divinity School, Connecticut, January 1981, Vol. 78, No. 2, pp. 7 - 8. Nouwen speaks of the discipline of the heart and its need for spiritual direction. Nouwen identifies the spiritual director as ‘a mature fellow Christian’ whom one may see regularly or from time to time according to need. Nouwen concludes by stating ‘It is important that we are thinking about a ministry in which we help one another to practice the disciplines of the Church, the Book and the Heart and thus live a life in which we become more and more sensitive to the ongoing presence of God in our lives’.

Prayer and the jealous God: Why do we avoid praying?

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Prayer and the Jealous God’, published in The New Oxford Review, Vol. LII, No. 5, June 1985, pp. 7 – 12. Nouwen begins this article about prayer by writing of his own and our, resistance to prayer. He asks ‘Why this attraction and repulsion at the same time? Why do we have so many difficulties in doing what we say we fervently desire?’ He goes on to identify a number of ‘reasons’ we might articulate for not praying. Nouwen then suggests that we have a God who constantly calls to us, constantly desires our attention. ‘I am deeply convinced that the necessity to pray, and to pray unceasingly, is not so much based on our desire for God as on God’s desire for us. It is God’s passionate pursuit of us that calls us to prayer’. Nouwen identifies fear of the implications of prayer as our biggest reason for resistance. Nouwen writes about who he believes God really is for us and who Jesus and the Holy Spirit are and the gift that they are. Nouwen reminds us that we need not be afraid of them. Nouwen concludes ‘So, do not be afraid of the Father who created you in love, nor of the Son who set you free to journey to the Father’s house, nor of the Holy Spirit who already gives you the joy and peace of God’s dwelling place’.

Bearing fruit in the Spirit: the gifts of God's love

This item is a 5 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: Bearing Fruit in the Spirit, The House of God a Home amid an Anxious World, published in Sojourners, July 1985, Vol. 14, No. 7, pp. 26 – 30. This is part two of a three part series. Nouwen begins the article by speaking of the life-giving quality of fecundity in a world that seldom appears to experience that. Nouwen follows this with a section entitled, Fecundity and Fear. Here Nouwen identifies sterility and productivity as possible manifestations of a fearful approach to life-giving forces and fecundity. ‘In our contemporary society, with its emphasis on accomplishment and success, we often live as if being productive is the same as being fruitful’. In this section Nouwen writes of his experience with Jean Vanier and the people of L’Arche who showed him the life-giving gift of people who appear to ‘accomplish’ little. In the next section Nouwen writes of Fecundity and Love. He identifies three aspects of the fruitful life as ‘vulnerability, gratitude and love’ and discusses each in detail. Nouwen concludes the article with the section entitled: Fecundity and Mission. Here he begins by stating, ‘When we come to experience intimacy with God as including all of humanity, it will become clear that fecundity also has a global quality’. Nouwen goes on to say, ‘One of the most compelling aspects of the Spirit of Jesus is that it always sends us forth to bring and receive the gifts of God to and from all peoples and nations’. Nouwen suggests that our world would be very different if we recognized that there is something for us to receive from others, not just to give to them. He concludes the article by saying ‘ If giving and receiving the fruits of the intimate love of God for all people were our main concern, peace would be near’.

Finding our home

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

Prayer and resistance: a spirituality of peacemaking

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Prayer and Resistance: A Spirituality of Peacemaking’, published in The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Vol. XVI, Number 1, October-November, 1985, pp. 5 – 7, & 10. Nouwen begins the article by stating, ‘A peacemaker prays. Prayer is the beginning and the end, the source and the fruit, the core and the content, the basis and the goal of all peacemaking’. At the end of his introduction Nouwen goes on to say, ‘Praying at all times is the first aspect of peacemaking. What does this concretely mean for us who have barely enough time and space to keep some distance from the cares of life? To answer this question we must be first willing to explore critically the ways in which the “cares of life” strangle us. Only then can we see the converting power of prayer and its pervasive role in peacemaking’. In the following sections Nouwen writes of ‘wounds and needs’ which affect our actions and suggests that it is ‘only when we are willing to repeatedly confess that we too have dirty hands, even when we work for peace, can we fully understand the hard task of peacemaking’. Nouwen then begins to write of the power of prayer to free us to be peacemakers and uses images from the Bible to point to this power. Nouwen identifies peacemaking as a work of love and goes on to say, ‘Prayer is the way to that experience of love’. Nouwen writes of his experience as a child in wartime Holland of the holocaust of the Jews and states that as a child he could not understand or fight against it but now he is an educated adult he cannot excuse himself from fighting injustice that he sees. ‘To work for peace is to work for life. But more than ever before in history we are surrounded by the powers of death’. Further on Nouwen states that ‘resistance [to evil] is no longer an option’ whatever the cost. We do this to begin with by recognizing the evil within ourselves and yet forgiving ourselves and others. ‘Personally, I believe that the battle against these suicidal inner powers is harder than any other spiritual battle. If those who believe in Jesus Christ were able fully to believe that they are forgiven people, who are loved unconditionally and called to proclaim peace in the name of the forgiving Lord, our planet would not be on the verge of self-destruction’.

Working for peace: saying 'yes' to life and 'no' to death

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Working for Peace’ published in The Lutheran, Vol. 24, No. 5, March 5, 1986, pp. 10- 11. This item is identified as Part III of a 3 part series and taken from the New Oxford Review. Nouwen begins by saying, ‘As peacemakers we must have the courage to see the powers of death at work even in our innermost selves…’. Nouwen writes of his own struggle to accept himself as loved and forgiven by God and the difficulty that creates for him to grow as a peacemaker. Nouwen describes the forces of self-rejection as forces of death. He then states that ‘a loving heart that continues to affirm life at all times and places can say ‘no’ to death without being corrupted by it. Nouwen then goes on to write of the importance of resisting the forces of death in our society in whatever way seems right. Nouwen concludes ‘ Prayer and resistance, the two pillars of Christian peacemaking, are two interlocking ways of giving expression to the peace we have found in the dwelling place of God’.

Orthodox downward mobility or secularist prosperity?: the tragedy of Dutch Catholicism

This item is an 8 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Orthodox Downward Mobility or Secularist Prosperity?’ published in the New Oxford Review, November 1986, pp.7 - 15. The article is identified as the third installment of a series of articles taken from a Nouwen diary written during his time as priest-in-residence at L’Arche, Trosley-Breuil, France. The excerpts from Nouwen’s diary in this article begin December 2, 1985 and end January 5, 2986. Nouwen’s entries begin with a description of his frustration with himself and how he uses his time; how he becomes so easily distracted from what may be more important things. He writes then, of talks given by Jean Vanier about living with the poor, being poor. Jean says, ‘Jesus always leads us to littleness. It is the place where misery and mercy meet. It is the place where we encounter God’. Nouwen writes of a letter he receives which is a call from the L’Arche community at Daybreak in Canada to be their pastor and his realization that he had never been Called before, his life choices until then had been his. There is a short entry on the ‘glory’ of God; a longer entry about the celebration of Christmas at L’Arche and a certain distance Nouwen felt from it all. The remainder of the entries are about his visit to his family and friends in Holland; his sense of distance again, this time because so many have left the church and no longer really ‘hear’ what he wants to share. He describes a visit to his Bishop about going to Daybreak; the state of marriage as he experiences it among his friends; his father’s 83rd birthday celebration. His final entry states, ‘As I leave my country I feel powerless and sad. I also feel an inner desire to do something for my own people and church in Holland – somehow, sometime’.

Christ's simultaneous absence & presence: tasting the sweetness of the Lord

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Christ’s Simultaneous Absence and Presence’, published in the New Oxford Review, Vol. LIV, No. 1, January/February 1987, pp. 4 – 7. This item is part 5 of a 10 part series which are entries from a diary written by Nouwen during his stay at L’Arche, Trosly-Breuil, France , 1985 – 86. The first entry for February 9 is written from Freiburg and Nouwen is describing his visit to the Munster and a painting of the crowning of Mary. Nouwen finds the painting has lost touch with Mary as the poor and humble servant of the gospel. Nouwen also writes of need for Protestant and Catholic to continue the careful listening they are trying to do now. The next entry, a week later, and Lent has begun. Nouwen writes of his difficulty with fasting but his need for it. ‘I hope and pray that fasting will drive the demons away, and give me a clearer eye for the presence of the One in whose absence I fast’. The next day Nouwen is again at the Munster, at first standing in the snowy empty square outside and then within, where he goes to confession and walks home ‘with a heart full of peace’. The next day is a visit with his friends Franz, Reny and Robert Johnas to Colmar for Mass. The next two entries are reflections on the Gospel of the day, Matthew 25 on the need to serve Jesus in the ‘least’ ‘where is hidden the real joy and peace my heart searches for’. And the gospel which speaks of making peace with people you are at odds with. The last entry, dated February indicates Nouwen has returned to L’Arche and is a reflection on suffering.

The primacy of the heart

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘The Primacy of the Heart’ , published in Expressions by the St. Benedict Center, Madison , Wisconsin, March/April 1987, pp. 1 & 8. This item is taken from Henri Nouwen’s L’Arche journals. Nouwen begins by saying that he had gone to Pere Thomas for spiritual direction, asking for help with his hunger for affection. Nouwen then tries to understand the two hour response he received. Pere Thomas began by identifying our ‘highly psychologized culture [in which] affection has become the central concern’. We feel worthy or not, depending upon other’s response and we become prevented from reaching an inner place of healing which Thomas sees as the heart. Nouwen discusses Thomas’ perception of the mystical life, not as a place for the accomplished spiritual person but as God with us from the beginning of our lives. The heart then ‘ is much wider and deeper than our affections, It is before and beyond the distinctions between sorrow and joy, anger and lust, fear and love. It is the place where all is one in God, the place where we truly belong’.

A glimpse of the "gay world" in San Francisco & the "fast world" in Los Angeles: struggling to remain anchored in Jesus

This item is a 5 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Struggling to remain anchored in Jesus, published in the New Oxford Review, July-August 1987, pp. 5 – 9. This item is part 10 and the final installment of a series of articles written during the year that Nouwen was resident at L’Arche, Trosly-Breuil , France. The items date from May 31, 1986 to July 6, 1986. The first entry describes a visit Henri and a friend make to the Castro district of San Francisco, a gay area. He writes of seeing the fearful, lonely faces of men struggling with the awareness of AIDS. Nouwen concludes the entry stating that his friend commented, ‘I am glad you came. There are too few people who mention his Name in the district. There are so many negative associations with his Name and still he is the greatest source of hope.’ The next entry describes his visit to Los Angeles and the atmosphere of what he describes as ‘the enormous superficiality of our culture’. Nouwen then flies to Madison, Wisconsin for a visit with Parker and Sally Palmer to discuss theological education and a possible one-week summer institute for seminary professors. Palmer and Nouwen discuss the need for theological students to have spiritual help, not to separate theology and spirituality. Nouwen notes that: ‘the study of theology must have the quality of prayer; theological study must also foster the creation of communities of faith… and finally, the study of theology must always lead to witness’. The final three entries are written when Nouwen returns to France and finds himself assessing his year there. He writes of wanting to share with Nathan but having to wait to do that, he notes that he feels scattered and finds it hard to pray for an hour in the morning, he is not sleeping well and feels ‘somewhat indifferent’ but not depressed. Nouwen realizes that he has not really got to know the handicapped people as well as he hoped. In the last entry Nouwen notes that he is leaving Trosly, will visit his family, go to Boston and then on to Daybreak for a three year commitment. He notes three graces from his time at L’Arche: being in Europe again, renewing and making friendships, and beginning to make a deeper contact with the handicapped.

L'Arche and the world

This item is a 5 page article from a talk given by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘l’Arche in the World’ published in The Letters of l’Arche, September/December, 1987, Nos. 53 & 54, pp. 29 – 33. This publication was a special issue devoted to the l’Arche Federation Meeting, Rome, May, 1987. Nouwen begins his article by stating how irritating he first found a common l’Arche expression: ‘l’Arche is given to the world’. Nouwen believed that such a phrase ‘had an insane ring to it’. The remainder of the article goes on to deal with the following statement: ‘ How is our small daily, routine life at l’Arche connected with our immense world, groaning in labour pains, eagerly waiting to be set free? I propose to look for a response to this question in the resurrection stories as we find them in the four gospels’. Nouwen then divides his comments in three sections: The Stranger, The Intimate Friend and The Teacher. In The Stranger Nouwen speaks of the hiddenness of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, how he comes to his disciples after his death as at first, a stranger and the disciples both knew and didn’t know him. Nouwen tells the story of Adam Arnett who lives in his house and then speaks of the hidden quality of all suffering: ‘Only by acknowledging this hidden suffering that bonds our heart with the heart of all human beings can we become truly compassionate people… In The Intimate Friend Nouwen states, ‘The stranger reveals himself to us as the most intimate friend’. Nouwen goes on to suggest that our lives are built on deep personal relationships and not, for instance, issues. Nouwen then relates the story of the growth of his relationship with Bill in his community and concludes by saying, ‘l’Arche is there to remind us that the intimate personal relationships developed over months and years of faithfulness allow us to be in the world without being destroyed by its countless urgencies and emergencies’. In the section entitled The Teacher Nouwen states,’ Jesus teaches his disciples that suffering and death are no longer connected with sin and punishment, but with the glory of God…It is hard to grasp the revolutionary character of this teaching. Nouwen notes that ‘l’Arche teaches the possibility of a suffering that leads to glory. Finally, Nouwen concludes ‘As people of l’Arche , people of the resurrection, our small daily lives must be connected to the great struggles of our contemporary world’.

The "yes" of Christmas

This item is a one paragraph excerpt from Henri Nouwen entitled ‘The “yes” of Christmas’, published in Christianity Today, December 11, 1987, p. 32. It is a quote from New Oxford Review, November 1986. The entire excerpt reads: ‘I realized that songs, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and many sweet words do not make Christmas. Christmas is saying ‘yes’ to something beyond all emotions and feelings. Christmas is saying ‘yes’ to a hope based on God’s initiative, which has nothing to do with what I think or feel. Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work, and not mine’.

Spirituality and the family

This item is 4 page an article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Spirituality and the Family’ published in Weavings, Vol.III, No.1, January/February, 1988, pp. 7 – 10. Nouwen begins by suggesting that the ‘vocation of the Christian [is] a vocation to solitude and intimacy’. Nouwen goes on to suggest that this vocation ‘finds a very powerful and unique expression in the family’. In the first section entitled ‘The Vocation of Solitude’ Nouwen writes that it is in solitude ‘that we discover the inner space where our creativity finds its roots and from which our real vitality springs’. Nouwen suggests that rather valuing ourselves or others by what we do, it is in solitude that we will, through the Holy Spirit, find our true selves and be able therefore, to value others. ‘Therefore, the first gift of family members to each other is the gift of solitude in which they can discover their real selves’. ‘ When there is no solitude in a family, when there are no private times and private places, then family life becomes such a filled up, busy, restless life that it can no longer be home, the place from which we move and to which we return’. In the second and final section entitled, ‘The Vocation of Intimacy’ Nouwen writes that the gift of solitude makes the gift of intimacy possible, an intimacy which is not possessive but nurturing. This applies, Nouwen suggests, both to the relationships between parents and children and also that between husband and wife.

The peace that is not of this world

This item is a 12 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘The Peace that is Not of this World’ published in ‘Weavings’ Vol. III, No. 2, March/April 1988, pp. 23 – 34. Nouwen introduces the article by describing his move from the intellectual atmosphere of Harvard to the l’Arche community for the mentally handicapped at Daybreak. Nouwen writes of the atmosphere of loving equality at his house and then begins to write of Adam Arnett for whom Nouwen had some responsibility. Nouwen describes Adam as a totally dependent man who could not speak nor care for himself and who suffered daily with grand mal seizures. Nouwen describes his own apprehension at being asked to take early morning and evening responsibility for Adam. As he began to know Adam however, Nouwen says, ‘Out of this broken body and broken mind emerged a most beautiful human being offering me a greater gift than I would ever be able to offer him’. Nouwen uses the remainder of the article to write of Adam’s role as a man of peace, a peacemaker. ‘Adam’s peace is first of all a peace rooted in being’. Nouwen compares this with the desire of many people to strive for success and for self-worth rather than accepting much more just ‘to be’. Nouwen writes of the importance of the heart over the mind; of the heart as the center of our being where God is. Nouwen writes of the ways in which Adam helps to create community among all those who are committed to his care. As Nouwen concludes the article he writes of Jesus, the Prince of Peace ; Jesus whose peace is found in weakness. Nouwen then goes on to speak of the larger international world, ‘I am only saying that the seeds of national and international peace are already sown on the soil of our own suffering and the suffering of the poor, and that we truly can trust that these seeds, like the mustard seeds of the gospel, will produce large shrubs in which many birds can find a place to rest.’

The peace that flows from a broken heart: the quest for God

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: The Peace that Flows from a Broken Heart’, published in The Catholic Leader (Australia), October 30, 1988, p. 2. This item is identified as being part 2 of a 3 part series. The Archives does not have part 3. Nouwen begin by talking of the times he prays with Adam Arnett, the severely handicapped man Nouwen helps care for. Then he writes, ‘Adam’s peace is not only a peace rooted in being but also a peace rooted in the heart’. Nouwen notes that Adam keeps telling him over and over that what makes us human is not our mind but our heart…’by heart I mean the centre of our being where God has hidden the Divine gifts of trust, hope and love’. Nouwen describes Adam’s heart as a broken heart from which his peace flows. Nouwen then goes on to say that one of the gifts of Adam’s peace is that it helps form community. Because of his needs and gifts Adam is at the center of his community. Nouwen concludes this article by stating,’ Most of my adult life I have tried to show the world that I could do it on my own, that I needed others only to get me back on my lonely road…with many others I wanted to become a self-sufficient star’ and yet, Nouwen suggests, that has left a world on the brink of total destruction.

A place where God wants to dwell

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘A Place Where God wants to dwell’, published in Compass: A Jesuit Journal, Vol. 7, No. 4, September 1989, p. 34. Henri begins the article by describing his reading as a teacher of Christian spirituality and his discovery that you must be poor ‘so God can finally be with you’. Nouwen then goes on to describe his experience at l’Arche Daybreak in Richmond Hill Ontario and in particular his friendship with Adam Arnett. Nouwen describes Adam as a profoundly handicapped man who knows nothing of the world Nouwen has lived in and yet becomes for Nouwen, a teacher. Nouwen writes, “Daybreak turns our expectations upside down…Because of Adam’s weakness – his poverty – we can be united in ways that form the body. Because of Adam’s needs, we come to grips with our own’. Nouwen goes on to describe a l’Arche community as not a romantic place but one of struggle and a school of discipleship.

Giving without wanting anything in return is a great act of trust

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘ Giving without wanting anything in return is a great act of trust’, published in The Liberal, Sept. 6, 1989. The article is printed in a section that is called the Clergy Column but there are no further identifying marks. This item is also found in the chapter entitled, 'Allow yourself to be fully received' in Nouwen's 'The Inner Voice of Love". Nouwen writes, ‘Giving yourself to others without expecting anything in return is only possible when you, yourself have been fully received’. The remainder of the article speaks about the need to be free so being able to give without needing affirmation or reward from others.

God's choice

This item is an article written by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘God’s Choice’, published in the Pioneer Christian Monthly , May 1990, p. 8. This item is a short excerpt from Nouwen’s ‘The Road to Daybreak’. Nouwen opens by saying he has been listening to an interview with Jean Vanier, the founder of l’Arche who states’ The handicapped often tell us the truth, whether we want to know it or not’. Nouwen goes on to reflect his awareness of the truth of this.

Living in the center enables us to care

This item is a report of a talk given by Henri Nouwen to the 75th Annual Catholic Health Assembly and published in ‘Health Progress’, July-August, 1990, pp. 52 -54. This item, not written by Henri Nouwen, is reporting on the talk he gave at the assembly and it is difficult at points to know what Nouwen said and what is paraphrase. Nouwen made a number of points about the healthcare worker’s need to keep close to God. He spoke of being open to the life of the spirit by looking at four gestures that recur in the scriptures: Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it. Nouwen is reported as elaborating these points and then moves on to the disciplines required ‘to train your life to care for people’. The four disciplines Nouwen elaborated were: the discipline of the mind, the discipline of the heart, the discipline of the spirit and the discipline of the body. The concluding paragraph of this article states, ‘In the end, Fr Nouwen said, “What matters is whether your true identity is a child of God”. This centering, he says, is what enables you to remain in service of life, not survival.

The necessity for mourning

This item consists of 3 x 1 page excerpts on death by Henri Nouwen published in ‘Alive Now!: Death, by Upper Room Books, September/October, 1990, pp. 10, 30, 60. In ‘A Letter to my Father’ Nouwen begins, ‘The death of husband, wife, child or friend can cause people to stop living toward the unknown future and make them withdraw into the familiar past’. Nouwen goes on to suggest a better way, which he states that we ‘evaluate the past as a continuing challenge to surrender ourselves to an unknown future’. (from a Letter of Consolation). In the second excerpt entitled ‘The Necessity for Mourning’ Nouwen suggests that in our society we have to make a conscious effort to mourn. ‘I know that I must not forget, that I must remember her [Nouwen’s mother] even if remembering brings with it pain, sorrow and sadness’. (from In Memoriam). In the third excerpt, entitled, ‘Consolation’, Nouwen again writing of his mother’s death, ‘Where do we see the harvest of mother’s death?’…and ends by stating, ‘the pain mother’s death caused us has led us to a new way of being…’(from A Letter of Consolation).

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’.

Living in the house of love

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Living in the House of Love’ published in ‘Alive Now, Images of Faith’, September – October, 1991, pp. 42 – 45. This item is a revised excerpt from Nouwen’s book ‘ Behold the Beauty of the Lord’. This excerpt is a reflection on Andre Rublev’s icon ‘The Holy Trinity’..Nouwen introduces the article by stating ‘The spiritual life keeps us aware that our true house is not the house of fear…but the house of love, where God resides’. He describes this as the essence of the spiritual life and speaks about the icon as reflecting ‘the house of love’. From meditation upon this house of love we can move into the world to be present to but not to be part of, this world. Nouwen then speaks about the effect that contemplation of this icon had upon him. Nouwen also speaks of how contemplation of the icon‘reveals the inner beauty of God’ and speaks of the link between the cross and love in our world today. Finally, Nouwen concludes by saying, ‘I pray that Rublev’s icon will teach many how to live in the midst of a fearful, hateful and violent world while moving always deeper into the house of love’.

There's a lot of pain

This item is a two page article by Henri Nouwen entitled 'There's a lot of pain...' published in Alive Now! Novemeber-December, 1991, p. 44-45. It is the first article by Nouwen featured in this publication. The theme of this issue is ‘Loneliness’ and this article is identified as an excerpt taken from a lecture Nouwen presented at the Scarritt-Bennett Center. The article discusses the pain and brokenness of human relationships and love and heart given and shared by God.

But what then can we do

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘But what then can we do?’ published in Alive Now! November-December, 1991, p. 47. It is the second article by Nouwen featured in this publication. The first article is entitled 'There's a lot of pain...' The theme of this issue is ‘Loneliness’ and this article is identified as an excerpt from Nouwen’s ‘Reaching Out’. Nouwen begins by asking ‘But what then can we do with our essential aloneness which so often breaks into our consciousness as the experience of a desperate sense of loneliness?’ Nouwen goes on to speak of the need to convert our loneliness into a fruitful solitude.

Reborn from above

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘ Reborn from Above’, published in Spiritual Life, Vol. 38, No. 1, Spring 1992 by the Discalced Carmelite Friars of Washington, D.C., pp. 29 – 32. Nouwen opens the article with a quote from the Gospel of John ‘No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above’ and ‘ what is born of human nature is human, what is born of the Spirit is Spirit’. Nouwen suggests that these are hard words for humans even though we all want a rebirth; freedom from our frustrations, pains and failures. Nouwen states however, that we also want to control the process. Nouwen goes on to point to two ways to seem to reach the goal: by our own discipline and effort and by the work of the Holy Spirit. The first he suggests, may be adequate but it is not what Jesus intends. ‘How can we describe the spiritual rebirth of which Jesus speaks…? An adequate description is impossible… However we can indicate something of what it is and what it is not’. After Nouwen writes of this he then he asks, ‘can we do something to be reborn from above…? Nouwen suggests that the greatest part of the answer is the ‘way of poverty’ in which we discover our own and other’s poverty and are able to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in all. Finally, Nouwen points out that the rebirth from above is never final in this life.


This item is a 5 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Blessed’, published in Living Prayer, Vol. 25, No.4, July-August, 1992, pp. 3 – 7. This article is identified as an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Nouwen entitled, The Life of the Beloved. Nouwen opens with two stories of blessing; one about a young man at a Bar Mitzvah being blessed by his parents and the other about a woman at the L’Arche community of Daybreak asking for a blessing. In each story Nouwen speaks of our need to be blessed, ‘To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer’. Nouwen goes on, ‘ We also need an ongoing blessing that allows us to hear in an ever-new way that we belong to a loving God who will never leave us alone…’ Nouwen goes on to offer two suggestions for claiming our blessedness. The first is prayer in which, over time as we learn stillness, we can ‘hear’ God’s word of blessing. The second is ‘the cultivation of presence’. In this, Nouwen suggests, we learn to be present to the blessings that come to us each day, no matter how busy or unhappy or worried. Nouwen concludes, ‘ As you and I walk the streets of the cities in which we live, we can have no illusions about the darkness…Yet all of these people yearn for a blessing. That blessing can be given only by those who have heard it themselves.’

Choosing joy

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Choosing Joy’ published in ‘New Covenant’, November 1992, pp. 7 -9. This item is identified as an excerpt from Nouwen’s ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’. Nouwen begins by stating ‘I am not used to the image of God throwing a big party’. Nouwen goes on to write of the various instances in scripture in which Jesus speaks about banquets of celebration. ‘Celebration belongs to God’s kingdom. God not only offers forgiveness, reconciliation and healing, but wants to lift up these gifts as a source of joy for all who witness them’. Nouwen goes on to write of Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal and his reflections on it, finding himself in the returning son, the older son and finally, the father. ‘God rejoices. Not because the problems of the world have been solved, not because all human pain and suffering have come to an end…no, God rejoices because one of his children who was lost has been found’. Nouwen describes his difficulty in being able to rejoice in small things, scarcely noticed things. ‘The father of the prodigal son gives himself totally to the joy that his returning son brings him. I have to learn from that. I have to learn to “steal” all the real joy there is to steal and lift it up for others to see’. Nouwen goes on to examine the ‘radical difference’ between cynicism and joy. ‘Every moment of each day I have the chance to choose between cynicism and joy’. Nouwen ends by remembering that the younger son must grow in maturity and that he, Nouwen, and we are called not just to recognize ourselves in the two sons, but to become the father.

All is grace

This item is a 4-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘All is Grace’, published in ‘Weavings’, by The Upper Room, Vol. VII, No. 6, November/December, 1992, pp. 38 – 41. Nouwen begins the article by describing a time at the l’Arche Daybreak community when a couple who were assistants were leaving to start a new community. Nouwen noticed that people spoke of gratitude for their time in terms of the good things that were achieved but spoke of the difficult or painful things as things to be forgotten. Nouwen then describes his own realization that in fact, ‘Gratitude as the gospel speaks about it embraces all of life’. Nouwen goes on to point out, ‘Jesus calls us to recognize that gladness and sadness are never separate, that joy and sorrow really belong together, and that mourning and dancing are part of the same movement’. Nouwen then points to what he calls ‘the discipline of gratitude’ and concludes speaking about the ‘celebration of gratitude’.

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’.

Going home

Item consists of an article featuring a talk by Nouwen. Nouwen gave this talk at Dayspring, a silent retreat center of Church of the Saviour, near Gaithersburg, MD.

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