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Solitude and community

This item is an 11 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled,‘ Solitude and Community’, published in Worship, January 1978, pp. 13 – 23. Nouwen begins the article by noting that many people who live in community are asking how to find space and time for themselves because the intensity of community life has proved difficult. Nouwen identifies the purpose of this article as; ‘to offer some reflections on solitude in community in the hope that for some communities these ideas may offer new strength to remain faithful to the vision which originally brought them together’. Nouwen begins by identifying two viewpoints about the role of solitude in community which he considers false or too limited: 1) Solitude over against community and 2) Solitude in Service of community. This latter he clarifies solitude considered as simply ‘a tool in the service of life together’. Under the heading, ‘Solitude and Community’ Nouwen suggests what he sees as the real relationship between the two: ‘Solitude without community leads us to loneliness and despair, but community without solitude hurls us into a “void of words and feelings”’. He then goes on to state,’ I now would like to develop this view in more detail by relating solitude to intimacy, clarity and prayer’. In discussing what he intends by ‘intimacy’ Nouwen states that in solitude members of community may grow closer to each other. Nouwen states that constant talking things out without the depth provided by solitude, does not lead to communal growth. He suggests that ‘in solitude we are given the awareness of a unity that is prior to all unifying actions’. With regard to ‘clarity’ Nouwen states, ‘In solitude we begin to see more clearly and are more able to distinguish between what can be shared and what should be left unspoken’. In discussing ‘prayer’ Nouwen says the following ‘When I speak of prayer I refer less to saying prayers than to living a prayerful life in which eating and drinking, sleeping waking, working and praying are all done to the honor and glory of God’. Nouwen concludes the article by pointing out the difficulty of living out what he has said because of the many forces against, it but that it would be important then to consider ‘Education to solitude…is an important task for communities…’

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’.

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’.

Creating true intimacy: solidarity among the people of God

This item is a 5 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘ Creating True Intimacy: Solidarity among the People of God’, published in Sojourners, Vol. 14, No. 6, June 6, 1985, pp. 14 – 18. This is the first part of a 3 part series. Nouwen begins the article by writing of the ubiquitous reality of fear in the world and reminds the reader of Jesus’ words, ‘Do not be afraid’. Nouwen writes of the power of fear when he states, ‘Fear can never give birth to love’ and then asks, ‘ Are we so unused to living without fear that we have become unable to hear the voice of love? ‘ . Nouwen then suggests that there is an invitation to us from Jesus to leave the house of fear and live in the house of love. Throughout this article Nouwen writes of the work of Jean Vanier the founder of the l’Arche communities. It is Jean who spoke to Nouwen of ‘the three essential qualities of a life together in the house of love: intimacy, fecundity and ecstasy’. This article Nouwen writes, is about Intimacy and includes the headings Intimacy and Fear, Intimacy and Love, Intimacy and Solidarity. Nouwen suggests that fear builds up walls which prevent intimacy: ‘fear prevents us from forming an intimate community in which we can grow together, everyone in his or her own way’. Love on the other hand, is the ‘true friend’ of intimacy. Jesus is the home where we can live without fear and we can reach this home in part through prayer that opens our hearts. Nouwen then writes that though we tend to see intimacy as ‘smallness, coziness’ it is the source of solidarity. People ‘come to the awareness that the intimacy of God’s house excludes no one and includes everyone. They start to see that the home they found in their innermost being is as wide as the whole of humanity’. Again, speaking of the work of Jean Vanier, Nouwen concludes by stating, ‘The intimacy of the house of love always leads to solidarity with the weak’.

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.

Liberation: freedom to love

This item is a 1 ½ page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: ‘Liberation: Freedom to Love’, published in Together by World Vision International, April-June 1985, No. 7. This item is identified as excerpts from Nouwen’s prologue to Gustavo Gutierrez’ book ‘We Drink from our own Wells’. Nouwen begins by stating, ‘The spirituality of liberation is deeply rooted in the lived experience of God’s presence in history’. Nouwen then writes that Gutierrez believes liberation theology cannot be reduced to a political movement nor is it a ‘theological rationale for a class struggle’. Nouwen states that Jesus is the center of the movement and Jesus loves both the oppressed and the oppressor. Nouwen reiterates a theme he has spoken of before that the spiritual well-being of the Americas, north and south are tied together and that the ‘inflamed’ cord of Central America that binds them together is reminding us that there is a deep spiritual crisis that involves the whole of the Americas. He concludes, ‘ In the name of millions of the nameless poor, Gustavo Gutierrez reaches out a hand to us and calls us to open our hearts again to the life-giving Spirit of Jesus…’

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’.

Spiritual direction

This 3 page item is part 1 of an article by Henri Nouwen entitled Spiritual Direction, published in The Word, a publication of Christ Episcopal Church, Oil City, Pa., September, 1984, pp. 7 – 9. In the introduction Nouwen defines spiritual direction and identifies his intention in the article: ‘ In these reflections, I would like to offer a few ideas which might help in defining the nature of this ministry of spiritual direction and which might begin to suggest some concrete ways in which this ministry can be practiced’. This article, which is the first of 3, focuses on ‘The Movement from Absurdity to Obedience’. Nouwen suggests that absurd living is being deaf to God, being unable to find the silence to hear God in our busy lives. He then indicates the reality of obedience: ‘The obedient life forms the other end of the spiritual spectrum. The word obedience includes the word “audire’ which means “listening”…’ Nouwen speaks, finally about the difficulty of the road from absurdity to obedience.

Rublev's icon of the trinity: a reflection on the spiritual life

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity, A Reflection on the Spiritual Life’, published in The Harvard Divinity Bulletin of Harvard University, June-August 1984, Vol. XIV, No. 5, pp. 8 – 9. Nouwen introduces the article by asking, ‘How can we live in the midst of a world marked by fear, hatred and violence and not be destroyed by it?’ 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. Under the heading: ‘The Icon: A Gentle Invitation’ Nouwen speaks about the effect that contemplation of this icon had upon him. In the second section entitled, ‘Where Heart Speaks to Heart’, Nouwen speaks of how contemplation of the icon ‘reveals the inner beauty of God’. In a third section entitled, ‘The Circle, The Cross and Liberation’, speaks of the link between the cross and love in our world today. Finally, in a section entitled, Spirituality: The Source of Confident Commitment, 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’.

The suffering Christ: peacemaking across the Americas

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘The Suffering Christ’, published in The Other Side, December 1983, Issue 147, pp. 16 – 19. This article is identified as an adaptation of a talk given by Henri Nouwen during a vigil for peace and non-intervention in Central America which was held in Philadelphia, Fall 1983. Nouwen opens the article by stating, ‘As people of God we are called to know God. Yet we who live in North America will never fully know God if we ignore the way God speaks to us through the people of South America’. This theme runs through the article which asks people to become involved in the struggles and sufferings currently in Central and South America. Nouwen describes his own attempts to understand what is happening there by going himself to Nicaragua. He states that the more people he talked to, the more confused he became and the more aware of deep divisions even among Christians. He asks ‘How can one live in such a world and be faithful? How can one live in a country in which even the Christians are growing more and more suspicious of one another? How can one live in that world and find one’s own spiritual center?’ Nouwen’s answer is to look at the ‘deep truth of those words we repeat so often: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”. For Nouwen there is the revelation of God’s suffering in the men, women and children of Central America; Nouwen then sees that because Christ is risen ‘that Jesus has overcome death; he has overcome evil and agony. Nouwen then states, ‘“Christ will come again”. What does this mean for us today?’ His answer is that Christ will not ask us if we have been successful but what we have done to serve the least of Christ’s people. Nouwen concludes by asking, ‘Are we willing to be weak and vulnerable with those who suffer? Are we willing to sit in solidarity with them and share their sorrow, their anxiety, their agony?’.

Caring presence: reflections

This item is a 2 column article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Caring Presence’, published in SCJ News, October, 1983, Vol. 5, No. 2, p. 4. This item is an excerpt from Nouwen, Henri: Out of Solitude. Nouwen begins the article by asking, ‘What does it mean to care?’ He suggests that the word ‘care’ has often been misused and offers several examples. Nouwen goes on to say ‘… we tend to look at caring as an attitude of the strong toward the weak, of the powerful toward the powerless’. However, Nouwen suggests that real caring is when another shares our pain, touches our wounds with a ‘gentle and tender hand’. Nouwen concludes by stating, ‘To care means first of all to be present to each other…presence is a healing presence because they accept you on your terms and they encourage you to take your own life seriously…’.

Simple joys: a week from the journal of Henri Nouwen, during his days in Peru

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Simple Joys: a week from the journal of Henri Nouwen, during his days in Peru’, published in The Other Side, September 1983. This article is a chapter from Nouwen’s book ‘Gracias’ covering the dates January 24 to January 31, 1982. In Nouwen’s first entry, for the 24th January, he writes about the fact that it is his 50th birthday and describes the various celebrations and calls that he received. Nouwen writes, ‘Within a few years…I will no longer be on this earth. The thought of this does not frighten me but fills me with a quiet peace’. For the next day he describes a lecture given to a group of women about the history of Peru and how they came to live life as they do. The third day he describes the vigilance needed against pickpockets and robbers but also tells a story which describes the pitfalls of hyper-vigilance. The following entry speaks of the gift of the children and their affection for him. Another day includes a visit to the beach with some colleagues and following that Nouwen describes the ever-present dust of Pamplona Alta and how it permeates everything. In the final entry for the week he speaks of saying Mass and realizing that unlike Jesus to whom people listened intently, he is facing a congregation who may not be listening. Nouwen realizes that when his actions match his words, his words will have power.

Henri Nouwen: a call to peacemaking

  • CA ON00389 F4-9-1-1653
  • Item
  • [between July 27 - September 15, 1983]
  • Part of Henri Nouwen fonds

This item is a 5 page article, an adaptation of a talk, by Henri Nouwen entitled, A Call To Peacemaking, prepared by World Peacemakers Inc, founded in The Church of the Savior, Washington, D.C., summer 1983. Nouwen begins by stating that his returning from Nicaragua to the United States to give this and other talks resulted from an unintended month-long stop in Nicaragua on his way to Peru. Nouwen states that his visit made him aware of the turmoil and potential possibility of war in Central America and he felt he needed to return to the United States in order to ‘say, loudly and clearly, let us work together to prevent war’. He goes on to state that he has, for some time, seen that the ‘spiritual destiny of North America is somehow intimately connected with the spiritual destiny of Latin America’. Nouwen states then, that he wishes to speak as honestly as he can of what he experienced in Nicaragua. He describes his desire to listen to as many voices as he could from government, church and people. From his discussion with government people he identifies several points: 1) ‘I learned…that the revolution …has given the people a new sense of dignity 2) ‘From my observations …the revolution is a deeply Christian event. Nouwen felt the leaders have been ‘formed in a deep way’ by the word of God and their own suffering, 3)’What you see and hear is that the revolution is for the people, for the poor’. From his experience of the church in Nicaragua, which he describes as ‘divided’, ‘polarized. ‘I suddenly realized the enormous pain and agony of the church.’ It was when Nouwen spoke with ‘the people’ that he finally felt he understood what his task was; why he was there. From the people he discovered that there was still much suffering in their lives in spite of the revolution although to some extent it was recognized that this was caused by outside forces such as the American economic blockade. However in spite of this suffering he felt a measure of hope but also a certainty that the United States must not interfere any longer. Nouwen concludes by stating he has a whole new awareness of the words of the Mass: ‘Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again’.

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.

Spiritual direction

This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled 'Spiritual Direction' published in Worship, Collegeville, Minnesota, Volume 55, Number 5, September, 1981, pp. 399 - 404.
Nouwen begins this article by stating his definition of spiritual direction. ‘Spiritual direction is direction given to people in their relationship with God’ Nouwen then goes on to say ‘I would like to offer a few ideas which might help in defining the nature of this ministry…which might begin to suggest some concrete ways in which this ministry can be practiced’. Under his first heading which speaks about the movement ‘from absurdity to obedience’ Nouwen defines the first as the root of ‘deaf’ and the second as the root of ‘listening’. Nouwen speaks of the difficulty of moving from the busyness of the absurd/deaf life to being willing to hear and then gain the discipline of obedient following of God. In his second section Nouwen speaks of ‘The three disciplines of the spiritual life’. These disciplines are identified as: the discipline of the church, the discipline of the Book and the discipline of the heart. Nouwen concludes his article by suggesting that at this time in history when many traditional ways of living are breaking down and people are turning to religious leaders for guidance, this is more than ever a time to consider spiritual direction.

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.

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’.

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.

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’.

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’.

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.

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.

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’.

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.

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’.

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 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’.

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.

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’.

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.

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.

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’.

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.

'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’.

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.

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

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’.

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: 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’.

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’.

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’.

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?’

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”.

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.

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).

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