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Photograph card for Behold the beauty of the Lord

Item consists of a blank photo card featuring a photograph entitled, "Restoration." The photograph features a table with a table cloth, a lit candle, a brown and grey chalice, and a plate with a loaf of bread. An open book can be seen resting on the table behind the bread. Metal folding chairs can be seen in the background.

Confession and forgiveness

Item consists of a manuscript and typescript of "Confession and Forgiveness", a sermon given to the Unitarian Fellowship (KS). Nouwen spoke on confession and forgiveness and suggests that just as we can treat people badly physically, we can also do so spiritually, by focusing on their weaknesses. Forgiveness is necessary.

The immaculate conception of the blessed virgin Mary

  • CA ON00389 F4-1-2-143-06
  • Pièce
  • [between 1960 and 1975]
  • Fait partie de Henri Nouwen fonds

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

Sermon on Romans 13:10-12

Item consists of a manuscript of a sermon on Romans 13:10-12, which discusses rising from sleep. It is likely Nouwen gave this sermon during his time at the Menninger Foundation (Topeka, KS). He suggests that when we are sleeping the sleep of despair, it is dangerous and we are called to wake up and experience new light and new hope.

Why do you invite people for dinner?

  • CA ON00389 F4-1-2-143-13
  • Pièce
  • [between 1960 and 1975]
  • Fait partie de Henri Nouwen fonds

Item consists of a manuscript of "Why do you invite people to dinner?", a sermon given by Nouwen to priests and seminarians at Moreau Seminary, University of Notre Dame, before the summer break. He writes about hospitality: that inviting someone to dinner is also an invitation to intimacy, and that so is the Eucharist.

Sermon on What do you think of the priest?

Item consists of a typescript of a sermon on "What do you think about the priest?", given by Nouwen to priests and seminarians at Moreau Seminary, University of Notre Dame, on April 24, 1967. Nouwen addresses the drop in the number of priestly vocations, which causes him to reflect on priesthood and vocation.

Sermon on Jesus changes the water into wine ... wine into His own blood

  • CA ON00389 F4-1-2-143-15
  • Pièce
  • [between 1960 and 1975]
  • Fait partie de Henri Nouwen fonds

Item consists of a manuscript of a sermon on "Jesus changes water into wine ... and wine into His own Blood", in which he suggests that pain and suffering are so dominant that we seldom focus on joy, celebration and love, but God does. Nouwen uses Cana as a sign of God's joy.

Be renewed in the spirit of your mind

  • CA ON00389 F4-1-2-143-17
  • Pièce
  • [between 1960 and 1975]
  • Fait partie de Henri Nouwen fonds

Item consists of a typescript of "Be Renewed in the spirit of your mind", a sermon given by Nouwen in which he suggests that green in nature is a sign of hope, just as for us the Bible is also a sign of hope. The Bible is like a letter that God writes to us to help us to renew our spirits.

Sermon on Palm Sunday

Item consists of a typescript of a Palm Sunday sermon. Nouwen argues that Jesus goes from Palm Sunday adulation to Good Friday condemnation, but has no illusions. He suggests that we identify with the easy victory of Palm Sunday and we want it, but Jesus reminds us that we are fooling ourselves if we do not see that growth comes from our small and large sufferings.

On silence

Item consists of a typescript of "On Silence", a sermon given by Nouwen on March 2, 1972. Nouwen suggests that silence is painful and we run from it, but we will not find God in the noise because God's is a still, small voice that Jesus heard on the mountain early in the morning. Community is being called by the same voice. Ministry is born in silence.


  • CA ON00389 F4-1-2-153-15
  • Pièce
  • [between 1971 and 1975]
  • Fait partie de Henri Nouwen fonds

Item consists of a typescript of "Silence", a sermon given by Nouwen. Nouwen argues that our busyness is often a cover for our fear of silence and emptiness. Silence means rest and availability and in it the Spirit of God prays and does creative work. It is a place where we find our center and prepares us for real encounters of friendship and intimacy. New life is born in silence.

About Zaccheus, who climbed the sycamore tree

  • CA ON00389 F4-1-2-153-16
  • Pièce
  • [between 1971 and 1975]
  • Fait partie de Henri Nouwen fonds

Item consists of a typescript of "About Zaccheus, Who Climbed the Sycamore Tree", a sermon on the religious aspects of friendship. Nouwen argues that Zaccheus' openness to concentrate on Jesus with an openness to him, allows something to happen between them. Henri comments on the way we meet people but we are full of ideas, worries and tensions, or we wait to impress the other, or we listen to see if we agree or disagree. Without concentrating on the person, without having room in ourselves to receive the person and what is being said, we miss the opportunity for a real meeting.

Lenten meditations

  • CA ON00389 F4-1-2-159-1-01
  • Pièce
  • [between 1977 and 1981]
  • Fait partie de Henri Nouwen fonds

Item consists of a typescript of "Lenten Meditations: Battell", a sermon given by Nouwen at Battell Chapel during Lent. It is a reflection about suffering and hope using the story of Jesus on the Cross and how we can look at him and hear the words that are addressed to him. Nouwen suggests that Jesus' death helps us with our death, and that we need to reflect on the abundant mercy of God.

This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to Him

Item consists of a typescript of "This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to Him", a sermon given by Nouwen about God as Father, Jesus as Son, and people as Beloved sons and daughters, on November 14, 1979.

Meditation on prayer

Item consists of handwritten notes and a typescript of an Advent meditation on prayer, written between November 21 and 28, 1979. The meditation is based on listening to gospel texts that speak of God's coming and presence.

Sermon on Do not worry

Item consists of a typescript of a sermon based on Jesus' words, "Do not worry", given by Nouwen on September 26, 1979. Nouwen describes how preoccupied we are with things that pass away quickly, whereas if we centre our hearts on God, we live a divine history with a certain perspective that holds us in the truth.

Sermon for Easter Sunday

Item consists of a typescript for an Easter Sunday sermon (April 15, 1979). Nouwen lists events that happened after the resurrection when Jesus revealed himself so that gradually people began to speak, "He is risen." They saw him. They believed. He was with them. Nouwen argues that we are invited to look for Him, to see his face, and to announce also, "He is risen."

Sermon for Eucharist

Item consists of a typescript of a sermon for the Eucharist on December 17, 1979. Nouwen speaks of the Christ event as being not just a historical event, but also a present event. It happened and it is always happening. By realizing this, we look at all the things that preoccupy us in a new light - the light of the Christ event in the past and in the present.

May His joy be in you and may your joy be complete

Item consists of a typescript of "May His joy be in you and may your joy be complete", a sermon on joy, the priesthood and the Eucharist, which was written for the 40th anniversary of Fr. Thomas' ordination at the Abbey of the Genesee (Piffard, NY). Nouwen finds joy in the realization that all the suffering, all the success, and all the failure of a life are already taken up in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and thus we can experience the joy of our salvation.

Sermon on Mark 14:32-42

Item consists of a manuscript and partial typescript for a sermon on Mark 14:32-42, the story of Gethsemane. Nouwen advises us to simply go to the Garden and stay there with Jesus. He tells us not to sleep in His or our sorrow, but to stay awake and have no words to speak, but simply to stay. In so doing we see Jesus suffering but we also witness his fear, his request to have it taken away and his resignation to God's will, his faithfulness. Nouwen ends with the prayer of Thomas Merton, "Lord we have no idea where we are going."

Powhatan revisited

  • CA ON00389 F4-1-2-159-1-43
  • Pièce
  • [between 1976 and 1981]
  • Fait partie de Henri Nouwen fonds

Item consists of a photocopy of a typescript of "Powhatan Revisited", a paper Nouwen wrote about a visit he made to Powhatan, LA, a former parish where he worked for six months in 1962. The story is about his fellowship with the people there, the poverty and the people's relationships in and around the village.

Prayer and ministry

Item consists of a typescript of "Prayer and Ministry", a sermon Nouwen gave on Luke 9:28-36. It is a commentary on the Transfiguration passage, when the disciples go with Jesus to the mountain to pray and Jesus is transfigured. Prayer is seen as an affirmation of the gift of life, not to be controlled but to be received and shared. Nouwen argues that when this happens we see our life and the world not as something dark, but more in the light; not opaque, but transparent.

On prayer

  • CA ON00389 F4-1-2-159-1-47
  • Pièce
  • [between 1976 and 1981]
  • Fait partie de Henri Nouwen fonds

Item consists of a typescript of "On Mercy", a sermon given by Nouwen at Mercy Center (Madison, CT), in which he describes prayer as seeing what cannot otherwise be seen, especially in nature, in events, and in people. All of these are opaque unless we do not expect to see more, but within each of these the face of God may become visible. Prayer is also a discipline where we take time to listen and therefore leave behind our illusions of control, where we allow God to move from our heads to our hearts, and where we listen rather than speak to God.

Theology of the word

Item consists of handwritten notes and a partial typescript of "Theology of the Word", a sermon and lecture given by Nouwen. He argues that in a culture where words are overworked, the word of God is full of power and beauty because it is alive, active and fruitful.

Sermon for Advent

  • CA ON00389 F4-1-2-159-1-52
  • Pièce
  • [between 1976 and 1981]
  • Fait partie de Henri Nouwen fonds

Item consists of a typescript of a sermon for Advent, given by Nouwen at Durham Notre Dame. Nouwen discusses the Christ Event. He argues that other events in life make sense only through a knowledge of the Christ event. He concludes that solitude, prayer and the common liturgy are ways to remember this central event.

Marriage as ministry

Item consists of a photocopy of a typescript of "Marriage as Ministry". Nouwen argues that marriage as ministry has two functions: binding the wounds of the other, and healing the suffering guest.


Item consists of a small orange hard-bound notebook featuring musical notes on its cover. The notebook is entitled, "Adagio: Musical Reflections", but is otherwise blank.

Dispuut “De Toorts”

Item consists of a certificate with the title Dispuut “De Toorts” that is dated March 7, 1956, and given by Corpori Studiosorum Noviomagensium [University of Nijmegen] from a group called Caroli Magni, and the Roland Society. It is likely that this is a certificate from a student society at the University of Nijmegen that is granting Nouwen membership.

Seminary diploma

Item consists of a certificate dated July 21, 1957, that is certifying Nouwen's graduation from the seminary. Certificate is signed by the rector of the Rijsenburg Seminary.

Report on the possibility and desirability of love

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

The death of Dr. King

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

Find your center

This item is a half page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: Find Your Center, published in the National Catholic Reporter, May 3, 1974. This article is a continuation of Nouwen’s article from the National Catholic Reporter, April 26, 1974. He introduces this article by saying,” To live a Christian life means to live in the world without being of it. It is in solitude that this inner freedom can grow”. The entire article is a development of his statement that” A life without a lonely place, that is, a life without a quiet center,, easily becomes destructive since by clinging to the results of our actions as our only way of self-identification we become possessive and defensive and tend to look at our fellow human beings more as enemies to be kept at a distance than as friends with whom we share the gifts of life”. Nouwen discusses the importance to Jesus of his times of solitude and silence which fed his ministry and enabled him to face his death. The article concludes,” When you are somewhere able to create the lonely place in the middle of your actions and concerns, your successes or failures can slowly lose some of their powers over you.”

Protecting intimacy

This item is a half page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Protecting Intimacy’ published in the National Catholic Reporter, May 10, 1974. Nouwen begins this article by stating,”A most painful thing to say is that intimate love does not take our loneliness away but protects it and converts it into solitude. Therefore intimacy is first of all a protecting intimacy allowing us to move from loneliness to solitude.” Nouwen then goes on to give an example of a family whose mode of living is to avoid pain in their relationships. Nouwen suggests that “this world is full of lonely people trying hard to love each other without succeeding. The question is if this is not largely due to the fact that we are not able to face the pain of our loneliness”. Nouwen concludes by stating,“ Intimacy,..does not mean entering the other with an intruding curiosity or a hungry need for satisfaction. Intimacy touches gently, intimacy does not take, but gives, does not suffocate but lets grow, does not conquer and possess but sets free and keeps free.”

Out of solitude, healing

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, Out of Solitude, Healing, published in the National Catholic Reporter, c. May 24, 1974. Renewing the theme of solitude from his previous articles (April and May) Nouwen states, “In solitude history becomes Kairos, which means history converts from a random collection of disconnected events into a constant opportunity for a change of heart and mind”. He goes on to say in clarification, “When history becomes Kairos, I am called to search for hope even in the middle of crying cities, burning hospitals and desperate parents and children”. Kairos, Nouwen suggests brings the depths of the heart into the actions of mind and hand; in Kairos which we touch in solitude, our actions are transformed. Nouwen concludes, “Every time in history that men and women have been able to respond to the manifestations of evil and death as to a Kairos, a historic opportunity, an inexhaustible source of generosity and new life has been opened, offering hope far beyond the limits of human prediction”.

Openness can get stale

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Openness can get Stale’ published in the National Catholic Reporter, June 21, 1974, p. 13. Nouwen begins the article by stating, ‘There is a false form of honesty that suggests nothing should remain hidden and everything should be said, expressed and communicated’. The article suggests that a lack of boundaries in relationships and a lack of silence and solitude can lead to a violation of our ‘inner sanctuary’. Nouwen writes that for all the openness we offer to one another there is however, still a ‘desire for protective boundaries by which man and woman do not have to cling to each other but can move graciously in and out of each other’s circle’. He then asks how we can find the road to conversion, ‘the conversion from loneliness into solitude. Instead of running away from my loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, I have to carefully protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude’. Nouwen ends the article with a reference to his own struggles with this issue and concludes by stating, ‘The few times however in which I followed the counsel of my severe masters and listen silently to my restless heart I started to sense that in the middle of my sadness there was joy, that in the middle of my fears there was peace, that in the middle of my greediness there was compassion and that indeed in the middle of my irking loneliness I could find the beginnings of a quiet solitude’

Case-recording in pastoral education

This item is a 9 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Case-Recording in Pastoral Education’ published in The Journal of the Academy of Parish Clergy, by the Academy of Parish Clergy, Minneapolis, Mn., 1974, p. 16 – 24. In this article Nouwen is writing about the value for parish clergy of note-making in their interactions with parishioners. Although Nouwen suggests that such note-making is rarely done he outlines in the article a number of reasons why it is valuable and offers some case-studies as evidence. Nouwen first identifies some reasons why there may be resistance in clergy to undertake note-making: 1) That the interactions are private and privileged, 2) That note-taking is a form of creativity which pastors may not see as being relevant to their work 3) That pastors may not see the relevance of what they do to the development of pastoral theology. Nouwen then discusses some values of note-making for pastors: 1) It is a professional task and one which, if the pastor is to be considered a professional among other professionals, must be done.. ‘The pastor cannot seriously claim a place on the professional team if he does not have his case-record by which he presents his work with the patient for discussion, criticism and evaluation. 2) It is a form of self-supervision. Here Nouwen quotes Russell Dick, BD, that note writing ‘is a check upon one’s work; it is a clarifying and developing process; it relieves emotional strains for the writer.’ Preceding the presentation of several case studies Nouwen states the following, ‘ One of the reasons it is so difficult to learn from experience is that the nature of the experience itself often remains obscure, ambiguous or vague. Sometimes the pastor feels happy after a visit, sometimes disappointed, sometimes sad, angry or depressed. In many ways the pastor senses vaguely that something went right or wrong, but cannot put a finger on it. Usually he does not stop to think or reflect but moves on to another experience allowing his feelings to drift into the background, unavailable as a potential source for learning. But if the pastor sits and writes the conversation as he or she remembers it, and tries to formulate personal observations of the situation and reactions to it, the cloud can vanish and the experience can become clear and visible’.

Stranger in paradise

This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Stranger in Paradise’, published in The Sign: National Catholic Magazine, Volume 55, No. 7, April 1976, PP. 13 – 18. It is part one of a two-part article. This article is an excerpt from: Nouwen, Henri: Genesee Diary, Doubleday & Co., 1976. Nouwen begins by stating that ‘My desire to live for seven months in a Trappist monastery, not as a guest but as a monk, did not develop overnight’. The remainder of the article describes some of his struggles and insights as he lived the life of a monk. Nouwen states that he had been looking for someone to help him find direction in his life. He then met Father John Eudes Bamberger at the monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky in whom he says he found what he had been looking for: ‘He listened to me with care and real interest, but he also spoke with deep conviction and a clear vision…’. Three years later Nouwen went to the Abbey of the Genesee where Bamberger had become Abbot. It is the experience of the seven months in which lived as a monk at this Abbey which is the focus of this article and of the book from which it is taken. Nouwen describes his struggle with the rhythms and work of the monastic life; his struggle understanding monastic concepts of obedience and his own depression that followed his first month. Nouwen then outlines some of the areas in which he feels is learning: 1) Wanting to be different- Nouwen describes his lifelong desire to be thought different and his growing discovery that in the monastery one is to be unnoticed, not special, and in this ‘The mystery of God’s love is that in this sameness, we discover our uniqueness’. 2) Sacred Rhythm – ‘One of the things a monastery like this does for you is give a new rhythm, a sacred rhythm’ and in this, Nouwen rediscovers the Saints. 3) Mary – in the monastery Nouwen rediscovers his devotion to Mary that was part of his family life. 4) Love – In his time in this monastery Nouwen says he struggled with the sense that his experience of love had been ‘limited, imperfect and weak’. Nouwen goes on to say ‘I am beginning to experience that an unconditional, total love of God makes a very articulate, alert and attentive love for the neighbor possible’.


This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled Compassion, published in Exchange, Summer 1976, pp. 8 – 10. Nouwen begins this article by saying ‘The word “compassion” always brings to mind a relationship with people…to be with a suffering human being, to suffer with him or her.’ He then asks if it is not possible also to speak about compassion with God which he sees as the basis for our compassion with others. Nouwen sees the dynamic of compassion with God as rooted in Jesus. ‘The great mystery of the spiritual life is that it is a life of union with God. But this union with God is a union through Jesus Christ who suffered all the pains of the world and carried these pains with him into his intimacy with the Father’. Nouwen goes on to say that ‘We cannot carry the pains of our world in our own mind but we can carry [them] in the mind of Jesus Christ’. Nouwen concludes the article by stating ‘Our hearts and minds are too small to carry the burdens of the world but in God’s mind and heart there is room for all that hurts’.

Contemplative reflections on torture

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, Contemplative Reflections on Torture, published in Sojourners, July-August 1976, p. 20. This article which is an excerpt from Nouwen’s book ‘Genesee Diary’ is a short reflection on his personal response to the political upheaval in Chile and the torture of many there. Nouwen begins by stating that he has read reports on the crisis which he finds ‘so disturbing, so overwhelming in their description of terror, that I could hardly sleep last night’. He speaks of his struggle to accept that this goes on while he is living quietly at the monastery but reflects that his understanding of some of the psalms which are part of the daily prayer there, help him with this struggle. He wonders if he is feeling compassion for the victims or more that he is feeling mostly anger at the perpetrators. ‘Maybe it is realistic to recognize these feelings and be thankful that the psalms give me a chance to express them even in the intimacy of prayer. Maybe these feelings have to be led directly to the center of my relationship with my God who is “slow to anger”.'

Called to be hosts

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: Called to be Hosts, published in Faith/At/Work, September, 1976, p 30-31. Nouwen begins the article by stating ‘The call to ministry is the call to be a host to the many strangers passing by. In this world full of strangers…we search for a hospitable place, where life can be found’. Nouwen speaks then of our ambivalent feelings towards the stranger of both fear and attraction and suggests that ‘during the last years strangers have become more subject to hostility than to hospitality’. Nouwen then goes on to speak of the way in which a minister is to offer healing hospitality to the stranger. He speaks of the need to offer a space where the stranger can grow to be himself. ‘This will come to pass only when ministry is undergirded by spirituality, that is, when the outer movement from hostility to hospitality is supported by an inner movement from property to poverty. Poverty means that my identity in the final analysis is not determined by what I can do or think, but by what God’s Spirit can do, say, and think in me.’ Nouwen concludes, ‘When poverty enables us to create a friendly space for the stranger and to convert hostility into hospitality, then the stranger might be willing to show his real face’.


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’.

Compulsions led him to a monastery

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Compulsions led him to a Monastery’, published in The Catholic Witness, Oct 7, 1976. This article is an excerpt from: Nouwen, Henri, ‘The Genesse Diary, Image Books, Doubleday & Co., Garden City, New York, 1976. Nouwen begins this article by describing his distracted and restless life and his lack of time for prayer and quiet which leads him to spend seven months living the monastic life at the Abbey of the Genesee in upstate New York. He speaks of his desire to be different, sensational but discovers that ‘in recent years, I have become increasingly aware of the dangerous possibility of making the word of God sensational’. During his time at the monastery he asks the Abbot, John Eudes Bamberger, how, when he returns to his busy life, he can develop a deep prayer life. Bamberger’s answer is, he says, simple: ‘ The only solution is a prayer schedule that you will never break without consulting your spiritual director’. This schedule will include setting a firm time which cannot be changed and to remain at prayer however ‘useless’ this time appears to be. Nouwen concludes by suggesting that though he is distracted and unclear what his prayer may be doing for him, in retrospect he senses that he is growing.

'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’.

Article about Nouwen's views about Yale's mission

This item is a one-half page article by Henri Nouwen included in a series entitled, Five Faculty Views of the University’s Mission, published in the Yale Alumni Magazine and Journal, November 1977, p. 10-11. Nouwen begins by asking if it isn’t preposterous to speak about the mission of Yale because mission implies being sent to serve which for missionaries involves not an upward, but a downward movement to the path of pain and suffering. For Yale students however, he suggests the path is directed upward to be successful lawyers, doctors, executives. Nouwen then goes on to say that he does not see the argument as so simple after all. Nouwen says, ‘there is little doubt that Yale is a secular institution. [But] it is also an institution in which the call to service is continually heard.’ At Yale, Nouwen points out, hundreds of students study the sacred scriptures, the sacraments of the church are received, ‘it is a center where people from the most varied religious traditions meet…it is the home where people come together to assist the poor, visit the elderly, to tutor disadvantaged youth…’. Nouwen concludes by saying,’ so there might be a mission for Yale after all: to send men and women into our society who know the world and have acquired the knowledge and the skills to fulfill a task in it, but who also realize that the value of their lives does not depend on what they have been able to acquire, but on how much they have been able to serve their fellow human beings’.

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…’

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