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Henri Nouwen fonds Item
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"An Evening of Reflections with Henri Nouwen" poster

Item consists of one poster advertising "An Evening of Reflections with Henri Nouwen", which took place on November 11, 1993 at Saint James Church (New York, NY). Two copies of the poster are autographed by Nouwen.

"I spoke...as a brother"

Item consists of a copy of an article called "I spoke...as a brother" by Lance Morrow. The article is about forgiveness and pardoning.

"Toekomstige parkeerplaats tussen de sterren"

Item consists of an article which defends Nouwen's article "Toekomstige parkeerplaats tussen de sterren" after an accusation of Nouwen of being "ensconced behind the walls of the Pius - convict" [according to a brief translation].

"Vieren van elkaar": in gesprek met Henri Nouwen

Item consists of an interview titled "Vieren van elkaar" ["Celebrating together"]. Item also includes Nouwen's handwritten notes that he made during the interview. The notes include his drawings of the time-line and a wagon-wheel like figure with a dark centre.

'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’.

A contemporary monastic experience

Item consists of a typescript of "A Contemporary Monastic Experience", a talk given on Holy Thursday. Nouwen describes the death and resurrection of Jesus, not so much as an event that happened in the past, but as the Christ event that is being realized in us in the unfolding liturgical year. Living the liturgical year in the monastery allows one to 'live' the event without as many illusions about God or self, primarily because of the desert-like quality of monastic life.

A critical analysis

This item consists of a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘A Critical Analysis’ published in Ave Maria National Catholic Weekly, 3 June 1967, p. 11-13, 30. Nouwen discusses the rise and popularity of the Pentecostal movement at Notre Dame University in Indiana and states that the article ‘is an attempt to clarify certain issues and to be of some help in an honest evaluation’. Nouwen looks at the phenomenon from three perspectives: 1) A Historical Perspective: He writes of the past and current religious atmosphere at Notre Dame. Here he credits an article by Killian McDonnell. O.S.B. (The Ecumenical Significance of the Pentecostal Movement) where there is a discussion of the ‘sobriety’ and ‘objectivity’ of Roman Catholic liturgy in contrast to the more emotional freedom and sense of belonging in the Pentecostal services. Nouwen suggests that this latter may answer a need in the new more ambitious and competitive atmosphere at the university. 2) A Psychological Perspective. Here Nouwen asks how we can evaluate this new movement by asking several questions: Does it heal or hurt? He suggests that evidence leads to a conclusion that while there may be a short term benefit ‘it is very doubtful that it will cure deep mental suffering’. He also asks ‘Can it be dangerous’? He states that ‘for those who are not prepared every inducement of a strong emotion can break and do serious harm. He also suggests that for those who do not receive the ‘gifts’ such as tongues or joy there then may be the question ‘what is wrong with me’. This leads to the need for direction, guidance and care. Finally he asks: Does it create community? Nouwen suggests that the powerful emotions of belonging and sharing, may risk creating a community that is inward and elitist. ‘the Pentecostal movement creates a situation of oneness and togetherness, which makes the community highly self-centered and hinders the development of the autonomous Christian…’. 3) A Theological Perspective: here Nouwen is asking if the Pentecostal movement is reflecting the theological developments of Vatican II and suggests that it may not meet the new stress on incarnational theology. He concludes the article by stating: ‘the new wave of Pentecostalism at Notre Dame University obviously answers a burning need in many students. It worries many who are concerned about the effects on the mental health of some…It places heavy responsibility on the leaders of the movement, and it disturbs many theologians’ but it also offers a chance to come to a new realization of the crucial importance of the valid religious experience – as an authentic part of the Christian life’.

A cry for mercy: prayers from the Genesee

Item consists of a book of prayers which Nouwen wrote during his six-month stay, February to August 1979, with the Trappist Monks of the Abbey of the Genesee in upstate New York. The book has been divided into the following: Prologue; I February-March: A fearful heart; II March-April: A cry for mercy; III April-May: Rays of hope; IV May-June: The power of the Spirit; V June-July: The needs of the world; VI July-August: A grateful heart; Epilogue.
As is stated on the back cover: "These contemporary prayers speak powerfully of one man's search for a closer relationship with his God and of his struggle to confront his own inner turmoil."

A different accent

Item consists of a book which features Nouwen in a chapter "Peace", subtitled "Living peace" dated April 28, 1983 and beginning on p. 35.

A dream after cardiac surgery

Item consists of an offprint of an article called "A dream after cardiac surgery" by Paul W. Pruyser. The article is about the author's recollection and analysis of a dream he had after undergoing cardiac surgery.

A dry roof and a cow: dreams and portraits of our neighbours

Item consists of a pamphlet in which Nouwen has written the introduction, stating: "The people portrayed in the book 'are in touch with something larger than a wish for a gift from a stranger who might come along and show pity on them. They are in touch with a dream that makes them visionaries of a new future.'"

A dry roof and a cow: dreams and portraits of our neighbours

Item consists of a book in which Nouwen has written the introduction, stating in part: "I trust that, as we let the words and images in this book penetrate our hearts, we will experience a deep desire to do whatever possible to make the dream of a worldwide community of love and peace become a reality."

A glimpse behind the mirror: reflections on death and life

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

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

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

A letter of consolation

Item consists of a book which Nouwen wrote as a letter of consolation to his father six months after the death of Henri's mother.

A life through Adam

This item is an article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘A Life Through Adam’ published in British edition of The Reader’s Digest, September 1990, pp. 75 -77. This item is a slightly revised version of the article published in the January 1990 U.S. edition of The Reader’s Digest (see item 1753). This item is condensed from an article published in Weavings, March/April 1988. Nouwen begins by stating that he has recently moved from academia to living at the l’Arche community of Daybreak with men and women who have mental disabilities. He describes being assigned to help a very severely handicapped man named Adam. Nouwen describes his daily routine with the totally helpless 25 year old man and his growing awareness that Adam was doing more for him than he for Adam. ‘This severely handicapped young man, whom outsiders sometimes describe with very hurtful words, started to become my dearest companion’. Nouwen goes on to describe the very special effect Adam has on the people with whom he lives and the peace that, because of Adam’s need, helps them to work together.

A new life among the handicapped: farewell to Harvard

This item is a 9 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘A New Life Among the Handicapped’ published in the New Oxford Review, Vol. LIII, No.7, September 1986, pp.5 – 13. The article is identified as the first installment of a series of articles taken from a Nouwen diary written during his time as priest-in-residence at L’Arche, Trosley-Breuil, France. The excerpts from Nouwen’s diary in this article begin August 13, 1985 and end September 24. In the first entry Nouwen describes this as ‘the first day of my new life! Nouwen writes of meeting Madame Vanier, of his leaving Harvard, his new quarters and his sense of how different this life is from his very busy life in academia. The entries that follow include reflections on how Jean Vanier began L’Arche with Pere Thomas Phillipe, Nouwen’s longing to be able to live a simpler life, his gratitude for the prayerful support of his friends, his hurt and anger when a friend fails to visit him. Nouwen speaks of his daily time spent in the Oratory at Trosly: ‘In many ways the Oratoire is the heart of l’Arche…every time I enter the Oratoire I feel a deep rest coming over me…’ Nouwen also speaks of one of the foyers he visits which is called La Forestiere where the most severely handicapped live. Further entries speak of the people he meets and include his reflections on their lives.

A place where God wants to dwell

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

A prayerful life

This item is a short quote from Henri Nouwen’s book The Way of the Heart and is entitled, ‘A Prayerful life’ published in Christopher News Notes, N.Y. , No. 279. No year is identified but the file suggests ‘after 1981’. The quote outlines the need in prayer to ‘include all people’.

A psychologist on priests' identity crises

Item consists of a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: "A psychologist on priests' identity crises" published in The National Catholic Reporter, 17 May 1967, p. 6. The article is about three perceived threats to the mental health of priests. These are described in terms of problems with time, with space and with self-understanding. 1) The new priest starts by giving his whole time to his ministry with little or no demarcation between work and rest. He thrives on being at the center, being available to everyone all the time. In time , because there is little change in fact, this can and does frequently lead to being ‘ an irritated, empty, routine, tired man’. In addition, at a daily level there is no demarcation of time between ‘work’ and ‘home’. No time to stop and reflect or even pray. 2) ‘Besides a healthy use of time, a healthy use of place is of great importance for the mental health of the priest’. Because he is always at work there is no space to find rest; because the people he lives with are the people he works with, there is no personal space. The demarcation lines of authority are vague and unhealthy. ‘…healthy spacing not only refers to healthy defining of places and rooms, but also connected with that, to healthy clarification of responsibilities and authority which belong to the different roofs under which we live’. 3) With a lack of privacy and no demarcation of personal, private relationships the priest often lacks a firm self-identity. ‘Without a spiritual life and a good friend he is like a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal’. In addition, there is a lack of clarity of his role as a professional, he receives little praise from anyone including superiors so he does not know how well he is doing. The author stresses the importance of the priest’s everyday confrontation with living theology in the people he serves and that is not used or appreciated.

A response from Henri J.M. Nouwen

This item is a 1 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘A Response from Henri J.M. Nouwen” published in The Christian Ministry, Vol. 18, No. 1, January 1987, p. 20. This item is a response to an article published in this same volume entitled: ‘The Minister as Narrator’ by John Robert McFarland in which the ‘model’ of the minister presented by Nouwen in ‘The Wounded Healer’ and that of James D. Glasse in ‘Profession: Minister: Confronting the Identity Crisis of the Parish Clergy’ is critically evaluated and found wanting. Nouwen responds by noting that his concept of wounded healer was simply ‘an attempt to say something – not everything – about ministry’. Nouwen suggests that McFarland’s ideas have merit and much to offer, ‘if he does not try to offer too much’.

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’.

A seven day journey with Thomas Merton

Item consists of a book in which Nouwen has written the foreword, reflecting on his own visit with Merton and a friend, Joe Ahearn, in 1966. Nouwen concludes in part: "When I read Esther de Waal's [book] I said to myself: 'What better guide can there be than this earthy, yet so spiritual man, whom I met with my friend Joe at the pond in Gethsemani.'"

A son of the circus

Item consists of a book collected by Nouwen. The book is a work of fiction and mentions dwarf clowns.

A spirituality of waiting: being alert to God's presence in our lives

This item is a 12 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: ‘A Spirituality of Waiting: Being Alert to God’s presence in our Lives’, published in Weavings, January/February 1987, pp. 6 – 17. Nouwen begins by suggesting two aspects of waiting: waiting for God and the waiting of God. Nouwen identifies these two aspects of waiting found first in the beginning of Luke’s Gospel and then, at the end of Luke’s Gospel. In the first section Nouwen points out how hard it is for most of us to wait; that waiting is considered as wasting time. He then points to the people in Luke’s Gospel who are waiting: Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon and Anna. Nouwen then discusses 1) the nature of waiting as waiting with a sense of promise and 2) waiting as active. In the scripture the figures he writes of are waiting for the fulfilment of a promise and they are waiting very actively. ‘The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun. Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present of it’. Nouwen also describes a waiting person as a patient person. In a section on the practice of waiting Nouwen describes the need we have of community and mutual support along with an alertness to the word. Nouwen then looks at the waiting found in the last part of Luke’s Gospel , in the passion of Jesus. Nouwen states that this material is outlined in a book by W.H. Vanstone called ‘The Stature of Waiting’. Nouwen begins by describing the concerns of a friend who was dying of cancer and didn’t see how to live the passivity of his life. The remainder of the article enlarges on the idea by Vanstone that Jesus moved from action to passion, losing control of his life and waiting and allowing it to happen. Jesus and God are waiting to see how people will respond, how we will respond and they do not have control over that. Nouwen concludes by stating, ‘If it is true that God in Jesus Christ is waiting for our response to divine love then we can discover a whole new perspective on how to wait in life’.

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

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

A time for quiet, a time for action

This item is a half page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘ A Time for Quiet, a Time for Action’ published in the National Catholic Reporter, April 26, 1974, p.11. This article begins with a quotation from Mark 1:32 -39, “In the morning long before dawn he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there”. Nouwen then points to all the action in Jesus’ life that surrounds these words and develops the idea of the importance to Jesus’ fulfillment of his ministry of these moments alone and at prayer. “ In the lonely place Jesus finds the courage to follow God’s will and not his own, to speak God’s words and not his own, to do God’s work and not his own”. He then states as the goal of this article, “I want to reflect on this lonely place in our own lives”. Nouwen suggests that we tend to know that we too need a lonely place and silence and that without it there is a danger that our lives will be governed only by what we ‘do’. He says, “practically all of us think about ourselves in terms of our contribution to life”. In the remainder of the article Nouwen suggests that our attempts to find our identity in the busyness of the world is leading many people to depression and anxiety. Nouwen emphasizes the importance then of silence and solitude in human life: “ Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures”.

A time to mourn, a time to dance

This item is a 2 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘A Time to mourn, a time to dance’, published in the Toronto Catholic New Times, mediation section, 15 March, 1992, Vol. 16, No.6, pp. 8-9. It is indicated that this is taken from a talk by Nouwen given to ‘Celebration 25’ honouring the 25th anniversary of the founding of Christian Counselling Services in Toronto. It is part one of five parts. The archives has only the first 3 parts of the series. In the Introduction, Nouwen points to his sense that healing is not strictly the preserve of professionals. ‘It belongs to the heart of our Christian vision that all of us, whether we have degrees or not, are called to be healers’ through the Holy Spirit. Nouwen goes on to suggest however that the ‘first thing the Healing Spirit within us calls us to do is to mourn our losses…’. Nouwen identifies the many kinds of losses people experience and to suggest that ‘our survival instinct is to live as if they are not real, as if life goes on as usual nothing really happens’. Nouwen goes on to say, ‘true healing starts at the moment that we can face the reality of our losses and let go of the illusions of control…I do believe that the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of love, is given to us to reach out beyond our fears and embrace the reality of our losses. That is what mourning is all about’.

About Zaccheus, who climbed the sycamore tree

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.

Adam's peace

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Adam’s Peace’ published in the Rosebank Biblical College Journal ‘Link’, March 1989, pp. 1 -3. This item is reprinted from the journal of World Vision, August/September 1988. Nouwen begins by describing his move from the intellectual atmosphere of Harvard to the l’Arche community for the mentally handicapped at Daybreak. Nouwen writes of the atmosphere of loving equality at his house and then begins to write of Adam Arnett for whom Nouwen had some responsibility. Nouwen describes Adam as a totally dependent man who could not speak nor care for himself and who suffered daily with grand mal seizures. As he began to know Adam however, Nouwen says, ‘Out of this broken body and broken mind emerged a most beautiful human being offering me a greater gift than I would ever be able to offer him’. Nouwen uses the remainder of the article to write of Adam’s role as a man of peace, a peacemaker. ‘Adam’s peace is first of all a peace rooted in being’. Nouwen compares this with the desire of many people to strive for success and for self-worth rather than accepting much more just ‘to be’. Nouwen writes of the importance of the heart over the mind; of the heart as the center of our being where God is. Nouwen writes of the ways in which Adam helps to create community among all those who are committed to his care. Nouwen writes, ‘I’ve told you about Adam and his peace to offer you a quiet guide with a gentle heart, a little light for walking through this dark world’. As Nouwen concludes the article he writes of Jesus, the Prince of Peace; Jesus whose peace is found in weakness. Nouwen begins his conclusion by then turning to us and saying, ‘I say to you: do not give up working for peace. But remember that the peace you seek is not of this world…Keep your eyes on the one who is poor with the poor, weak with the weak, and rejected with the rejected. That one is the source of all peace’.

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