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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.”

Listen to the inner voice

This item is a half-page article entitled: Listen to the Inner Voice by Henri Nouwen, published in the National Catholic Reporter, May 17, 1974. Nouwen continues his emphasis on the difference between loneliness and solitude. The article begins with Nouwen saying, “ Sometimes I wonder if the reason so many people ask support, advice and counsel from so many is not, for a large part, due to the fact that they have lost contact with their innermost self and are no longer able to listen to the voices speaking in the center of their solitude.” Nouwen uses an extensive quote from R. M. Rilke to someone who asks about his vocation as a poet. Rilke emphasizes the need to look inward, to question whether there is necessity. Nouwen goes on to say “As long as I am trying to run away from my loneliness I am constantly looking for distractions with an inexhaustible need to be entertained and kept busy. Then I become a passive victim of a world asking for my idolizing attention…but when I have converted my loneliness into solitude, the world starts losing its claim on me…”.

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”.

Loneliness contagious

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: Loneliness Contagious, published in the National Catholic Reporter, May 31, 1974. In this article Nouwen speaks of loneliness as a pervasive experience in modern life. He speaks first of his own loneliness and then states “ Loneliness is one of the most universal human experiences but our contemporary western society has heightened the awareness of our loneliness to an unusual degree”. He describes the loneliness people feel in crowded subways or at parties even though the images or words of welcome seem to imply warmth and closeness. “The language with which we are surrounded suggests anything but loneliness… it is a language which reveals the desire to be close and receptive to the stranger, but which in our society sadly fails to heal the pains of our loneliness, because the real pain is felt where we can hardly allow anyone to enter”. Nouwen concludes “The roots of loneliness are very deep and cannot be touched by optimistic advertisement, substitute love images or social togetherness”.

Encounter loneliness

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, Encounter Loneliness, published in the National Catholic Reporter, June 7, 1974, p.11. This article continues the focus on loneliness found in the article of May 31, 1974. Nouwen opens the article by stating, “Basic human loneliness threatens us and is so hard to face. Not seldom we will do every possible thing to avoid the confrontation with the experience of being alone and not seldom we are able to create the most ingenious devices to prevent ourselves from being reminded of this condition”. Nouwen speaks of our culture’s tendency to avoid loneliness; to fill all available time with activity. He suggests however that society also suffers because individuals also believe that they can take others’ loneliness away. “When my loneliness drives me away from myself into the arms of my companions in life, I am in fact driving myself into excruciating relationships, tiring friendships and suffocating embraces”. Nouwen goes on to develop the possibility that loneliness or unsatisfactory relationships can drive people into violence. He suggests at the conclusion that there must always be a private, ‘mysterious’ place in each person in order to develop community and healthy personal relationships.

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’

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’

Marriage as ministry

This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Marriage as Ministry’, published in Notre Dame Journal of Education, Vol. 5, No. 2, Summer 1974, p. 101 – 106. Nouwen has divided this article into two parts: 1) Marriage as the binding of each other’s wounds and 2) Marriage as the healing of the suffering guest. Nouwen begins the first part by stating, ‘ What is man’s wound?...Words such as alienation, separation, isolation and loneliness have been used to indicate man’s wounded condition. I like to use the word loneliness in this context and try to understand our loneliness in the context of marriage’. Nouwen asks if ‘we are not trying to avoid a confrontation with our basic human loneliness ‘ by looking for another to fill all the loneliness of human life. He suggests that a marriage relationship is healing when the ‘love between husband and wife means a deep respect for the holy center where they are different, where they cannot reach each other, but must remain strangers’. He goes on to say that ‘many marriages are ruined because neither partner was able to fulfill the hidden hope that the other would take his or her loneliness away’. In part 2, Nouwen writes of how marriage, ‘can become a form of ministry not only to each other, but to strangers as well’, but that this is most healing when the stranger can enter into the space on their own terms, where the relationship between the couple creates ‘room for the other and…a friendly space where he can feel free to come and go, to be close and to take distance, to rest and to play, to talk and to be silent, to eat and to fast’. Nouwen suggests that in such a space each is free to recognize and own the loneliness and pain of the other which is a reality of human life. Nouwen concludes the article by saying, ‘Marriage is a ministry because marriage is where we can bind each other’s wounds with care and heal with our carefully protected wounds the many who pass us on their way. Loneliness is man’s wound.’

Isolate self at times

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘ Isolate Self at Times’ , published in The National Catholic Reporter, July 5, 1974, p. 11. Nouwen continues the theme of fruitful solitude which he began in previous columns of this paper. Nouwen states at the beginning, ‘It is probably difficult if not impossible to move from loneliness to solitude without any form of withdrawal from a distracting world’. He speaks of monks and hermits who go into the wilderness seeking solitude but goes on to say, ‘ But the solitude which really counts is the solitude of the heart, an inner quality or attitude which does not depend on physical isolation’. Nouwen speaks of the difference in being present to another in loneliness or in solitude. In solitude, he suggests, we hear the other and respond. He also suggests that we all move back and forth between these poles even from hour to hour. Nouwen states ‘ Sometimes I wonder if the fact that so many people ask support, advice and counsel from so many other people is not, for a large part, a result of their having lost contact with their innermost self’. Nouwen concludes the article with a lengthy quote from Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet.

Love protects aloneness

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Love protects aloneness’ published in the National Catholic Reporter, undated but possibly July or Sep. 1974. Nouwen is continuing his focus on the importance of solitude for the spiritual development of the individual. He begins, ‘By slowly converting my loneliness into a deep solitude, I create that precious space where I can distinguish the voice telling me about my inner necessity- that is, my vocation’. He follows this point by raising the question, ’How many people can claim their ideas, opinions and viewpoints as their own?’. He states that ‘frequently, we are restlessly looking for answers, going from door to door, from book to book, or from school to school, without having really listened carefully to the questions’. Nouwen points out that our society tends to pull us away from fruitful solitude and encourages seeking answers instead of listening to the questions. He suggests that in solitude we can become present to ourselves and from this we become closer to others. ‘In this solitude we encourage each other to enter into the silence of our innermost being and discover there the voice which calls us beyond the limits of human togetherness to a new communion.’

Friendship inner quality

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Friendship inner quality’ published in the National Catholic Reporter, August 7, 1974. Nouwen begins the article by describing a visit to him from a former student in which they sat in companionable silence for a good portion of the visit. They each recognized the presence of Christ in the other and the student ended the time by saying ‘ From now on, wherever you go, or wherever I go, all the ground between us will be holy ground’. Nouwen then quotes Rainer Marie Rilke,‘ Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other’. Nouwen interprets this understanding in the following way, ‘It made me see that the togetherness of friends and lovers can become moments in which we can enter into a common solitude which is not restricted by time and place’. He goes on to say, ‘Only slowly I become aware of the possibility to make the human encounters of my life into moments by which my solitude grows and expands itself to embrace more people into the community of my life. It indeed is possible for all those with whom I stayed for a moment or a long time to become members of that community since by their encounter in love all the ground between us has indeed become holy ground and since those who leave can stay in the hospitable solitude of the heart’. Nouwen goes on to cite examples of the ways humans relate but which need not replace this fruitful solitude of the heart.

Solitude not withdrawl

This item consists of a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Solitude not withdrawal’ published in the National Catholic Reporter, August 16, 1974, p. 11. In this article Nouwen is continuing his focus on the difference between loneliness and solitude and the importance of solitude as the ‘place’ from which each human being acts. He begins by stating ‘The movement from loneliness to solitude is not a movement of a growing withdrawal but instead a movement toward a deeper engagement on the burning issues of our time’. ‘As long as I am trying to run away from my loneliness I am constantly looking for distraction…’. Nouwen points to the need to be ‘fully aware of my world and very alert so all that is and happens can become part of my constant meditation and can be molded in the center of my solitude into a free and fearless response’. Nouwen suggests finally, that ‘in my solitude, my history no longer can remain a random collection of disconnected incidents and accidents but has to become a constant call for the change of heart and mind’.

Share human sorrow

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Share Human Sorrow’, published in The National Catholic Reporter, August 30, 1974, p. 11. Nouwen begins this article by stating ‘It is tragic to see how the religious sentiment of the West has become so individualized that concepts such as “a contrite heart” have come to refer only to personal experiences of guilt and the willingness to do penance for it’. Nouwen goes on to suggest that the great catastrophes of today do not become part of us and contrition for them becomes ‘no more than a pious emotion’. He asks why the hurtful and corrupt actions of people in our society that are everyday in the newspaper don’t ‘crush our hearts and make us bow our head in an endless sorrow?...Shouldn’t that bring us finally to a confession that we as a people have sinned and need forgiveness and healing?’. Nouwen then asks, ‘how can I live a healthy and creative life when I am constantly reminded of the fate of the millions who are poor, sick, hungry and persecuted?’ Nouwen admits he does not know the answer, but suggests that even though we may feel powerless to do anything we can accept that ‘although the events of the day are out of my hands, they should never be out of my heart. I hope that, instead of bitterness, my life will yield to the wisdom that only from the heart a humble response can come forth’.

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’.

Listen to pain with heart

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Listen to pain with heart’, published in the National Catholic Reporter, September 6, 1974, p. 15. Nouwen begins this article by stating that ‘when my response to the world remains hanging between my mind and my hands, it remains weak and superficial….Only when my mind has descended into my heart can I expect a lasting response welling up from my innermost self’. Nouwen speaks of the solitude of the heart as the place from which effective and meaningful actions flow. ‘It is in the solitude of the heart that we can truly listen to the pains of the world because there we can recognize them as strange and unfamiliar pains but as pains which are indeed our own’. Nouwen suggests that it is from being in touch with out inner solitude that we can avoid self-righteousness and grow in compassion. Nouwen quotes several passages from the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, who speaks of the fruitfulness of solitude as a school for compassion. Nouwen concludes the article by stating ‘The paradox indeed is that the beginning of healing is in the solidarity with the pain. And in our solution-oriented society it is more important than ever to realize that wanting to alleviate pain without sharing it is like wanting to save a child from a burning house without the risk of being hurt’.

Hostility to hospitality

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Hostility to hospitality’ in the National Catholic Reporter, September 13, 1974, P. 11. In this article Nouwen begins by speaking of a human desire to ‘stand out, be different, exceptional’ and that we ‘are slowly seduced into the illusion that our value is seated in those few qualities that make us different from all other people’. Nouwen goes on to say that maturity however, is to accept the reality of our human condition and our union and likeness to other human beings. Nouwen points to Jesus as the one who came ‘like us’ and then states ‘And so it is God who reveals to us the movement of our life. It is not the movement from weakness to power, but the movement in which we can become less and less fearful and defensive and more and more open to the other…’. Nouwen points out the difficulty of this movement but suggests that the hostility and fear that we experience prevent us from becoming truly human. Nouwen concludes by suggesting that ‘when we have become sensitive to the painful contours of our hostility, we might start identifying the lines of its opposite toward which we are called to move: hospitality’.

Hospitality frees guests

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Hospitality Frees Guests’ published in the National Catholic Reporter, September 27, 1974, p. 11. Nouwen begins the article by stating, ‘If the first characteristic of the spiritual life is the continuing movement from loneliness to solitude, its second characteristic is the movement by which hostility can be converted in hospitality’. Nouwen suggests that if we meet others out of needy loneliness that will not create an open space of hospitality to help the other be who they should be. Nouwen states that he believes the biblical concept of hospitality ‘might offer a new dimension to our understanding of a healing relationship and the formation of a recreating community’. Hospitality creates ‘not a fearful emptiness , but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free…’.

Protecting intimacy

This item is a half- page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Protecting Intimacy’ published in Dignity, A National Publication of the Gay Catholic Community, Vol. V, No. 10, October 1974, p.4. 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.’

Wisdom of emptiness

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Wisdom in Emptiness’ published in the National Catholic Reporter, October 4, 1974, p. 11. Nouwen begins the article by stating that most people need constant occupation and without it are restless and feel useless. He says ‘Being busy, active and on the move has nearly become part of our constitution’. Nouwen goes on to state ‘this is why silence is such a difficult task’. He suggests that occupation and preoccupation are our ’fearful ways to keep things the same’…’we hold on to the familiar life items which we have collected in the past’. Nouwen uses as an example of this a story by Carlos Castaneda and the story of Jesus’ exhortation that we should ‘not worry …your heavenly father knows what you need’. Nouwen concludes by saying, ‘ Conversion is an inner event that cannot be planned or organized, but needs to develop from within. Just as you cannot force a plant to grow, but can take away the weeds and stones which prevent its development, so you can… offer the space where such a conversion can take place’.

Schools stifle feelings

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Schools Stifle Feelings’, published in the National Catholic Reporter, October 11, 1974, p. 11. Nouwen begins the article by stating his purpose: ‘I would like to show how different forms of service can be seen as hospitality’. Nouwen then goes to speak about teaching as a form of ministry. Nouwen suggests that ‘ Practically every student perceives his education as an endless row of obligations to be fulfilled…In such a climate it is not so surprising that an enormous resistance to learning develops and that much real mental and emotional development is inhibited by an education situation in which students perceive their teachers more as demanding bosses than as guides in their search for knowledge and understanding’. Nouwen suggests that what is needed is for there to be a space created ‘where students and teachers can enter into a fearless communication with each other and allow their respective life experiences to be their primary and most valuable source of growth and maturation’. Nouwen states that he sees teaching also as a form of hospitality and that a most important task of the teacher is to create ‘ a fearless space’ where questions can be asked and explored.

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?’

Honesty in preaching

This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: ‘Honesty in Preaching’, published in the National Catholic Reporter, October 25, 1974, p. 11. Nouwen identifies preaching as a common ministerial task which has, he suggests, come to have many negative connotations. Nouwen describes preaching in many ways in this article: removing rocks so good seed can find root; taking away leaves so the path is visible; ploughing ground so that the rain can soak it. He states, ‘Preaching in this sense means creating the space where the word can be received’. Nouwen describes preaching as’ a very hard and often painful task because it requires that the preacher be able to feel and speak to the “soul” of the community’. And in a pain-avoiding society, it takes courage to feel into experiences which hurt, to articulate emotions which prefer to remain hidden and to give names to behavior which wants to remain unmentioned’. Nouwen concludes the article by saying,’ …we must be aware that Christianity is not an ideology but the revelation of the living Christ, with whom a personal relationship is possible. The vocation of the preacher therefore, is …to set apart a moment and a place where the still voice can be heard..’.

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’.

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’.

The transcendent quality of prayer

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: The Transcendent Quality of Prayer, published in Faith/At/Work , March 1976, p.26. Nouwen begins the article by stating, ’Prayer reveals to us the real nature of things. It is the affirmation of life not as a possession to be grabbed and hoarded but as a gift to be shared’. Nouwen then goes on to speak of the difference between living as if people, things, ideas are to be grabbed and possessed or as if these things are received as a gift to be shared. He suggests that through prayer the latter becomes a reality to the life of the person who prays. Nouwen concludes the article in the following way, ‘Through prayer we discover that people are more than their character – that they are persons in the sense of per sonare - sounding through. When we become personas to each other, we sound through a peace greater than we ourselves can make and a love deeper and wider than we ourselves can contain. When we become persons we do indeed become transparent to each other and the Lord can speak through us to us’.

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’.

The gift of solitude

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

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’.

Compassion in the art of Vincent van Gogh

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen, entitled, ‘Compassion in the Art of Vincent Van Gogh, published in The Catholic Worker, May 1976, PP 3,4,12. This article was previously published in the journal America, March 13, 1976. 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’.

Drawing closer to God and man

This item is a 7 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Drawing Closer to God and Man’ published in Sign, May 1976, Vol. 55, No. 8, pp. 10 – 16. This is part two of a two part article (see Sign, April 1976). It is an excerpt from, Nouwen, Henri: The Genesee Diary, Report from a Trappist Monastery. In this article Nouwen continues to reflect on his 7 month stay at the Abbey of the Genesee in New York State. Nouwen reflects on a number of aspects of his experience under some of the following headings: 1) Boring Work. Nouwen finds the boredom of the manual labor he is given each day makes him feel angry and frustrated. Under the guidance of the Abbot, he begins to discover that ‘manual work, indeed, unmasks my illusions, it shows how I am constantly looking for interesting, exciting, distracting activities to keep my mind away from the confrontation with my nakedness, powerlessness, mortality’. 2) Silence. In this section Nouwen describes his growing awareness of the ambiguous feelings that arise in him when he talks too much and does not seek silence. 3) Scheduled Prayer. In seeking a deep prayer life for his return to his busy work, Nouwen is advised by the Abbot to have a scheduled time of prayer daily that can never be broken without permission of his spiritual advisor. 4) Monastic Capitalism. Nouwen discusses in this section his experience of the marketing wisdom of the monks in the selling of their bread. 5) Center of the world. Abbot Eudes describes the monastery as ‘the center of the world’. Nouwen reflects that ‘Insofar as the monastery is the place where the presence of God in the world is most explicitly manifest and brought to consciousness, it is indeed the center of the world’. 6) Total Commitment. Nouwen asks the Abbot about total commitment because ‘I have had a glimpse of the reality of being unconditionally committed to Christ in a total surrender to him. In that glimpse, I also saw how divided I still am, how hesitantly I commit myself, with what reluctance I surrender’. 7) Thanksgiving. Nouwen has been asked to speak to the community about his experience with them. He speaks in terms of The Lord, the world, the brethren, and the saints and what he has learned of each. 8) Epilogue. Nouwen writes the epilogue more than 6 months after he has left the Abbey and reflects on how little he feels the experience has changed him. However, he sees it as having given him strength to support him in ‘the Garden of Gethsemane and the long, dark night of life’.

Compassion

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’.

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’.

Does the news destroy compassion?

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Does the News Destroy Compassion?, published in The Sign, September, 1976, pp.25 -27. Nouwen begins this article by making reference to the monk, Thomas Merton who read no newspapers, nor watched television, nor listened to the radio but who had a strong sense of solidarity with humanity. Nouwen quotes Merton ‘ My first duty is to start to live as a member of a human race that is no more and no less ridiculous than I am myself’. This, Nouwen suggests, lead Merton to compassion. ‘It was because of this compassionate solidarity that Merton was able to speak out and to offer criticism…to distinguish illusions from reality’. Nouwen then speaks about our modern exposure daily to images and descriptions of deep human suffering that we can do nothing about. He says, ‘ I am wondering, more and more, if day-to-day confrontation with human suffering with which identification is impossible does not, in fact, create more anger than love and more disgust than compassion’. He then asks, ‘How can I become a compassionate person?. Nouwen indicates that most of Merton’s information came from personal sources, letters, from individuals rather than collectivities. “In these letters Merton saw the world with its pains and joys; these letters brought him in contact with a living community of people who had real faces, real tears, and real smiles’. Nouwen concludes the article ‘A compassionate person has an eye for small things and is able to trust in the simple response. The great temptation is to make things so complex that any response seems inadequate and meaningless’.

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

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.

Love on God's terms

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Love on God’s Terms’ published in The Catholic Witness, October 22, 1976. This is an excerpt from, Nouwen, Henri: The Genesee Diary, Image Books, Doubleday & Co., Inc., Garden City, N.Y. 1976. In this article Nouwen writes about his struggles with his sense of self-worth and being lovable which he experiences in the monastery. Nouwen opens the article by stating,’ My first inclination has been, and in many ways still is, to connect love with something special in me that makes me lovable’. Nouwen struggles with his feeling that if someone is friendly and loving towards him but equally so with others, then there must be something false about that individual’s love. Nouwen goes on to state, ‘It is important for me to realize how limited, imperfect and weak my understanding of love has been…It seems that the monks know the answer: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind”’ . As Nouwen works through this dilemma for himself he concludes that, ‘As long as I am plagued by doubts about my self-worth, I keep looking for gratification from people around me and yield quickly to any type of pain, mental or physical. But when I can slowly detach myself from this need for human affirmation and discover that it is the relationship with the Lord that I find my true self, an unconditional surrender to him becomes not only possible but even the only desire, and pain inflicted by people will not touch me in the center’. With the help of the Abbot he learns that this will come about as he meditates with a commitment to listening truly to God.

Disappearing from the world

This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Disappearing from the World’, published in The Sign, November, 1976. Nouwen opens with a quote from Thomas Merton describing his monastery as ‘a place in which I disappear from the world as an object of interest in order to be everywhere in it by hiddenness and compassion. To exist everywhere, I have to be nowhere’. Nouwen suggests the word ‘displacement’ for his movement towards compassion. He states that compassion is a gift but that it requires discipline. He states, ‘The discipline of displacement is a discipline by which we unmask the illusion of “having it put together in a special way” and get in touch with our reality, which is that we are pilgrims on the way, broken people in search of healing, unfulfilled people looking for the One who can fulfill us, sinners asking for grace’. Nouwen concludes by suggesting the necessity of two things: community that leads to prayer and prayer that leads to community.

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’.

Memories can inspire you

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Memories Can Inspire You’, published in The Sign, February 1977, p. 22. This article is an excerpt from: Henri Nouwen, The Living Reminder: Service and Prayer in Memory of Jesus, The Anglican Book Centre, Toronto, 1977. There are two headings in this article: 1) The Guidance and 2) The Guiding. In 1) Nouwen begins by stating ‘Good memories offer good guidance…Our hope is built on our memories. Without memories, there are no expectations’. Nouwen then goes on to explain that what he calls ‘guiding memories’, which may not be conscious are powerful in our daily living. He suggests that the great prophets including Jesus, called upon these memories to recall the people to their goal. In part 2) Nouwen asks ‘How do ministers, as living memories of Jesus Christ, guide their people in the concrete circumstances of everyday life?’ He offers two forms of guidance: confronting and inspiring. The minister confronts by reminding people of the temptation to complacency and stifling narrowing down of the original vision. The minister inspires the people by ‘a recapturing the original vision, a going back to the point from which the great inspiration came’.

Paraguayans kill tribe

This item is a one page book review by Henri Nouwen, published in The National Catholic Reporter, February 18, 1977. Nouwen is reviewing a book entitled, ‘Genocide in Paraguay’, edited by Richard Arens, Temple University Press. Nouwen begins the review by asking if ‘our age will not be called the Age of Mass Murders and Genocide’. Nouwen states that ‘The main contribution [in this book] is the article by Mark Munzel: ‘In a nonsensationalist , carefully documented and deeply engaging way, Munzel describes how this peaceful hunting and food-gathering people are killed or captured because their land has recently jumped in value for forestry and ranching companies’. He goes on to describe what has happened to the Ache Indian people and the involvement of Americans. He cites in conclusion from the epilogue by Elie Wiesel, himself a survivor of holocaust, ‘After having read these testimonies, we know. Henceforth we shall be responsible. And accomplices.’

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.

Spirituality and the family

This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: Spirituality and the Family, published in Church Educator Supplement, by Educational Ministries, Inc. 1406 Westwood, Lakewood, Ohio, June 1977. The preface states that the article was used as the basis for a Christian Family Retreat, as a discussion starter in Christian growth groups, as a tool in premarital counseling and as the premise for a series of parenting classes. Nouwen introduces the article with a quote from St Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, ‘Never try to suppress the Spirit: pray constantly and be joyful at all times. Be patient with everyone and think what is good for each other’. The article is divided into two sections. 1) The Vocation of Solitude. He outlines the need in every family for a time and place of solitude for each member. It is in this solitude that each one learns that they are not what they do but ‘what we are given… in solitude we find the space in which God can reveal himself to us as the great lover who made us and remade us.’ 2) The Vocation to Intimacy. Nouwen begins by stating, ‘out of the gift of solitude the gift of intimacy becomes possible’. If intimacy is not born out of fruitful solitude he suggests, then there is a fearful loneliness and various forms of violence. ‘Intimacy born out of solitude creates not only a space where partners can freely dance, but also a space for others, most of all children. The intimacy of marriage is the intimacy in which children can enter, grow and develop, and from which they can depart without feelings of guilt.’ In conclusion he suggests that all of this also leads to a hospitality which can welcome others in love.

'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’.

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.

Not without confrontation

This item is a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Not Without Confrontation’, published in Sojourners, October 1977, Vol. 6, No. 10, p. 9. This is identified as the second in a series on compassion. Nouwen begins the article by stating that ‘compassion does not exclude confrontation’. Nouwen points to the prophets and to Jesus to make this point and suggests as an example that ‘we cannot suffer with the poor when we are not willing to confront those who cause poverty’. He goes on to state that the confrontation must be a humble one or in risks being self-righteous or self-serving. Nouwen then goes on to discuss the place of anger in confrontation and suggests that, for instance, anger is an appropriate response to injustice. Nouwen concludes the article by stating that ‘confrontation always includes self-confrontation. This self- confrontation prevents us from becoming alienated from the world which we must confront’.

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’.

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’.

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