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University of St. Michael's College, John M. Kelly Library, Special Collections Henri Nouwen fonds
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Sermon on It is easier to give than to receive

Item consists of a manuscript on "It is easier to give than to receive", a sermon on Jesus' message. Nouwen suggests that the minister must first learn to receive others before being able to minister to them.

Why do you invite people for dinner?

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

Sermon on What do you think of the priest?

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

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

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

Sermon on John 6:1-15

Item consists of a typescript of a sermon on John 6:1-15, the idea that receiving is harder than giving. Jesus gives the bread but only after he receives it from a small boy. Ministry is as much about receiving as giving.

Be renewed in the spirit of your mind

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

On balance

Item consists of a manuscript of "On Balance", a sermon in which Nouwen argues that we need to find a creative balance between dependence and independence; desire for closeness and desire for distance; commitment and detachment. He uses the experience of looking at a dancer as an entry point into the topic.

Draft of sermon for Holland-America line

File consists of a draft manuscript of a sermon written on the back of four postcards for the Holland-America line. Nouwen was chaplain for this Trans-Atlantic passenger boat company in 1962. In this sermon, Nouwen begins with how easy it is to doubt because of the many differences between us. He then points to Mary Magdalene, the men on the road to Emmaus, and the apostles fishing, as examples of their recognition of Jesus. Nouwen ends by exhorting that love be the witness for the redemption of the world.

Draft of The birth of Christ

File consists of a draft typescript of "The Birth of Christ", a lecture given by Nouwen on the story of the birth of Jesus as told in the Gospel of Luke. Part I of this talk is entitled, "The Reporter of the Birth of Christ", which examines the authorship of the first three Chapters of this Gospel, and explores the idea that the writer was not actually Luke, but John or Mary. Part II of this talk is entitled, "Eschatological Perspective of the Birth of Christ." Nouwen summarizes prophecies, rather than personal experience, so as to link the person with the promise. Part III is entitled, "The Cultus-Perspective of the Birth of Christ", in which Nouwen finally explains that the birth in the gospel story is between the stories of Zachariah in the temple and the story of the Presentation in the temple. He concludes that the birth of Christ may also have been seen as a temple event.

Draft of sermon on intimacy

File consists of a draft typescript of a sermon by Nouwen on intimacy, given in The Netherlands on August 23, 1966. The typescript is printed on three cards. Nouwen works with themes of being known, opening ourselves to others, real friendship, and creativity in relationships. He speaks of two forms of intimacy: intimacy with God and intimacy in marriage. Nouwen also talks about communication as a means of intimacy.

Drafts of sermons for Lent, Advent and Epiphany

File consists of draft typescripts for three sermons. The first sermon was written for Lent and is entitled, "Stilte: erste zonday van de vasten." It was given on February 23, 1969. The second was written for Christmas, and the third for Epiphany.

Draft of sermon on 1 John 4:7-13

File consists of a draft typescript of a sermon on 1 John 4:7-13, given by Nouwen on (April 7, 1971?). The typescript refers to members of Nouwen's family.

Drafts of Collected sermons

File consists of a hard-bound volume of draft manuscripts and typescripts of sermons and lectures written by Nouwen while at Yale Divinity School (New Haven, CT).

Three meditations

Item consists of a typescript of "Out of Solitude". Includes the Preface, Chapter 1: 'Out of Solitude', Chapter 2: 'With Care', Chapter 3: 'In Expectation', and the Conclusion. These meditations were given as sermons at Battell Chapel, Yale University.

How do we keep our lamps burning?

Item consists of the typescript of "How Do We Keep Our Lamps Burning?: A Sermon on Patience". Nouwen suggests that patience helps us live in the present beyond impatience and boredom to discover that the interruptions of our lives are our very work.

The clown

Item consists of a typescript of "The Clown", a sermon on clowns, ministry and weakness. Nouwen uses the circus as an image for our world. He suggests that people keep the circus functioning, as do people in our world. The clown is the one we identify with because he stumbles and makes mistakes like us. Christ was the clown to announce by his life that we are not what we perform. The minister's final task is to announce that God loves us beyond what we can ever perform. Thus we can laugh at our weakness.

Gratitude

Item consists of a typescript of "Gratitude", a sermon given by Nouwen for a Eucharistic service. Nouwen suggests that the spiritual life is one where we are not to master everything, but to be mastered; not to conquer, but to be conquered; not to fill our hearts, but to empty them; all to make a place within to receive the Word of God.

Ministry as hospitality

Item consists of a typescript for "Ministry as Hospitality", a sermon given by Nouwen on June 11, 1972. These ideas were later published in "Reaching Out".

With care

Item consists of a typescript for "With Care: Mark 6:30-44", a talk on care of the sick and pastoral counseling. Nouwen argues that cure without care is more harmful than helpful, even in the professional setting. He asks: What does it mean to care? How to become a caring community around the person who is suffering? Nouwen urges his listeners to go beyond the professional to the human in the "caring" professions. Similar ideas were published in "Out of Solitude".

Sermon on care

Item consists of a typescript of "With Care", a sermon on the care of the sick and pastoral counseling given by Nouwen at Harkness Chapel, Connecticut College, on March 10, 1974. Nouwen argues that cure without care is more harmful than helpful even in the professional setting. He asks: What does it mean to care? How do we become a caring community around the person who is suffering? Nouwen urges his listeners to go beyond the professional to the human in the "caring" professions. Similar ideas were published in "Out of Solitude".

How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language?

Item consists of a typescript of "How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language?", a talk Nouwen gave on the theme of Christian unity and ecumenicism. He uses St. Paul's text about many different languages to talk about unity and division in the Body of Christ. He argues that bread and wine is a sign of unity but perhaps also a sign of brokenness.

Death and Christ

Item consists of a typescript for "Death and Christ", a sermon given by Nouwen in which he suggests that death, which we do not want to confront, is also a way to life. Nouwen looks at how we avoid death in our culture and how we need to be willing to face our own death, which can become a sign of glory.

Behold the man

Item consists of a typescript of "Behold the Man", a sermon in which Nouwen reflects and prays on John 19:1-6, an image of Jesus brought out by Pilate after his scourging. The sermon is about Jesus' suffering. Item includes three pages of handwritten notes on John 19, in an unknown hand.

Sermon on Palm Sunday

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

Sermon on Ash Wednesday

Item consists of a manuscript for a sermon on Ash Wednesday. Nouwen comments on the text, "Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." He suggests that by doing so we no longer deny our mortality, we unmask the illusions about immortality, we see the preciousness of the gift of our lives, we fast and go beyond human realities, and we realize that the text is Good News. He talks about Lent, Palm Sunday and the spirituality of suffering.

On silence

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

Silence

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

About Zaccheus, who climbed the sycamore tree

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.

Advent

Item consists of a typescript of "Advent", a sermon given by Nouwen on December 15, 1971. Nouwen argues that in Advent we know that God is not going to come on Christmas. We expect God in lightning and disaster. But perhaps Advent is waiting and preparing for the God who speaks to us in the gentle breeze. Advent is waiting, but it is also to know that we are waited for. Nouwen recounts the story of the prisoner of war who, at the point of giving up, receives a note from his wife saying they were waiting for him to come home. It changed everything for him. We have received a letter (the Scriptures), and we know God waits for us as we wait for God.

Moratorium

Item consists of a typescript of "Moratorium", a sermon given by Nouwen on May 4, 1972, on non-violence and the peace movement. Nouwen argues that we cannot protest violence with violence, and that is what makes it hard. The expression of our sadness will hopefully lead to repentance, and repentance to compassion, and compassion to peace. We must receive peace as a gift, knowing the elements of violence within ourselves, and growing in compassion for our friends and enemies alike.

Order of worship

Item consists of a typescript of an order of worship held in Marquand Chapel, Yale University, on Monday, November 6, (year unknown).

Out of the depths we want to cry to you O Lord

Item consists of a typescript of "Out of the Depths We Want to Cry to You O Lord", a sermon given by Nouwen during a memorial service for the dead in Indochina, held at the Battell Chapel, Yale University, on April 21, 1972. Includes a copy of Psalm 130.

Draft of Liturgy as hospitality

File consists of a draft typescript of "Liturgy as Hospitality", a talk presented at the Episcopal Liturgical Conference (Hamden, CT), on September 30, 1972. Nouwen writes that the Emmaus story reveals how the stranger becomes the intimate friend. He looks at the three themes of hospitality: that it reveals the stranger as the friend, that it brings a greater unity among those who brought the friend into their home, and that it creates a spontaneous desire to bring others into the new-found communion and see them in liturgy. Some of these ideas may have been published in "Reaching Out" (1975).

Drafts of From resentment to gratitude

File consists of a draft typescript of "From Resentment to Gratitude", which Nouwen presented to the National Conference of Catholic Seminarians in Chicago, on April 28th, 1973. Nouwen discusses how the seminary can be a breeding place for resentment and a fertile ground for gratitude. He describes the roots of resentment and how its destructive power invades the intellectual life and the spiritual life. He concludes that gratitude, however, influences the theological and spiritual formation of the priest for tomorrow.

Draft of Compassion

File consists of draft typescripts of, "Compassion: A study inspired by the life and the works of Vincent van Gogh, December 16 - January 3, 1975-1976", a lecture given by Nouwen in Geijsteren, The Netherlands. The talk was on compassion, love, art and Vincent van Gogh, and is divided into three sections: solidarity, consolation and comfort.

Draft of Living the questions

File consists of a draft typescript of "Living the Questions: The Spirituality of the Religion Teacher", a talk Nouwen gave at Yale Divinity School. Nouwen organized the talk under the following headings: 'Teaching as the affirmation of the student's search'; 'Teaching as the giving of oneself to the student'; 'Teaching as disclosing the Lord'.

Drafts of Collected sermons and lectures

File consists of a hard-bound volume of draft manuscripts and typescripts of sermons and lectures, some given at Yale Divinity School. The volume was bound while Nouwen was in residence at Maryknoll (Cambridge, MA).

Lenten meditations

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

This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to Him

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

Meditation on prayer

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

Meditation on prayer

Item consists of a typescript of a meditation on prayer given by Nouwen on December 12, 1979. He suggests that prayer is a discipline of faith. Prayer should not be for entertainment or to make us feel better, but to express a longing to know that God is with us.

Lenten meditations

Item consists of a typescript of a Lenten meditation given by Nouwen at Battell Chapel on February 5, 1980. It is based on Luke 22:47-62 - the betrayal and despair of Judas. This is contrasted with Peter's denial and hope.

Battell Lenten meditation

Item consists of a typescript of a Lenten meditation based on Luke 22:39-46 - how the suffering Jesus gives comfort and hope in suffering.

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