Item 1560a - Marriage as ministry

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Reference code

CA ON00389 1-9-1-1560a

Title

Marriage as ministry

Date(s)

  • June 21 - September 22, 1974 (Creation)

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Item

Extent and medium

6 p. of textual records

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(1932-1996)

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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.’

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Note

Published in Notre Dame Journal of Education, vol. 5, no. 2 (Summer 1974): 101-106.
This article has been developed from an idea used in the final chapter of Henri Nouwen: The Wounded Healer, Doubleday,Garden City, NY, 1972.

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Accession Number

2000 02

Location

Box 294

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