Item 1690 - Prayer and resistance: a spirituality of peacemaking

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CA ON00389 1-9-1-1690


Prayer and resistance: a spirituality of peacemaking


  • October - November 1985 (Creation)

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4 p. of textual records

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This item is a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Prayer and Resistance: A Spirituality of Peacemaking’, published in The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Vol. XVI, Number 1, October-November, 1985, pp. 5 – 7, & 10. Nouwen begins the article by stating, ‘A peacemaker prays. Prayer is the beginning and the end, the source and the fruit, the core and the content, the basis and the goal of all peacemaking’. At the end of his introduction Nouwen goes on to say, ‘Praying at all times is the first aspect of peacemaking. What does this concretely mean for us who have barely enough time and space to keep some distance from the cares of life? To answer this question we must be first willing to explore critically the ways in which the “cares of life” strangle us. Only then can we see the converting power of prayer and its pervasive role in peacemaking’. In the following sections Nouwen writes of ‘wounds and needs’ which affect our actions and suggests that it is ‘only when we are willing to repeatedly confess that we too have dirty hands, even when we work for peace, can we fully understand the hard task of peacemaking’. Nouwen then begins to write of the power of prayer to free us to be peacemakers and uses images from the Bible to point to this power. Nouwen identifies peacemaking as a work of love and goes on to say, ‘Prayer is the way to that experience of love’. Nouwen writes of his experience as a child in wartime Holland of the holocaust of the Jews and states that as a child he could not understand or fight against it but now he is an educated adult he cannot excuse himself from fighting injustice that he sees. ‘To work for peace is to work for life. But more than ever before in history we are surrounded by the powers of death’. Further on Nouwen states that ‘resistance [to evil] is no longer an option’ whatever the cost. We do this to begin with by recognizing the evil within ourselves and yet forgiving ourselves and others. ‘Personally, I believe that the battle against these suicidal inner powers is harder than any other spiritual battle. If those who believe in Jesus Christ were able fully to believe that they are forgiven people, who are loved unconditionally and called to proclaim peace in the name of the forgiving Lord, our planet would not be on the verge of self-destruction’.

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Published in Harvard Divinity Bulletin 16, no. 1 (October - November 1985): 5-7, 10.
Revised portions of this article appear in: Nouwen, Henri: The Road to Peace, Orbis, Maryknoll, N.Y., 1998 and in Nouwen, Henri: Peacework, Orbis, Maryknoll, N.Y. 2005.

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2000 01; 2001 17


Box 296

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