Item 1626 - The desert counsel to flee the world

Identity area

Reference code

CA ON00389 1-9-1-1626

Title

The desert counsel to flee the world

Date(s)

  • June 1980 (Creation)

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Item

Extent and medium

5 p. of textual records

Context area

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(1932-1996)

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Scope and content

This item is a 5 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘The Desert Counsel to Flee the World’ which is part one of a 3 part series published in Sojourners, pp. 14, 15 – 18, June 1980. Nouwen introduces the article by speaking of the desert fathers and mothers, in particular he writes briefly of the life of St. Anthony ‘the father of monks’. Nouwen identifies in the life of Anthony the profound importance of solitude and states, ‘When he emerged from his solitude, people recognized in him the real “healthy” man, whole in body, mind and soul’. Under the heading ‘The compulsive minister’ Nouwen expresses concern that the lives of many ministers are ‘horrendously secular’ busy with meetings, people, agendas, services. He suggests the very busyness of this life can be a way to avoid solitude, being alone with God. In the next section entitled, ‘The furnace of transformation’ Nouwen identifies solitude as the furnace of transformation. ‘Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter’. Here, the minister encounters himself or herself in the struggle to die to the false self, to meet God and ‘to be with him and him alone’. In the final heading entitled ‘A Compassionate Ministry’ Nouwen suggests that the life of prayer in solitude is the source of the quality of compassion for the minister. He concludes by stating, ‘In a world that victimizes us by its compulsions, we are called to solitude where we can struggle against our anger and greed and let our new self be born in the loving encounter with Jesus Christ. It is in this solitude that we become compassionate people…’

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Access copies (3) available in Access Copies - Published Works, Articles by Nouwen, Box 1.
Reference copies available in file.

Related units of description

Item is 1 of a series of 3 articles. See Published works - items 1627 and 1629.

Publication note

Published in Sojourners (June 1980): 14-18.
This item, is published in a slightly revised form as the chapter entitled 'Solitude' in, Nouwen, Henri, The Way of the Heart: the Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, HarperCollins, N. Y., 1981.

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Alternative identifier(s)

Accession Number

2000 01

Location

Box 295

Previous Item Number

20-80

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