Item 1625 - The monk and the cripple: toward a spirituality of ministry

Identity area

Reference code

CA ON00389 1-9-1-1625

Title

The monk and the cripple: toward a spirituality of ministry

Date(s)

  • March 15, 1980 (Creation)

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Item

Extent and medium

6 p. of textual records

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(1932-1996)

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Scope and content

This item is a 10 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘ The Monk and the Cripple: Toward a Spirituality of Ministry’ ,which was a talk published in ‘Growing Together, Conference on Shared Ministry’ by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on the Laity and the United States Catholic Conference Department of Education/Young Adult Ministry’, February 1980. Nouwen begins his talk by identifying what is the heart of Christian ministry: ‘that ministers are men and women without power who live in the Name of their Lord and who often see him when they least expect it’. In the first major section entitled ‘Without Power’ Nouwen states, ‘ To be a minister means above all to become powerless… to speak with our powerlessness to the condition of powerlessness which is so keenly felt but so seldom expressed by the people of our age’. Nouwen then speaks of the temptation of the minister to give up the sense of powerless to be professional, to be competent and powerful. Nouwen identifies a second temptation as that of wanting to be a spiritual pioneer or the temptation to individualism. There is for Nouwen, the further temptation to cling to the minister’s role with regard to the Word and Sacrament as privileged and therefore, powerful. In the second major section entitled ‘In the Name’ Nouwen says, ‘Here we touch the mystery of ministry. Ministers are powerless people who have nothing to boast of except their weaknesses. But when the Lord whom they serve fills them with blessing they will move mountains and change the hearts of people wherever they go.’ Nouwen suggests that this aspect of ministry can only be fed by prayer which leads the minister to intimate communion with God. In the final section entitled, ‘ Seeing God’ Nouwen says’ This is the secret of ministry: it is the ongoing discovery of God’s presence in the midst of the human struggle and the joyful proclamation of that discovery’. Nouwen concludes the talk ‘Thus ministers are seers who reach out to their people to reveal to them God’s presence in their lives and to call them together to make this divine presence manifest in communal celebration’.

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A photocopy of this article from accession 2009 01 has been placed in the file as a reference copy.

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See Published works for the original publishing version of this article: box 295, item 1624.
There is a recording in audio file box 3.

Publication note

Published in America (March 15, 1980): 205-210. Originally given as a talk at a conference sponsored by the NCCB and the U.S. Catholic Conerence Dept. of Education/YoungAdult Ministry and published in the Conference Report entitled Growing Together: Conference on Shared Ministry.

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Alternative identifier(s)

Accession Number

2000 01

Location

Box 295

Previous Item Number

20-80

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