Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen, (January 24, 1932 – September 21, 1996) was a Dutch-born Catholic priest, professor and writer. His interests were rooted primarily in psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community. Over the course of his life, Nouwen was heavily influenced by the work of Anton Boisen, Thomas Merton, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh and Jean Vanier. After nearly two decades of teaching at academic institutions including the University of Notre Dame, Yale Divinity School and Harvard Divinity School, Nouwen went on to work with mentally and physically handicapped people at the L'Arche Daybreak community in Richmond Hill, Ontario. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)
A life without a lonely place, that is, without a quiet center, becomes destructive.
Fear is the great enemy of intimacy. Fear makes us run away from each other or cling to each other but does not create true intimacy.
He who thinks that he is finished is finished. How true. Those who think that they have arrived, have lost their way. Those who think they have reached their goal, have missed it. Those who think they are saints, are demons.
If fear is the great enemy of intimacy, love is its true friend.
In our production-oriented society, being busy, having an occupation, has become one of the main ways, if not the main way, of identifying ourselves. Without an occupation, not just our economic security but our very identity is endangered.
Much violence is based on the illusion that life is a property to be defended and not to be shared.
Our first responsibility in the midst of violence is to prevent it from destroying us.
Our Western society is showing its technological muscles in ever more threatening ways, but the experience of fear, anxiety and even despair has increased in equal proportion. Indeed, the paradox is that the powerful giants feel as powerless as a new-born babe.
Peacemaking is a full-time vocation that includes each member of God's people.
Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.
The difference between rich and poor is not that the rich sin is more than the poor, that the rich find it easier to call sin a virtue.
The evangelical movement has become just a bit victimized by a success-oriented culture, wanting the church- like the corporation- to be successful.
The fruits of your labors may be reaped two generations from now. Trust, even when you don't see the results.
The greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity or power, but self-rejection.
The real enemies of our life are the 'oughts' and the 'ifs.' They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and now.
To learn patience is not to rebel against every hardship.
Too many of us are lonely ministers practicing a lonely ministry.
Waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about him for whom we are waiting.
What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.
When the poor sin, they call it sin; when they see holiness, they identify it as such. The intuitive clarity is often absent from the wealthy, and that absence easily leads to the atrophy of the moral sense.
When we have nothing to cling to as our own and cease thinking of ourselves as people who must defend privileges, we can open ourselves freely to others with the faithful expectation that our strength will manifest itself in our shared weakness.