Henri Nouwen Society

Books by Nouwen – Alphabetical

Here is an alphabetical list of Henri Nouwen’s books along with descriptions.

A Cry For Mercy

Prayers From The Genesee

Returning to the Abbey of the Genesee for a second stay of seven months (Cf. Genesee Diary, above), Nouwen decides on a new experiment: instead of keeping a diary, he writes a prayer each day.

(Doubleday, 1981, Pp. 175)

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A Spirituality of Fundraising

A Spirituality of Fundraising, by Henri J.M. Nouwen | John S. Mogabgab, Series Editor

“Fundraising is, first and foremost, a ministry,” renowned author and teacher Henri Nouwen writes in the introduction. “It’s a way of announcing our vision and inviting other people into our mission.”

Nouwen approaches fundraising from a position of strength rather than weakness, seeing it as spiritual work. “Fundraising is precisely the opposite of begging,” he points out.

Unlike most business/leadership books, A Spirituality of Fundraising, is brief and can easily be read in one sitting. Sections of this booklet include:

  • Fundraising as Ministry
  • Helping the Kingdom Come About
  • Our Security Base
  • People Who Are Rich
  • Asking
  • A New Communion
  • Prayer and Gratitude
  • Your Kingdom Come

Nouwen’s insights will shift your thinking about fundraising. You’ll never feel as though you are begging for money but instead view your work as true ministry. A must read for leaders in churches, nonprofits, ministries, and businesses!

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A Letter Of Consolation

A companion volume to be read in sequence to In Memoriam. Six months after the death of his mother, during his second protracted stay at the Trappist Abbey of the Genesee, Nouwen found himself deeply in touch with his own grief over the loss of his mother. He wanted to share his feelings with someone “who could really understand what was happening inside me. And who could better understand me than my own father?” The result: A Letter of Consolation. Originally a strictly personal letter, the published text was the inevitable result of the urging of friends. A deeply moving account, and, like In Memoriam, a healing gift to the bereaved.

“On the long road it’s good to have Nouwen and his divining rod. Deftly he bends towards the drop of spiritual wisdom caked in the most ordinary things.”

– Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J., author of Dead Man Walking

(Harper and Row, 1982, Pp.96/Harper Collins, 2009)

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A Sorrow Shared

A Sorrow Shared: Combined edition of two Nouwen Classics released in December 2010.

Ave Maria Press is pleased to announce their release of a combined edition of Henri Nouwen’s In Memoriam and A Letter of Consolation.

In these two classics Henri explores the depth of his grief upon the death of his mother and writes tenderly and wisely to his bereaved father, yearning for the light of Christ in the darkness of loss and sorrow.

Foreword by Barbara Brown Taylor who writes “. . . Nouwen is right that we find comfort where our wounds hurt most, and he has never been afraid to meet us there.”

(Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN, 116 pages)

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God’s Beloved

Less than five months after Nouwen began his year’s sabbatical, he received a call from Daybreak alerting him to the fact that his dear friend, Adam Arnett (See “Epilogue: Adam’s Story”) was near death. Nouwen immediately boarded a plane and flew to his bedside. He arrived just in time to sit at his side, hold his hand, administer the last anointing, and wait out the hours till he would breathe his last. So moved was Nouwen by his death, he decided to write a book about his friend. Here we learn interesting details of Adam’s early childhood, his seemingly healthy condition as an infant, and only later the first signs of developmental disabilities, followed by the diagnosis of epilepsy.

The unique beauty of the story is Nouwen’s casting it in parallel to the Jesus Story:

“Adam’s Hidden Life/ Adam’s Desert/ Adam’s Public Life” — on through “Adam’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.” Here is a moving story told as only Nouwen could tell it.

(Orbis Books, NY, 1997. Ninth Printing December 2006)

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The Fulfillment Of Life

The elderly are our prophets. They remind us that what we see so clearly in them is a process in which we all share. Grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren – they all make the whole of our life cycle visible and tangible to us at every moment of our lives. The elderly are our teachers who tell us about the dangers as well as the possibilities in becoming old.

Co-authored with Walter Gaffney.

(Doubleday, 1974, Pp. 160)

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Behold the Beauty of the Lord

Praying With Icons

Icons do not easily reveal themselves. They do not speak immediately to the senses. But with the help of a guide, Nouwen shows, “they can lead us into the inner room of prayer and bring us close to the heart of God.” Focusing on four Russian icons, he distills four themes: Living in the House of Love (Rublev’s Holy Trinity), Belonging To God (The Virgin of Vladimir), Seeing Christ (The Savior of Zvengorod), and Liberating the World (The Descent of the Holy Spirit). Color and black and white prints invite the reader to join in the writer’s “praying by looking.”

(Ave Maria Press, originally published in 1987, Pp.80, spiral-bound. New edition released 2007, Pp. 121.)

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Beyond the Mirror

Reflections On Death And Life

Nouwen telescopes in his introduction the unique soulscape awaiting the reader in this book: “When I was hit by a van while hitchhiking and found myself, soon after, faced with the possibility of death, I felt more than ever that what I was living then I had to live for others….I feel that this interruption, which could have been the last, gave me a new knowledge of God that contrasted radically with what I had learned so far. And so, more strongly than ever before, I feel a need to write about it and simply present this knowledge I cannot keep for myself alone.”

(Crossroad, 1990, Pp.74)

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Bread For the Journey

A Daybook Of Wisdom And Faith

This ambitious undertaking clearly stands out, taking a place of its own in the Nouwen collection. Responding to a request from his publishers for a “Thought-a-Day” book, Nouwen rejected the traditional format of making a patchwork of already published material, insisting to his editors, “Everything should be new. He began the task by going into retreat and imposing on himself a strict discipline of rising early and taking pen in hand: I just sat down each morning, whether I had any ideas or not, and waited until my pen started to move and pull words out of my mind and heart.” Four months later he counted 387 reflections. All that remained was to cut the loaf down to the size of the pan and put it in the oven. The final result: a veritable “Summa Nouwenlogica,” covering the full sweep of the author’s own intensely lived faith journey. Rich fare in small servings for hungry readers on the go. Excellent for gift-giving.

Translated in 13 languages.

(HarperSanFrancisco, 1997)

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Can You Drink The Cup?

Readers will recognize in the title the question in the gospel story, put by Jesus to the sons of Zebedee: “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” (Mt. 20, 20-23). Nouwen focuses on the cup as the centerpiece around which he builds a reflection appealing in its simplicity and delightful in its symmetry. He highlights three basic images: holding the cup, lifting the cup, drinking the cup. Elaborating on the meaning to be drawn from each of these simple gestures, he crafts a finely honed meditation on a spirituality of discipleship. Three foundational disciplines emerge as essential to any serious quest: silence, word and action.

(Ave Maria, 1996 , Pp.111; 2006 Pp. 123)
Tenth Anniversary Edition (2006) includes foreword by Ron Hansen.

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Clowning In Rome

Reflections On Solitude, Celibacy, Prayer And Contemplation

Four lectures originally given during a five-month stay in Rome. Why “clowning” in Rome? Nouwen explains: “Of the virtuosi we say, ‘How do they do it?’ Of the clowns we say, ‘They are like us.’ The clowns remind us . . . that we share the same human weaknesses.” The clown is a “powerful image to help us understand the role of the minister in contemporary society.” Playing the clown, Nouwen explores four “clownlike” or “foolish” elements in the spiritual life: being alone, treasuring emptiness, standing naked before God, and simply seeing things for what they are.”

(Doubleday Image, 1979, Pp.110)

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A Reflection On The Christian Life

With co-authors Donald P. McNeill and Douglas A. Morrison, Nouwen explores the unique role of compassion in the Christian life. At first sight compassion seems to be a natural, instinctive, human response to others’ pain and suffering. But on closer inspection the authors conclude that for the Christian true compassion is born only out of prayerful reflection on the implications of the Incarnation and the demands it makes on all who would follow in the footsteps of the Man of Sorrows. A creative, insightful exploration of a timely topic in a world sensitized to violation of human rights, hunger, and oppression.

(Doubleday, 1982, Pp. xii + 142; revised edition 2005)

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Creative Ministry

Beyond Professionalism In Teaching, Preaching, Counseling, Organizing And Celebrating

Explores the relationship between professionalism and spirituality in pastoral ministry. Nouwen’s basic thesis: Unlike other professions, ministry is not an eight-to-five job, but primarily a way of life for others to see and understand so that liberation can become a possibility.

(Doubleday, 1971, Pp. xxiv + 123)

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Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life

Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life features the wisdom that spiritual leader and counselor Henri J. M. Nouwen brought to the essential question asked by every Christian and seeker: What should I do with my life?

Nouwen emphasizes listening to the Word of God—in our hearts, in the Bible, in the community of faith, and in the voice of the poor as a way to discern God’s plan.

Although the late Henri J. M. Nouwen counseled many people during his lifetime, his principles of discernment were never collected into a single volume. Now, in association with The Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust, Michael Christensen—one of Nouwen’s longtime students—and Rebecca Laird have taken his coursework, journals, and unpublished writings to create this and other books in the series exploring God’s will for your life.

Release date: June 25, 2013 | Hardcover | 256 Pages | Published by Harper Collins

This is the third book of a series. Spiritual Direction explores our core questions about the spiritual life as Nouwen acts as spiritual director, opening the door to personal transformation. In Spiritual Formation, Nouwen offers guidance on spiritual development—as dynamic movements from fear to love. In this final book, Discernment, Nouwen teaches us how to read the “signs of the times” in daily life in order to make decisions that are ultimately guided by God.


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Encounters With Merton

Spiritual Reflections

Encounters with Merton offers readers Nouwen’s insights into the essential teachings of Thomas Merton, the renowned monk, writer, and inspiration to millions of seekers. Nouwen’s reflections bring Merton’s vision to life, while revealing what is at the heart of their mutual vision of the spiritual quest.

(Softcover, The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2004, Pp. 138.) Previously published as Pray to Live(Fides 1972) and Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic (Harper & Row, 1981; Ligouri/Triumph 1991.)

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Finding My Way Home

Pathways to Life and the Spirit

This is a collection of four short essays, three previously published by Crossroad (“The Path of Peace”, “The Path of Power” and “The Path of Waiting”) plus a new essay entitled “The Path of Living and Dying”.

From the Foreword by Wendy Wilson Greer:

“Nouwen’s theology of downward mobility is certainly not a popular one in our society where our value is usually determined by success, popularity and influence. Try telling an Olympic athlete that those who fail to win any medals are just as good as those who win the gold! InFinding My Way Home we find, ‘When you win and receive a prize you know there is somebody who lost. But this is not so in the heart of God. If you are chosen in the heart of God, you have eyes to see the chosenness of others.'”

(Crossroad Publishing, NY, 2001)

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Finding Our Sacred Center

A Journey to Inner Peace

All of us long for inner peace, to know that Christ dwells within us. In this beautiful, hardcover, pocket-sized book, Henri Nouwen searched in Lourdes for this assurance, and he shares here how that place of peace and beauty helped him return to his sacred center. He writes, however, that the purity, simplicity, and freedom he experienced there belong to the heart and can be lived anywhere. Whether we have been to Lourdes or not does not matter. This small journal touches our own restless and searching hearts and helps us find again our own sacred center – the living Christ within us. This material was previously published in Jesus and Mary.

(Twenty-Third Publications, New London, CT, 2011. Published in Canada by Novalis. Hardcover 51 pages, 11 black and white images)

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Genesee Diary

Report From A Trappist Monastery

Taking advantage of a sabbatical, the author, by special arrangement with the Trappist monks of Genesee Abbey in upstate New York spends seven months in seclusion at the abbey. Living the day-to-day monastic routine as a fully integrated, if temporary member of the community provides him with a unique opportunity to probe his own life as a busy lecturer, writer and university professor in contrast with the slower-paced lifestyle of the monks. A special treat for anyone interested in what goes on inside monasteries ¬ or perhaps better – what goes on inside people inside monasteries.

(Doubleday, 1976, Pp. xiv + 199)

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A Latin American Journal

iGracias! should be read after Compassion, and Compassion should be read after iGracias!. InCompassion, Nouwen theorizes about the compassionate life. In iGracias! he lives it. Stepping down from ten years as Professor of Pastoral Theology at Yale in July of 1981, Nouwen promptly embarked on a plan which had been taking shape in his mind as his academic career headed toward its climax: to work among the poor in the barrios of Lima. iGracias! chronicles his day-to-day experiences in his Third World parish. Challenging reading.

(Orbis Books, NY, 1983)

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Heart Speaks To Heart

Three Prayers To Jesus

Secluded in a Trappist monastery for a retreat during Holy Week, the author describes a moment of grace: “When Holy Thursday came, I began to write to Jesus — from heart to heart….I did not look at any article or book. I simply prayed as I wrote and wrote as I prayed….The words just flowed out of me…” Excellent reading for anyone looking for a prayer-starter to help them enter into the spirit of the final climactic days of Holy Week.

(Ave Maria Press. Originally published in 1989, Pp 62. New edition 2007. Pp. 61)

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Here and Now

Living In The Spirit

Readers familiar with Nouwen’s previous works will find here passages and themes touched upon or treated in his previous books. The author explains in his introduction: “I didn’t try to say things I had never said before, but things that really matter to me. I didn’t try to write a new book, but to meditate on life as I am trying to live it.” With that understanding, readers will find familiar themes restated and refined, but, most importantly to serious students of Nouwen, new insights, new stories, and new information about the author’s personal life not to be found elsewhere.

(Crossroad, 1994, Pp. 144)

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Home Tonight

Further Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son

Prior to writing his great classic on this theme, Henri Nouwen suffered an enormous personal loss and breakdown that took him away from his home in the L’Arche Daybreak community for a period of seven months. His thoughts were intense, raw and deeply private, and ultimately revealed to him the passionate drama of parenthood, filial duty, rivalry, anger and unconditional love on display in the painting.

On his return from solitude, Henri held small, private workshops on his revelations that were recorded in audio. The material of those extremely personal talks has now been formed into a unique work. HOME TONIGHT brings to light Nouwen’s lectures on the Prodigal Son in a powerful guide for spiritual reflection. Providing exercises, suggestions for times of solitude, questions for pondering, simple prayers, and aides for personal journaling, HOME TONIGHT leads readers to commune with God through spiritual listening. A practical guide for the inner journey home, this important book will give those who adore Nouwen’s works the chance to hear his voice anew on his most popular topic.

(Home Tonight: Further Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Henri J.M. Nouwen, edited by Sue Mosteller, C.S.J.Published by Doubleday. Release date: March 24, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-385-52444-5/Trade Paperback Original/ 160 pages)

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In Memoriam

A moving account of the sudden illness and subsequent death of his mother, whose first symptoms of cancer are discovered during a family visit with the author at Yale in the fall of 1978. Though Nouwen’s reflections on the way he experienced his mother’s death were intended originally for his own and his family’s cherished remembrance, copies circulated among close friend eventually led to pleas for publication. Yielding, Nouwen notes in his introduction: “In life she belonged to a few; in death she is for all.” A precious legacy. And a priceless aid in ministering to the bereaved.

(Ave Maria, 1980, Pp.62; 25th anniversary edition 2005 )

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In the Name of Jesus

Reflections On Christian Leadership

This book has a double cutting edge to it. Invited to Washington, D.C., to give a lecture on Christian Leadership of the Future, Nouwen demonstrates his own style of leadership by bringing with him a member of L’Arche Daybreak, a community of intellectually disabled adults and those who care for them and where Henri serves as pastor. What is he to do when, standing at center stage and acknowledging the applause following his lecture, Bill walks up to him and asks if he, too, may address the audience? Here is a lesson in Christian leadership the reader will never forget.

(Crossroad, 1989, Pp.81)

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Pastoral Psychological Essays

Intimacy is the result of two years at Notre Dame (1966-68) in which Nouwen responds to the many questions put to him by his students and friends on campus. The questions seemed to boil down to a single basic question: “How can I find a creative and fulfilling intimacy in my relationship with God and my fellow man?” Seven essays grouped under four headings: Intimacy & Sexuality, Intimacy & Prayer, Intimacy & Community, Intimacy & the Ministry.

(Fides, 1969; Harper & Row, 1981, pp. ix + 150. New edition released 2010.)

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Jesus & Mary

Finding Our Sacred Center

The small size of this book should not mislead the reader into thinking it of little importance. The publishers found the reflections in article form and rightly concluded they deserved a wider readership. The booklet holds two parts: The first, a homily given on May 31, 1988, during the Marian Year at St. Michael’s Cathedral, Toronto. The second, Nouwen’s journal of his pilgrimage to Lourdes in January 1990. As usual Nouwen’s personal reflections offer food for thought for the reader: “Before I am sinful, I am innocent; that is, before I participate in the evil of the world, I am touched with goodness….I have to claim that innocence in me. It belongs to my deepest self.”

(St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1615 Republic St., Cincinnati, OH 45210, 1993, Pp.66)

Please note: this book is out of print. Half of the book has been published in Finding Our Sacred Center: A Journey to Inner Peace, published by Twenty-Third Publications, 2011.

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Letters To Marc About Jesus

The strength of this book is the freshness and immediacy that characterizes Nouwen’s writing to an 18-year-old nephew growing up in affluent surroundings in his native Holland, yet keenly interested in his uncle’s worldview as a spiritual writer. Nouwen briefs him — and the reader — from the start, on what to expect in all that follows: “I want to give you a taste of the richness of life as a Christian, as I know it, experience it, and continue to discover it.”

(Harper Collins, 1988, Pp.85, trans. from Dutch: Brieven Aan Marc)

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Life of The Beloved

Spiritual Living In A Secular World

The prologue frames the background leading to the publication of this unique volume. A close-knit friendship with a young friend who styles himself a “secular Jew” leads to a pressing request of the author to “…speak a word of hope to people who no longer (come) to churches or synagogues and for whom priests and rabbis (are) no longer the obvious counselors.” Only after much resistance does the author comply. There is a Catch-22 at the end of the story, but it would be unfair to readers to rob them of the surprise awaiting them in the epilogue.

(Crossroad, 1992, Pp.119. Also available in audio format. It is the only book Henri Nouwen recorded.)

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Intimacy, Fecundity, & Ecstasy In Christian Perspective

Visiting with Jean Vanier and the L’Arche community in France, Nouwen finds in the small society of the handicapped a paradigm for a society governed by fear: “The agenda of the world…is an agenda of fear and power.” Detailing the extent to which fear wields its destructive power in our lives, he points to the way that frees us from living as captives in the house of fear and makes it possible for us to move into the house of love.

(Doubleday, 1986, Pp. 114)

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Love In A Fearful Land

A Guatemalan Story

Nouwen’s continuing interest in Latin America brings him to Guatemala, to the site of the murder of Fr. Stanley Rother, put to death by the Guatemalan military for being an outspoken voice for poor. It is the story of brutal government oppression, of fearful living conditions that continues to be told today. But it is also a story of heroic courage and generosity as another North American priest, Fr. John Vesey volunteers to replace the martyred missionary as shepherd of an oppressed people.

This richly illustrated new edition of Love in a Fearful Land appears on the 25th anniversary of Fr. Rother’s death. It includes a foreword by photographer Peter K. Weiskel and an epilogue by Fr. John Vesey.

(Originally published by Ave Maria Press 1985, Pp.116; new edition 2006, Orbis Books, Pp. 128)

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Making All Things New

An Invitation To The Spiritual Life

“What do you mean when you speak about the spiritual life?” Nouwen responds to a frequently asked question in this small and very readable volume, which explores the basics of Christian spirituality. Two quotes: “To be bored does not mean that we have nothing to do, but that we question the value of the things we are so busy doing.” And: “One way to express the spiritual crisis of our time is to say that most of us have an address but cannot be found there.”

(Harper & Row, 1981, Pp.96)

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Ministry And Spirituality

Three Books in One

Shortly before he died, Nouwen negotiated a publishing contract he had long hoped to bring from dream to reality: a complete editing of his earlier published works to bring them into conformity with inclusive standards. The project was launched with this first volume, a handsomely bound hardcover, bringing three of his earlier books under one cover: Creative Ministry, The Wounded Healer, and Reaching Out.

(Continuum, 1996, Pp.286)

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Our Greatest Gift

A Meditation On Dying And Caring

“Is death something so terrible and absurd that we are better off not thinking or talking about it? Is death such an undesirable part of our existence that we are better off acting as if it were not real? Is death such an absolute end of all our thoughts and actions that we simply cannot face it?” Nouwen addresses these questions each of us must come to terms with from the unique vantage point of one who only a few years previously found himself very close to death after an accident. Drawing on his own experience, he shows how we can come to befriend our death and find in it the mentor who not only teaches us the sublimity of our human existence, but also leaves us with many clues to probing our ultimate destiny.

“A very comforting book. . . . Nouwen offers here a gentle, almost meditative book on coming to terms with death.” – Publishers Weekly

(Harper Collins, 1994, Pp. 118/ 2009, Pp. 109)

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Out Of Solitude

Three Meditations On The Christian Life

Drawing on three biblical texts, the author reflects on the two poles between which the Christian life is constantly held in tension: solitary prayer and active ministry. His thesis: Care and ministry, to bear fruit worthy of the name Christian, must be born out of solitude, i.e., a deep, personal involvement with the living God.

(Ave Maria, 1974, Pp. 63; 30th anniversary edition 2004)

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Prayer, Resistance, Community

Henri Nouwen wrote this book twenty years ago as his personal response in a time of heightening Cold War tensions. Its publication now, in a new era of fear and violence, is particularly timely. On the one hand Peacework represents a passionate call to all Christians to embrace Jesus’ ethic of peacemaking as an “unconditional, unlimited, and uncompromising” demand. But Nouwen goes on to show that peacemaking is more than a matter of carrying placards or opposing war. It must begin with a life of prayer, a movement from “the dwelling place” of fear and hatred and into the house of God. The next step is to “resist the powers of death”—not just in the form of armies and armaments, but in our everyday selfishness and bondage to destructive consumer values. Finally we are called to celebrate life and to build communities in which love, forgiveness, and compassion bind us in solidarity with a wounded world. Portions of this book were previously published in The Road to Peace

(Orbis Books, 1998; ed. John Dear,S.J.)

Edited with foreword by John Dear, S.J. (Hardcover; Orbis Books, 2005; Pp.127)

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Reaching Out

The Three Movements Of The Spiritual Life

Nouwen gives his own evaluation of one of his best selling books: “This book is closer to me than anything I have written and tries to articulate my most personal thought and feelings about being a Christian.” In three movements: From Loneliness to Solitude/From Hostility to Hospitality/From Illusion to Prayer. Available in cassette: Ave Maria (“The Lonely Search For God”) A foundational book in the Nouwen collection.

(Doubleday, 1975, Pp. 120)

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Sabbatical Journey

The Final Year

On September 1, 1995 Nouwen was given leave from his community at Daybreak to begin a sabbatical year, a year in which he had planned to devote himself especially to writing. It turned out to be indeed, a year in which he produced five books, his most prolific output in any comparable time span. Three were completed before his sudden death only three weeks following the end of the sabbatical. The remaining two were very near completion, namely Adam: God’s Beloved, and the book noted here, Sabbatical Journey.

Sabbatical Journey is the journal he kept while he was working on the other four books. He begins the journal: “This is the first day of my sabbatical. I am excited and anxious, hopeful and fearful, tired and full of desire to do a thousand things. The coming year stretches out in front of me as a long, open field full of flowers and full of weeds. How will I cross that field? What will I have learned when I finally reach the other end?” The question that now lives in the hearts of his friends.

(The Crossroad Publishing Company, NY, 1997)

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Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith with Michael J. Christensen and Rebecca Laird.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, priest, teacher and author, understood the spiritual life as a journey of faith and transformation, deepened by contemplative prayer, community accountability, and service in the world. Now, Michael Christensen, one of Nouwen’s students at Yale and currently the national director of Communities of Shalom at Drew University, and Rebecca Laird, one of Nouwen’s publishing acquaintances and now a pastor, have developed his standard course on spiritual direction into a new book by Nouwen and a 24 hour spiritual direction retreat.

Together, they present readers and retreat participants with a fresh and definitive work and literary experience of Henri Nouwen as spiritual director, sharing his wisdom and guidance on how to live the questions of the spiritual life. In three sessions, new material and exercises from Nouwen’s spiritual direction classes at Yale and Harvard will be introduced and participants will reflect on ten parables and ten questions of the spiritual life–revealing wisdom for the long walk of faith.

Living the Questions of the Spiritual Life is what this book is about.

The ten questions Nouwen invites us to live deeply from the heart are these:

  • Who Will Answer My Questions?
  • Where Do I Begin?
  • Who am I?
  • Where Have I Been and Where am I going?
  • What is Prayer?
  • Who is God for Me?
  • How Do I Hear the Word?
  • Where do I Belong?
  • How Can I Be of Service?
  • Where do I Go From Here?

Nouwen suggests three spiritual practices that will reorient our lives and open the door to spiritual transformation:

  • Look within to the Heart: Introspection and contemplative prayer in solitude
  • Look to God in the Book: Devotional reading and meditation on sacred text
  • Look to Others in Community: Relationships with the people of God in small groups, worship experiences and mission activities in the world.

(HarperSanFrancisco; Hardcover, 192 Pp. June 2006)

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Spiritual Formation

Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit, with Michael J. Christensen and Rebecca Laird.

Henri Nouwen understood the spiritual life as a journey of faith and transformation that is deepened by accountability, community, and relationships. Though he counseled many people during his lifetime, his principles of spiritual formation were never written down. Now, Michael Christensen, one of Nouwen’s longtime students, and Rebecca Laird have taken his famous course in spiritual formation and supplemented it with his unpublished writings to create the definitive series on Nouwen’s thoughts on the Christian life.

The first book in the series, Spiritual Direction, introduced readers to Nouwen’s core concepts and how to live the questions of the spiritual life. Now Spiritual Formation reveals Nouwen’s sage advice on how to live out the five classical stages of spiritual development. Featuring a unique visio divina to help guide and focus prayer, this volume reveals Nouwen’s unparalleled wisdom on how to move from the mind to the heart and live there in the center—the place where God dwells.

Hard cover, eight color plates, 157 pages. Release date: June 2010

(HarperCollins Publishers)

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Spiritual Journals

Three Books In One

Here is the second in the Continuum Series, (see Ministry and Spirituality) combining the three major journals in print before Nouwen’s death: Genesee Diary, iGracias!, and The Road To Daybreak all together in the same handsomely bound hardcover format, another welcome addition to the Nouwen library.

(Continuum, 1997, Pp.448)

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The Inner Voice of Love

A Journey Through Anguish To Freedom

Certainly one of the most compelling of Nouwens books. Its power lies in its strictly personal nature, a private journal not intended for publication. For eight years it sat in a drawer in Nouwen’s room, shared only with closest friends. Over the years friends urged that it be released for publication. Nouwen resisted throughout, insisting that it was too personal. Fortunately, only months before his death, he yielded to importunings and after the necessary editing released the journal to his publisher. The record of a fierce inner struggle following what he called “an interrupted friendship,” a friendship that he had come to depend on, only to find himself seemingly abandoned and rejected. He left his community, went into counseling therapy, and during this period, after each counseling session wrote a “spiritual imperative” — “a command to myself that had emerged from our sessions. These imperatives were directed to my own heart. They were not meant for anyone but myself.” Which is precisely what makes them so powerful. Sixty-two silver bullets targeted to pierce to the core of the human heart.

(Doubleday, 1996, Pp.118)

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The Living Reminder

Service And Prayer In Memory Of Jesus Christ

“What are the spiritual resources of ministers? What prevents them from becoming dull, sullen, lukewarm bureaucrats, people who have many projects, plans and appointments, but who have lost their heart somewhere in the midst of their activities? What keeps ministers vital, alive, energetic and full of zeal?” Nouwen gives his own answers to these important questions. In three parts: The minister as a healing reminder, a sustaining reminder, and a guiding reminder.

(Seabury, 1977, Harper Collins, 1983 Pp. 80. New edition released 2009 by Harper One)

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The Path Series

The Path of Waiting/The Path Of Freedom/The Path Of Power/The Path Of Peace

Here is a handy set of four booklets attractively formatted and boxed, focusing on four related themes, each booklet 46 pages in length. These are short essays culled from previously published material that give them more accessibility to readers on the go.

From The Path of Power: “God looks at us and weeps because wherever we use power to give us a sense of self, we separate from God and each other, and our lives become diabolic, in the literal meaning of that word: divisive.”

Please note: These booklets are out of print. The material from “The Path of Waiting”, “The Path of Power” and “The Path of Peace” can be found in Finding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the Spirit, Crossroad, 2001. This omnibus edition, listed in our “Posthumous” section, also includes “The Path of Living and Dying”. The content of “The Path of Freedom” can be found in Henri Nouwen’s Beyond the Mirror.

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The Return Of The Prodigal Son

A Story of Homecoming

Exhausted from a six-week lecture tour across the U.S. in 1983, Nouwen seeks rest in the L’Arche community in France. During his stay, a painting of Rembrandt catches his attention: The Return of the Prodigal Son. Sustained reflection on the painting slowly emerges into awareness of a new vocation coming to flower in his heart, his own personal call to “come home,” to make his home with L’Arche. Identifying with each of the three main figures in the painting, Nouwen crafts a fresh interpretation of a classic story, concluding: “Though I am both the younger son and the elder son, I am not to remain them, but called to become the Father.” A miniature of the painting on the memorial card for Nouwen’s wake marked its special place in the memory of the L’Arche Daybreak community where he served as pastor for the last ten years of his life.

(Doubleday, 1992, Pp.142)

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The Road to Daybreak

A Spiritual Journey

A milestone documenting Nouwen’s definitive break with his academic career, and detailing both the inner and outer struggle that leads him finally to embrace his call to join the community of L’Arche at Daybreak in Toronto. Referring to the many journeys, people and events that fill the pages of the journal, he sums up: “What binds them together in their wide variety is the spiritual struggle to say ‘yes’ to Jesus’ invitation, ‘Come and follow me.’ It is a screaming and kicking ‘yes’ that fills these pages.” A must for any serious Nouwen reader.

(Doubleday, 1988, Pp.228)

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The Selfless Way Of Christ

Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life

In this short work Henri Nouwen offers a penetrating reflection on the challenge of the spiritual life, especially the call to imitate Christ’s example of “downward mobility.” This vocation is sorely tested by the constant celebration of “upward mobility”, which brings to mind the temptations Christ faced in the wilderness: to be “powerful, relevant, and spectacular.” To prepare us for this path, Nouwen describes the “disciplines of spiritual formation,” represented by the Church, the Word of God, and the promptings of our heart.

Illustrated with drawings by Vincent van Gogh, The Selfless Way of Christ is an inspiring guide for ministers and everyone walking the path of discipleship.

(Published by Orbis Books, 2007. Hardcover, 96 pages. This book was originally serialized in Sojourners magazine in 1981.)

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The Way Of The Heart

Connecting with God through Prayer, Wisdom and Silence

A contemporary rereading of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Focusing on the threefold command to Abba Arsenius, “Flee! Be silent! Pray!” Nouwen pursues the implications for contemporary ministers of early Christian teaching on the fundamental role of the three disciplines of solitude, silence, and unceasing prayer.

(Ballantine Books, NY)

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The Wounded Healer

Ministry In Contemporary Society

What does it mean to be a minister in contemporary society where men and women who want to be of service find the familiar ways crumbling and themselves stripped of their traditional protections? Nouwen addresses the question: “After all my attempts to articulate the predicament of contemporary humanity, the necessity to articulate the predicament of the ministers themselves became most important. For ministers are called to recognize the sufferings of their time in their own hearts and to make that recognition the starting point of their service.” In four parts: Ministry in a Dislocated World/Ministry for a Rootless Generation/Ministry to a Hopeless Individual/Ministry by a Lonely Minister.

(Doubleday, 1972, Pp. xiv + 104)

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Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic

This edition is out of print. It was re-issued with revisions as Encounters with Merton: Spiritual Reflections by The Crossroad Publishing Company in 2004.

In this introduction to the life and thought of Thomas Merton, Nouwen explains: “I met him only once at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. Yet thereafter, his person and work had such an impact on me that his sudden death stirred me as if it were the death of one of my closest friends. It therefore seems natural for me to write for others about the man who has inspired me most in recent years.”

(Fides, 1972; Harper & Row, 1981, Pp. x + 158)

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Turn My Mourning Into Dancing

Finding Hope in Hard Times

Compiled and edited by Timothy Jones.

Timothy Jones, a long time devotee of the writings of Henri Nouwen, obviously has taken seriously the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John, to “gather up the fragments, lest they be lost.” (John 6, 12) Turn My Mourning into Dancing: Finding Hope in Hard Times is a labor of love that led the editor/compiler to move beyond the published works of Nouwen to dig deeper into the still untouched, unpublished writings of Nouwen buried in archival file cabinets, waiting to be discovered by other Nouwen disciples. The happy result is yet another volume which gives voice once more to the spiritual guide who has guided millions in their quest to find meaning and direction for their lives in a turbulent world more prone to inspire fear and despair than peace and a future holding promise.

Readers are drawn from the beginning into the excitement of the compiler as he takes them on a tour of his impromptu whirlwind visit to the Nouwen Archives housed in the John M. Kelly library of St. Michael’s College in Toronto, and the warm welcome he received from the L’Arche Community of Daybreak, where Nouwen spent the last 10 years of his life serving as pastor to the community and to the world.

The result of his probings of the archives is Turn My Mourning into Dancing. The book is divided into 5 major segments under the heading, Five Movements Through Hard Times:

From Our Little Selves to a Larger World.

From Holding Tight to Letting Go.

From Fatalism to Hope.

From Manipulation to Love.

From a Fearful Death to a Joyous Life.

Turning the narrative over to the voice of Nouwen himself, he explains the choice for the theme and title of the book:

“Mourning makes us poor; it powerfully reminds us of our smallness. But it is precisely here, in that pain or poverty or awkwardness that the Dancer invites us to rise up and take the first steps. For in our suffering, not apart from it, Jesus enters our sadness, takes us by the hand, pulls us gently up to stand, and invites us to dance. We find the way to pray, as the psalmist did, “You have turned my mourning into dancing” (Ps. 30: 11), because at the center of our grief we find the grace of God.”

The book is sprinkled generously with quotable short-takes and memorable one-liners:

“The losses may be non-negotiables. But we have a choice: How do we live these losses? We are called time and again to discover God’s Spirit at work within our lives, within us, amid even the dark moments. We are invited to choose life. A key in understanding suffering has to do with our not rebelling at the inconveniences and pains life presents to us.” (Pg. 12)

“To be converted fully is to let God lead us out of our compulsions. It means that we admit how we give up ceaselessly trying to “fix” things. Freedom is the opposite of compulsive obsessions.” (30)

Commenting on John 21: 18-19:

“A psychologist would tell us, “When you were young someone else girded and guided you, but now that you are old you can go on your own power.” But Jesus says that maturity means growing willingness to be led even to places we might not eagerly choose.” (36)

“There is an old expression that says, “As long as there is life there is hope.” As Christians we also say, “As long as there is hope there is life.” (61)

“The paradox of expectation is that those who believe in tomorrow can better live today.” (62)

For anyone interested in deepening their spiritual life, the book offers itself as a handy guide to growth and maturity.

(W Publishing Group, 2001)

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Walk With Jesus: Stations of the Cross

25th Anniversary Edition – 2015

Collaborating with an artist friend who has presented him with 15 paintings, Nouwen reflects on how “Jesus continues his painful, yet hopeful journey among our brothers and sisters who are being condemned…tortured, and killed, day after day all over the world.” A contemporary reflection on how the passion, death, and resurrection continues in history.

(Illustrations by Sr. Helen David, Orbis Books, 1990, 2015 Pp.98)

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With Burning Hearts

A Meditation On The Eucharistic Life

Drawing on Luke’s Gospel Narrative of the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, (Luke, Ch. 24), Nouwen weaves a reflection on the meaning of the contemporary celebration of the Eucharist. He raises the question: “How is this daily celebration connected with the daily life of ordinary men and women?” He builds his response around five themes: Loss, Presence, Invitation, Communion, Mission, leading the reader to find a “network of connections” between the celebration of the Eucharist and daily human experience.

(Orbis, 1994, Pp. 95.)

Note: Currently available in hardcover, illustrated edition published in 2003. Artwork by Duccio di Buoninsegna.

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With Open Hands

Originally trans. from the Dutch, Met Open Handen, Ave Maria, 1972) Nouwen has updated the entire text to reflect the changes in the world and the church. In six parts: With Clenched Fists/Prayer and Silence/Prayer and Acceptance/Prayer and Hope/ Prayer and Compassion/Prayer and Prophetic Criticism.

Latest edition has been updated for a new generation with moving photography and a foreword by Sue Monk Kidd.

(Ave Maria Press, 1995, 2005, Pp.125)

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