- Henri Nouwen (1932 –1996) was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian. His interests were rooted primarily in psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community.
- 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 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the L’Arche Daybreak community in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
See a bibliography of published works – 42 books https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Nouwen_bibliography
Henri Nouwen, Now & Then | Dr. Rick Tobias
This week’s Now & Then episode features well-known and life-long advocate for the poor and marginalized, Dr Rick Tobias. Tobias speaks to the issues of social justice and challenges us, as he believes Henri Nouwen would have, to move from fear to love in this time of uncertainty.
Henri Nouwen, Now & Then | Shane Claiborne
In this engaging podcast, Karen Pascal, Executive Director of the Henri Nouwen Society interviews Shane Claiborne of the Simple Way. They discuss everything from Henri’s concept of the Wounded Healer and downward mobility, to Shane’s new book “Executing Grace.”
Henri Nouwen, Now & Then | Dr. Michael Christensen
Karen Pascal, Executive Director of the Henri Nouwen Society, speaks with Dr. Michael Christensen about what it was like to be a student of Henri Nouwen’s at Yale, Henri’s influence on his life, and on becoming a professor who now teaches about the spirituality of Henri Nouwen.
Episode Notes: https://henrinouwen.org/now-then-michael-christensen/
Ron Rolheiser – Henri Nouwen, ‘a Spiritual Master’
In this interview, Ron Rolheiser discusses the incredible influence Henri Nouwen’s writing as ‘a spiritual master’ has had on his own writing, Henri’s challenge to find a home and struggle with downward mobility, and so much more. In the preface to his groundbreaking book, The Holy Longing, (Doubleday, 1999) Ronald Rolheiser refers to Henri Nouwen as “the spiritual writer who most influenced our generation.”
Links & References:Ron Rolheiser, L’Arche Daybreak, The Return of the Prodigal Son, Michael Higgins’ “Genius Born Of Anguish”
Jim Wallis, Christ in Crisis
In this timely interview, Jim Wallis, New York Times bestselling author and editor-in-chief of Sojourners Magazine, talks with host Karen Pascal about how followers of Christ should respond to issues of racial and social injustice.
* EPISODE NOTES: http://henrinouwen.org/now-then-jim-wallis/
Sr. Sue Mosteller, Henri & Adam – at L’Arche
In this episode of Now & Then, Sr. Sue Mosteller gives insight into the life of her good friend Henri Nouwen and the wonderful book he wrote about Adam.
* EPISODE NOTES: http://henrinouwen.org/now-then-sr-sue-mosteller/
John Dear, Peace Activist & Author
Don’t miss this week’s Now & Then timely and engaging interview with John Dear – a peace activist jailed more than 80 times, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, author, and good friend of Henri Nouwen’s.
Episode Notes: http://henrinouwen.org/now-then-john-dear/
Henri Nouwen’s own voice – podcasts
In these not-to-be-missed episodes of Now & Then, we hear from Henri Nouwen at the Crystal Cathedral in 1993. In Part One, he addresses the central questions – Who am I? Am I – what I have, what I do, or, what others say about me? In Part Two, Henri explores what it means to be chosen, to be blessed, to be broken and to be given.
In this episode we hear from Henri Nouwen himself in a talk he gave at Harvard in 1985. This powerful message is about how to practice the presence of God empowered by the Holy Spirit. Henri affirms that God is with us in the midst of our pain and our fears. Scripture: Acts 2:1-4
Other podcasts / talks by Henri Nouwen
The ‘Now & Then Series’
See all of the talks in the series at – henrinouwensociety
4 thoughts on “Henri Nouwen”
I wish to share a bit about a question that we were not able to get into during our discussions today. In the podcast about Shane Claiborne in which he introduces to the listener the concept of a “wounded healer.” One of the discussion questions were, “Who comes to your mind when thinking of someone who is a wounded healer?” While we listened about Henri Nouwen throughout the three podcasts, we see him as a great spiritual advisor, spiritual writer. I was exposed to the name of Henri Nouwen a number of years out of random when I was experimenting the radio application on one of those old flip phones and encountered the name “Henri Nouwen” on a CBC podcast. I only caught the last segment which spoke about his book about the prodigal son, and his death in 1996. However, his name stuck with me and I encountered his name in books in the bookstore and even through a Christmas gift in 2018 in a book titled, The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom. I have read one of his books that was lent to me by a friend titled, Life of the Beloved. There, he spoke about the very nature of the human person as the beloved, as all are unique and are a special gift. However, I only got a bit of him in that book. After listening to the podcasts, I really wanted to get to know more about Henri Nouwen and while I was gifted a copy of The Inner Voice of Love, I never found the opportunity to read it.
Interesting, the more I read through the book from its preface to its conclusion, I have to conclude this – Henri Nouwen was a “wounded healer.” I had no idea that Nouwen went through a dark period where he hit rock bottom. The Inner Voice of Love was his “secret book” that he wrote during his darkest times. It is not a structured book – more like journal entries or meditations with headings. However, understanding this background of his led me to see that while Nouwen was a gifted spiritual writer which have healed so many people, he himself was wounded. However, throughout his dark times, he used that time to write so to bring inspiration to so many people to help others know that even as a “healer” himself, he to has had times of darkness. Nouwen was tempted at first to publish this “secret book” but in the end, he decided to publish it anyways, so to become and recognize that he is a “wounded healer.”
I’d like to end my response with this quote from The Inner Voice of Love, “You have been wounded in many ways. The more you open yourself to being healed, the more you will discover how deep your wounds are. You will be tempted to become discouraged, because under every wound you uncover you will find others. Your search for true healing will be a suffering search. Many tears still need to be shed. But do not be afraid. The simple fact that you are more aware of your wounds shows that you have sufficient strength to face them.” (pg 109)
Henri Nouwen was dedicated to the needs of others and emphasizing the importance of service in our Christian journeys of faith. Through listening to the various podcast episodes provided, I am amazed at the impact that Nouwen had on many individuals today. I believe that there are many lessons that I can also take from Nouwen’s teachings in order to deepen and enrich my own spiritual journey.
Personally, I found that the message Dr. Rick Tobias emphasized was especially meaningful and applicable in today’s world. He mentioned Nouwen’s message of “moving from fear to love”. At first glance, this seems like such a simplistic approach to the whole idea of changing our ways and growing in unity. But after listening to Dr. Tobias’ analysis of Nouwen’s teaching, I found so many important points that I would like to note here.
Tobias begins by saying that “spirituality and activism are very much connected”, and it is through a fundamental understanding of this truth that we can hope to “move from fear to love”. At Sunday mass last week, my parish priest discussed the difference between appearing religious and truly being religious. He said that in many ways, we feel that the more we portray ourselves as good people, we believe that we are good people, and that tends to be a major blockade for many when it comes to deepening their faith. Instead, we should become more actively concerned with how we live our faith on a daily basis, and I think this is central to Nouwen’s teachings. Many activists and Christian prophetic voices emphasize the importance of social involvement in order to enrich one’s faith. This is the only way that we can experience and decide to turn prejudice and judgment into compassion and sincere generosity.
Especially concerning the ongoing issues regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and justice for all those who fall victim to racial injustice, if we do not voice concern and bridge the gap between authorities and minorities, how can we possibly inspire change?
I think one of the most profound messages that Dr. Rick Tobias mentioned in his interview and what he found to be the most encompassing message of Henri Nouwen’s teachings was Jesus’ message that “it is in our unity that the world would know God sent him.”
I believe that if we simply learn to incorporate this mindset into our lives more readily, we can hope to inspire change.