26 September 2019, The Tablet

Henry Nouwen – leaving it all to God

Henry Nouwen – leaving it all to God

In this previously unpublished extract from lectures he gave while he was teaching at Harvard Divinity School, and wrestling with his own vocation, the priest and theologian seeks to rediscover the heart of the Gospel. Less than four months after giving these talks, he left academic life to join a l’Arche community in Toronto – one of the communities founded by Jean Vanier for and with people with learning disabilities


How do we practise the presence of God? Through prayer and service.

Service is being involved in something that is for the people of God.

At times, we might be involved in larger things – clothing the naked, sheltering the poor, helping the refugees, visiting the sick or imprisoned, but it is always small to begin with. It begins with small gestures. Being kind to your family and the people you work with, saying a patient word, writing a card, sending a flower.

Be attentive. Be attentive. Be attentive.

When we pray frequently and know that God is in us here and now, we are very attentive to others because we are less preoccupied with ourselves. We are less worried about ourselves and if we are not very worried about ourselves we see other people more clearly. We see their struggle. We see their beauty. We see their kindness. We see that they are not trying to hurt us but that they have their own problems. We are much gentler, because we are in the presence of the Spirit. We realise these people are also struggling.

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