Sunday, August 30, 2009

Beloved: In Conversation with Henri Nouwen

By Philip Roderick, 52 pages hardcover with a cd containing the conversation between Roderick and Nouwen, Novalis.

The late Henri Nouwen, a Dutch-born priest who eventually lived at L'Arche Daybreak in Toronto, truly practiced theology by approaching God, others, and life through the eyes of love. Dogma became for him another way to reach out, rather than a way to judge, control, or intellectualize. Through his books, he continues to pastor to millions of readers around the world and to evangelize in this way.

The conversation of Beloved, which is transcribed into the small book, focuses largely on central issues of modern living. His discussion returns again and again to loneliness and solitude in an over-busy world; living God's truth in a world of lies; and the contemplative who lives in the world.

Nouwen parallels Thomas Merton in teaching and living a contemplative life from within the great expanse of the Catholic tradition:

“[I]n the biblical understanding, heart is the centre of our being. It's not a muscle, but a symbol for the very centre of our being. Now the beautiful thing about the heart is that the heart is the place we are mostly ourselves. It's like the core of our being, it's the spiritual centre of our being. Solitude and silence, for instance, are ways to get to the heart, because the heart is the place where God speaks to us, where we hear the voice who calls us the beloved. This is precisely in the most intimate place.”

These words, like Nouwen in general, unite theology, spirituality, philosophy, and psychology, a nearly-impossible feat outside of the Catholic tradition.

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