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Henri Nouwen

Born: January 24, 1932

Died: September 21, 1996

Nouwen was ordained in 1957 and he published his first book Intimacy: Pastoral Psychology Essays (Fides) in 1969. The slender volume explores the principal theme of Nouwen’s eventual legacy as a spiritual writer and teacher. This question of intimacy underlies his every text: “How can I learn to love, and to let myself be loved?”

Nouwen went on to author a total of 53 books (including posthumous volumes). His books have sold millions of copies and been translated into dozens of languages. His lasting influence is evident; his journals still inspire posthumous publications, such as the recent Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life (HarperOne).

Nouwen’s writings reveal his deep sense of solitude and loneliness, even as they emphasize the importance of community and shared ministry. For those grappling with such paradoxical truths, Nouwen’s books offer a sense of solidarity in the struggle. And for those wounded by legalistic, harsh teachings, Nouwen’s relational, compassionate spirituality offers comfort.

Caroline McGraw

More about Henri Nouwen:

Henri Nouwen, prodigal son’s older brother

After years of struggling with solitude, Henri Nouwen finally found a place to call home.

Image: Frank Hamilton, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons