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About Henri Nouwen



Henri Jozef Machiel 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. Wikipedia

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Quotes by Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen (quotes)

  • Forgiveness indeed heals memories
  • A happy life is a life for others.
  • Emit gratitude as though it was done
  • Your heart is greater than your wounds.
  • Peace is first of all the art of being.
  • Forgiveness changes the way we remember.
  • Solitude is the furnace of transformation.
  • Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply.
  • Community is where humility and glory touch.
  • The soul of the artist cannot remain hidden.
  • Life is a gift, not to possess, but to share.
  • As long as we have our stories there is hope.
  • I had a deep experience of God’s love for me.
  • Be sure that you make a difference in the world.
  • Who can take away suffering without entering it?
  • The world is evil only when you become its slave.
  • I feel the problems I have are meant to purify me.
  • Life is not entertainment. Life is not distraction.
  • Every time you reject yourself, you idealize others
  • By prayer, community is created as well as expressed.
  • Yes, it’s a competitive world, but where is your heart?
  • It’s good to have a prayer on your lips wherever you go.
  • Prayer is the most concrete way to make our home in God.
  • Mysticism is for all, not just for a few special people.
  • The only feelings that do not heal are the ones you hide.
  • People forget ideas; they don’t forget the real presence.
  • In solitude we realize that nothing human is alien to us.
  • To learn patience is not to rebel against every hardship.
  • You don’t have to run around world proving you’re lovable.
  • Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others.
  • In God’s eyes the most significant is often the most hidden.
  • There are as many ways to pray as there are moments in life.
  • It is by chance that we met, by choice that we became friends.
  • It is God’s passionate pursuit of us that calls us to prayer.
  • Keep a space where God can let something totally new take place.
  • If fear is the great enemy of intimacy, love is its true friend.
  • Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.
  • God wants you to live for others and to live that presence well.
  • In our own woundedness, we can become sources of life for others.
  • Too many of us are lonely ministers practicing a lonely ministry.
  • Life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared.
  • Somewhere we know that without silence, words lose their meaning.
  • Friendship and love are impossible without a mutual vulnerability.
  • a spiritual life without prayer is like the gospel without Christ.
  • Friendship has always belonged to the core of my spiritual journey.
  • Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved.
  • It is to this silence [contemplative prayer] that we all are called.
  • Writing is not just a job. It helps me to pray. It’s a way of being.
  • Precisely where I feel my poverty is where I discover God’s blessing.
  • If you are not able to be silent, you will not be able to speak well.
  • One of the tragedies of our life is that we keep forgetting who we are
  • The Church is the body of Christ fashioned by baptism & the Eucharist.
  • I have found it very important…to let go of my wishes and start hoping.
  • Friends share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand.
  • That’s the temptation of the devil: “Turn stones into bread! Be relevant!”
  • Prayer is not a pious decoration of life but the breath of human existence.
  • When we are crushed like grapes, we cannot think of the wine we will become.
  • To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer.
  • In solitude we become aware that our worth is not the same as our usefulness.
  • I always try to turn my personal struggles into something helpful for others.
  • Our life is…a time in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment.
  • Trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.
  • I trust in you, Lord, but keep helping me in my moments of distrust and doubt.
  • There is nothing so important in the family as the sacred quality of the meal.
  • People who read your ideas tend to think that your writings reflect your life.
  • Peacemaking is a full-time vocation that includes each member of God’s people.
  • Hope means to keep living amid desperation and to keep humming in the darkness.
  • Hiddenness is the place of purification. In hiddenness we find our true selves.
  • As we are involved in unceasing thinking, so we are called to unceasing prayer.
  • The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it
  • When I was teaching, I didn’t feel I had a home, a place where I truly belonged.
  • The university has become a place that prepares you for the fights in the world.
  • We cannot make it rain but we can see to it that the rain falls on prepared soil.
  • The farther the outward journey takes you, the deeper the inward journey must be.
  • Where true inner freedom is, there is God. And where God is, there we want to be.
  • The real question is: how can I live so that my death will be fruitful for others?
  • As a general remark, I would say we must move from the moral to the mystical life.
  • Prayer is not what is done by us, but rather what is done by the Holy Spirit in us.
  • Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work, and not mine.
  • A life without a lonely place, that is, without a quiet center, becomes destructive.
  • By giving words to these intimate experiences I can make my life available to others.
  • The beginning and the end of all Christian leadership is to give your life for others.
  • The greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity or power, but self-rejection.
  • When we give generously, with an abundance mentality, what we give away will multiply.
  • Our first responsibility in the midst of violence is to prevent it from destroying us.
  • The mystery of one man is too immense and too profound to be explained by another man.
  • Life is just a little opportunity for you during a few years to say, “I love you, too.”
  • When we keep claiming the light, we will find ourselves becoming more and more radiant.
  • Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.
  • When we break bread and give it to each other, fear vanishes and God becomes very close.
  • Jesus said Communion first, community comes out of that, and out of community, ministry.
  • Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.
  • I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found.
  • Beneath our frantic activities, there’s a deep desire to show the world we are worthwhile.
  • Waiting is a dry desert between where we are and where we want to be. (Finding My Way Home)
  • Our lives are unique stones in the mosaic of human existence — priceless and irreplaceable.
  • In their poverty, the mentally handicapped reveal God to us and hold us close to the gospel.
  • I feel strongly that the God we meet in solitude is always the God who calls us to community.
  • Everything changes radically from the moment you know yourself as being sent into this world.
  • Every time I take a step in the direction of generosity, I know I am moving from fear to love.
  • The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark.
  • If you meet God in solitude, you discover the God you meet is the God who embraces all people.
  • Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again. Amen.
  • The spiritual life is a reaching out to our innermost self, to our fellow human and to our God.
  • This brief lifetime is my opportunity to receive love, deepen love, grow in love, and give love.
  • Take prayer with you wherever you go. Say it anytime, and then focus your mind and heart on God.
  • You don’t think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking.
  • To live in the present, we must deeply believe that what is most important is in the here and now.
  • Much violence is based on the illusion that life is a property to be defended and not to be shared.
  • Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own.
  • Our brokenness has no other beauty but the beauty that comes from the compassion that surrounds it.
  • What makes us human is not our mind but our heart, not our ability to think but our ability to love.
  • If you feel loved, you can do a thousand things. If you feel rejected, everything becomes a problem.
  • Spiritual maturity is not knowing what to do with your whole life, but just knowing what to do next.
  • We must ask ourselves how many times others would benefit more from our silence than from our words.
  • Is my growing old making me any closer to Christ? Am I only getting older or am I getting more godly?
  • The real ‘work’ of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me.
  • Our glory is hidden in our pain, if we allow God to bring the gift of himself in our experience of it.
  • The beatitudes say, “Blessed are the poor”. They don’t say, “Blessed are those who care for the poor.”
  • …real care means the willingness to help each other in making our brokenness into the gateway to joy.
  • Solitude does not pull us away from our fellow human beings but instead makes real fellowship possible.
  • The journey from teaching about love to allowing myself to be loved proved much longer than I realised.
  • Pay attention to the people God puts in your path if you want to discern what God is up to in your life.
  • We are all healers who can reach out and offer health, and we are all patients in constant need of help.
  • Waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about him for whom we are waiting.
  • From the moment we claim the truth of being the beloved, we are faced with the call to become who we are.
  • God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment, be that moment hard or easy, joyful and painful.
  • Waiting time is not wasting time. Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.
  • I often wonder if my knowledge about God has not become my greatest stumbling block to my knowledge of God.
  • The great conversion  called for by Jesus is to move from belonging to the world to belonging to God.
  • Good families always ritualize the table. You can say, “This is a Christmas meal; this is a birthday meal.”
  • Prayer is first of all listening to God. It’s openness. God is always speaking; he’s always doing something.
  • The fruits of your labors may be reaped two generations from now. Trust, even when you don’t see the results.
  • Gratitude flows from the recognition that who we are and what we have are gifts to be received and shared.
  • Reading with children is an enormous gift to them. It’s a great honor to invite children to read with adults.
  • What is forgotten cannot be healed, and that which cannot be healed easily becomes the cause of greater evil.
  • Asking people for money is giving them the opportunity to put their resources at the disposal of the Kingdom.
  • The main question is not, how can we hide our wounds…but how can we put our woundedness in service to others.
  • Prayer is the center of the Christian life. It is the only necessary thing. It is living with God, here and now.
  • Although I am a committed Catholic priest, and nowhere hide that fact, my focus is very much a spiritual journey.
  • If I were to let my life be taken over by what is urgent, I might very well never get around to what is essential.
  • Solitude is the place of purification and transformation, the place of the great struggle and the great encounter.
  • I choose L’Arche; L’Arche chooses me. I would be dead if I weren’t here. I need people to love me and care for me.
  • Learning to weep, learning to keep vigil, learning to wait for the dawn. Perhaps this is what it means to be human.
  • What is important is how well we love. God will make our love fruitful, whether we see that fruitfulness or not.
  • Solitude, community, and ministry are certainly not just for celibates! Celibates also have a hard time keeping up.
  • The crisis of our prayer life is that our minds may be filled with ideas of God while our hearts remain far from him.
  • Ministry is the least important thing. You cannot not minister if you are in communion with God and live in community.
  • The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.
  • Forgiveness changes the way we remember. It converts the curse into a blessing. Forgiveness indeed heals memories . . .
  • We just have to recognize life for what it is: a gift to be grateful for, not a property to cling to, hoard, or defend.
  • For many, religion has to do with what we are allowed to do and not allowed to do. In the end, that doesn’t bear fruit.
  • This sounds very simple and maybe even trite, but very few people know that they are loved without condition or limits.
  • Joy and laughter are the gifts of living in the presence of God and trusting that tomorrow is not worth worrying about.
  • 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.
  • Those who keep speaking about the sun while walking under a cloudy sky are messengers of hope, the true saints of our day.
  • The gospel word of the day can become like a painting on the walls. of your inner room, the inner room that is your heart.
  • Solitude is the place where we can connect with profound bonds that are deeper than the emergency bonds of fear and anger.
  • Through discipline, discipline is the other side of discipleship. If you want to follow Jesus, you have to have discipline.
  • The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation.
  • There are areas I have to work on. I had some questions and some struggles, but it was an enormously important time for me.
  • Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the Beloved.
  • When you recognize the festive and the still moments as moments of prayer, then you gradually realize that to pray is to live.
  • I want my work to create space where people can meet God, rather than give them something they can “apply” to their daily life.
  • Ministry in no way is a privilege…it is the core of the Christian life. No Christian is a Christian without being a minister.
  • The best of community does give one a deep sense of belonging and well-being; and in that sense community takes away loneliness.
  • Let’s dare to enter into an intimate relationship with God without fear, trusting that we will receive love and always more love.
  • I’ve had a tremendous problem with depression in my life. I’d rather not talk about it, because it’s over. But depression is real.
  • Joy is based on the spiritual knowledge that, while the world in which we live is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world.
  • Prayer is the beginning and the end, the source and the fruit, the core and the content, the basis and the goal of all peacemaking.
  • The church is not an institution forcing us to follow rules but a community inviting us to still our hunger and thirst at its table.
  • Fear is the great enemy of intimacy. Fear makes us run away from each other or cling to each other but does not create true intimacy.
  • My writing has developed drastically . The Return of the Prodigal Son is the most important thing I’ve done, and my most mature book.
  • My hope is that the description of God’s love in my life will give you the freedom and the courage to discover… God’s love in yours.
  • When you have loved deeply, that love can grow even stronger after the death of the person you love. That is the core message of Jesus.
  • The difference between rich and poor is not that the rich sin is more than the poor, that the rich find it easier to call sin a virtue.
  • God doesn’t give us just enough. God gives us more than enough: more bread and fish than we can eat, more love than we dared to ask for.
  • …the word that seems best to summarize the desire of the human heart is ‘communion.’ …wherever we look it is communion that we seek.
  • I have always felt that if I am very personal and connected with what I myself am living, my writing will transcend ecclesial boundaries.
  • The pain that comes from deep love makes your love more fruitful. It is like a plow that breaks the ground to allow the seed to take root.
  • Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are.
  • Community means that people come together around the table, not just to feed their bodies, but to feed their minds and their relationships.
  • Once you are in communion with God, you have the eyes to see and the ears to hear other people in whom God has also found a dwelling place.
  • The great challenge is to discover that we are truly invited to participate in the divine life of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  • In a strange way the spiritual life isn’t “useful” or “successful.” But it is meant to be fruitful. And fruitfulness comes out of brokenness.
  • When I could no longer cling to my normal supports I discovered that true support and real safety lie far beyond the structures of our world.
  • My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered that my interruptions were my work.
  • It is precisely in times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God.
  • Community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another.
  • We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.
  • The most important thing I’ve come to believe in is that people with mental handicaps have a unique mission to bring God’s blessing to the World.
  • One of the main tasks of theology is to find words that do not divide but unite, that do not create conflict but unity, that do not hurt but heal.
  • People who pray stand receptive before the world. They no longer grab but caress, they no longer bite but kiss, they no longer examine but admire.
  • When we have sold our identity to the judges of this world, we are bound to become restless, because of a growing need for affirmation and praise.
  • I am working on three things: on being a prayerful person; on staying close to the handicapped; and on my writing. These are my constant concerns.
  • I was forced to enter the basement of my soul and look directly at what was hidden there, and to choose, in the face of it all, not death but life.
  • Christian community is the place where we keep the flame of hope alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us.
  • Active waiting means present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it.
  • Spiritual identity means we are not what we do or what people say about us. And we are not what we have. We are the beloved daughters and sons of God.
  • The evangelical movement has become just a bit victimized by a success-oriented culture, wanting the church – like the corporation – to be successful.
  • The tragedy of our lives is that, while we suffer from the wounds afflicted on us by those who love us, we cannot avoid wounding those we want to love.
  • [The Return of the Prodigal book] came out of my emotional and spiritual journey during the four months I was gone from Daybreak because of depression.
  • Often we come home from a sharing session with a feeling that something precious has been taken away from us or that holy ground has been trodden upon.
  • Compassion can never coexist with judgement because judgement creates the distance, the distinction, which prevents us from really being with the other.
  • How do you pray? Take the gospel of each day and spend ten minutes with it. Read it, and read it again. Walk into the world with the gospel in your heart.
  • The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? but: Are you in love with Jesus?
  • […]when two people have become present to each other, the waiting of one must be able to cross the narrow line between the living or dying of the other.
  • Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.
  • The great teachers are always those who can live the tension. They are not criticizing everybody, they’re not complaining. They give young people a vision.
  • I don’t pray enough, but I pray more now. Every morning at six o’clock have a half hour of meditation before the Blessed Sacrament. I pray with others too.
  • The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.
  • Television is obviously an enormous intruder. Quite often people say they have no time, but in fact they waste a lot of time on things that are not healthy.
  • Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self.
  • We need to remind each other that the cup of sorrow is also the cup of joy, that precisely what causes us sadness can become the fertile ground for gladness.
  • ‘How much longer will I live?’… Only one thing seems clear to me. Every day should be well-lived. What a simple truth! Still, it is worthy of my attention.
  • While my friend always spoke about the sun, I kept speaking about the clouds, until one day I realized that it was the sun that allowed me to see the clouds.
  • Prayer is the breath of your life which gives you the freedom to go and stay where you wish and to find the many signs which point out the way to a new land.
  • For Jesus, there are no countries to be conquered, no ideologies to be imposed, no people to be dominated. There are only children, women and men to be loved.
  • Once we deeply trust that we ourselves are precious in God’s eyes, we are able to recognize the preciousness of others and their unique places in God’s heart.
  • Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.
  • One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see.
  • The more we touch the intimate love of God which creates, sustains, and guides us, the more we recognize the multitude of fruits that come forth from that love.
  • The world is waiting for new saints, ecstatic men and women who are so deeply rooted in the love of God that they are free to imagine a new international order.
  • You are the heir to the Kingdom. Prosperity is your birth right and you hold the key to more abundance in every area of your life then you can possibly imagine.
  • God is your safety and your home. You are well embraced.” Start living the multi-formity of life from this place. If you can hold on to that, it all becomes one.
  • God’s Kingdom is a place of abundance where every generous act overflows its original bounds and becomes part of the unbounded grace of God at work in the world.
  • The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.
  • Our tendency is to run from the painful realities or try to change them as soon as possible. But cure without care makes us into rulers, controllers, manipulators.
  • The great call for the Church is to not just be concerned about right or wrong behavior, which is moral life, but about communion with God, which is mystical life.
  • People with handicaps teach me that being is more important than doing, the heart is more important than the mind, and caring together is better than caring alone.
  • That’s prayer to let God’s Word speak deep within you and tell you, “You are my beloved. You don’t have to take an eye for an eye. No, no you’re too rich for that.”
  • In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.
  • That is our vocation: to convert the enemy into a guest and to create the free and fearless space where brotherhood and sisterhood can be formed and fully experienced.
  • Those who think that they have arrived, have lost their way. Those who think they have reached their goal, have missed it. Those who think they are saints, are demons.
  • Theological formation is the gradual and often painful discovery of God’s incomprehensibility. You can be competent in many things, but you cannot be competent in God.
  • If you want to know anything about community, you have to realize that the contemplative side is essential. Community without retreating and quiet time never survives.
  • Community always calls us back to solitude, and solitude always calls us to community. Community and solitude, both, are essential elements of ministry and witnessing.
  • For me the university has always been an ideal context for spiritual formation. I always felt that if you want to offer spiritual formation at the university, you can.
  • We are not the healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for.
  • Intimacy is not a happy medium. It is a way of being in which the tension between distance and closeness is dissolved and a new horizon appears. Intimacy is beyond fear.
  • Aging does not need to be hidden or denied, but can be understood, affirmed and experienced as a process of growth by which the mystery of life is slowly revealed to us.
  • The spiritual life is a life beyond moods. It is a life in which we choose joy and do not allow ourselves to become victims of passing feelings of happiness or depression.
  • To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude.
  • The people who most affected me were the ones who got right in there with me, who cried with me, but who also had a certain authority, who dared to say what needed saying.
  • Discipline in the spiritual life is the concentrated effort to create the space and time where God can become our master and where we can respond freely to God’s guidance.
  • As ministers our greatest temptation is toward too many words. They weaken our faith and make us lukewarm.  But silence is a sacred discipline, a guard of the Holy Spirit.
  • …we all want to hear stories, from the moment we are born to the moment we die. Stories connect our little lives with the world around us and help us discover who we are.
  • Dare to love and to be a real friend. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as those whom God has given you to love.
  • Becoming the beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about and doing from hour to hour.
  • I still believe that the university is a place where people can develop their minds and learn skills, but also they can develop their personalities and their spiritual life.
  • True Hospitality is welcoming the stranger on her own terms. This kind of hospitality can only be offered by those who’ve found the center of their lives in their own hearts.
  • Our efforts to disconnect ourselves from our own suffering end up disconnecting our suffering from God’s suffering for us. The way out of our loss and hurt is in and through.
  • The resistance to praying is like the resistance of tightly clenched fists. This image shows a tension, a desire to cling tightly to yourself, a greediness which betrays fear.
  • Someday I would love to write about Vincent van Gogh – his paintings and letters continue to inspire me very much. But it remains hard to find the time and inner rest to write.
  • You have to listen to the one who calls you beloved. That has to be affirmed over and over again. That is prayer – listening to the voice of the one who calls you “the beloved.”
  • Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.
  • Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.
  • The joy that compassion brings is one of the best-kept secrets of humanity. It is a secret known only to a very few people, a secret that has to be rediscovered over and over again.
  • Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing-sicknes s, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death–can take that love away.
  • Your life is not going to be easy, and it should not be easy. It ought to be hard. It ought to be radical; it ought to be restless; it ought to lead you to places you’d rather not go.
  • Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. …We do not take the spiritual life seriously if we do not set aside some time to be with God and listen to him.
  • Jesus says, “Keep your heart on the kingdom first. Keep your heart on God’s love. Keep focused on the fact that you are God’s beloved daughter or son. That’s the truth of who you are.
  • It’s an incredible mystery of God’s love that the more you know how deeply you are loved, the more you will see how deeply your sisters and your brothers in the human family are loved.
  • To be baptized means to make the passage with the people of Israel and with Jesus from slavery to freedom and from death to new life. It is a commitment to a life in and through Jesus.
  • I loved to teach, I loved my students, but I wanted to find a community. I prayed: “Lord, show me where you want me to go. I will go wanted wherever you call me – but please be clear.”
  • It is very hard to stay in touch with our true identity because those who want our money, our time, and our energy profit more from our insecurity and fears than from our inner freedom.
  • In solitude we become aware that we were together before we came together and that life is not a creation of our will but rather an obedient response to the reality of our being united.
  • God, help me to see others not as enemies or as ungodly but rather as thirsty people. And give me the courage and compassion to offer your Living Water, which alone quenches deep thirst.
  • Solitude is an essential element for the spiritual health of a child. If we only stimulate our children – keep them busy with endless stories with no space to be alone – that’s not good.
  • What once seemed such a curse has become a blessing. All the agony that threatened to destroy my life now seems like the fertile ground for greater trust, stronger hope, and deeper love.
  • If you believe you are the beloved of God, you need to spend time listening to his voice – period! You can’t say, “Yes God calls me the beloved, but I have to go out to do something now.”
  • The Lord is coming, always coming. When you have ears to hear and eyes to see, you will recognize him at any moment of your life. Life is Advent; life is recognizing the coming of the Lord
  • To the degree that we embrace the truth that our identity is not rooted in our success, power, or popularity, but in God’s infinite love, to that degree can we let go of our need to judge.
  • It is not that the university as such is against spiritual formation. It is just that often the university does not know how to integrate spiritual formation within its academic disciplines.
  • When we learn to move through suffering, rather than avoid it, then we greet it differently. We become willing to let it teach us. We even begin to see how God can use it for some larger end.
  • The third discipline is community. Whom do you choose as your companions? Whom do you choose to be friends with, to live with? Are they people who love you, and care for you, and nurture you?
  • To receive spiritual direction is to recognize that God does not solve our problems or answer all our questions, but leads us closer to the mystery of our existence where all questions cease.
  • The friend who cares makes it clear that whatever happens in the external world, being present to each other is what really matters. In fact, it matters more than pain, illness, or even death.
  • Christian life is not a life divided between times for action and times for contemplation. No. Real social action is a way of contemplation, and real contemplation is the core of social action.
  • The spiritual life is not a life before, after, or beyond our everyday existence. No, the spiritual life can only be real when it is lived in the midst of the pains and joys of the here and now.
  • Obviously a child can never conceive solitude if his parents aren’t living it somewhere themselves. I don’t mean that to be alone you have to get down on your knees for an hour in a yoga posture.
  • Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going?-are not questions with an answer but questions that open us up to new questions which lead us deeper into the unshakeable mystery of existence.
  • We have to keep asking ourselves: ‘What does it all mean? What is God trying to tell us? How are we called to live in the midst of all this?’ Without such questions our lives become numb and flat.
  • The man who can articulate the movements of his inner life need no longer be a victim of himself, but is able slowly and consistently to remove the obstacles that prevent the spirit from entering.
  • The real enemies of our life are the ‘oughts’ and the ‘ifs.’ They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and now.
  • Ministry means the ongoing attempt to put one’s own search for God, with all the moments of pain and joy, despair and hope, at the disposal of those who want to join this search but do not know how.
  • Community life is not easy for somebody like me, who is used to living by himself and doing what he wants. It’s a demanding life, and you quickly get in touch with your own handicaps and weaknesses.
  • Prayer and action…can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation.
  • Which questions guide our lives? Which questions do we make our own? Which questions deserve our undivided and full personal commitment? Finding the right questions is crucial to finding the answers.
  • when the imitation of Christ does not mean to live a life like Christ, but to live your life as authentically as Christ lived his, then there are many ways and forms in which a man can be a Christian.
  • Feelings of guilt dominate our work as peacemakers we cannot last long. But when we have opened each other’s eyes to the great human gifts among all people we can indeed make peacemaking a way of being.
  • When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope.
  • I am learning that the best cure for hypocrisy is community. Hypocrisy is not so much the result of not living what I preach but much more of not confessing my inability to fully live up to my own words.
  • To be a Christian who is willing to travel with Christ on his downward road requires being willing to detach oneself constantly from any need to be relevant, and to trust ever more deeply the Word of God.
  • You are a Christian only so long as you constantly pose critical questions to the society you live in, so long as you stay unsatisfied with the status quo, and keep saying that a new world is yet to come.
  • His (Christ’s) appearance in our midst has made it undeniably clear that changing the human heart and changing human society are not separate tasks, but are as interconnected as the two beams of the cross.
  • I really believe that what we finally want is to know God, as God has come to be known through Jesus. Knowledge is knowledge of the heart – the Spirit – I would say. It is the Spirit in us who reveals God.
  • Lifting our cup means sharing our life so we can celebrate it. When we truly believe we are called to lay down our lives for our friends, we must dare to take the risk to let others know what we are living.
  • A prayerful life is not a life in which we say many prayers, but a life in which nothing, absolutely nothing, is done, said, or understood independently of him who is the origin and purpose of our existence.
  • I am deeply convince that the necessity of prayer, and to pray unceasingly, is not as much based on our desire for God as on God’s desire for us. It is God’s passionate pursuit of us that calls us to prayer.
  • Real greatness is often hidden, humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It is not easy to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. We must have strong self-confidence combined with deep humility.
  • A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.
  • I’m learning that the blessing is located in our poor people, in people who are weak; they are the ones we should stay close to, not because they need us but because we need to receive from them the blessing.
  • The members – mentally handicapped people who are marginal in society and not useful in an economic sense – welcomed me into their lives. And I was loved, not because of what s doing but because of who I was.
  • As we read spiritually about spiritual things, we open our hearts to God’s voice. Sometimes we must be willing to put down the book we are reading and just listen to what God is saying to us through our words.
  • Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don’t receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.
  • We want to prove we are good writers or good business, good parents or good teachers. The world is very competitive and catches us in this frenzy. It wants us to go here, be there, and be part of this or that.
  • In the face of the oppressed I recognize my own face, and in the hands of the oppressor I recognize my own hands. Their flesh is my flesh, their blood is my blood, their pain is my pain, their smile is my smile.
  • We are called to be fruitful – not successful, not productive, not accomplished. Success comes from strength, stress, and human effort. Fruitfulness comes from vulnerability and the admission of our own weakness.
  • Jesus didn’t say, ‘Blessed are those who care for the poor.’ He said, ‘Blessed are we where we are poor, where we are broken.’ It is there that God loves us deeply and pulls us into deeper communion with himself.
  • Those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. LOVE is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.
  • Jesus came to announce to us that an identity based on success, popularity and power is a false identity- an illusion! Loudly and clearly he says: ‘You are not what the world makes you; but you are children of God.
  • The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing…that is a friend who cares.
  • We need to be angels for each other, to give each other strength and consolation. Because only when we fully realize that the cup of life is not only a cup of sorrow but also a cup of joy will we be able to drink it.
  • The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know.
  • It is not easy to enter into the silence and reach beyond the many boisterous and demanding voices of our world and to discover there the small intimate voice saying: ‘You are my Belived Child, on you my favor rests.’
  • I am very grateful that I am in touch with so many different church groups. I am always very moved by the fact that so many people – practically over the spectrum of the Christian world – are responding to my writing.
  • Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life…all of our life.
  • So I am praying while not knowing how to pray. I am resting while feeling restless, at peace while tempted, safe while still anxious, surrounded by a cloud of light while still in darkness, in love while still doubting.
  • Where are you getting your affection? Who’s touching you? Who’s holding you? Who makes you feel alive? Who says, “You are a beautiful person, you are the beloved of God, don’t forget it”? That’s an important discipline.
  • To be a minister means above all to become powerless, or in more precise terms, to speak with our powerlessness to the condition of powerlessness which is so keenly felt but so seldom expressed by the people of our age.
  • Live, work, and travel with handicapped people, so I can stay close to them. But since I am often busy with many things, it’s a constant struggle to keep the handicapped members of our community in the center of my life.
  • Jesus didn’t live alone. He had Peter, John, and James around him. There were the Twelve and the other disciples. They formed circles of intimacy around Jesus. We too need these circles of intimacy, but it’s a discipline.
  • As peacemakers, we must resist all the powers of war and destruction and proclaim that peace is the divine gift offered to all who affirm life. Resistance means saying ‘No’ to all the forces of death, wherever they may be.
  • Ministers are powerless people who have nothing to boast of except their weaknesses. But when the Lord whom they serve fills them with His blessing they will move mountains and change the hearts of people wherever they go.
  • No one person can fulfill all your needs. But the community can truly hold you. The community can let you experience the fact that, beyond your anguish, there are human hands that hold you and show you God’s faithful love.
  • Hope is willing to leave unanswered questions unanswered and unknown futures unknown. Hope makes you see God’s guiding hand not only in the gentle and pleasant moments but also in the shadows of disappointment and darkness.
  • Based or our baptism, all are called to a mystical life, to communion with God. We need to claim that, to taste it and feel it, to trust that the deeper we live this communion, the more our behavior will witness to the truth.
  • It is freeing to become aware that we do not have to be victims of our past and can learn new ways of responding. Forgiveness is love practiced among people who love poorly. It sets us free without wanting anything in return.
  • Any dance of celebration must weave both the sorrows and the blessings into a joyful step….To heal is to let the Holy Spirit call me to dance, to believe again, even amid my pain, that God will orchestrate and guide my life.
  • I can choose to grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly.
  • Distance never seperates two hearts that really care, for our memories span the miles and in seconds we are there. But whenever I start feeling sad cuz I miss you I remind myself how lucky I am to have someone so special to miss.
  • I have an increasing sense that the most important crisis of our time is spiritual and that we need places where people can grow stronger in the spirit and be able to integrate the emotional struggles in their spiritual journeys.
  • Joy is hidden in sorrow and sorrow in joy. If we try to avoid sorrow at all costs, we may never taste joy, and if we are suspicious of ecstasy, agony can never reach us either. Joy and sorrow are the parents of our spiritual growth.
  • Our inclination is to show our Lord only what we feel comfortable with. But the more we dare to reveal our whole trembling self to him, the more we will be able to sense that his love, which is perfect love, casts out all our fears.
  • As long as we relate to the trees, the rivers, the mountains, the fields and the oceans as properties which we can manipulate according to our real or fabricated needs, nature remains opaque, and does not reveal to us its true being.
  • Each individual human being can claim the Spirit of Jesus as the guiding spirit of his or her life. In that Spirit we can speak and act freely and confidently with the knowledge that the same Spirit that inspired Jesus is inspiring us.
  • It is in solitude that we discover that being is more important than having and that we are worth more than the results of our efforts. In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended but a gift to be shared.
  • Be surprised by joy, be surprised by the little flower that shows its beauty in the midst of a barren desert, and be surprised by the immense healing power that keeps bursting forth like springs of fresh water from the depth of our pain.
  • In 1970 I felt so lonely that I could not give; now I feel so joyful that giving seems easy. I hope that the day will come when the memory of my present joy will give me the strength to keep giving even when loneliness gnaws at my heart.
  • Silence is a very concrete, practical, and useful discipline in all our ministerial tasks. It can be seen as a portable cell taken with us from the solitary place into the midst of our ministry.  Silence is solitude practiced in action.
  • Most Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead. Many Christian empire-builders have been people unable to give and receive love.
  • The immense joy in welcoming back the lost son hides in the immense sorrow that has gone before….our brokenness may appear beautiful, but our brokenness has no other beauty but the beauty that comes from the compassion that surrounds it.
  • Jesus invites us to abide in his love. That means to dwell with all that I am in him. It is an invitation to a total belonging, to full intimacy, to an unlimited being-with. The light of the Spirit reveals to us that love conquers all fear.
  • In our production-oriented society, being busy, having an occupation, has become one of the main ways, if not the main way, of identifying ourselves. Without an occupation, not just our economic security but our very identity is endangered.
  • The dance of life finds its beginnings in grief……Here a completely new way of living is revealed. It is the way in which pain can be embraced, not out of a desire to suffer, but in the knowledge that something new will be born in the pain.
  • Our society is so fragmented, our family lives so sundered by physical and emotional distance, our friendships so sporadic, our intimacies so ‘in-between’ things and often so utilitarian, that there are few places where we can feel truly safe.
  • When we approach fundraising in a spirit of gratitude, our confidence in our mission does not depend on how the person we are with responds to our request! We are free to remain secure in God’s love with our hearts set joyfully on the kingdom.
  • Our life is full of brokenness – broken relationships, broken promises, broken expectations. How can we live with that brokenness without becoming bitter and resentful except by returning again and again to God’s faithful presence in our lives.
  • Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.
  • When we have nothing to cling to as our own and cease thinking of ourselves as people who must defend privileges, we can open ourselves freely to others with the faithful expectation that our strength will manifest itself in our shared weakness.
  • Every time there are losses, there are choices to be made. You choose to live your losses as passages to anger, blame, hatred, depression and resentment, or you choose to let these losses be passages to something new, something wider, and deeper.
  • …When you can look into the face of human beings and you have enough light to recognize them as your brothers and sisters. Up until then it is night and darkness is still with us. Let us pray for the light. It is the peace the world cannot give.
  • Living a spiritual life requires a change of heart, a conversion. Such a conversion may be marked by a sudden inner change, or it can take place through a long, quiet process of transformation. But it always involves an inner experience of oneness.
  • Fundraising is a very rich and beautiful activity. It is a confident, joyful and hope-filled expression of ministry. In ministering to each other, each from the riches that he or she possesses, we work together for the full coming of God’s Kingdom.
  • Ministry is a very confronting service. It does not allow people to live with illusions of immortality and wholeness. It keeps reminding others that they are mortal and broken, but also that with the recognition of this condition, liberation starts.
  • Simply being with someone is difficult because it asks of us that we share in the other’s vulnerability, enter with him or her into the experience of weakness and powerlessness, become part of the uncertainty, and give up control and self-determination.
  • Do not tell everyone your story. You will only end up feeling more rejected. People cannot give you what you long for in your heart. The more you expect from people’s response to your experience of abandonment, the more you will feel exposed to ridicule.
  • A sense of solitude is one of the most beautiful things that parents can give a child. It doesn’t mean leaving the child alone, but it does mean creating safe spaces where the child can be with other people. It does mean directing their attention to God.
  • When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand.

 

  • Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.
  • the real “work” of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear the voice of blessing– that demands real effort.
  • Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched.
  • Living in a community with very wounded people, I came to see that I had lived most of my life as a tightrope artist trying to walk on a high, thin cable from one tower to the other, always waiting for the applause when I had not fallen off and broken my leg.
  • If you start with community and want to be faithful to community, you have to realize that what binds you together is not mutual compatibility or common tasks, but God. In order to stay in touch with that call to community, we always have to return to solitude.
  • Today’s reading was “if they ask you to walk a mile, walk two. Don’t take an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth.” You have chances every second to live this Word, but it has to be in you. It can’t just be an idea; it has to sink from the mind into the heart.
  • Our Western society is showing its technological muscles in ever more threatening ways, but the experience of fear, anxiety and even despair has increased in equal proportion. Indeed, the paradox is that the powerful giants feel as powerless as a new-born babe.
  • Without Pentecost the Christ-event – the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – remains imprisoned in history as something to remember, think about and reflect on. The Spirit of Jesus comes to dwell within us, so that we can become living Christs here and now.
  • Through prayer we can carry in our heart all human pain and sorrow, all conflicts and agonies, all torture and war, all hunger, loneliness and misery, not because of some great psychological or emotional capacity, but because God’s heart has become one with ours.
  • As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their “right” place.
  • What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.
  • The Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. God loves us, not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love.
  • The central question is, Are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen to God’s voice, to look at God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate Word and to taste fully God’s infinite goodness.
  • I am beginning now to see how radically the character of my spiritual journey will change when I no longer think of God as hiding out and making it as difficult as possible for me to find him, but instead as the one who is looking for me while I am doing the hiding.
  • What is Hope?Hope is that inner dynamic that compels us to explore and pursue the expectations built into the human condition. Hope was born the day the first human beings discovered the first bridge and decided not to jump off the bridge in despair, but to cross it
  • Ministers are tempted to join the ranks of those who consider it their primary task to keep other people busy.¶ But our task is the opposite of distraction‚¶ how to keep them from being so busy that they can no longer hear the voice of God who speaks in silence.
  • As those who are chosen, blessed, broken, and given, we are called to live our lives with a deep inner joy and peace. It is the life of the Beloved, lived in a world constantly trying to convince us that the burden is on us to prove that we are worthy of being loved.
  • Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint.
  • Prayer is the way to both the heart of God and the heart of the world – precisely because they have been joined through the suffering of Jesus Christ Praying is letting one’s own heart become the place where the tears of God’s children merge and become tears of hope.
  • The more you are called to speak for God’s love, the more you will need to deepen the knowledge of that love in your own heart. The farther the outward journey takes you, the deeper the inward journey must be. Only when your roots are deep can your fruits be abundant.
  • Lord Jesus, master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, ‘Come Lord Jesus!’
  • Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists but also that he is actively present in our lives; healing, teaching, and guiding we need to set aside a time and space to give him our undivided attention.
  • The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go.
  • The Christian leaders of the future have to be theologians, persons who know the heart of God and are trained – through prayer, study, and careful analysis – to manifest the divine event of God’s saving work in the midst of the many seemingly random events of their time.
  • . says, ‘Let go of your complaints, forgive those who loved you poorly, step over your feelings of being rejected, and have the courage to trust that you won’t fall into an abyss of nothingness but into the safe embrace of a God whose love will heal all your wounds.
  • It is precisely when you are loved a lot that you might realize a second loneliness which is not to be solved but lived. This second loneliness is an existential loneliness that belongs to the basis of our being. It’s where we are unfulfilled because only God can fill us.
  • Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me.
  • Our spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, expecting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination or prediction. This, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.
  • Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.
  • I know that I have to move from speaking about Jesus to letting him speak within me, from thinking about Jesus to letting him think within me, from acting for and with Jesus to letting him act through me. I know the only way for me to see the world is to see it through his eyes.
  • In community, where you have all the affection you could ever dream of, you feel that there is a place where even community cannot reach. That’s a very important experience. In that loneliness, which is like a dark night of the soul, you learn that God is greater than community.
  • One of the most beautiful ways for spiritual formation to take place is to let your insecurity lead you closer to the Lord. Natural hypersensitivity can become an asset; it makes you aware of your need to be with people and it allows you to be more willing to look at their needs.
  • In this crazy world, there’s an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy. But in the eyes of God, they’re never separated. Where there is pain, there is healing. Where there is mourning, there is dancing. Where there is poverty, there is the kingdom.
  • If we want other people to give us something that only God can give, we become a demon. We say, “Love me!” and before you know it we become violent and demanding and manipulative. It’s so important that we keep forgiving one another – not once in a while, but every moment of life.
  • I speak of God’s love and grace and redemption and freedom, but when I say “in the context of this community,” it is heard differently. To be with people so obviously broken, so obviously handicapped, and here to discover real joy and peace – that makes the Word of God come alive.
  • We can be unhappy about many things, but jy can still be there… It is important to become aware that at every moment of our life we have an opportunity to choose joy… It is in the choice that our true freedom lies, and that freedom is, in the final analysis, the freedom to love.
  • All the great spiritual leaders in history were people of hope. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Mary, Jesus, Rumi, Gandhi, and Dorothy Day all lived with a promise in their hearts that guided them toward the future without the need to know exactly what it would look like. Let’s live with hope.
  • To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, welcome, to accept.
  • Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you’re not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied. In the spiritual life, discipline means to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on.
  • It is hard to bear with people who stand still along the way, lose heart, and seek their happiness in little pleasures which they cling to…You feel sad about all that self-indulgence and self-satisfaction, for you know with an indestructible certainty that something greater is coming.
  • When people show you their boundaries (“I can’t do this for you”) you feel rejected…part of your struggle is to set boundaries to your own love. Only when you are able to set your own boundaries will you be able to acknowledge, respect and even be grateful for the boundaries of others.
  • A few years ago I met an old professor at the University of Notre Dame. Looking back on his long life of teaching, he said with a funny wrinkle in his eyes: I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I slowly discovered that my interruptions were my work.
  • The Question is not how much are you going to accomplish? Or can you show some results? But are you in love with Jesus? In our world of brokeness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God; a heart that forgives, cares, reaches out and wants to heal.
  • Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life, not just in the moments we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines. Not just in the moments when life seems easy.
  • [Praying] demands that you take to the road again and again, leaving your house and looking forward to a new land for yourself and your [fellow human]. This is why praying demands poverty, that is, the readiness to live a life in which you have nothing to lose so that you always begin afresh.
  • Although many, we might even say most, strangers in this world become easily the victim of a fearful hostility, it is possible for men and women and obligatory for Christians to offer an open and hospitable space where strangers can cast off their strangeness and become our fellow human beings.
  • Prayer requires that we stand in God’s presence with open hands, naked and vulnerable, proclaiming to ourselves and to others that without God we can do nothing. As disciples, we find not some but all of our strength, hope, courage, and confidence in God. Therefore, prayer must be our first concern.
  • When we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative.
  • We enter into solitude first of all to meet our Lord and to be with him and him alone. Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing do we dare to show our wounds; only with a singleminded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our own true nature.
  • The Church will always be renewed when our attention shifts from ourselves to those who need our care. The blessing of Jesus always comes to us through the poor. The most remarkable experience of those who work with the poor is that, in the end, the poor give more than they receive. They give food to us.
  • Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love?’ These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will be many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.
  • Prayer is not one of the many things the community does. Rather, it is its very beingBut when prayer is no longer its primary concern, and when its many activities are no longer seen and experienced as part of prayer itself, the community quickly degenerates into a club with a common cause but no common vocation.
  • Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not ‘How am I to find God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be found by him?’ The question is not ‘How am I to love God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be loved by God?’
  • Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.
  • I kept running around it in large or small circles, always looking for someone or something able to convince me of my Belovedness. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved”. Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.
  • Solitude is very different from a ‘time-out’ from our busy lives. Solitude is the very ground from which community grows. Whenever we pray alone, study, read, write, or simply spend quiet time away from the places where we interact with each other directly, we are potentially opened for a deeper intimacy with each other.
  • Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.
  • While optimism makes us live as if someday soon things will soon go better for us, hope frees us from the need to predict the future and allows us to live in the present, with the deep trust that God will never leave us alone but will fulfill the deepest desires of our heart… Joy in this perspective is the fruit of hope.
  • It is good to have a prayer on your lips wherever you go. There are so many moments in life when you are free to pray. When you are waiting for the cashier in the supermarket, getting mad because he or she doesn’t hurry, say a little prayer: ‘Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’ Take that prayer with you wherever you go.
  • Somehow, somewhere, I know that God loves me, even though I do not feel that love as I can feel a human embrace, even though I do not hear a voice as I hear human words…God is greater than my senses, greater than my thoughts, greater than my heart. I do believe that He touches me in places that are unknown even to myself.
  • The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity and held safe in an everlasting embrace… We must dare to opt consciously for our chosenness and not allow our emotions, feelings, or passions to seduce us into self-rejection.
  • L’Arche is not a service institution or a group home. It is a community that exists to reveal God’s love. Our people are given to the world to tell others about peace and forgiveness and celebration, to make them aware that in the midst of their brokenness, there is joy; in the midst of their wounded nature, there is healing.
  • The way of Jesus is radically different. It is the way not of upward mobility but of downward mobility.  It is going to the bottom, staying behind the sets and choosing the last place!  Why is the way of Jesus worth choosing?  Because it is the way to the Kingdom, the way Jesus took, and the way that brings everlasting life.
  • When I trust deeply that today God is truly with me and holds me safe in a divine embrace, guiding every one of my steps I can let go of my anxious need to know how tomorrow will look, or what will happen next month or next year. I can be fully where I am and pay attention to the many signs of God’s love within me and around me.
  • Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking our words more seriously and discovering their true selves.
  • We seldom realize fully that we are sent to fulfill God-given tasks. We act as if we were simply dropped down in creation and have to decide to entertain ourselves until we die. But we were sent into the world by God, just as Jesus was. Once we start living our lives with that conviction, we will soon know what we were sent to do.
  • Indeed, when God’s glory dwells in me, there is nothing too far away, nothing too painful, nothing too strange or too familiar that it cannot contain and renew by its touch. Every time I recognize the glory of God in me and give it space to manifest itself to me, all that is human can be brought there and nothing will be the same again.
  • Although we tend to think about saints as holy and pious, and picture them with halos above their heads and ecstatic gazes, true saints are much more accessible. They are men and women like us, who live ordinary lives and struggle with ordinary problems. What makes them saints is their clear and unwavering focus on God and God’s people.
  • Home is the center of my being where I can hear the voice that says: ‘You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests’ – the same voice that gave life to the first Adam and spoke to Jesus, the second Adam; the same voice that speaks to all the children of God and sets them free to live in the midst of a dark world while remaining in the light.
  • Those who are marginal in the world are central in the Church, and that is how it is supposed to be! Thus we are called as members of the Church to keep going to the margins of our society. The homeless, the starving, parentless children, people with AIDS, our emotionally disturbed brothers and sisters – they require our first attention.
  • You have to dare to live through the pain and struggle. Acknowledge your anguish but do not let it pull you out of yourself. Hold on to your chosen direction, your discipline, your prayer, your work, your guides, and trust that one day love will have conquered enough of you that even the most fearful part will allow love to cast out all fear.
  • Just as people can watch spellbound a circus artist tumbling through the air in a phosphorized costume, so they can listen to a preacher who uses the Word of God to draw attention to himself. But a sensational preacher stimulates the senses and leaves the spirit untouched. Instead of being the way to God, his ‘being different’ gets in the way.
  • When suddenly you seem to lose all you thought you had gained, do not despair. You must expect setbacks and regressions. Don’t say to yourself “All is lost. I have to start all over again.” This is not true. What you have gained you have gained….When you return to the the road, you return to the place where you left it, not to where you started.
  • Forgiveness means that I continually am willing to forgive the other person for not being God for not fulfilling all my needs. I, too, must ask forgiveness for not being able to fulfill other people’s needs.¶ The interesting thing is that when you can forgive people for not being God, then you can celebrate that they are a reflection of God.
  • In other words, first we must call people to communion with God, to intimacy with God, to a sense of belonging. Most people are lost, confused, alienated. They suffer and struggle immensely in relationships. We have to proclaim loudly and clearly in our actions and in our words that God loves us that we belong to him. That’s a call to the mystical life.
  • This is what life is about. It is being sent on a trip by a loving God, who is waiting at home for our return and is eager to watch the slides we took and hear about the friends we made. When we travel with the eyes and ears of the God who sent us, we will see wonderful sights, hear wonderful sounds, meet wonderful people … and be happy to return home.
  • Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.
  • When everything is dark, when we are surrounded by despairing voices, when we do not see any exits, then we can find salvation in a remembered love, a love which is not simply a recollection of a bygone past but a living force which sustains us in the present. Through memory, love transcends the limits of time and offers hope at any moment of our lives.
  • People have filled an enormously important role in my life – more than books! For me, it’s not the formal advising or the therapy that meant so much. It was more the fact that someone committed himself or herself to me. They were really interested in my life; they wanted to know what I was doing; they followed me; they dared to confront and challenge me.
  • It’s not easy to sit and trust that in solitude God will speak to you – not as a magical voice but that God will let you know something gradually over the years. And in that word from God you will find the inner place from which to live your life. Solitude is where spiritual ministry begins. That’s where Jesus listened to God. That’s where we listen to God.
  • Suffering invites us to place our hurts in larger hands. In Christ we see God suffering for us. And calling us to share in God’s suffering love for a hurting world. The small and even overpowering pains of our lives are intimately connected with the greater pains of Christ. Our daily sorrows are anchored in a greater sorrow and therefore a larger hope.
  • A life without a lonely place, that is, a life without a quiet center, easily becomes destructive. When we cling to the results of our actions as our only way of self-identifiction, then we become possessive and defensive and tend to look at our fellow human beings more as enemies to be kept at a distance than as friends with whom we share the gifts of life.
  • When you are still young and not yet adult, you want to hold everything in your own hands, but if you have your hands open toward prayer, you are able to stretch out your arms and let yourself be led without knowing where. You know only the freedom which God’s breath has brought you will lead to new life, even if the cross is the only sign of it you can see.
  • I have found it very important in my own life to try to let go of my wishes and instead to live in hope. I am finding that when I choose to let go of my sometimes petty and superficial wishes and trust that my life is precious and meaningful in the eyes of God something really new, something beyond my own expectations begins to happen for me. (Finding My Way Home)
  • The life-converting experience is not the discovery that I have choices to make that determine the way I live out my existence, but the awareness that my that my existence itself is not in the center. Once I ‘know’ God, that is, once I experience God’s love as the love in which all my human experiences are anchored, I can desire only one thing: to be in that love.
  • Jesus was a revolutionary, who did not become an extremist, since he did not offer an ideology, but Himself. He was also a mystic, who did not use his intimate relationship with God to avoid the social evils of his time, but shocked his milieu to the point of being executed as a rebel. In this sense he also remains for nuclear man the way to liberation and freedom.
  • We have probably wondered in our many lonesome moments if there is one corner in this competitive, demanding world where it is safe to be relaxed, to expose ourselves to someone else, and to give unconditionally. It might be very small and hidden, but if this corner exists, it calls for a search through the complexities of our human relationships in order to find it.
  • The great spiritual task facing me is to so fully trust that I belong to God that I can be free in the world–free to speak even when my words are not received; free to act even when my actions are criticized, ridiculed, or considered useless…. I am convinced that I will truly be able to love the world when I fully believe that I am loved far beyond its boundaries.
  • Your body needs to be held and to hold, to be touched and to touch. None of these needs is to be despised, denied, or repressed.  But you have to keep searching for your body’s deeper need, the need for genuine love.  Every time you are able to go beyond the body’s superficial desires for love, you are bringing your body home and moving toward integration and unity.
  • We may be little, insignificant servants in the eyes of a world motivated by efficiency, control and success. But when we realize that God has chosen us from all eternity, sent us into the world as the blessed ones, handed us over to suffering, can’t we, then, also trust that our little lives will multiply themselves and be able to fulfill the needs of countless people?
  • However, community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own. The question, therefore, is not ‘How can we make community?’ but, ‘How can we develop and nurture giving hearts?’
  • I wrote to my bishop, the Archbishop of Utrecht, Holland, and explained that I wanted not just permission to stay longer, but a mission. He met me at the Trosly L’Arche community and we spent a few days together . . . I wanted him to get to know L’Arche, to understand what I was doing there. Afterward he said, “I understand now, Henri. You have found a home for your self.”
  • Real greatness is often humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It is not easy to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. Some of the greatest works of art and the most important works of peace were created by people who had no need for the limelight. They knew that what they were doing was their call, and they did it with great patience, perseverance, and love.
  • Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Let’s be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.
  • Let’s start with Jesus’ answer: “Look for the kingdom first and all else will come together.” Life is fragmenting, fragmented. I have a thousands things to do, others do too. We can live our life as if the main question is, “How can keep it together? How do I juggle all the balls? But the real question is, “How can I stay home – interiorly home – while I do these many things?
  • Nobody escapes being wounded. We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not, ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.
  • When we no longer pray, no longer listen to the voice of love that speaks to us in the moment, our lives become absurd lives in which we are thrown back and forth between the past and the future. If we could just be, for a few minutes each day, fully where we are, we would indeed discover that we are not alone and that the One who is with us wants only one thing: to give us love
  • In 1984, Jean Vanier invited me me to visit L’Arche community in Trosly, France. He didn’t say “We need a priest” or “We could use you.” He said, “Maybe our community can offer you a home.” I visited several times, then resigned from Harvard and went to live with the community for a year. I loved it! I didn’t have much to do. I wasn’t pastor or anything. I was just a friend of the Community.
  • Where is peace to be found? The answer is surprising but clear. In weakness. Why there? Because in our weakness, our familiar ways of controlling and manipulating our world are being stripped away, and we are forced to let go from doing much, thinking much, and relying on our self-sufficiency. Right there where we are most vulnerable, the peace that is not of this world is mysteriously hidden.
  • Prayer is first of all listening to God. It’s openness. God is always speaking; he’s always doing something. Prayer is to enter into that activity… Convert your thoughts into prayer. As we are involved in unceasing thinking, so we are called to unceasing prayer. The difference is not that prayer is thinking about other things, but that prayer is thinking in dialogue,… a conversation with God.
  • For as long as you can remember, you have been a pleaser, depending on others to give you an identity. You need not look at that only in a negative way. You wanted to give your heart to others, and you did so quickly and easily. But now you are being asked to let go of all these self-made props and trust that God is enough for you. You must stop being a pleaser and reclaim your identity as a free self.
  • Nuclear man is the man who realizes that his creative powers hold the potential for self-destruction. He sees that in this nuclear age vast new industrial complexes enable man to produce in one hour that which he labored over for years in the past, but he also realizes that these same industries have disturbed the ecological balance and, through air and noise pollution, have contaminated his own milieu.
  • Do not despair, thinking that you cannot change yourself after so many years. Simply enter into the presence of Jesus as you are and ask him to give you a fearless heart where he can be with you. You cannot make yourself different. Jesus came to give you a new heart, a new spirit, a new mind, and a new body. Let him transform you by his love and so enable you to receive his affection in your whole being.
  • Jesus has to be and become ever more the center of my life. It is not enough that Jesus is my teacher, my guide, my source of inspiration.  It is not even enough that he is my companion on they journey, my friend and my brother.  Jesus must become the heart of my heart, the fire of my life, the love of my soul, the bridegroom of my spirit.  He must become my only thought, my only concern, my only desire.
  • Only in the context of the great encounter with Jesus can a real authentic struggle take place. The encounter with Christ does not take place before, after, or beyond the struggle with our false self and its demons.  No, it is precisely in the midst of this struggle that our Lord comes to us and says, as he said to the old man in the story: As soon as you turned to me again, you see I was beside you.’
  • There is a Wonderful story in the Gospel of Luke (6:12-26). Jesus went up to the mountain to pray at night; in the morning he came down from the mountain and called his twelve apostles around him. In the afternoon he went out on the plain with them to preach the Good News and heal the sick. He had communion with God first, then he had community, and then he went out to do the work of God. That’s the order of things.
  • Why is it important that you are with God and God alone on the mountain top? It’s important because it’s the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved. To pray is to listen to the One who calls you ‘my beloved daughter,’ ‘my beloved son,’ ‘my beloved child.’ To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of your being, to your guts, and let that voice resound in your whole being.
  • Gratitude goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.
  • Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.
  • When you’re on the bus or subway or in your car, why busy your mind with all the garbage of advertisements? Why fill your mind with television and radio? Somehow you have to decide what your mind will receive. I don’t mean you shouldn’t ever go to movies or watch television, but control what enters your mind and heart. It’s not just a question of pushing bad things out but also a question of holding on to something really good.
  • People who have known the joy of God point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real Presence of God. They discover that there are people who heal each other’s wounds, forgive each other’s offenses, share their possessions, foster the spirit of community, celebrate the gifts they have received, and live in constant anticipation of the full manifestation of God’s Glory.
  • When you pray, you open yourself to the influence of the power which has revealed itself as love. The power gives you freedom and independence.  Once touched by this power, you are no longer swayed back and forth by the countless opinions, ideas, and feelings which flow through you.  You have found a center for your life that gives you a creative distance so that everything you see, hear, and feel can be tested against the source.
  • Think of each wound as you would of a child who has been hurt by a friend. As long as that child is ranting and raving, trying to get back at the friend, one wound leads to another. But when the child can experience the consoling embrace of a parent, she or he can live through the pain, return to the friend, forgive, and build up a new relationship. Be gentle with yourself, and let your heart be your loving parent as you live your wounds through.
  • To forgive another from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. As long as we do not forgive we pull them with us, or worse, as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies & then define ourselves as being offended & wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to the freedom of the children of God.
  • To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it it is the movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit,l from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.
  • Life is precious. Not because it is unchangeable, like a diamond, but because it is vulnerable, like a little bird. To love life means to love its vulnerability, asking for care, attention, guidance, and support. Life and death are connected by vulnerability. The newborn child and the dying elder both remind us of the preciousness of our lives. Let’s not forget the preciousness and vulnerability of life during the times we are powerful, successful, and popular.
  • Jesus does not respond to our worry-filled way of living by saying that we should not be so busy with worldly affairs. He does not try to pull us away from the many events, activities, and people that make up our lives. . . . He asks us to shift the point of gravity, to relocate the center of our attention, to change our priorities. Jesus does not speak about a change of activities, a change in contacts, or even a change of pace. He speaks about a change of heart.
  • Teaching, therefore, asks first of all the creation of a space where students and teachers can enter into a fearless communication with each other and allow their respective life experiences to be their primary and most valuable source of growth and maturation. It asks for a mutual trust in which those who teach and those who want to learn can become present to each other, not as opponents, but as those who share in the same struggle and search for the same truth.
  • Compassion- which means, literally, “to suffer with”- is the way to the truth that we are most ourselves, not when we differ from others, but when we are the same. Indeed the main spiritual question is not, “What difference do you make?” but “What do you have in common?” It is not “excelling” but “serving” that makes us most human. It is not proving ourselves to be better than others but confessing to be just like others that is the way to healing and reconciliation.
  • The more you have loved and have allowed yourself to suffer because of your love, the more you will be able to let your heart grow wider and deeper. When your love is truly giving and receiving, those whom you love will not leave your heart even when they depart from you. The pain of rejection, absence, and death can become fruitful. Yes, as you love deeply the ground of your heart will be broken more and more, but you will rejoice in the abundance of the fruit it will bear.
  • Of one thing I am sure. Complaining is self-perpetuating and counterproductive. Whenever I express my complaints in the hope of evoking pity and receiving the satisfaction I so much desire, the result is always the opposite of what I tried to get. A complainer is hard to live with, and very few people know how to respond to the complaints made by a self-rejecting person. The tragedy is that, often, the complaint, once expressed, leads to that which is most feared: further rejection.
  • The more I think about the human suffering in our world and my desire to offer a healing response, the more I realize how crucial it is not to allow myself to become paralyzed by feelings of helplessness and guilt. More important than ever is to be very faithful to my vocation to do well the few things I am called to do and hold on to the joy and peace they bring me. I must resist the temptation to let the forces of darkness pull me into despair and make me one more of their many victims.
  • …marriage is foremost a vocation. Two people are called together to fulfill a mission that God has given them. Marriage is a spiritual reality. That is to say, a man and a woman come together for life, not just because they experience deep love for each other, but because they believe that God loves each of them with an infinite love and has called them to each other to be living witnesses of that love. To love is to embody God’s infinite love in a faithful communion with another human being.
  • Real grief is not healed by time… if time does anything, it deepens our grief. The longer we live, the more fully we become aware of who she was for us, and the more intimately we experience what her love meant for us. Real, deep love is, as you know, very unobtrusive, seemingly easy and obvious, and so present that we take it for granted. Therefore, it is only in retrospect – or better, in memory – that we fully realize its power and depth. Yes, indeed, love often makes itself visible in pain.
  • When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
  • The mystery of the spiritual life is that Jesus desires to meet us in the seclusion of our own heart, to make his love known to us there, to free us from our fears, and to make our own deepest self known to us Each time you let the love of God penetrate deeper into your heart it leads to a love of ourselves that enables us to give whole-hearted love to our fellow human beings. In the seclusion of our hearts we learn to know the hidden presence of God; and with that spiritual knowledge we can lead a loving life.
  • Friendship is one of the greatest gifts a human being can receive. It is a bond beyond common goals, common interests, or common histories. It is a bond stronger than sexual union can create, deeper than a shared fate can solidify, and even more intimate than the bonds of marriage or community. Friendship is being with the other in joy and sorrow, even when we cannot increase the joy or decrease the sorrow. It is a unity of souls that gives nobility and sincerity to love. Friendship makes all of life shine brightly.
  • But what I would like to say is that the spiritual life is a life in which you gradually learn to listen to a voice that says something else, that says, “You are the beloved and on you my favour rests.”… I want you to hear that voice. It is not a very loud voice because it is an intimate voice. It comes from a very deep place. It is soft and gentle. I want you to gradually hear that voice. We both have to hear that voice and to claim for ourselves that that voice speaks the truth, our truth. It tells us who we are.
  • A friend is more than a therapist or confessor, even though a friend can sometimes heal us and offer us God’s forgiveness. A friend is that other person with whom we can share our solitude, our silence, and our prayer. A friend is that other person with whom we can look at a tree and say, “Isn’t that beautiful,” or sit on the beach and silently watch the sun disappear under the horizon. With a friend we don’t have to say or do something special. With a friend we can be still and know that God is there with both of us.
  • One of the remarkable qualities of the story is that it creates space. We can dwell in a story, walk around, find our own place. The story confronts but does not oppress; the story inspires but does not manipulate. The story invites us to an encounter, a dialogue, a mutual sharing. As long as we have stories to tell to each other there is hope. As long as we can remind each other of the lives of men and women in whom the love of God becomes manifest, there is reason to move forward to new land in which new stories are hidden.
  • Through compassion it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that people feel resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty the world knows all too well is also rooted in our own impulses. Through compassion we also sense our hope for forgiveness in our friends’ eyes and our hatred in their bitter mouths. When they kill, we know that we could have done it; when they give life, we know that we can do the same. For a compassionate person nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.
  • Jesus’ whole life and mission involve accepting powerlessness and revealing in this powerlessness the limitlessness of God’s love. Here we see what compassion means. It is not a bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull. On the contrary, compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there.
  • One of the experiences of prayer is that it seems that nothing happens. But when you start with it and look back over a long period of prayer, you suddenly realize that something has happened.  What is most close, most intimate, most present, often cannot be experienced directly but only with a certain distance.  When I think that I am only distracted, just wasting my time, something is happening too Immediate for knowing, understanding, and experiencing.  Only in retrospect do I realize that something very important has taken place.
  • A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.
  • Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it. What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.
  • It is this nothingness (in solitude) that I have to face in my solitude, a nothingness so dreadful that everything in me wants to run to my friends, my work, and my distractions so that I can forget my nothingness and make myself believe that I am worth something. The task is to persevere in my solitude, to stay in my cell until all my seductive visitors get tired of pounding on my door and leave me alone. The wisdom of the desert is that the confrontation with our own frightening nothingness forces us to surrender ourselves totally and unconditionally to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • If you feel a great loneliness and a deep longing for human contact, you have to be extremely discerning…and ask yourself whether this situation is truly God given. Because where God wants you to be, God holds you safe and gives you peace, even when there is pain. To live a disciplined life is to live in such a way that you want only to be where God is with you. The more deeply you live your spiritual life, the easier it will be to discern the difference between living with God and living without God, and the easier it will be to move away from the places where God is no longer with you.