As peacemakers we must resist resolutely all the powers of war and destruction and proclaim that peace is the divine gift offered to all who affirm life.
Henri J. M. Nouwen
Peace Is the Divine Gift
Topic: Global Peace & Development
The word that I want to make central in these reflections on the daily life of the peacemaker is the word “resistance.” As peacemakers we must resist resolutely 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 and, as a corollary, saying a clear “Yes” to all of life in whatever form we encounter it.
Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen, born on January 24, 1932, in Nijkerk, the Netherlands, was a significant figure in the realms of spirituality and theology. Nouwen's early life was marked by a deep inclination towards the Catholic faith, which led him to pursue a path in religious studies. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1957 and subsequently continued his academic journey, studying psychology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen. Beyond his native Netherlands, Nouwen's quest for theological and psychological understanding took him to the United States, where he taught at institutions such as the University of Notre Dame, Yale Divinity School, and Harvard Divinity School. His experiences during these formative years not only shaped his theological perspectives but also laid the groundwork for his future writings.
Throughout his career, Nouwen was known for his insightful, compassionate approach to spirituality and mental health. His writings often explored the intersection of these two realms, emphasizing the importance of personal inner journey and the pursuit of a meaningful, spiritually enriched life. Nouwen's works were characterized by their accessibility and relevance to a wide audience, transcending denominational boundaries. His books, including titles such as "The Wounded Healer," "Reaching Out," and "The Return of the Prodigal Son," reflect a deep understanding of the human condition, resonating with readers from various walks of life. These writings have had a lasting impact, continuing to be widely read and appreciated for their depth and empathy.
Nouwen's life was not only marked by academic and literary achievements but also by a profound personal journey. In the later years of his life, he became a member of the L'Arche Daybreak community in Richmond Hill, Ontario, a community for people with intellectual disabilities. This period was significant in Nouwen's life, as it marked a shift from academia to a more hands-on approach to ministry and care. His time at L'Arche Daybreak deeply influenced his writings and his view of spirituality, emphasizing themes of community, vulnerability, and the value of every individual. Henri J. M. Nouwen passed away on September 21, 1996, leaving behind a rich legacy as a compassionate priest, a thought-provoking writer, and a dedicated advocate for those on the margins of society.
Nouwen, Henri J. M., and John Dear. The Road to Peace: Writings on Peace and Justice. Orbis Books, 2003.
Henri J. M. Nouwen