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Seeds of Hope


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Henri J. M. Nouwen was a Catholic priest who taught at several theological institutes and universities in his home country of the Netherlands and in the United States. He shared the final years of his life with people with mental disabilities at the L'Arche-Daybreak Community in Toronto Canada. He wrote many books on the spiritual life, including "Reaching Out "and "The Inner Voice of Love." Robert Durback was a Trappist monk for over thirteen years, making his novitate at Gethsemeni Abbey and final vows at Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina. During a visit to Genesee Abbey in 1974 he met and became friends with Henri Nouwen. Encouraged and guided by Nouwen, Durback has sought in his writing to integrate the wisdom of the monastic tradition within contemporary daily life. He lives in Fairview Park, Ohio.


Despite the number of Nouwen books recently reviewed here ( LJ 1/89; LJ 2/1/89), this fine new anthology merits special mention. Durback has organized the material around the themes of hope, which he sees as implicit in all Nouwen's reflections on human hungers; prayer; the mystery of Christ; and the challenges of living in a nuclear age. The introductory essay on the relationship between Nouwen's life and writing is excellent, and the selections (drawn from the full range of his work, including hitherto unpublished journals/essays) richly illustrate the yearning for deeper intimacy with God and with others that has moved so many Nouwen readers.-- EC

Selections from the books ( Reaching Out ; Genesse Diary ) and articles with which Nouwen, priest, social activist and spiritual mentor, has reached a popular audience are included in this collection that centers on the theme and universal application of hope. An introductory biographical overview covers 20 years of his public, diversified ministry. We learn of Nouwen's youth in a Dutch family, his seminary experience, professional appointments including stints at Yale and Harvard, missionary activity in South and Central America and, today, residence in a French community of handicapped persons. Nouwen brings fresh insights and contemporary interpretations to exploration of eternal verities in existential settings. Recording his own quest for vocation, ``the voice he listens for in the silence of his heart,'' he touches similarly searching people through the grace and clarity of his expression. (Mar.)

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