December 5, 2020

Nouwen on Prayer

Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers, Van Gogh

By Chaplain Mike

There are so many gems in the new books which present Henri Nouwen’s teachings on spiritual direction and spiritual formation that I did not even try to begin to include excerpts in the review I posted earlier this week. Today, I was thinking that these books would provide an ample storehouse of quotes for a year! Once in a while, I will treat you to some of his rich insights as food for thought, contemplation, and discussion.

Here is some fine thinking on prayer:

The world says, “If you are not making good use of your time, you are useless.” Jesus says: “Come spend useless time with me.” …

…Prayer is being unbusy with God instead of being busy with other things. Prayer is primarily to do nothing useful or productive in the presence of God. To not be useful is to remind myself that if anything important or fruitful happens through prayer, it is God who achieves the result. So when I go into the day, I go with the conviction that God is the one who brings forth fruit in my work, and I do not have to act as though I am in control of things. I have to work hard; I have to do my task; I have to offer my best. But I can let go of the illusion of control and be detached from the result. At the end of each day I can prayerfully say that if something good happened, God be praised.

• Spiritual Formation, p. 19f


  1. I have been struggling with the whole concept of prayer lately. Perhaps you can help me out.

    My question is as follows: What is the point in prayer?

    The obvious answer is that prayer changes us by drawing us closer into a relationship with God. I would imagine that the result of these type of answered prayers would be internal – receiving strength, comfort, guidance or whatever during times of need. You ask for help, God gives it in some form or other and you get on with your life with the aid of that help. I can accept that this process happens. So no problems there!

    However, what I struggle with is the idea that God answers other types of prayers. Prayers for healing, prayers for rain, prayers for safety – basically prayers for any physical miracle you care to mention. It’s not that I don’t believe God can’t do miracles. Rather, I wonder why prayer is required at all.

    Surely God doesn’t require a certain magic number of believers to pray before he answers. Surely God isn’t learning anything new from our prayers – like we are alerting him to some horror that he wasn’t aware of, or reminding him of some mess that hadn’t quite got around to dealing with. Surely God, if he is good, is always working towards the Kingdom? In other words, surely there is a plan and he is following it.

    I can accept that our physical well-being may not be of primary importance when viewed against these greater eschatological goals. I can even accept that suffering can be redemptive in some way. What I can’t understand is why we would need to pray to God, say, to avert a killer asteroid that is heading towards Earth. Surely God’s decision (whatever it is) was/is made before space and time existed, and these type of prayers are essentially useless.

    Perhaps we should be sticking to praying for God to heal people’s hearts or giver the courage or whatever and not to divert asteroids or cure sickness?

    • I think we’re safest when we learn to pray from the Bible and the best traditions of the church. Read the psalms, Paul’s prayers, and some of the other great prayers in Scripture. Examine the Book of Common Prayer, The Divine Hours, and other classic liturgical and prayer books. Learn how to pray, not by making up your own, but by reciting, memorizing, and continually repeating prayers like these. Many of your questions will be answered and others will be put in new perspective.

    • Many times in Scripture (for example in the book of Amos), God hints that He might carry out some judgment which then a righteous prophet or intermediary prays about leading to God not carrying out that action. God’s point in getting the prophet to pray was the prophet’s own spiritual development (and also an example for us). The prayer is not so much about the action to be accomplished but our own growth in having to pray.

      A different perspective about prayer has been helpful to me in which it’s not so much about God hearing me and responding to my requests but more about me learning to hear God and respond to Him. Taking the time and focusing on thinking about what God wants of me while I’m praying sharpens one’s spiritual senses in general. Not that there’s anything wrong with making requests, but most of the time, the issues are what’s going on in my life that God has set before me, what am I supposed to learn, how am I supposed to respond to accomplish the spiritual growth He wants, etc—-take the time to ponder those issues in prayer and other “requests” will fall into proper perspective.

    • Thanks for the responses.

    • FC, I don’t know if you are still reading this, but you may get some answers by reading things by Gregory Boyd. He helps people to understand what is called by many “Open Theism” but this is a term that I have read he thinks is a bit misleading. You can see his website at and you can read about it at wikipedia and other places. He has written books too. I haven’t read the books, but I have read some of his things online. Michael Patten of the Parchment and Pen blog comes to different conclusions than Boyd, but has recommended that people read Boyd’s books.

      I have often had the same questions you have and sometimes I still do.

  2. The purpose of prayer is not so much to influence God, as to brainwash yourself into believing in Him.

  3. THANK YOU! Absolutely needed…and a good reminder…keep on posting these…I got get the book now!!

  4. I LOVE Henri Nouwen. I just finished his The Return of the Prodigal Son. Years ago I read his The Way of the Heart. He is so honest about his faults that I am sure he must inspire others to be honest about themselves as well. We need that honesty so that we don’t put up walls between us and the light and love of God. It is tough, though. We are continually deceiving even ourselves.

    Thanks for the excellent quotations about prayer, Chaplain Mike.

  5. Christiane says

    A story about Nouwen:
    he was becoming very famous and well-known among the great Ivy League Universities and was in demand as a speaker, but he felt, in the midst of all this adulation, a sense of needing ‘more’.
    And he found it, leaving all the fame behind him, he went to work for Jean Vanier at L’Arche, a retreat for severely handicapped people. There Nouwen worked for years, caring for the needs of severely disabled and retarded patients, bathing, dressing, feeding, and being taught by them those lessons of the Spirit that don’t get heard when you are famous and living amidst the world’s adulation.
    So it was there at L’Arche, that Nouwen found peace and renewal in the Holy faith of Christ,

    Christianity is a strange religion. It calls for us to leave the ‘world’ and follow Our Lord to the source of living water. Nouwen did just that, and was refreshed.

  6. So many great posts each day ad I haven’t been able to post comments. Today, however, I must steal time away to do so!

    This quote speaks so eloquently about the depth and yet simplicity of contemplative prayer – something I’ve learned here many Christians either see as a waste of time and selfish behavior or fear it puts one open to spiritual forces not of God. How sad this must be to the Spirit of God who so longs to grace us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens and longs for us to taste the communion of the Father and Jesus, their abiding love, as each of chooses to abide in God’s Loving Presence.

    Learning to do “nothing” before the presence of God – to be silent both inwardly and outwardly – to silence and quiet the mind – is not an easy task but one of the tasks most revealing to God and ourselves of the depth of our desire for God, our desperation for Him. It reveals to us in truth how much we desire to be transformed into the fullness of that Image into which we were formed all for His Glory alone. When we just try to empty our minds of all that is not God how quickly things and tasks and persons fight to claim our attention. Each of these can reveal to us things about ourselves, about our brokenness, about what and who in reality has first place in our hearts. When we choose to accept the reality of our “i am who” in the presence of the Great “I Am”, no matter how painful or frustrating it will be to our ego, the grace to experience stillness in the peace of God’s Presence is available to us. Here God’s Holy Spirit works out our transformation into Love, the true Image of God. It seems to us nothing is happening, yet that is so farthest from the truth. The fruit of our time in His Presence alone will begin to show itself in our daily lives as we see ourselves responding to life and begin to not recognize ourselves. Where we use to be so impatient we’ll see ourselves responding with patient love; where we use to get annoyed and angry we’ll see loving acceptance of the other; people we dreaded dealing with we’ll find a love in our hearts for them that will cause us to want to encounter them. This was the experience of countless holy men and woman throughout the centuries since Jesus and it can be ours. It is a process that takes time but so worth it.

    For so many that “fear” that doing good works equals “earning” one’s salvation – this is a process of total surrendering to the transforming Hand of God who then surprises us as we slowly begin to not recognize ourselves in moments of everyday life and know beyond any possible doubt that it was the Silent Work of God for His Glory Alone. The good works that we will then do will have lesser and lesser of ourselves in them and more and more of Him.

    • I always enjoy reading your comments, Daisey. Keep them coming!

      I, too, love learning “to do ‘nothing’ before the presence of God.” I read something about people being bothered by their ongoing thoughts when they sit or kneel to come into the presence of God in a more conscious way. The author said to consider those thoughts like a bunch of noisy monkeys in the top of a tree. He said you likely will not get those monkeys to be quiet, but you can choose to sit quietly at the base of the tree and ignore them. It’s not a perfect analogy, but when I am having some particularly demanding thoughts, I think, “Oh, those monkeys again!” and then I return to being aware that God is there in the midst of it all.

      Don’t anyone get the impression that my prayer life is anything…special. I am like most people: I don’t make enough time for prayer; I get distracted; I wonder if I am “fooling” myself; on and on and on. And yet…there is that little something calling me to Itself and I continue to hope that as I let my guard down, God will be more real to me every day. Pray for me. My prayer is, “Jesus, help me to love.” And my prayer word is, “Amen.”

      • Thank you for your comment, Joanie. That monkey analogy is a creative and fun way to deal with distractions. Sometimes it’s worth dealing with individual distractions, looking at them to see what hold they have on you, why you’ve let them have the degree of hold they have on you and what it tells you about yourself. For example: I remember well, during an evening of prayer in Carmel, having a particularly delicious distraction! My room was on the floor above the kitchen and it happened to be the day one of the sisters was making her monthly batch of bread. The aroma of fresh home baked bread…and just before supper…yes what a delicious “monkey” it was. And being the evening prayer was an hour long I had a long time to “endure” it. However, it did teach me something about myself : I wasn’t good at disciplining my taste buds in general. I wasn’t a glutton but saying no to something I liked didn’t come easy…and the thought of doing it for the love of God hardly ever came to mind. That hour showed me one place where God wasn’t first in my life – tasty yummy food. I learned I didn’t always eat something because i was hungry and needed sustenance but because I just “had” to taste it and heaven forbid I like it…just one more taste.

        I found dealing with a distraction, putting it before God, letting myself be taught something about myself often lessened the “power” that particular “monkey” had. It’s like opening a closed door letting God’s light in – now with God in there His presence becomes stronger.

        St Teresa of Avila always told her nuns that contemplative prayer is nothing but spending time with the One Who Loves us, with the One we love.

        • Yes, it is a good thing to look at the things that distract us sometimes. Mine are worries and those worries indicate to me that I am not yet trusting God enough that all will be well. It doesn’t mean that things are always going to work out the way I think I want them to, but that in the great scheme of all eternity, It’s all going to be OK.

  7. Subversive propaganda to a “git – er – dun”, bigger, faster, better, model of “doing” church.

  8. I was just reading some of your articles and was really surprised that you recommended Henri Nouwen. He is sooooo New Age. Most of the Reformed sites are very critical of his work.

    • Christiane says

      Can you give a specific example?

    • He was a trained psychologist, but to call him “New Age” is ludicrous. The “reformed sites” wouldn’t like that he is Roman Catholic, either. All I can say is, if you can read Henri Nouwen and not see Jesus, you may have a problem.

      • I am sure they wouldn’t. I read one of his books in the past before I became a Christian. Thank God, I now rely on His Word to “see” Him. I don’t need the writings of a Roman Catholic to do that. If you are a Christian, Chaplain, then I would suggest you go to Alpha and Omega ministries website and see what James White has to say. That should clear up the confusion.
        Peace to you.

        • Pam, no confusion here. Perhaps a bit of self-righteousness there, though? There is a difference between standing on the Word and standing on one’s narrow reading and interpretation of the Word. As for checking out the ministry you suggested, I’m all for discernment, but I don’t remember reading that some in the Body are gifted as critics and judges. No thanks.

    • He is nothing close to new age. Have you studied for yourself what new age thought is? Have you read Henri Nouwen for yourself asking God to speak to your heart if Henri is one of His own.
      I invite you to do so. I invite you to do so. I have no doubt if you read Nouwen with an open heart before God, not from a biased attitude from what some reformed sites say, that you will find that Jesus will bless you through this humble servants words.

      If any protestant site says he’s new age it’s because they want to “warn” you about something Catholic…. Heaven forbid Jesus speak to a Protestant through a Catholic priest. I’m being sarcastic here.. It cannot but sadden the very heart of God to see those that love Him and serve Him and are so unfairly misrepresented by others who claim to love Him.

      Catholics are Christians – there are Catholics who have very intimate relationships with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, with the Father – they have very deep and strong prayer lives – they don’t just pray, they live in an atmosphere of continuous prayer. God blesses them and uses them for His Glory just as he does any other surrendered soul. Those who close themselves off from learning from someone God choses to use is only missing out on graces, blessings and nourishment for the journey that God would otherwise have waiting for them.

      • “they don’t just pray, they live in an atmosphere of continuous prayer.”


        • And another AMEN from another Catholic lover of internetmonk. Party on in prayer, Daisey and Christiane!

      • I used to be Catholic. Then 25 years ago, God showed me that Jesus Christ had done it all in relation to my salvation. After 25 years of Bible study, I can be sure of that. The Word of God is enough for me. As far as learning something from a Catholic priest, the Bible says to call no man father except your Father who is in Heaven. Priests are not necessary in God’s Book. Jesus Christ is the only priest, the high priest in Heaven who is our advocate when we sin. The priesthood was used in the Old Testament as the go between for the Jewish nation. Now , in the New Testament, we approach God thru His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are born from above are covered with the rightousness of Christ and are now children of God.
        Contemplative prayer is not mentioned in the Bible. The mystics were always trying to attain some state of consiousness, as they do in Eastern religions, to make themselves closer to God. The Bible says that when we are born from above, we are in Christ. Can’t get much closer than that.
        I just base my beliefs on the Word of God alone so we will obviously have differences.
        Peace to you all.

        • There is so much misunderstanding and misrepresentation here that I wouldn’t know where to begin to answer.

          • Really. I just quoted the Word of God so what is misrepresented here and what don’t I understand. Catholics believe that if they don’t belong to the Catholic church they will go to hell(If Jesus did it all then why does that matter?). They believe in Transubstaniation. They believe in doing penance for their sin(again, did Jesus pay the price or not?). They believe in purgatory(did Jesus pay it all, or not?). I could go on,remember, I WAS a Catholic. Maybe these people just think they are Catholic and don’t truly understand what they believe. They believe the Pope is the representation of Christ on earth. Not true. They believe that the Bible is not entirely the inspired Word of God but place what the Pope says and tradition over the Word of Truth, the Bible.
            I have read plenty of books on many of these subjects, from New Age to the Reformation etc. But none of them would ever trump the Word of God.
            I think you just don’t have an answer (at least from Scripture). If you do and you can refute what I have said, please do. I am humbly open to correction on that basis.

            • Pam you are still fighting against the Council of Trent, and recognize none of the vast and numerous changes in the RCC since Vatican II. Michael wrote a lot about this. You might want to check the archives.

            • Ah, there is no zealot so zealous as a zealot against the religion from which she converted. Pam, don’t you see how futile it would be for me to enter into an argument or debate with you, throwing Scripture verses back and forth at one another? You are one of the true believers, utterly convinced of your position, and no one can change your mind. You are like Job’s friends, who knew how to quote the Book and whose opinions were thoroughly right and in line with Biblical teaching. In the end it was shown that their view of God was utterly deficient and they had no capacity to love and comfort their friend. The Pharisees were also right “by the Book;” they knew the Law and its demands inside and out and were the orthodox conservatives of their day. Even Jesus acknowledged their correctness. But they missed him.

              I refuse to be drawn into your narrow, dark little room for an argument. We make it perfectly clear here on IM what we believe and where we stand. If you have any questions, look at the FAQ/RULES page. We just happen to think that God’s family is a lot bigger, broader, and more inclusive than you think. And this is based, not on some sloppy liberal or “new age” thinking, but upon taking a longer and hopefully, wiser, perspective through the lens of church history and tradition.

          • Oh dearest Pam. What you believe and say are misrepresentations and untruths many protestants have been told and taught. They are twisting the words of Catholic thought to support their position. Giving meaning to words that is not what is intended. The same has gone on with the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures causing all the divisions in Christianity.

            Catholic belief and teaching is actually that the Saving work of Jesus on the cross reaches beyond the boundries of “religion” because GOD ALONE knows what is in the heart of a person. Reformed christians, Lutherans, Baptists Catholics etc., will all stand next to each other before the throne of God praising Him – thank goodness all human politics (yes politics exists in every church) will be no more.

            Jesus paid the price for ALL sin. However, just as Paul stated ” Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church . ” For example : Spiritual disciplines such as fasting in all its forms is upheld by Christians regardless of denomination. The term “penance” is meant as : : an act of self-abasement, mortification, or devotion performed to show sorrow or repentance for sin.

            Fasting and other “forms of penance” are spiritual disciplines that help the person on their journey in the here and now. They do not Pay the Eternal Price for Sin Nor Do they Open the gates of Eternal Life – Jesus Alone did that.

            Purgatory : References to praying for the dead is found in Judaism and can be found in early church writings. Eastern Orthodox Christians as well as Catholics have always done this. The walls of catacombs have carved into them prayer inscriptions for the deceased. If you do some thorough research you can fin these things. If th early Christans prayed for their dead then it only logical makes sense for them to do so if the common belief was that they were not yet in the full Beatific Glory of God. The communion of saints is also at the heart of the prayers for the deceased.

            Transubstantiation : Protestants speak of relying on the Word of God and use their interpretation to support their beliefs. Why then, do they not take Jesus at HIS WORDS regarding the Eurachrist – This IS my Body, This IS my Blood. He didn’t say this represents my body and blood. The Word also tells us In the Gospel of John: If we don’t EAT HIS FLESH and DRINK HIS BLOOD we ill not have life within us. The Apostles noted how Jesus’ words about this were too hard for men to hear and many left Jesus for these very Words. Jesus din’t say, well they misunderstood me….Jesus stood firm on His Word and asked the apostles if thy were going to leave too. Peter said as we know : Where should we go You Alone have the Words of Eternal Life.”
            In this matter Catholics take Jesus at His Word more than protestants do. Yet even among protestants there is a difference of opinion about this.

            Jesus handed the Keys of the Kingdom to Peter. He wasn’t speaking to all the Apostles, Only to Peter. And Jesus told Peter whatever He bound on earth was bound in heaven, whatever He loosed on earth was loosed in heaven. Protestants choose to say Jesus said it to all of them. Going back to the original languages and text says not according to RCC interpretation. This does not mean Popes never sin, are faultless. There have been terrible popes just as there have been terrible pastors. The church is made up of sinful human beings.

            The Church does not teach that the Pope is above the word of God. You will not find those words in any RCC official teaching because it isn’t true. The Pope and Bishops have the responsibility of carrying on the teaching of the Apostles which is found in the New Testament. This practice has it’s foundation from the beginning when the Apostles Laid hands on men to do just this very thing. The Pope, is the unifying factor within the church, so that when numerous interpretations and beliefs are spread(something natural to human beings look how many Protestant denominations because of this) the Pope has the final authority so the Word can be kept in it’s integrity. The Pope isn’t seen as “literally” Jesus on earth, but as His representative. You hold men to be the final authority in the family unit. Why does it not seem good that there be some final authority in the church family?

            RCC catechism ” ” God is the author of Sacred Scripture. The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” Quote from Vatican II document on Sacred Scripture.” You said Pam, “They believe that the Bible is not entirely the inspired Word of God ” – false statement an perfect example of human beings twisting the words and thus altering the intended meaning of RCC teaching.

            I apologize Chaplain Mike for the length of this but I believe it is necessary to present the truth in response to the many false beliefs and misrepresentations of the RCC by our brithers an sister in the Body of Christ.

        • Hi Pam,

          If you knew the Catholic faith you would know that that it’s central theme and core belief and teaching is that Jesus Christ is the Only Savior, He Alone opened the gates of heaven, meaning He is the One who Alone paid for the Dept of Sin and Is The One who thus bought for us, with His Precious Blood, Eternal Life and the remission of our personal sin. If you did not learn this from the church you belonged to it was not because it is not at the core of Catholic thought. It was the fault of those who were suppose to teach you – As adults it is each persons responsibility to study and deepen their knowledge of God. Those who were in charge of you evidently didn’t take that task to heart to instill within you Who Jesus Is and what He had done for you.

          Learning from another human being is a position of humility that even Jesus was found doing. Learning from a person who just happens to be a Priest is no different from learning from any Pastor of a reformed church. So, why do you learn from reformed websites, from people you never met and perhaps don’t even know, if all you need is the bible. ?? Why do reformed churches learn from Luther, Augustine etc., if all they need is the bible?

          As far as priests not being necessary… from the earliest days there were appointed knowledgeable and virtuous men whom the Apostles laid hands on (ordained for the task at hand) to carry out the preaching of the word to their churches and the breaking of bread, the Eucharist, with their church body on Sunday. Having been to Rome I have seen the altars Christians built in the catacombs. These were true altars in the small carved out rooms where dead were buried. The christians would gather around the altar for the Eucharistic celebration, aka the Mass. The form was simpler than it is today, but it was the core part of the Mass – the breaking of Bread of the Word (bible) and the Bread of Christ’s Body and Blood. The Christians carved symbols into the walls of the catacombs revealing to this day what they did there. These ancient and historic remnants of the early christians do not lie.

          True Contemplative prayer is not at all seeking another state of consciousness. That is a lie sadly being told by countless men and woman. The truth remains however, and can be found if one wants to seek it before God, yes do it with God. The christian reality of men and woman being called by God to go out into the desert and seek His face alone is nothing new but as old as faith itself. Living in a contemplative attitude is also nothing new – it is living every moment in a deep and abiding awareness of the Presence of God – Loving Him and Praising Him regardless of what one is doing – washing dishes to reading the Bible. Contemplative times of solitary prayer begin with the Word of God and end in that Word. The actual physical Bible may not be used because the Words being the thrust of that time alone with God are known in the heart and mind of the one praying.

          They way you and any one can know if the time in prayer was authentic is by how the person lives when they come out of prayer. God has transformed the lives of countless men and women who were drawn by the Spirit of God to seek His face alone. Do you dare rob God the Glory due Him for how He chooses to lead souls?? Such an attitude of arrogance may God preserve me from.

          • Daisy, you seem sweet and I wouldn’t want to offend you. I was a Catholic for 40 years so I think I am qualified to discuss it. Please read what I emailed Chaplain Mike. God chooses to lead souls thru His Word. That is the only reliable source. If you left the Catholic Church do you think that you would go to Heaven? I hope the answere is yes because a church cannot save you, only Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. Sacraments can’t, priests can’t, last rites can’t, the Eucharist can’t. Mary can’t. She was a sinner just like the rest of us. She also was saved by God thru the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. So praying to Mary does nothing.
            The Catholic church has always been caught up in the mystical so reading Thomas Merton and Nouwen is common. They both are outside what the Bible teaches. Sorry.
            I write this as one who has been there.
            Peace to you.

          • Hi Pam,

            If I left the Catholic Church would I be saved – well first of all I don’t at present attend any church and haven’t for a number of years due to a variety of reasons many being medical. The last church I was part of was the Assemblies of God in which I was a member. No Church does the saving not even the Catholic Church – Jesus is the Only Savior. I gather you didn’t read that in my former post…

            Having spent 15 years in full time service as a religious sister a whole different perspective of what is at the heart of the Catholic faith and life was opened up to me. Something I did not have nor experience prior to that. But I knew since a young child who Jesus was, who my Savior was.
            You may or may not know what RCC is all about in its core – that I leave between you and God. I just know for a fact from working in parishes and other ministries while a sister as well as a lay person, that there are many Catholics who don’t know what is at the heart of Catholism than there is that do. Just as there are many in all branches of Christianity that claim they know all the truth and yet do not know how to truly love their neighbor and thus cannot truly know God, as the Holy Spirit taught us in the inspired Word itself.

            The sacraments do not do the saving – they are vehicles of Grace to aid a person in the day to day journey – forms of spiritual nourishment. Whether or not they produce the effects of Grace depends on the attitude and disposition of the one receiving them.

            You can choose to discount all the sacraments if you so choose. However, I am taken aback that one who says she puts the Bible at the core of her beliefs has the so fearlessly states that the Eucharist has no salvific value. Jesus Himself instituted the Eucharist. The Eucharist doesn’t Save us from Eternal damnation – Jesus did that on the cross. But the saving graces – saving us from the present dangers so we can resist temptation and surrender more an more to the Spirit of God – that is the value of “saving” grace – Don’t put an interpretation on it that is not intended. Are you so bold to tell Jesus he was wrong to tell us to eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood or we won’t have Life within us?? I leave that between you and Jesus. It is not my place to judge you.

  9. I just tried to tell you Truth based on the facts of Scripture and you are certainly free to believe what you want. I believe in the Jesus of the Bible and for that I do not apologize. Calling me names is really not very chaplain like and doesn’t really answer anything. Sorry to have intruded on the RCC. Good luck to all of you.

  10. Daisey has done a wonderful job here explaining things about the Roman Catholic Church. Thanks, Daisy.

  11. Chaplain Mike, in spite of the fact that you see me as self-righteous because I am trying to warn the sheep, I ask you to please type in the article, “Why Christian Leaders Should Not Promote Henri Nouwen” and then click on the article on the Lighthouse Trails Research website and see why I feel the way I do.
    Unfortunately emails can come across a certain way according to how they are interpreted. I will say that I do not agree with RC but there are just as many in error in Protestantism. We have to deal with the Emerging Church, for one. That is why I press on with what is written in the Word. What led me to your site was your article on “Why Elijah went to Mt. Horeb”. I am doing a study on 1Kings and had the same thought myself. Loved your thoughts on that and shared them with others.
    Just to be clear, I am passionate about my Lord Jesus Christ and carefully discern what is said about Him and his Word. Sorry if that seemed offensive. Like I said, emails can be interpreted in a way that they were not meant. I accept or reject something according to how it lines up with Scripture. I am not a zealot for any religion nor would anyone who knows me describe me as a Pharisee. I would ask you, in all fairness, to check out the article.
    Peace to you all.

    • Thank you, Pam. I think you will find that we are open to a lot of discussion and disagreement here on Internet Monk. About the only time I ever respond strongly and critically to a commenter is when an attitude of judgmentalism or self-righteousness is coming across. Thank you for clarifying in such a kind way.

      I also want you to know that I am familiar with criticisms of Henri Nouwen (and other people we mention on the site). If I thought they were spiritually dangerous, I certainly would not promote them. You should know that I am not a separatist, and that in general I think Christians are far too suspicious to listen to anyone who does not believe exactly as they do. I believe we can learn from almost anyone, even if we disagree with much of what they say. It is clear to me from what you have said that you have a much narrower understanding of “what the Bible teaches” (and how it teaches that) than I do. That’s OK, IMO we can still talk and have mutually helpful discussions.

      Nouwen practiced his faith within the tradition of Roman Catholicism and represents a very evangelical segment within the Church. I am a Protestant, therefore be sure that I have many issues with Roman Catholicism. Having said that, I still consider it part of the “one, true, holy, and apostolic church” that we both confess in the Creeds, which summarize the Biblical basis for our unity in Christ.

      I also know that Merton and Nouwen (as well as many Christian people from all traditions) explored and discovered help in some eastern spiritual practices. That does not resonate with me, and so I don’t give any emphasis to it when commenting on Nouwen. I certainly don’t see that as a main feature of his writing or teaching, and don’t consider it “dangerous” in any way.

      I hope you will continue to participate. I would encourage you to review the rules for discussion and moderation under the FAQ/RULES link at the top of the main page.