By: Michael O'Laughlin
"More than most writers, the Catholic priest Henri Nouwen earned the adjective "beloved" with his penetratingly honest meditations on the Christian life. In this book, Nouwen's Harvard teaching assistant seeks not just to celebrate his friend but also to understand the roots of his spiritual journey. O'Laughlin has a keen sense of Nouwen's uniqueness: "Henri was not living out, nor was he presenting to the world, a universally applicable spiritual program, perhaps because there is no 'universally applicable' spiritual program." He sketches Nouwen's biography, including his childhood in the Netherlands, his frustrating experiences teaching at Yale and Harvard and his final years caring for disabled adults at a religious community in Canada. But the book is less concerned with chronology than sorting out the distinctive gifts that Nouwen brought to his friends and readers. O'Laughlin draws—with somewhat uncritical enthusiasm—on psychological terminology to explore Nouwen's temperament, and he is helpful in placing Nouwen within the context of 20th-century Catholicism, noting that Nouwen embodied much of Vatican II's theology in his ecumenical ministry. The sometime professor of spirituality was neither an academic (he failed twice to qualify for a doctoral degree) nor a mystic. But for O'Laughlin, he "perfectly combined divine inspiration and colorful, crazy humanity." This is a sympathetic account of a life lived in search of divine love."--Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. - Publishers Weekly
"By sharing his own struggles, he mentored us all, helping us to pray while not knowing how to pray, to rest while feeling restless, to be at peace while tempted, to feel safe while still anxious, to be surrounded by a cloud of light while still in darkness, and to love while still in doubt." --Ronald Rolheiser, author The Holy Longing
Henri Nouwen, who died in 1996, was one of the most popular spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. Nouwen's vision, so full of light, continues to attract readers around the world. But who was he, really? What were the qualities that made him unique? How were the themes in his writings on intimacy, community, brokenness, and friendship with Jesus related to the paradoxical struggles of his own life?
Michael O'Laughlin, Nouwen's friend and student, leads us to a deeper understanding of Nouwen's message and his place in Christian spirituality. By illuminating Nouwen's origins, psychology, and approach to theology, art, prayer, Jesus, and the Eucharist, O'Laughlin gives new shape to Nouwen's legacy, and makes one of the spiritual giants of our time more available.
Michael O'Laughlin holds advanced degrees in theology from Harvard and Oxford Universities. While at Harvard he was Henri Nouwen's teaching assistant. He is currently a spiritual director at the Healing Center in Arlington, Massachusetts, and editor of Henri Nouwens award-winning Jesus: A Gospel.