Monday, November 8, 2010

Choosing the Blessings

It is an ongoing temptation to think of ourselves as living under a curse. The loss of a friend, an illness, an accident, a natural disaster, a war, or any failure can make us quickly think that we are no good and are being punished. This temptation to think of our lives as full of curses is even greater when all the media present us day after day with stories about human misery.

Jesus came to bless us, not to curse us. But we must choose to receive that blessing and hand it on to others. Blessings and curses are always placed in front of us. We are free to choose. God says, Choose the blessings!  (

Bread For The Journey In this daybook of wisdom and faith, Henri Nouwen shares 387 reflections 

“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.” -Here and Now 

About Henri Nouwen

The internationally renowned priest and author, respected professor and beloved pastor Henri Nouwen (pronounced Henry Now-win) wrote over 40 books on the spiritual life. He corresponded regularly in English, Dutch, German, French and Spanish with hundreds of friends and reached out to thousands through his Eucharistic celebrations, lectures and retreats. Since his death in 1996, ever-increasing numbers of readers, writers, teachers and seekers have been guided by his literary legacy. Nouwen’s books have sold over 2 million copies and been published in over 22 languages.

Photo by Kevin Dwyer
Born in Nijkerk, Holland, on January 24, 1932, Nouwen felt called to the priesthood at a very young age. He was ordained in 1957 as a diocesan priest and studied psychology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen. In 1964 he moved to the United States to study at the Menninger Clinic. He went on to teach at the University of Notre Dame, and the Divinity Schools of Yale and Harvard. For several months during the 1970s, Nouwen lived and worked with the Trappist monks in the Abbey of the Genesee, and in the early 1980s he lived with the poor in Peru. In 1985 he was called to join L’Arche in Trosly, France, the first of over 100 communities founded by Jean Vanier where people with developmental disabilities live with assistants. A year later Nouwen came to make his home at L’Arche Daybreak near Toronto, Canada. He died suddenly on September 21st, 1996, in Holland and is buried in King City, Ontario.
Nouwen believed that what is most personal is most universal; he wrote, “By giving words to these intimate experiences I can make my life available to others.” His spirit lives on in the work of the Henri Nouwen Society, Henri Nouwen Stichting, the Henri Nouwen Trust, the Henri J. M. Nouwen Archives and Research Collection, and in all who live the spiritual values of communion, community and ministry, to which he dedicated his life.


  1. One of my favorite books by him is Can You Drink the Cup? I read it years ago. He continues to be one of the most popular authors we sell in the store. Thank you for reminding me to "choose the blessings" and to have "the freedom and the courage" to discover God's love in my life.

  2. I love Henri Nouwen. I identified a lot with his struggles.... and it was through learning about his life that I ended up living at L'Arche for three years after college.

    It's true - all we need to do is choose the blessings!!! Thanks for reminding me.

  3. Julie & Maria, thanks for your comments. We tend to forget that blessings are all around us and that we have to choose them. Henri Nouwen's wonderful reflections are truly blessings from God. Glad you could visit. Chat back soon. Hugs. N
    Maria: L'Arche for three years, do tell?