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The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers Paperback – September 22, 2009


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The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers + Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation + Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060663308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060663308
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Clear, precise, biblically founded guidance...Skillfully blends knowledge of psychological growth with the great Christian traditions.” (Commonweal)

“Brings desert spirituality to bear upon the contemporary scene. ... Hauntingly relevant for us today.” (Christianity Today)

“Gemlike in its clarity.” (The Christian Century)

“Inspiring, to the point, and eminently practical in his advice about living spiritually in the world of today.” (Spiritual Book News)

“On the long road it’s good to have Nouwen and his divining rod. Deftly he bends toward the drop of spiritual wisdom caked in the most ordinary things.” (Helen Prejean, C.S.J., author of Dead Man Walking)

From the Back Cover

The modern classic that interweaves the solitude, silence, and prayer of the fourth- and fifth-century Egyptian Desert Fathers and Mothers with our contemporary search for an authentic spirituality


More About the Author

Henri Nouwen was born in Holland in 1932 and ordained a Catholic priest in 1957. He obtained his doctorandus in psychology from Nijmegen University in The Netherlands and taught at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard. He experienced the monastic life with Trappist monks at the Abbey of the Genesee, lived among the poor in Latin America with the Maryknoll missioners, and was interested and active in numerous causes related to social justice. After a lifetime of seeking, Henri Nouwen finally found his home in Canada, as pastor of L'Arche Daybreak - where people with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers live together in community.

Henri Nouwen wrote over 40 books on spirituality and the spiritual life that have sold millions of copies and been translated into dozens of languages. His vision of spirituality was broad and inclusive, and his compassion embraced all of humankind.

He died in 1996. His work and his spirit live on.

Henri Nouwen pronounced his name "Henry Now-en." For more information on his life and work, please visit www.henrinouwen.org .

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Customer Reviews

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In this book, Nouwen draws upon the wisdom of early monastic Christians.
Scandalous Sanity
Henri Nouwen is a well known, prolific writer and this short but very well written book is no exception.
Rob
I really recommend this book to everyone, it is an awesome resource for your spirituality!!!
Black

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on December 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
When Nouwen is hot, he is hot, and in this book he is hot. Nouwen copies from John of the Cross when he insists that the value of a contemplative life is character transformation.
His first section on solitude is right on. Too many of our church leaders are so action oriented they shy away from solitude. The resulting religion is as cold and pragmatic as any profit driven corporation. Your pastor needs to read this chapter.
Nouwen's second section on silence picks up where the discussion on solitude ends, and goes a bit deeper. Here, he offers a call for measured speech. All speech must have purpose and come from a quiet center. This is a good section for any person who wishes to grow deeper in the Christian faith. However, those who are too quick to act or ADD to accept it may lay the book aside about this time.
The final section deals with hesychasm. Nouwen describes this as prayer of the heart (entire being) as opposed to usual prayer of the mind. Prayer of the mind usually asks things of God, or tries to understand God. These ways of praying are not bad, but limited. Nouwen opts for a style of prayer that offers constant communion with God.
However, it is as this point that I feel the book breaks down. Nouwen does a good job of stating the need for such prayer, and refers to it with illustrations and theology, but he doesn't quite teach the reader how to go about practicing this form of inner prayer.
Someone well versed in contemplative prayer may feel affirmed by this book and get a lot out of it.
Someone who wishes to break the yoke of busy, busy Christianity will find a seductive light of hope within the pages of these books.
But the novice who wishes to dig deep, must use the book as a springboard to other readings. Fortunately there are many other good sources out there to continue feasting upon.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Paul on September 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is what one comes to expect from Henri Nouwen: simple, winsome, deep, and compassionate. I serve as a pastor and find his comments still contemporary, though they are the product of Nouwen's contemplation of twenty years ago.
Nouwen borrows not only the content, but the habit of desert wisdom in providing commentary that is brief and compelling. His invitation to follow in the practice of Abba Arsenius by embracing three movements (to flee, to keep silence, and to pray) is simply organized and powerfully presented.
Nouwen's description of the 'compulsive minister' is accurate in every detail and served to draw me into the lessons as if this book were written for me in particular.
"The Way of the Heart" is directed at those who are engaged in the practice of ministry - but it's lessons are easily applied to life outside the practice of ministry. I heartily recommend it to one and all.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Miller on March 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Henri Nouwen's "The Way of the Heart" is a mystic's diagnosis and prescription for an over-busied modernity. Though the application is universal, it seems that one of his primary targets are the clergy, whose m.o. has become too much like that of their secular counterparts in the business world.

The book, like much of Nouwen's work, could easily be said to be a collection of short essays collected into a book (albeit a short 75 pages). It is unified by its deference to the Desert Fathers, the early monks who escaped the busy-ness of their own age with a lifestyle of retreat. The three major subsections are: solitude, silence, and prayer. Solitude is the withdrawal from the secularly-driven lifestyle of activity. Silence is the intentional reevaluation of whether or not our words are intentional and necessary. Prayer is to be an incessant activity no matter what our tasks for the day.

Nouwen does a tremendous job on three levels. He accurately assesses the contemporary milieu, then develops a spiritual remedy for it, and finally makes pragmatic application fro modern readers. This book is a must-read and an easy read. Ver refreshing.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By JR Woodward on August 27, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this book Henri Nouwen takes us through three often-neglected disciplines in our noisy, busy, fast-paced culture. He not only encourages us to take some time to turn from the noise to silence, from the busyness to solitude, and from running fast to slowing down to pray; but he shows us how.

When it comes to solitude, Henri defines it beautifully: "Solitude is the place of purification and transformation, the place of the great struggle and the great encounter..." He talks about how this is a time when we stand alone before a holy God, bare-naked. That is the struggle, to come to God honestly. To encounter this wholly other God who is wholly other in his holiness, grace and love. And as we accept his love and grace, we can boldly come before him and stand in his presence naked and unashamed.

Then he goes on to talk about silence. "First, silence makes us pilgrims. Secondly, silence guards the fire within. Thirdly, silence teaches us to speak." We live in a world of words and silence enables us to hear the voice of God, so that we can breath life into those around us by our careful choice of words. He talks about how as ministers we can give time for silence in our counseling, bringing people to Jesus, waiting for the Spirit's direction.

And when it come to prayer, Henri says, "The prayer of the heart opens the eyes of the soul to the truth of ourselves as well as to the truth of God. The prayer of the heart challenges us to hide absolutely nothing."

We all need help in developing these three disciplines: silence, solitude and prayer in our noisy, busy and fast-paced society. Henri reminds us of the importance of these disciplines and gives us some practical help in how to live them out in real life.
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