In your hands you have one of the greatest spiritual classics of our time, by one of the great spiritual masters of our time. – James Martin, S.J.
A warm welcome to each of you as we begin our Lenten journey together. It is with great joy and anticipation that I look forward to greeting old friends returning for another fruitful discussion and to meeting new friends joining us for the first time. As happens during Lent each year, a caring community of believers and seekers from across the globe will gather to read and reflect on the spiritual writing of Henri Nouwen and to share their wisdom, insights, and stories with each other. Thank you for joining us as we “come apart and rest a while” (Mark 6:31) to read and discuss Henri’s most popular work, The Return of the Prodigal Son – A Story of Homecoming, as we prepare for Easter.
According to John Donahue, S.J., “No section of the New Testament has received as much attention and extravagant praise” as the parable of the prodigal son. Donahue cites J. E. Compton who called it the “greatest of all Jesus’ parables.” In The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen explores this timeless story by reflecting on a chance encounter with a poster of Rembrandt’s painting of the same name in the light of Nouwen’s own spiritual journey during troubled times. Through Henri’s words we come to see the parable and the painting with new eyes and a deeper understanding. I know that was certainly the case for me. I first encountered The Return of the Prodigal Son for sale after Mass at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore at a time of great personal difficulty and distress. I read it on the flight home and it was was life-giving. When we discussed The Return in this space during Lent 2013 and Lent 2015, we were blessed by the many touching and insightful comments shared by a large group of active participants.
Let’s briefly describe how our online book discussion works. If you’ve joined us before, this will serve as a review.
Beginning on March 1st and each Sunday during Lent, a new entry or post will be added to the book discussion (the blog) home page. By clicking on the Home link in the black bar under the photograph at the top of the blog you will know you are in the current week. You can then click on the bold title to open the post and any comments. The title of post will include the dates and topics for the week ahead. The post will present a brief moderator’s reflection and suggest some questions for discussion. Participants are encouraged to comment on the post by responding to the suggested questions, by sharing their own reflections, and by replying to the comments of others.
To read the comments or to leave a comment of your own, scroll down to the bottom of the post. If you don’t see any comments, click on the small link at the bottom that says
## Comments. To leave a new comment, continue scrolling down and use the “Leave a Reply” box. To reply to someone else’s comment, click the Reply link directly below their comment and complete the box. After you submit a new comment or a reply, I as moderator or Will at the Nouwen Society need to “approve” it, so it may take a few hours before it actually appears on the blog page. The instructions on how to submit and reply to comments are also included at the bottom of the Reading Schedule (follow link in the black bar above). If you have any questions about the blog, please don’t hesitate to ask either by submitting a comment or sending me an email at the address in my bio below.
As we begin our journey together, it’s always nice to learn a little bit about each of you. Over the next few days you are encouraged to introduce yourself. You may choose to share:
- Your general geographic location
- To whom or what you dedicate your days or energy, and why
- How you came to “know/read” Henri Nouwen and whether or not you participated in a previous discussion.
- What you hope to experience during this discussion
Welcome to each of you and I look forward to your introductions!
We begin The Return of the Prodigal Son – A Story of Homecoming this Sunday,
March 1st. Join us to begin a spirit-filled and enriching Lenten journey.
RAY GLENNON: Ray came to know and trust Henri’s written word in a special way in 2004 when he discovered The Return of the Prodigal Son for sale after Mass in Singapore. He began participating in Henri Nouwen Society book discussions in 2010 and has served as a moderator since 2014. He developed and led a six-week adult education course on “Henri Nouwen and A Spirituality of Living.” Ray volunteers in his parish Confirmation program and other ministries. He and his wife are candidates in the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS). You may contact Ray by email at email@example.com and you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/@RayGlennon.