Mar 26th to Apr 1st: Fifth Week of Lent – The Final Twelve Imperatives

Reading: “Face the Enemy” to “Keep Choosing God” (pages 93 to 115)

Your vocation is to be a witness to God’s love in this world. (p. 93)

A desire for communion has been part of you since you were born. . . .
It comes from God and is part of your true vocation. (p.95)

Not being welcome is your greatest fear. . . .Everything Jesus is saying to you can be summarized in the words “Know that you are welcome.” (p. 101)

The question is whether you choose for God or for your own doubting self. . . . But you always have a choice to think, speak, and act in the name of God
and so move toward the Light, the Truth, and the Life. (p. 144)

As we enter the penultimate week of our Lenten discussion, I want to thank everyone that has participated by posting comments or following silently. This has been the largest and richest book discussion that we have had in several years. The active participation of the faithful community that gathers each Lent and Advent is the lifeblood of these Henri Nouwen Society book discussions. Without your ongoing engagement there would be no reason for these discussions to exist. I am deeply moved by the thoughtful and compassionate comments that are being shared. I also want to recognize in a special way the people that joined the online conversation this week by sharing their comments for the first time. We’re glad you’re here.

This week, the Fifth Week of Lent, we are reading and discussing the final twelve of the sixty-two imperatives. More about that in a minute. During Holy Week we will consider Henri’s conclusion and have an opportunity to look back across the entire book. Also during Holy Week we are rescheduling our planned Zoom virtual meeting to Tuesday, April 4th at 8:00 p.m. EDT (UTC-4). At that time our Lenten community can gather to share our impressions and insights on the Inner Voice of Love. The Zoom meeting will be available to anyone that indicates their interest in participating by submitting a comment indicating your interest or contacting me by email at There will be a reminder and additional information about the Zoom discussion in the Holy Week blog post on Palm Sunday.

Most of Henri’s imperatives this week focus on his calling, concerns, and fears as he and his counselors prepared for his return to daily life to live and minister in the L’Arche Daybreak community and to continue his ministry to the wider world through his speaking and writing. In the first two excerpts above, we see Henri clearly stating his vocation in the simplest of terms and recognizing that his vocation must be lived in communion with God and with others, especially his L’Arche community from which he will be sent out to the wider world and to which he can return. The next two excerpts address the Henri’s foundational fears that underlie his self-doubts, uncertainty, and insecurity. How do we know that we are welcome? How do we choose for God? We do so by knowing in our heart that we are God’s beloved.

As you reflect on the imperatives this week, you are encouraged to consider them from the perspective of your return to daily life at the end of our Lenten journey next week. As Henri was looking ahead, he was defining guidelines for how he can choose to live his newly acknowledged life as God’s beloved. It seemed to me that Henri wrote these final imperatives to assist him in living out the preceding fifty imperatives. Did any of Henri’s final twelve imperatives or guidelines resonate with you? What concrete steps might you take to put one or more of these guidelines in place in your life? Please share your thoughts to extent you are comfortable. Of course, you are always invited and welcomed to share whatever touched your heart in the reading.

May the Lord strengthen you and give you peace as we continue our journey together. We look forward to another spirit-filled and fruitful week of sharing.