November 22nd – 25th Advent Introductions

Be sure of my love and prayers and my great desire that your Christmas season is filled with joy and peace.
(p 267  Love, Henri)

ReadingLove, Henri Preface, Forward and A Note from the Editor.

Warm greetings during this very special time of year!  We look forward to another rich Advent book discussion with this very special community of people, and we are particularly excited to explore the second half of Love, Henri Letters on the Spiritual Life.

If you’ve joined us in the past, welcome back!  If this is your first time joining us, we are so glad you are here!  We’ll try to make it clear how this all works, but please do not be shy about asking questions.

Each Sunday you will discover a new “post,” indicated by the bold title, on the blog’s Home page.  Click on the title to enter the post.  There you will find the week’s readings and some questions for discussion.  To leave a comment scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will find the “leave a reply” box.  It works best if you always add any new comment to the newest post, even if you are referring to an earlier post. That way, everyone will see your comment. After you submit a comment, either Will, Ray or Brynn 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.  Again, if you have any questions about how the blog works, please feel free to ask.

Over the next few days we invite you to take a few minutes to introduce yourself.  You may choose to share:

a) Your general geographic location
b) To whom or what you dedicate your days or energy, and why
c) How you came to “know/read” Henri Nouwen and whether or not you participated last Advent when we read the first half of Love, Henri or in another of our discussions,
d) Insights, thoughts or questions that arose as you read the Preface, Forward and A Note from the Editor
e) What you hope to experience during this discussion

We very much look forward to hearing from each of you!

Be sure to check back here on the Home page on Sunday November 26th!

In gratitude,

Brynn and Ray

RAY GLENNON: Ray volunteers in his parish Confirmation program and other ministries. He and his wife are members of a Catholic charismatic community. Ray came to know and trust Henri’s written word in a special way in 2004 when he found The Return of the Prodigal Son for sale after Mass at the cathedral in Singapore at an important point in his life.  If you have any questions for Ray, please contact him at and you can follow him on Twitter at

BRYNN LAWRENCE: Brynn has been helping to preserve Henri’s Legacy for the last several years, mainly through her role as project coordinator of the Nouwen Archive Letter Project (2009-2015), and also by co-facilitating many of our online book discussions.

28 Replies to “November 22nd – 25th Advent Introductions”

  1. Hi, I’m Monica Edgar. My husband, Carl, and I have two kiddos, Fiona (9) and Will (6). I live in Helena, Montana and work full time as an Intake Specialist for Medicaid Transportation at Mountain-Pacific Quality Health. I have a Masters in Ministry for a Multicultural Church degree from the Franciscan School of Theology in California. I love Henri Nouwen’s work and just recently facilitated a discussion group on Henri’s Can You Drink the Cup at my parish, Saint Mary Catholic Community. I enjoy writing, cooking, and talking with friends and family. I am looking forward to reading and discussing Love, Henri with all of you! Peace and all good!

  2. Thank you everyone for a great few days of introductions. Please come on over to the new Post, “Week 1” of the discussion. It is going to be a great week!


  3. Hello,
    My name is Todd and I am married and the father to two teenagers, one who just moved out of the house to begin his Freshman year of college. I live in the Midwest. I am a special education teacher and have worked with individuals with disabilities for over 25 years. Given that, Henri Nouwen has a special place in my heart, and I consider him a sort of patron saint. I discovered his book The Road to Daybreak over 10 years ago. It is a favorite, and I continue to re-read it and gain insights. I have participated in several book discussions here before. As others have mentioned, my challenge will be to carve the time during this busy season to read, reflect and share. I welcome the opportunity, and I thank Brynn and Ray for hosting once again. Thanks also to “fellow pilgrims” as we begin the Advent season. I appreciate this forum!

  4. Hello All!

    Lovely to hear from each of you. It is nice to see some familiar names, and always good to hear from new people joining us.

    This is a busy time for my family, as we are in the middle of a move, and our little guy is almost two! I’m thankful to for the opportunity to carve out some time here and there to read the letters and reflect on them with you all.


  5. I am from Rhode Island. I have read a few Of Henri Nouwen’s books in the past. They were a source of encouragement for me at that time. Not knowing what I need now, but knowing that I do, in fact, need to stop, think, and contemplate, I echo Brene Brown’s words in the Forward, ” You have asked me if I will develop a practice of listening for the wisdom that only silence and prayer can bring. I know I will need help and it will be imperfect, but I’m willing to make the commitment. ” Just perfect for me this Advent. Thank you for this…


  6. I attempted to be a part of the on-line Advent Discussion last year. I allowed my schedule to take me away from the time needed to read, reflect, and contribute to the discussion. Here I am again with a grateful heart. I am a retired military officer, Catholic Chaplain, and trained Spiritual Director living in Newburgh Indiana.

  7. I was first introduced to Henri Nouwen in 2016, during Impact, a 2-year program, designed to increase the participants knowledge of the Catholic Church, and deepen their spirituality.We read Life of the Beloved, and the book was, indeed, “life changing.,” for me. I have been studying the lives and works of Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton, off and on, ever since. I recently attended the Conference at Yale Divinity School, and was overwhelmed by the love, peace, and quiet joy I experienced while there. I make my home in Iowa, for now, dedicating much of my time to the church in the areas of stewardship and youth ministry. This is my first online book study.

  8. I became acquainted with Henri when I was a candidate in my religious congregation. He was speaking in Tacoma, WA and the candidate director encouraged us to attend. I was hooked for sure. I was amazed how transparent he was in front of a large audience. Over the years I have read every book he wrote and I also wrote to him once and to my amazement he wrote back. Seeing all the letters he wrote to people who wrote to him was amazing. He was so supportive and honest and shared from his heart. He has been one of my role models ever since that day. When I went for a residential therapy program for religious in Canada, I was close to Daybreak so I visited him. He was so gracious and hospitable and did not rush our visit. I participated in the Lent book study using the book Adam and enjoyed it so thought I would participate in this Advent study using Love, Henri

  9. Hello to all. It gives me so much joy to participate in our discussion again! I began reading Henri Nouwen 20 years ago. I read and re-read “The Living Reminder.” It became my guide to pastoral ministry. Because like Henri I am both a pastor and psychotherapist, his views on accepting brokenness and creating safety for people to tell their stories is close to my soul. His personal journal “Inner Voice of Love,” serves as a guide to my own healing journey and calls me to make my home in God.

    From Boston originally, I now live in Louisville, KY where I have a private practice to adult survivors of abuse and do advocacy for the Attorney General’s Office. And, I get the privilege of preaching from time to time. Because like Henri I’ve always been torn between “upward and downward mobility” (Preface, x1v), I’ve wanted since my decade birthday to move from ‘acquisition and achievement’ toward ‘service and surrender.’

    To that end, I have been accepted into a Spiritual Direction program in CA that is based upon Henri Nouwen’s teachings. I believe this to be a culmination of what has gone before and a coalescing call. But the challenge for me is to move from my head to my heart. It means setting my ego aside and beginning to share my vulnerabilities not just my strengths. I believe that accepting my brokenness instead of masking it can be a gateway to growth that can be transformative for me and a benefit to others. It means in Henri’s terms, packing my bags and moving out of a house of fear & into a house of love.

  10. I was first introduced to Henri Nouwen through a church reading group in 2013. We read Life of the Beloved and I remember one of our group describing the book as “life changing.” I recall, during that same time, being very happy to find an online discussion here of the same book. Between the two groups, I remember finding that accepting myself as beloved in God’s eyes can be life changing. This morning I was browsing through my well-thumbed copy of Life of the Beloved I found I had highlighted this bit of Henri’s wisdom: “But let us be thankful for every glimpse of truth we can recognize and trust that there is always more to see – always.”

    Reading the preface of Love, Henri now, the idea of choice stood out to me. Henri wrote, “It is possible … to choose the house of love as our home.” It occurred to me that accepting myself as beloved by God and choosing the house of love are actions I can take.

    It has been awhile since I’ve participated in any of the discussions with this group, but I am looking forward to re-discovering and reflecting on some of those glimpses of truth that I am sure will arise during the course of this discussion.

    I have been retired from work at a large corporation since 2012 when I moved from California to the southern U.S. to be near my family. On this designated U.S. holiday of thanksgiving, I find much for which I am thankful, including this group.

  11. I live in Western Canada. I am a Cancer survivor! I have an empty nest and 3 great children who are a text away. I’m a Clinical Nurse Educator. My Mom lives in our community and I enjoy visits with her several times weekly.

  12. I’ve been reading Henri’s books for 25 years now. Whenever I need encouragement, I reach for one of his books. In October I reread “In Memoriam” and “Our Greatest Gift” as my elderly mother’s health declined. She died early this month. Henri’s words comforted me and helped me see that my mother’s spirit was sent out after she died.
    I live in western Canada, am retired and live with my husband surrounded by natural beauty. Our adult children and their children live a long day’s drive away so when we visit we stay for a couple of weeks. Until my mother’s death, I visited her weekly and looked after her affairs.
    I am looking forward to reading the second half of Love Henri, as I was enriched by being part of the discussion for the first half of the book.

    1. Susan,
      Welcome back. May the Lord and this community give you peace at this difficult time. And may Henri’s words and your mother’s spirit comfort and enlighten us all during this Advent season.

  13. I am a Canadian now retired near Philadelphia, PA. Henri was my teacher when I was a student at Yale Divinity School 1971-74. Henri single-handedly transformed the community at YDS and gave the school a new direction.
    Many of his lectures later became books, such as “Creative Ministry” and “The Wounded Healer”. I have quoted many times in sermons and other communications with my congregations. While there have been other influences, I’d have to say that Henri made the biggest impact on my spiritual life and ministry. When I returned home to Toronto from Florida to visit with my family, Henri and I got together for lunch at a cafe near the Daybreak Community in Aurora, ON. What a privilege! What a blessing!

  14. I have read through the book through 2017 as it was Christmas gift last year. Recently attended an evening at Redeemer University where the author of the book did a beautiful evening of reading selected portions of the book with several 100 old and new ‘fans and friends’ of our beloved Fr Henri

    Currently in a Letters to Marc group with 20 men in our city. But glad to add this book to my spiritual nutrition.
    Hoping to introduce a new generation to Fr henri’s Writings, including our 5 grandchildren.
    I live in Guelph, Ontario and look forward to journeying this Advent season with you all.

    Pace e bonum


    1. Welcome Luciano.
      I have also had the opportunity to see Gabrielle Earnshaw, the editor of Love, Henri, team with actor Joe Abby-Colborne to bring Henri’s letters to life in a very moving and memorable way.

  15. Hi, I generally geograph from BC, Canada. I am a handyman, dad, husband. I’ve participated in the past in two online discussions, including last year’s Love Henri part 1. I guess I’m a little surprised and perturbed by how much my faith journey has changed over the last few years, and enjoy a chance to contemplate things a little deeper with this book/group.

  16. From Melanie Norcutt
    Good morning! I do not have a copy of this book yet, but will get one by the end of the week. I was introduced to Henri Nouwen’s work a few years ago – an older person from church recommended his work and gave me a green hard copy of “Reaching Out”. I love his writing and have read a few more of his, The Prodigal Son being a very special one as well. I have received the morning updates from the society for a couple of years. I am married, with two grown children, teach elementary and continue to search for spiritual community. I look forward – very much- to sharing this book and the discussions to follow. Thanks for making this happen:))

  17. Thank you for the daily postings. I was introduced to Henri when staying with CSJD Sisters in Birmingham UK during Advent and always enjoy his beautifully crafted spiritual gifts.

  18. Looking forward to spending Advent with Henri’s spiritual direction again. I live alone now in Mississauga and fondly recall being introduced to his writings when spending Advent with Sisters at CSJD in Birmingham UK. They gave me some of his books when I was received as an Associate and I find him so inspirational. The daily postings are a real blessing.

  19. I heard Henri lecture while I was a student at the University of Notre Dame during his last year teaching there. I knew immediately that he had something new and important to say; he has been my spiritual guide ever since.

    What has always inspired me was Henri’s willingness to offer his struggles as a source of strength to others. He was open and honest about who he was and was not afraid to share his questions and doubts. I still treasure his reflections on the painting “The Return of the Prodigal Son.”

    I am retired now, living in Olympia, Washington, where I continue to teach and lead Bible Study in my home parish.

  20. The last Advent discussion group in which I participated was the Advent of 2014, the Advent during which my husband was dying. He died on Dec. 20, 2014. The group was a comfort for me as I kept vigil in that thin place between the two worlds. The last two Advents were too painful for me to join again but this Advent I look forward to it, feel called once again to this forum. Henri Nouwen has been a part of my spiritual life for over 25 years. His heart in his writings never gets old. I look forward to once again drinking in his wisdom and love.

    1. Welcome back Patricia. May the Lord’s peace be with you during this Advent journey. We look forward to your participation.

      1. Thank you, Ray, I still remember your kind words to me 3 years ago when I shared on Christmas Eve that Jim has died.

  21. I spend my days teaching in a local private school, coordinating youth programs for the St. Vincent dePaul Society, reading, hiking, and spending time with my children and grandchildren. When a friend introduced me to the writing of Henri Nouwen many years ago, I felt an immediate connection. Since then I have read many of his books, and I start my day with the online meditations. I have participated in many of the book discussions on this site, which always play a large role in my spiritual practices at Lent and Advent. Thank you once again, Ray and Brynn, for coordinating this effort. Thanks in advance to all of your for sharing your wisdom as “bread for the journey.”

    1. Elaine,
      It’s a joy to have familiar voices return time and again to this online community. It’s people like you that make it so special.

      1. I am new to this book discussion and quite new to the writing of Henri Nouwen. A friend of mine at Church introduced me to him and lent me two of his books, which I find touch me in a special way. I live in Hampshire UK and am a retired schoolteacher. I am very much looking forward to reading the book and the thoughts of my fellow readers.

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