Apr 14 to Apr 20: XV. Jesus Rises from the Dead; Concluding Prayer

ReadingWalk With Jesus, Chapter XV; Concluding Prayer (pages 91-98)

As we enter Holy Week, we are coming to the end of our Lenten Walk With Jesus inspired by the paintings of Sr. Helen David and guided by Henri Nouwen. Thanks to all of you who have walked along, whether you joined us for the entire journey or stopped by occasionally during Lent. During our time together we have reflected on the fourteen stations of Jesus’ passion, crucifixion, death, and burial–stories we will hear recounted throughout this most important week of the Christian year. This week we look ahead with wonder and awe to glorious culmination of the Gospel story, Jesus Rises from the Dead, that we celebrate on Easter Sunday and in the Easter season that follows.

During these weeks of Lent, we have met, suffered with, and been inspired by the poor and marginalized from around the world. By encountering them and learning their stories we have come to better understand our own struggles and pains. And as Henri and Sr. Helen David remind us, Jesus is always present to unite his suffering with the suffering of God’s children. Yet, the suffering is not the end of the story. As Henri writes this week, “Yes, there is sadness but gladness too. Yes, there is grief, but joy as well. Yes, there is fear, but also love. Yes, there is hard work but celebration follows. And, yes, there is death, but also resurrection.” (p. 93)

We are people of the resurrection. In Henri’s words, “All is different and all is the same to those who say ‘Yes’ to the news that is whispered through the ages from one end of the world to the other. . . All is the same, and all is made new . . . And so the smile of God and the smile of God’s people reach reach each other and become one in the undying light that shines in the darkness.” (p 95)

You are encouraged to look back and reflect on Henri’s and Sr. Helen David’s remarkable presentation of the Stations of the Cross. Was their uncommon approach helpful in your preparation for Easter? Did the contemporary stories of the poor and suffering help you to see Jesus as Emmanuel, God-with-us, active in our world today? Have you encountered people with challenges similar to those portrayed in Sr. Helen David’s paintings in your life? How did you respond? Finally, and most important, how have you been touched spiritually during our Lenten journey and how will your life be different or what changes will you make as a result? Please share your thoughts to the degree you are comfortable doing so.

One final time, thanks to all of you for your participation, whether you actively posted or journeyed in silence. It has been a privilege and a pleasure for me to be with you this Lent. May you and yours have a blessed and joyous Easter season.

May the Lord give you peace.


P. S. This Advent we are planning to discuss Following Jesus–Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety that will be published on September 17th. This brand-new, never before published work of inspiration, is based on a series of lectures Henri gave in the basement of a church while teaching at Harvard. Edited by Gabrielle Earnshaw, the founding archivist of Henri’s papers, this book offers a compelling case for why Christianity is still relevant, beautiful, intelligent, and necessary in the modern world. More information will be available later this year.

20 Replies to “Apr 14 to Apr 20: XV. Jesus Rises from the Dead; Concluding Prayer”

  1. We have come to the end of our Lenten devotional study to see that it is not an end but a beginning. Our most generous Lord has shown us a path of generosity for us to live as a result of the most generous gift of resurrection life that he has given to us. Henri Nouwen in Chapter XV masterfully reveals to us magnificiant windows looking out to resurrection life which beckons us to experience.

    On page 93 we read:

    “The eyes of the poor can suddenly become luminous with hope and open up horizons far beyond the limited vision of a self-preoccupied humanity.”

    On page 94 we read how the words “He is risen” is birthed in communion with God, “an intimate message that could be truly heard and understood only by a heart that has been yearning for the coming of the kingdom”.

    On page 95 we read of the freedom we are able to walk in as we refrain from the distractions of our age as follows:

    “As we live our lives with resurrection faith, our burdens become light burdens and our yokes easy yokes because we have found rest in the gentle and humble heart of Jesus that belongs for all eternity to God.”

    The Apostle Paul shows us this same path of resurrection life giving us freedom:

    “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:18-21)

    Jesus’ generosity of his passion is our gift to allow generosity to lodge deeply into our hearts so we are forever changed living in a hope birthed from above allowing us to show grace to a world lacking generosity. Thank you Henri Nouwen for encouraging us to reaching beyond our limitations to heights encouraging us with wonder.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reflecting on the drawings of Sister Helen and the writing of Henri in our Lenten journey. It is a very powerful book and series of drawings. I liked every station and found something new in each one. I look forward to sharing this book with others, and have already sent it as a gift to two friends.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter season! Thank you for your personal reflections.

      1. Thank you, Ray, for drawing attention to Patrice’s comments, especially April 20, #28577….Patrice, your new way to think of Holy Saturday undergirds my own. The difference is I really had no prior thought of Holy Saturday, not something from my own faith tradition that has been cultivated so specifically. So grateful!

        Hosea 6:3 comes this a.m…”So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.”

        “His going forth is as certain as the dawn” undergirds the hope and joy in Jesus’ Resurrection for me, for the world. Pressing on…

        1. Thank you Marge, for you thoughtful passage from Hosea. As we pause during Easter week to think of the terrorist attacks on Christian churches, we know that we cannot turn away from the brutality of the world, but we also know that the brutality does not mean that God is not with us. We reach out to fulfill the promise of Jesus. Happy Easter! Pray, hope, continue.

  3. Friends,
    I’m humbled by the deep and sincere sharing that has taken place among this beautiful community throughout our Lenten journey together. I have followed along largely in silence, yet I have been blessed to read each comment as moderator. The wise and supportive comments that have been exchanged among the participants are particularly touching and rewarding.

    This afternoon I was blessed to serve as the Scripture reader for the Stations of the Cross and I just returned from the solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. While these Good Friday services are always moving and meaningful, my appreciation of their significance and for Jesus’ sacrifice was greatly enhanced by our shared experience this Lent.

    Although we have only met in this virtual community, I truly feel as if I know many of you personally through your participation in these discussions. It is for that reason that I always feel some sadness when a book discussion comes to an end. That is certainly the case this year where we were blessed not only with Henri’s words but Sr. Helen David’ stunning artwork. I hope that many of you will return for our Advent book discussion of Following Jesus–Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety.

    Until we meet again, may the Lord give you his peace and may you and yours be richly blessed.


    1. Thank you, Ray. A joyous and blessed Easter Season to you and your family. Thanks too for your guidance during our sharing this Lent. The questions and reflections you posed were very helpful in initiating our own reflection.

      1. Greatly appreciated. May the Lord continue to bless your grandson and your entire family.
        Happy Easter. The Lord is Risen!

    2. Thank you for this heart-filled and inspiring selection. I don’t want to break the silence of today too quickly, but….. Happy Easter, Ray! Happy Easter everyone! It has been an amazing journey, somewhat whirlwind for me since I had a delay in my postings, but still a powerful experience. I look forward to returning in Advent. The selections are wonderful and the community is loving and insightful. I am humbled to take part. I hope you all enjoy a prayerful Saturday and joyous Easter season.

  4. This week we have read: “The poor of the world carry in their hearts a resurrection faith … ” (Station XV). and “Dear Jesus, … you open my eyes to the ways in which your passion, death and resurrection are happening among us every day.”

    I am so grateful for Sr. Helen and Henri keeping my Lenten prayer so grounded this year. Through their images and reflections on those who are poor and suffering today, I have been able to see again how present Christ really is to us in humble simplicity. Lent helps us unfold the simple truth (that too often I try to make a complex formula) that the Creator loves us no matter what. To live in this simple truth is to be able to live deeply our resurrection hope. This is a gift. May we increasingly be mindful of this unbounded gift of love so that we can open our hearts in simplicity to receive it and in gratitude share it with a world so in need of hearing that good news!

    Thanks to the Nouwen Society and all of you for this opportunity to share in loving concern this Lenten Season. Little Luke, my grandson, continues gradual improvements. He still is not able to walk but can stand on his own and his personality has really perked up the last couple weeks. I appreciate all your prayers and kind thoughts for him. I pray that he will find full healing so that he may grow to celebrate and serve God’s kingdom.
    May we all find new life and light in our Easter celebrations. Christ’s peace to you all!

    1. Thanks, Ernie, to you as well. I, too, have found my prayer grounded this Lent and I make your words my prayer: that I be increasingly mindful of God’s gift of love and receive and share it to the world in which I live.

  5. I have been spending more and more time looking for things such as my glasses or phone; and the words “they look and do not see” often came to mind when I found something in a place that I had already looked. I eventually realized that I needed to turn on a light where once I had not. Ray has asked us to look back and reflect on the book’s presentation of the Stations of the Cross, and I have been doing so since we began. I was continually missing or losing track of something, so I am truly grateful for everyone’s sharing and discussions. They have become a light turned on for me, often pointing me to what I had not seen although I thought I was looking.

    Matt 25:31-36 underlies Sr. Helen David and Henri’s presentation of Jesus’ way to the cross. Teaching about the final judgment Jesus, speaks to the righteous saying, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. To the accursed he says, “Just as you did NOT do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” As I reflected upon last week’s discussions and my understanding grew, the word “comprehend” came to mind along with looking and seeing. I remembered Jesus’ reference to Isaiah 44:18 when he explained why he spoke in parables (Matt 13:10-13): “They do not know, nor do they comprehend for their eyes are shut, so that they cannot see, and their minds as well, so that they cannot understand.” To me, Walk With Jesus: Stations of the Cross is a parable that opens my mind to comprehend how I have been distancing myself from people and situations that discomfort me.

    1. Pat, your thoughts remind me of the 2 friends walking on the road to Emmaus…Jesus’ first question to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” Luke 24:17

      I’m so grateful for all the conversation with all of you in the past 30+ days. Truly Jesus has walked with us, revealing Himself, and like these 2….my heart has “burned within (me) while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the scriptures.” Like 24:32

      And Jesus’ question to His disciples when He appeared to them later, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” They are invited to touch and see…..I come away from this “walk” with courage to reach out, touch and see, and the challenge to keep trusting the way of Jesus/love of God in the midst of uncertainty, suffering and death….

      I, personally, found Holy Saturday, deep rest, the most quiet of days, the divine silence as most fruitful and “From this silence, the Word will be spoken again-and make all things new.” most penetrating. It speaks acceptance and surrender, yes, struggle ceasing…at the same time, “action comes forth from the rest of God in their hearts and is, therefore, free from obsession and compulsion, and rich in confidence and trust.”

      So very grateful for all God brought to me through word, image, conversation…all will continue to carry me through the next couple of days, when “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His Name to all nations…..You are witnesses of these things.”

      1. I appreciate your reflection, here Marge. Tomorrow will be busy and rather noisy with some of our family making ready for the next day. I pray that I will be mindful of and seek a time the quiet, silence and rest of which you write; your words will lead me there.

  6. Henri’s concluding prayer is a beautiful beginning to his healing path. Just as he feared looking at the world’s pain-filled cup, I could be afraid of the next telecast on the nightly news, depicting violence, tragedy, hatred or all three in one incident. But as Henri reminds me. “I hear Jesus say, “Do not be afraid to look, to touch, heal and comfort.”
    When I enter into my own or another’s pain, I come closer to the heart of God. These are words of consolation, giving courage to my steps. Thanks to Henri and to each one who participated in this “Walk with Jesus.” The smile of God reaches our smiles as we sing
    our Easter Alleluias! Hear it sung https://youtu.be/5rmmsrbX9_4

  7. I have serious appreciation for people’s sharing on this blogg and for the sharing during this Holy Week before Easter, especially in the entries about love. A while ago, I was in the confessional, with my problem and my conscience, and the Priest absolved me and gave me a penance of really focussing on what I am doing when I pray the Lord’s Prayer. So, naturally, me being me, I immediately got 12 books from amazon.com of people writing about praying The Lord’s Prayer. The book that has resonated the most with me was written by this Romano Guardini. Since then, have obtained some more books written by him. One is “The End of the Modern World. Some sort of relevant quotes from the introduction: “Guardini is proposing a different way of discovering one’s ‘location’ in the world; a different way of standing before history and, finally, before God.” “The question is not whether the glass is half full or half empty but what do you do when you know it’s empty.” “In Guardini’s view, there is a devastating discontinuity between how people once ‘located’ themselves in the world and our present circumstance. In the fine phrase of contemporary theologian Robert Jenson, ‘the world has lost its story.'” And also “Not only the Jewish-Christian story, but all the other stories that fed off that story, such as the story of progress. Guardini urges us not to be like Nietzsche’s pitiful ‘last man’ who never got the news that the jig is up. The old stories are exhausted, contends Guardini, they cannot be rehabilitated. There is nothing left for us now but to act upon, at long last, the invitation of Christ to rely on nothing but love. Not a sentimental love, but the harsh and dreadful love of the way of the cross.” For me, I’m taking away especially from this Lenten reading all of the pictures and descriptions of contemporary human suffering and finally also the picture Sister Helen painted on page 92 and Henri Nouwen’s observation that “These smiles come from the depths of hearts that know of a love that is real and everlasting.” That’s the challenge to me personally–to grow more and more deeply the depth of my heart, the love for Jesus, the love for all others, and to also be able like these folks in Sister Helen’s picture to show my face and smile to a world that needs to know again a real story of God and His Presence and love and relevance in it. Jesus is the primal example for me, but all of these people portrayed in Henri Nouwen’s book and you folks on the blogg also become examples for me and give me hope and courage for the journey ahead. Thank you for suggesting this book for this Lenten season and Happy Easter to all.

  8. Patricia Hesse shared ( March 25) the story of a Holocaust survivor, the Rabbi of Bluzhov, in which he recounted the lighting of the Hanukkah lights at Bergen Belsen. He lit the first light and chanted the first two blessings but hesitated before reciting the third that thanks God for preserving his people. He wondered how they could thank God when before them lay the “heaps of bodies of their beloved fathers, brothers, and sons” with “death looking from every corner.” Then he caught sight of the “large crowd of living Jews, their faces expressing faith, devotion, and concentration as they were listening to the rite of the kindling of the Hanukkah lights.” He then recited the third blessing and the Hanukkah lights shown in the midst of that darkness.

    Sister Helen David portrays fourteen of the Stations of the Cross as a metaphor for the suffering of a world where death looks on. At the fifteenth station, however, Christ has risen and “smiles breaking through the weathered faces of the women and men walking in procession speak of a deep faith in the resurrection (p. 93). Christ has brought a light into the world that darkness cannot quench; and despite the suffering in the world hope has also been present with hands reaching out to offer assistance and consolation.

    Thus Henri concludes with these words: “And so the smile of God and the smile of God’s people reach each other and become one in the undying light that shines in the darkness.” (95)

  9. Our shared time together with Henri and Sr. Helen’s images have helped me better understand the fragility, strength, and yes, the love found in suffering. Henri says in his concluding prayer: “I look at you, and you open my eyes to the ways in which your passion, death, and resurrection are happening among us every day.” It is in those most sacred places His love both whispers and embraces us.

    I use “Common Prayer – a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals” in my daily devotions. A few days ago I read a quote by Julian of Norwich, a 14th century anchorite, that further spoke to the truths of our shared study. She wrote about a vision she had in the midst of suffering: “What? Do you wish to know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who reveals it to you? Love. What did he reveal to you? Love. Why does he reveal it to you? For love. Remain in this, and you will know more of the same.”

    His Love permeates all.

    Thank you all for the love found in your sharing this Lenten season. I have been blessed.

  10. How appropriate to end this shared study with Henri’s final thoughts on the meaning of the resurrection. I am glad of the opportunity to be reminded of “the undying light that shines in the darkness” within this group. May you all experience the joy of Easter.

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