Announcing the Nouwen Book Selection for Lent 2020

If you participated in the Henri Nouwen Book Discussion for Advent (or just quietly followed along), then you already know our book selection for Lent. But if you’re joining us for the first time, you’re in for a treat. We are delighted to announce that Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming has been selected as our focus for discussion throughout Lent 2020.

The Return of the Prodigal Son

Released in 1992, The Return of the Prodigal Son quickly became a spiritual classic and has endured as Henri Nouwen’s most popular book, having sold over a million copies. It’s a profound and deeply personal meditation based on the famous painting by Rembrandt van Rijn of the well-known Gospel parable.

In writing about Rembrandt’s painting in light of his own personal journey and experiences, Nouwen explores the familial connection of the three key figures in the painting: the returning younger son who has squandered his inheritance, the loving and forgiving father, and the righteous, yet resentful, older brother.

When Nouwen first encountered a reproduction of the painting, he immediately saw it as a portrayal of God receiving a repentant sinner. A year later, on a trip to Russia, Nouwen spent two days in front of the original masterpiece at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. Henri continued to think and write about it for the next four years.

The painting introduced Nouwen to a new revelation of God and of himself. At first, Henri saw himself as the younger brother, full of mistakes, bad choices, and in desperate need of forgiveness; then he saw himself as the pious, yet bitter, older brother. Eventually, Henri grew to recognize that he was called to become the father, the one brimming with love, compassion, and forgiveness.  The challenge to love as the father and be loved as the son is a pivotal task facing everyone who wishes to grow deeper in faith and in their relationships with others.

Join us on Ash Wednesday, February 26th for greetings and introductions. Then beginning on Sunday, March 1st we’ll journey through the Lent season reading and sharing insights gleaned from this wonderful work of inspiration.

A reading schedule can be viewed by clicking on the Reading Schedule tab in the menu bar above. Facilitator Ray Glennon will prompt each week’s discussion by offering thoughtful questions and insights to get the discussion going.

The Lent online book discussion is a wonderful way to enrich and give focus to the Lenten season. We hope that you will join us!

Need a copy of the book? It is available at many bookstores, or you can order it online through the Bookstore tab in the menu bar above.

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36 Responses to Announcing the Nouwen Book Selection for Lent 2020

  1. Amy Alexandra Singleton says:

    Good morning, this first Sunday or Lent. I just discovered this and was so excited to be a part of this Walk with all of you during this time. I was recently introduced to his writings and books by my my Chaplin experience at the hospital, and also through my daughter who will begin seminary in fall of 2020. VTS. Her parish did a walk with Prodigal Son last year.
    Blessing to all.
    Amy S.

  2. Louise Cantin says:

    Hi, my name is Louise and I live in Montréal, Canada. Thirteen years ago as I was going through a period of professional and personal turbulence, I was introduced to my first Henri Nouwen book: The Inner Voice of Love. Henri’s words rang so true to my heart…his authenticity and simple, yet profound message helped turn my life around. I now minister as a Spiritual Companion and I look forward to my first community reading and sharing. I will be reading Le retour de l’enfant prodigue, communion of spirits and…languages! Blessings to all.

  3. Isa says:

    Looking forward to joining in with all of you!

  4. Debbie Vaughn says:

    Looking forward to this book study and the fruits that will accompany it this Lenten season.

  5. Amy says:

    Excited to begin! Thanks for the flexibility of how this will flow. Looking forward to it.

  6. Sandy Johnson says:

    Looking forward to reading the book with you all — praying God uses this to heal, strengthen, and deepen my walk with him.

  7. Jo Ann Moore says:

    Looking forward to joining in!

  8. Michael Harris says:

    Sister Miriam James Heidland and the ladies at the Abiding Together Podcast are also going through The Return of the Prodigal Son this lent. The first episode is available now for those who are interested. I’m sure it would make a great compliment to this study.

  9. Caroline Hill says:

    I am looking forward to this discussion. A few years ago I had the privilege of visiting The Hermitage and seeing this painting. I would have loved to spend more time in front of it. I did purchase a reproduction in the gift shop. When I arrived back home I purchased Henri’s book As I read the book I kept the picture in front of me. I learned so much doing that. Henri revealed so much about Jesus. I am looking forward to this Lenten discussion

  10. Rev. Dr. Robert Brown says:

    Very happy to join in this Lenten sharing/discussion . Have been to the Hermitage and remember feeling I was standing in a sacred space. I am looking forward to being renewed/revitalized by Henri’s spirit moving in me through reading and sharing. Thank you for allowing a Protestant to walk alongside all of you. After all, we are o the same journey toward the same goal to share in the BIG SEMINAR! Bob Brown

  11. Patrice Donnelly says:

    I look forward to the 2020 Lenten discussions!

  12. Suzanne Domzalski says:


    I am planning to participate in the Lenten Reading Discussion Group.
    1. When on Ash Wednesday will the introductions take place? I am out of town & not available during the day, but could participate in the intros. from 6:00 pm EST on.
    Please advise.
    2. Re: the discussion portion? Is that posted at a particular time of day? If so, when?
    3. Is the discussion live, done via the “Leave a Reply” feature above, or in some other format?
    Thanks very much! Looking forward to getting started! Peace, Suzanne

    • Hello Suzanne,

      I am glad to hear you are planning on joining us.

      Ray will get things underway on Wednesday with a greeting and an invitation for everyone to introduce themselves. Generally, participants offer a little information about themselves: where they live, what are they looking forward to throughout the discussion, if they have participated before, that sort of thing. I suspect Ray will make his first post on Wednesday morning (ET), and you can submit your comments any time after. Since it is a moderated discussion, comments are posted after Ray or I have had a chance to review them.

      Regarding the discussion itself, that begins on Sunday, March 1, the first Sunday in Lent. The reading schedule is posted above. (Just click on “Lent 2020 Reading Schedule” in the black bar beneath the photo.) There is no set time for the post, although I believe Ray usually has it up in the mornings (again, eastern time). The discussion isn’t live per se, but you can submit comments and respond to other people’s comments throughout the week. It’s during the week that the discussion gets really interesting, with people having had time to read over what others have written. New questions for reflection and discussion on the next section of the book are posted the following Sunday.

      I am delighted you are eager to get started. Looking forward to a great discussion!

      • Suzanne Domzalski says:

        Thanks very much,

        Just to confirm, about the Weds. intros., after Ray’s post, participants will be able to respond/comment at any time during the day/evening with no cutoff time.

        Thanks again for your patience! The process is a new one for me.

  13. Miriam Walter says:

    Greetings from Auckland.

    This is such a wonderful chance to follow the discussion online.

    I would love to participate and feel already welcomed.

    Many thanks Ray


  14. Looking forward to this. Just scheduling it on my calendar with a link.


  15. Ray Glennon says:

    The reading schedule for our discussion of The Return of the Prodigal Son this Lent is now posted. Click on the Reading Schedule link in the black border below the photograph at the top of this page.

    I’m looking forward to welcoming old and new friends beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 26th.

    Ray Glennon

  16. I would like to participate

    • Hi Elaine,

      So glad you plan to join us. Please check back on Ash Wednesday for greetings and introductions facilitated by Ray Glennon. The book discussion will begin the following Sunday. Ray will have the reading schedule posted prior to the start of the discussion.

  17. Charlie Thermos says:

    Hi Ray
    Can you let me know if I can participate in this book club from Australia?

    Warm regards
    Charlie T

  18. Dorothy Marais says:

    I would like to subscribe but do not know how.

    • Hi Dorothy,

      No subscription is necessary. Just come back on Ash Wednesday to introduce yourself and to meet others who will be participating in the discussion. The actual discussion will begin on the first Sunday of Lent.

  19. Ann Rempel says:

    Cannot find link to discussion

  20. Gloriamarie Amalfitano says:

    “A reading schedule can be viewed by clicking on the Reading Schedule tab in the menu bar above. Facilitator Ray Glennon will prompt each week’s discussion by offering thoughtful questions and insights to get the discussion going.”

    I don’t see a Reading Schedule tab or a menu bar. Please help

  21. Peggy Guiler says:

    The times of this event conflict with my attending my home church. Wondering if the sessions will be recorded so I can listen later.

    • Hi Peggy,

      The discussion will all be online posts. You can participate when it best suits your time schedule.Posts will be published just as soon as Ray or I have an opportunity to review them.
      Hope you can join us.

  22. I cannot find the lent reading schedule. There is a link but no schedule.
    Thank you

  23. Christine henderson says:

    I may introduce this to my house group

  24. Jane C says:

    Schedule shows only how to comment. Hoping to participate!

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