Reading: Preface, p. vii to viii
In the course of writing I became aware that I was engaged. . .
in rediscovering Jesus and the meaning of my
existence for myself. —Henri Nouwen
As we enter this season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in preparation for Easter, we welcome you to the Henri Nouwen Society 2022 Lent book discussion. If you have joined us for previous book discussions, welcome back. And if you are here for the first time, thank you for joining our vibrant and spirit-filled community as we share a fruitful and enlightening discussion on our Lenten journey.
For many Christians, Lent is a season of reflection and conversion when our heart and minds are turned to Christ as we seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus more faithfully. Our book selection, Letters to Marc About Jesus—Living a Spiritual Life in a Material Word, will inspire, challenge, and encourage us to encounter Jesus, just it did for Henri (see quote above and Preface) when he wrote these letters, primarily during Lent 1986.
Henri was in the midst of a major life transition when he composed these letters to his 19-year old nephew, with the mutual understanding they were intended to be published. In the spring of 1985 he had resigned from his teaching post at the Harvard Divinity School and Henri spent most of the next year living in the L’Arche community in Trosly, France. He was discerning whether he was called to live in community with and to minister to the severely handicapped core members at L’Arche and their assistants. Interestingly, during Lent 1985, just prior to resigning from Harvard, Henri had presented a series of talks at St. Paul Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts that also focused on Jesus. These talks were published for the first time in 2019 as Following Jesus—Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety. In hindsight, it seems clear that during this time of turmoil and transition, Henri’s heart and mind had turned in a particular and deeply fruitful way to Jesus—and we are blessed to be able to harvest that fruit this Lent. As we will see in Letter VII, by September 1986 Henri had followed Jesus’ call to his new home at L’Arche Daybreak, just north of Toronto, where he lived until his unexpected death ten years later.
Our discussion begins in earnest on the March 6th, the First Sunday of Lent. If you are joining us for the first time or if you would like a refresher, the instructions for our online book discussion are provided below my brief biography.
As we begin our journey together, it’s always nice to know something about our companions. 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 and read Henri Nouwen and whether or not you have participated in previous Henri Nouwen Society online discussions.
- What you hope to gain from this experience.
I’m looking forward sharing a spirit-filled Lenten season with this online community of seekers as we gather together to to discuss Letters to Marc About Jesus by Henri Nouwen. Please scroll to the bottom to post a comment.
Ray Glennon: Ray and his wife Dawn live in Columbia, Maryland. He 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 at a difficult and transformative point in his life. 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 will present a new adult education course, “Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son: The Story and Backstory” later this spring. Ray and his wife are professed members of Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) and he volunteers in his parish Confirmation program and other ministries. You may contact Ray by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter.
Henri Nouwen Society Online Book Discussion Instructions
Let’s briefly describe how our online book discussion works. If you’ve joined us before, this will serve as a review.
Beginning this Sunday, March 6th, and each Sunday throughout Lent, a new entry or post will be added to the book discussion (the blog) home page. The post will identify the reading for the week, present a brief moderator’s reflection, and suggest some questions for discussion. Participants are invited and 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 throughout the week.
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. After you submit a new comment or a reply, it needs to be “approved” either by me or Will at the Nouwen Society so it may take a few hours before it actually appears on the blog page. If you have any questions or problems, please do not hesitate to contact me by email at email@example.com.