Henri J. M. Nouwen
The author of over forty books on spirituality,
Henri J. M. Nouwen was born
in 1932 in the Netherlands. He was drawn to religion as a child, and decided to
be a priest at a young age.
Nouwen followed this calling and was ordained in 1957. In addition to being a
Catholic priest, he also studied psychology. His first publication, 1969’s
Intimacy was based on both parts of his background, and was an examination of
He went on to teach at a number of universities, and worked in various
communities. Much of this is documented in his books, including his 1983 book,
Gracias! A Latin American Journal. His experience in the Trappist community is
the subject of The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery, which was
published in 1981.
Nouwen was also interested in the particulars of contemporary ministry. He
discusses the topic at length in The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary
Society, published in 1979. One of Nouwen’s most popular books, The Inner Voice
of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom, was a journal of his battle with
Much of Nouwen’s writing reflects his particular interests. He had been inspired
by the work of Rembrandt and Van Gogh, and his 1992 book, The Return of the
Prodigal Son: A Meditation on Fathers, Brothers, and Sons, focuses on
Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son. He was en route to Russia to take part
in a documentary about the artwork when he died of a heart attack in 1996.