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prayer

The great paradox of life is that those who lose their lives will gain them. This paradox becomes visible in very ordinary situations. If we cling to our friends, we may lose them, but when we are nonpossessive in our relationships, we will make many friends. When fame is what we seek and desire, it often vanishes as soon as we acquire it, but when we have no need to be known, we might be remembered long after our deaths. When we want to be in the center, we easily end up on the margins, but when we are free enough to be wherever we must be, we find ourselves often in the center. Giving away our lives for others is the greatest of all human arts. This will gain us our lives. Henri Nouwen

Human relationships easily become possessive. Our hearts so much desire to be loved that we are inclined to cling to the person who offers us love, affection, friendship, care, or support. Once we have seen or felt a hint of love, we want more of it. That explains why lovers so often bicker with each other. Lovers’ quarrels are quarrels between people who want more of each other than they are able or willing to give. It is very hard for love not to become possessive because our hearts look for perfect love and no human being is capable of that. Only God can offer perfect love. Therefore, the art of loving includes the art of giving one another space. When we invade one another’s space and do not allow the other to be his or her own free person, we cause great suffering in our relationships. But when we give another space to move and share our gifts, true intimacy becomes possible. Henri Nouwen

I pray for courage to mourn so that I may be strengthened. There is much to mourn, for we feel grief not only for the physical death of one we love or admire. I mourn for the loss of dreams and the presence of nightmare…Until I can mourn the loss of a dream I cannot be comforted enough to have vision for a fresh one. Madeleine L’Engle

Care is something other than cure. Cure means “change.” A doctor, a lawyer, a minister, a social worker-they all want to use their professional skills to bring about changes in people’s lives. They get paid for whatever kind of cure they can bring about. But cure, desirable as it may be, can easily become violent, manipulative, and even destructive if it does not grow out of care. Care is being with, crying out with, suffering with, feeling with. Care is compassion. It is claiming the truth that the other person is my brother or sister, human, mortal, vulnerable, like I am. When care is our first concern, cure can be received as a gift. Often we are not able to cure, but we are always able to care. To care is to be human. Henri Nouwen

What does it mean to be a Christian in a world that is crucifying the poor and the environment on the same cross? Hear the prayers of the people. Hear, oh God, the prayers of the people. What does it mean to be a Christian when we bail out our banking class with 400 billion dollars, yet allow those banks to kick Americans out of their homes? Homes that cost too much because of financial speculation on the housing market. Occupy Breakfast

Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it. What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice. Henri Nouwen

Inscribe with your precious blood, most merciful Lord, your wounds on my heart, that I may read in them both your sufferings and your love. Gertrude of Helfta

Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched. Henri Nouwen

When the heathen hear the words of God from our lips, they marvel at them as something beautiful and great. However, when they find out that our deeds are unworthy of the words we speak, they turn from this to blasphemy. They say it is a myth and a delusion. Clement

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Each of us has his own endowment from God, one to live in this way, another in that. It is an impertinence, then, to try to find out why St. Paul was not given St. Peter’s grace, or St. Peter given St. Paul’s. There is only one answer to such questions: the Church is a garden patterned with countless flowers, so there must be a variety of sizes, colors, scents — ​of perfections, after all. Each has its value, its charm, its joy; while the whole vast cluster of these variations makes for beauty in its most graceful form. Francis de Sales

Often we are preoccupied with the question “How can we be witnesses in the Name of Jesus? What are we supposed to say or do to make people accept the love that God offers them?” These questions are expressions more of our fear than of our love. Jesus shows us the way of being witnesses. He was so full of God’s love, so connected with God’s will, so burning with zeal for God’s Kingdom, that he couldn’t do other than witness. Wherever he went and whomever he met, a power went out from him that healed everyone who touched him. (See Luke 6:19.) If we want to be witnesses like Jesus, our only concern should be to be as alive with the love of God as Jesus was. Henri Nouwen

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