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Life of the Beloved
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Life of the Beloved

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  4,364 ratings  ·  252 reviews
This spiritual classic began as a simple request from one friend to another. Fred Bratman, a secular journalist and writer, asked friend and renowned author Henri Nouwen to write a book explaining the spiritual life in terms that he and his friends could understand, avoiding theology and technical language. "Speak to us about a vision larger than our changing perspectives ...more
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Published December 25th 1996 by Crossroad Publishing Company (first published 1992)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeremy
While I love Nouwen, I was disappointed by this work. I found it to be a beautiful depiction of the Gospel message with one vital omission: Christ. He speaks of us as being (like the bread of the Eucharist) taken, blessed, broken, and given. It is a wonderful way of presenting the role we play in this world, and how God prepares us for this role. However, without the explanation of why we are broken and how we are blessed, the work rings hollow.

I find it interesting that in the epilogue Nouwen
...more
Lori Galaske
I've only read one Nouwen book that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. After reading Life of the Beloved, I've still only read one Nouwen book that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed (and I can't remember the name of that one). This book was, however, different from most of his other books, but his humility and love for God and people still seeped through every page. I loved this book for its simplicity and down-to-earthness. No high and lofty theology here - just the basics. We're human: broken and imperf ...more
Leslie
Parts of this book were incredibly good, but I can't recommend it unreservedly.

I resonated with his explanation of our being loved by God, missing that point, and therefore trying to substitute affirmation from the world in place of God's love.

I disagreed with his premise that we can influence this world as spirits after we die. I think that's Catholic vs evangelical theology.

But at the end, it turned out that he missed the mark. The book was written to a friend, a secular Jewish man, who aske
...more
Elizabeth
Written by a priest to a Jewish friend to explain the spiritual in everyday terms and thoughts that a secular person would understand.

I don't believe he accomplished his goal and his friend attests to that. However I did pick up a few thoughts that are worthy.

~When we persist in looking at the shadow side, we will eventually end up in the dark.
~Every time we decide to be grateful it will be easier to see new things to be grateful for.
~You have to choose where it is that you want to live.
~The ble
...more
Jenni
According to a friend I read this book with, it is very similar to Letters To A Young Poet, except with a Christ-centered perspective. It was meant to be written for a friend of Nouwen's (the author) who did not have the same faith as Nouwen and was entrenched in the secular world. He wanted to communicate that in a world so fast-paced and self-serving, when we know God's love we are able to claim our identity as "The Beloved". This allows us to not be as affected by the criticism of the world, ...more
Winston Elliott III
In this sublime work Fr. Nouwen offers: "The greatest gift my friendship can give to you is the gift of your Belovedness. I can give that gift only insofar as I have claimed it for myself. Isn't that what friendship is all about: giving to each other the gift of our Belovedness?"

This book is, at its essence, a love letter. A love letter from Nouwen to God, from God to each of us, and if we so choose, an offering of our love returned to our Creator who calls us Beloved.

Fr. Nouwen speaks to each o
...more
Carol
Re-read before Easter 2014. Nouwen's writing is amazing!!

"Life is a God-given opportunity to become who we are, to affirm our own true spiritual nature, claim our truth, appropriat and intergrate the reality of our being, but most of all, to say "yes" to the One who calls us the Beloved."

Nouwen wrote this book in response to longtime friend, Fred Bratman, request for "a word of hope to people who no longer came to churches or synagogues."
Nouwen explains spiritual life as:
I. Being the Beloved
...more
Reneesarah
More than being about what other people tell us spiritual life is based on experience. Anyone who reads this book will bring to the reading of it their own experience. It could not be otherwise. The experience of the book is an interaction, a kind of alchemy, between the experience of the reader and the writing of the author. And with each reader, the book becomes something new.

Henri Nouwen wrote this book for a friend, and the friend, in his honesty, found that the book did not turn out to be w
...more
Pat Treff
This is a sincere telling of the abundant love that God has for mankind and how we can find fulfillment and purpose by seeing ourselves as Chosen, Blessed, Broken, and Given. It speaks to those who have already found themselves hungry for spiritual food.

The secular world that Fred lives in allows him to function and even prosper without God and that is His design. Followers of Christ know the richness of having our spiritual life but who can see color if they are blind? For me, Henri describes
...more
Claudia
Thanks, Connor K, for waiting patiently for me to read and reflect on this book. On the surface, it's the story of a friendship. A younger Jewish man and an older Catholic priest. Their differences may define them, but they find bridges to each other and forge a strong relationship. Here Nouwen attempts to explain to his young friend why faith is important in the modern world, and how it can help people lead their very best lives.

He's organized his letter around the concept of being the Beloved
...more
Elizabeth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gerald Thomson
There are a few books a person reads in their lifetime that changes their life. This is one of them. In a clear, straightforward delivery, Nouwen provides his view on how to live life well. The principles are nothing new (know that you are beloved by God, give yourself to others, bless those you come in contact with), but Nouwen’s personal openness effected me like none of his other books that I have read. Written as a letter to a younger, secular Jew, the friendship shared, the struggles gone t ...more
Clare
Exquisitely simple. Simply exquisite.
Joseph
Life of the Beloved take a simple passage from scriptures (Matthew 17:5) and builds a series of reflections on the meaning of the "beloved" by approaching it from different angles and different levels to illuminate the reader on what it truly is to be loved by God or others; loving those are lovable, broken, or different; and finally how to act upon the love we are given and the love we choose to give. While done rarely, the writing at times borders on the esoteric.

The book's genesis came from a
...more
Lacey Louwagie
This is a beautifully written, comforting book. In it, Henri Nouwen answers a challenge posed by a young, secular Jewish friend of his: to write something spiritual that "secularists" could relate to. He set out to explore how we can learn to "live life as the Beloved" (of God) by finding meaning in being beloved, blessed, broken, and taken. The chapter on "Brokenness" was the one that resonated most with me -- about how in allowing ourselves to live in our moments of emotional brokenness we ope ...more
Blake
One of the best, Christian, inspirational books I've ever read. Paralleled my life beautifully, and a man definitely moved by the Holy Spirit, Christ, and who has come to an understanding and love, I'd say 2% of this world have ever known.
It is too bad he is gone, I would have loved to have met him. For anyone trying to relate more to God and this world, I would say this one is a must read.
Mike
An excellently written, inspiring work on the value of each human being.

This book presents the reader with a sense of his/her great importance as the "Beloved of God" and the purpose of our suffering. It further offers principles as to how to turn our suffering into joy and peace.

Well done!

I believe I'll read more works by this priest.
Sue
This was originally written by Henri Nouwen for a secular Jewish friend of his. He wanted not to 'convert' him, but to help him understand how much God loved him, to sense that he was a beloved child in a broken world.

The writing is powerful and moving, using as themes for individual chapters the four words: Taken, Blessed, Broken and Given. Nouwen examines what these concepts have meant to him over the years, and how he has - very slowly - come to accept the love of God no matter what his circ
...more
Amanda
This is the first Nouwen book I have read in it's entirety. I was at first taken aback by it's stripped down spiritual language and then captivated by its simply beautiful understanding of the underpinnings of the Gospel. "The unfathomable mystery of God is that God is a Lover who wants to be loved." It isn't something I haven't heard before, but Nouwen captures a sense of awe and profound humility with language at once bare and richly cloaked in Biblical metaphor. This spoke to my heart, though ...more
Susan
Henri Nouwen primary premise is that everyday life can be seen in the light of God's love. In being the beloved, Nouwen breaks it down into four areas: chosen; blessed; broken; and given. Some important ideas he shares; we must be in touch with our own goodness to discover the goodness of others; we aren't alone and much affirm each other; being broken opens us to a deeper way of sharing; and there is joy of being able to give or do for another person. Also, we have a spirit that will bring joy, ...more
Amory
I feel I could pick up this book at any time and be reminded of the most simple and profound truths of identity. Nouwen's conversational prose with a friend makes the heart of the book easily identifiable and accessible.
Stephanie
On occasion I read or hear something that is exactly what I need to read or hear. Such was the case with Henri Nouwen's classic, Life of the Beloved. Twice in the past fifteen years I had begun this book only to give up before the end of the first chapter. Yet this third time I persevered and will be forever grateful that I did.

In this book, Nouwen writes directly to a friend about what it means to be, and how to be, the Beloved in a secular world. Although most of the messages we receive in our
...more
Aprils
This is a book that I have turned to countless times for encouragement. It talks about how, as children of God, we are taken, blessed, broken, and given. This book resonates with me very deeply. I think of Nouwen as someone who sees the world the same way that I do. I found it interesting that Nouwen wrote this book for his friend, but his friend didn't find it useful. There are parts in this book that I see as naive and overly sentimental, but they still have a way of speaking to me, because th ...more
Mark Lacy
I have to admit that while I enjoyed reading this, I could also identify to some degree with "Fred", who basically said this was so far beyond his experience and that of his friends that he couldn't really get that much out of it. I'm sure I got more out of it than Fred did. But, that doesn't mean I grasped - really grasped - what Nouwen was trying to convey, either. I also noted that Jesus, the Christ, did not come up in the book. Just God. Maybe this was deliberate, as Nouwen was writing this ...more
Dale
Probably one of Henri's most important books. It is difficult for many people to understand themselves as "Beloved".
Scott
A very easy read, generally speaking. Good reminder of truth that God looks at each of us as the Beloved.
Candice
Another wonderful book filled with short beautiful anecdotes that made me laugh and cry and rejoice at the same time. I think Nouwen was a beautiful human being, and what he allows other to do - to be able to see themselves in light, and to see this world and what it offers for what it really is, without fear and without anxiety, is a voice in our generation that needs to be heard again. As I am discovering more about myself, his writings have become so pivotal to my understanding of who I am, h ...more
Jason Custer
Really enjoyed this small book, as the first I've read of Nouwen. It speaks to something I wrestle with personally - not having to earn God's love. I think the main reason I enjoyed it so much was because it felt so genuine - you could tell he wrote about something he cared about (and had experienced) to someone he cared about. He wasn't just writing to produce an eloquent book or bestseller, he was writing from his heart about what he finds most important. I really appreciated that. I will defi ...more
Wallis
Fr. Joe and the St. Catherine of Sienna Church gave everyone a copy of this inspiring book at the beginning of Lent last year, but it was only a few days ago that I began reading it. Wow, what an incredible book. It truly is a gift to read and I will be referring to it on many occasions, I'm sure. I know several people I'll probably send copies to, as I feel this is one of those Pay-It-Forward things that Fr. Joe meant to start last Lent. I would encourage everyone to read it, as well, and hear ...more
Katy
Written by a priest in an attempt to reach a secularized culture, Nouwen writes about the reasons we were created. We were created to be taken (choosen), blessed, broken, and given by God. It's an interesting perspective on why we are here, although I've heard a lot of the ideas in other books and conversations (not sure which came first, though). I don't come from the exact background as the author, but if you have any background in Christianity, the concepts are easy to follow. I don't think t ...more
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Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen (Nouen), (1932–1996) was a Dutch-born Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books on the spiritual life.

Nouwen's books are widely read today by Protestants and Catholics alike. The Wounded Healer, In the Name of Jesus, Clowning in Rome, The Life of the Beloved, and The Way of the Heart are just a few of the more widely recognized titles. After nearly two decades of
...more
More about Henri J.M. Nouwen...
The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership The Inner Voice of Love The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry

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“Aren't you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don't you often hope: 'May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.' But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death.” 144 likes
“the real "work" of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me.

To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear the voice of blessing-- that demands real effort. ”
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