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Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  238 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life features the wisdom that spiritual leader and counselor Henri J. M. Nouwen brought to the essential question asked by every Christian and seeker: What should I do with my life?

Nouwen emphasizes listening to the Word of God—in our hearts, in the Bible, in the community of faith, and in the voice of the poor as a way to discern Go
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 25th 2013 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 2011)
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Aug 15, 2013 Naomi rated it really liked it
The third of a posthumously published trilogy planned by Nouwen, the publishers recommend _Discernment_ for an Advent or Lenten study. After reading it, I agree, they would be fine for those times, but even more important in Ordinary Time. Why? That's when we need to practice discernment the most: every day. Holidays and fasts and feasts have their expected liturgies public and private, their practices and traditions. But it is in the ordinary days that we tend to get lost, to struggle to know o ...more
Mar 19, 2015 Stacey rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2015
I originally bought this book before I knew the other two existed, and I'm glad I was able to read it and see his perspective on how God talks to us through our days and how we can discern what is/is not said.

He was a Catholic Monk with what many would say was a very universalist liberal theology. It made me smile. Again, as with the first two books in this trilogy, it is suggested that the book be read in community and I think that would be an awesome thing. The discussion that could come from
Kelly Belvis
Mar 28, 2014 Kelly Belvis rated it really liked it
The first few chapters of this book were my favorites, I have gone back and reread all that I underlined in the first half of the book. In some spots and mostly in later chapters I found that I differ significantly on a few theological issues. This did not hamper my appreciation for the wisdom contained in the book. Though not written by Nouwen but taken from his diaries and writings the book revealed such a personal, transparent and vulnerable journey that I could easily identify with the searc ...more
Steve Watson
Nov 19, 2015 Steve Watson rated it it was amazing
I've read a few books by Nouwen, and this isn't properly one of them. Yet the words are all his. Michael Christensen and Rebecca Laird, two professors and former students of Nouwen's, collected this book from Nouwen's published and in a few cases, unpublished writings. Entitled Discernment, it focuses on reading what God is saying and doing by paying attention to the indirect ways God speaks to us.

There is much that is beautiful and much that is practical in this book. At the heart, though, is
Bob Price
Feb 16, 2014 Bob Price rated it really liked it

Reading Henri Nouwen is like drinking a fine wine. You need to savor every drop of it.

Discernment is a book of Nouwen's writings, however it is not a book written by him. Rather, it is based on his other writings and lectures that he gave. It follows the volume on Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Formation.

Nouwen has the ability to give both insight and understanding in such a way that you might feel that Nouwen is talking to you, rather than writing. This might be the fact that these are dic
Oct 19, 2014 Heather rated it really liked it
This book would make an excellent book for a church book club or small group meeting. Nouwen's writing is straightforward, but extremely powerful.


Ch. 1
"I will see great things when I am willing to be seen. I will receive new eyes that can see the mysteries of God's own life, but only when I allow God to see me, all of me, even those parts that I myself do not want to see."

Ch. 2
"The demon is patient in the way it seeks to devour and destroy the work of God."

"Self-rejection is the greatest
Keith Uffman
Nouwen isa must for those in the 2nd half of life.... brilliant. His biography is excellent, too
Joe McFadden
May 02, 2016 Joe McFadden rated it it was amazing
Possibly one of the best books on the topic of discernment I have read.

Preface: What This Book Is About
Discernment, is about reading the signs of daily life to “remember God” (memoria Dei), God’s time (kairos).

Foreword: Henri’s Way of Discernment
Instead of seeking a life free from pain and suffering, we should trust that Jesus is present in our pain and suffering. Henri believed that we can discern the depths of our lives and vocation only if we surrender our ego-centered view of reality.
Nov 19, 2014 Mare rated it really liked it
This is the third in a three part series posthumously published of Nouwen's work on spiritual direction that I feel is the best written of the three works. I have read numerous books in fact I love reading Henri Nouwen as an author and spiritual thinker and counselor. His work was introduced to me while I was on retreat. "Discernment" covers nothing new learning how to live a spiritual life, to read, and learn from book, people, nature, and community. That we need both solidarity and community. ...more
Benjamin Vineyard
Jun 30, 2015 Benjamin Vineyard rated it really liked it
Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life by Henri Nouwen (Book Reaction)

I picked up *Discernment* by Nouwen a few weeks ago with a dual interest: I was eager to read the next book in Nouwen's spirituality trilogy and I was beginning to experience new turbulence within my workplace which created desire for wisdom in navigation.

What I received was very helpful, very formative guidance in the practice of listening.

There wasn't much that was profound, per se, in Nouwen's writing this time, but
Aug 08, 2015 Gloria rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-the-spirit
This is a spiritual reflection by one of the great writers on religious topics. It is designed for personal searching and/or group discussion. Nouwen uses examples from his own life concerning such as determining a vocation, feeling called to do or undertake something, looking for signs in nature and silence, and so forth. Nouwen always has a gentle tone and an approachable style, often stating his own periods of doubt and questioning. While Nouwen is a Catholic priest, readers of all faiths wil ...more
Dec 14, 2014 Liz rated it really liked it
It's a little bit of a stretch to say Nouwen wrote this - it's technically true, but this book was gathered and edited posthumously from Nouwen's writings and sermons. Chapters 1-3 are solid gold for defining discernment - what it is and is not - as well as different signs God gives in our everyday lives.
Oct 07, 2014 Jonathan rated it really liked it
I really enjoy the posthumous works of Henri Nouwen. "Discernment" is no different; though at times the compilation seems a little ill-assembled, Henri is a gentle and gracious writer and that was encouraging to me. He speaks from experience about how to discern God's will. In particular, his chapter on vocation was moving to me.
Megan Cusumano
May 29, 2014 Megan Cusumano rated it really liked it
Though I do not completely agree with some of Nouwen's theological views throughout the book, mostly the end chapters, I find it to be a valuable, thought provoking and worth while read.
Feb 23, 2014 Emily rated it liked it
I love Nouwen, but I love Nouwen's original work so much more than the compilations, like this one, that editors have put together in the last few years.
Jun 01, 2014 Steve rated it did not like it
Interesting but marred by the worst multi faith ecumenism.
May 04, 2016 Mssmithvssa rated it it was amazing
In a world of spiritual fluff, Henri is solid.
Oct 01, 2014 Brittney rated it really liked it
Paradoxically simple in its complexity
Paul Bard
Apr 21, 2014 Paul Bard rated it really liked it
It was worth reading, okay book.
Jul 06, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing
You know you're reading the right book at the right time when you can't put it down. Rather unusual for me these days! Great thoughts on not only discernment, but disciplines needed to become a truly discerning person. A wonderful emphasis too on the need for a community to discern with you love.
Mar 15, 2016 Eric rated it it was amazing
Had to read this book, as I am struggling with a few things. Nouwen goes over almost everything you could think of in discernment. This includes, but isn't limited to discernment through people, reading, nature, current events, your vocation, identity and so on. Unfortunately I am more lost than ever, but it is not Nouwen's fault. I felt led to read Merton's no man is an island again.

As with all spiritual writing, tread carefully. Sit and ponder on every sentence to see if it resonates in you.
This book was fantastic! Nouwen has such a beautiful way of writing. His introspective writing had a profound impact on the way I think on this subject. My only complaint and the only reason I didn't give it the fifth star is because the last chapter in the appendix (not written by Nouwen) is written by a guy who insists on meshing Nouwen and the Christian mystic tradition with Eastern religions in a way that made me slightly uncomfortable.
Joy Matteson
What does it mean to listen to the silence that often is indicative of the voice of God? How would one go about discerning that voice in one's daily life? Never a one to stray from difficult questions, this Nouwen compilation includes some previously unpublished works of his as he beautifully illustrates what a life can look like as we discern God's presence and peace in our lives. Of course, very highly recommended, as always his works are.
Dec 31, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
While I think we always benefit from reading perspectives outside our own traditions, something about this Catholic mystic in particular always speaks to my heart.
Apr 09, 2015 Doni rated it it was ok
Shelves: partly-read
This read like an inspired bibliography.
Josh Gaudreau
May 07, 2016 Josh Gaudreau rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book - looking forward to the other two in the trilogy.
Michelle Bodle
Oct 12, 2013 Michelle Bodle rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Wonderful conclusion to this spiritual trilogy.
Dave Greene
Dave Greene rated it liked it
Jul 25, 2016
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Jul 25, 2016
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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 about Henri J.M. Nouwen...

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“In the Gospels, there are many examples of Jesus not giving a direct answer to questions put to him by his disciples and others. (For example, the mother of James and John asks whether her two sons might sit one at the right hand and the other at the left hand of Jesus in his kingdom, and Jesus responds, “Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” [Matt. 20:20–23].) He does this not because he has no patience with them but because their questions are the wrong questions; they are not the questions that live in God’s heart but belong instead to the fearful, anxious world of those who do not know who they are.” 3 likes
“Dear friends, I want you to hear this: what is said of Jesus is said of you. I know this can be hard to affirm. You are the beloved daughter or son of God. Can you believe it? Can you hear it not only in your head through your physical ears but in your gut, hear it so that your whole life can be turned around? Go to the scriptures and read: “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have written your name in the palm of my hand from all eternity. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you in your mother’s womb. I love you. I embrace you. You are mine and I am yours and you belong to me.” You have to hear this, because if you can hear this divine voice speak to you from all eternity, then your life will become more and more the life of the beloved, because that is who you are.” 1 likes
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