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Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  1,038 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Newly repackaged, Making All Things New is an eloquent and simple explanation of the spiritual life from Henri J.M. Nouwen, author of Letters to Marc About Jesus and A Letter of Consolation and one of the best-loved spiritual writers of the twentieth century.
Hardcover, Reissue, 96 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by HarperOne (first published June 3rd 1981)
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Scriptor Ignotus
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: christianity
To pray is to pay attention; to listen for the voice of the Real both within oneself and as it sounds through a community of persons. “Sounding through” is a translation of the Latin word personare, from which the English word personality is derived. To be a person—to have personality—is to have ears attuned to the hearing of the ineffable, which speaks both from within and from without. But not all those who have ears are accustomed to using them. The mental noise and clutter with which we choo ...more
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, christian-living
This book was just what I needed at the moment. I had no idea that the feelings I have been wrestling with for years were rooted in worry. But worry is a major stumbling block to the life of the spirit. This book is not written to be a full treatment of the issue but as an invitation--a prologue-- to go deeper. He wrote this to be a concise description of how he understands the Spiritual life.

Nouwen writes with a clean, easy prose that is a pleasure to read. I really enjoyed this book and it ma
Henri Nouwen has been a treasured spiritual mentor for many of us. I first read In the Name of Jesus back in seminary and have read some of his other books over the years. It is always a win when I am perusing a used bookstore and come across a work by Nouwen. This little book makes a good weeklong devotional. The first chapter diagnoses the problem, while the second chapter talks about the kingdom. The third chapter discusses two key spiritual practices for entering into the spiritual life - so ...more
Finally, finally, my first Henri Nouwen. He's been on my to-read list for many years. I hope to read many more of his books through the years.

I've shelved this with easy reads not because the subject matter is "easy" but it's a short, small book and you can get through it fast. But since it's a book about the contemplative life, this is slightly ironic. Lingering recommended :)

This book is about "the spiritual life" but it's specifically about how a spiritual life cultivates a certain resistanc
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very quick! And very dear, as all Nouwen works are. I’m going to be working through his thoughts on the life of worry vs life in the spirit for a while.
Bo Cogbill
Feb 19, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My still small voice was crying, "No!!!"

Short version: Ed Clowney's Christian Meditation would be a similar length, much more faithful treatment of this topic, for those interested.

Long version warning: critical review by someone who's seen the ravages books like this leave in the lives of good, godly people who really do want to know and love the Triune God and honor Him with their lives.

I don't say this lightly, but books like this are a major source of slavery and angst for God's people. To
Martijn Vsho
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderfully short book about how to live a spiritual life. Nouwen talks about the constant worries in our society and how we need to put them in perspective by focusing on Jesus and making him the center and the lens through which we see all else. He concludes his short book with two ways of practicing this: attentive listening to God in prayer and in community. Nouwen realizes how different every individual is and shares how different this can look in each person. I appreciate his un-dogmatic ...more
Will Henry
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have returned to this little book again and again for its simple wisdom. In an age shaped by the false compulsions of news and anxiety, Nouwen helps us locate our real enemies --vague discontent, boredom, fear, false preoccupations.

He sets aside two words for special consideration --"absurd" --from the Latin surdus, meaning deaf, and "obedience" from the Latin "audire" to hear.

We can't live on a constant diet of absurdity and anxiety. But we can listen fiercely to who Christ says we are and
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is short at 96 pages and is written in three sections, all of which are easy to read. But there is such powerful insight in the words Nouwen uses.

I can read his work every day as there is such wonderful clarity around the understanding of the human condition plus he writes in this wonderfully melodic style that is non-judgemental and peaceful.

The book starts with identifying busyness as a key enemy to a spiritual life. However, he highlights the fact that busyness doesn't necessarily lead t
Ryan Neace
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Classic Nouwen. If you're read all of his other items, this is nothing terribly new, except perhaps how he fleshes out what he refers to as "the discpline of community" vs. "the discipline of solitude." The latter is a regular reference for him, but the former less so, and thinking of community as a "discipline" was a new experience for me.
Sep 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: spiritual
I like Nouwen's simplicity and accessibility. This was a good introduction to the Spiritual Life. For me, the best part was chapter 3 on solitude and community. Some very timely remarks that I can apply to my own life.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
In this book Nouwen describes what it means to live a spiritual life. We live in a worry-filled world, but are called to live a spiritual life. He calls us to the disciplines of solitude and community. A great book to start with if you are pursuing the spiritual life.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Fine little book but badly titled. A better title might have been something like "How Solitude and Prayer Can Help Overcome Worry." But if you're looking for something on a fresh start or redemption or something like that, this is not the book you want.
May 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Henri Nouwen writes with the care, wisdom, and gentleness of a good father. Making All Things New is a simple primer on the spiritual life. In it, Nouwen suggests that worry is the most significant obstacle to the rich spiritual life. Nouwen invites us to participate in Christ’s kingdom reality in this world, primarily through solitude and community.

He says that participating in the life Christ has for us will not wipe away the difficulties of this life, but will fill it with a meaning that we
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nouwen is a personal favorite, having read many of his works. His voice was in the genre of wisdom literature and this book beautifully illustrates his considerable writing skills.

This particular work focuses on the inner life plagued by busyness and a number of emotions linked to a sense of purposelessness. On some summary remarks of chapter one he writes: “Today worrying means to be occupied and preocuppied with many things, while at the same time being bored, resentful, depressed, and very l
Bill Catchings
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Making All Things New is a short book that looks at reconciling our crazy busy lives with putting God's Kingdom first. Nouwen discusses the paradox that our lives are somehow both overly filled and yet are ultimately unfulfilled. Like most of his work that I have read, this book forced me to think about how I live my life. At the same time, Nouwen's life was so far from mine that I find it hard to directly apply what he writes. Despite that, his honesty makes what he writes very approachable. He ...more
Joel Rodriguez
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
We have our occupations to keep us busy and our preoccupations that limit us from living in the moment. We live unfulfilled lives and substitute our yearning for meaning with the businesses that life offers. When we set our eyes on "The Kingdom" we supersede the earthly worries we tend to focus on. We need the Spirit to guide us. Two disciplines that Nouwen suggests to grow one's spiritual life is solitude and community. Solitude to come before God and spend time with the One who holds it all. A ...more
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-read
Making All Things New
Henri J.M. Nouwen

This a little book with a powerful message. The Message is is Jesus Christ. You do not have to live in a monetary to live a spiritual life, you just need to live as our Father Creator wanted us to live. Be the person He created you to be. Put god first in your life. We must set our hearts on His kingdom first. There are 2 disciplines we need live a spiritual life they are 1) solitude 2) community . Read this book and find out how these two things that
Jodie Pine
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
"One of the most notable characteristics of worrying is that it fragments our lives. The many things to do, to think about, to plan for, the many people to remember, to visit, or to talk with, the many causes to defend, all these pull us apart and make us lose our center. Worrying causes us to be 'all over the place,' but seldom at home. One way to express the spiritual crisis of our time is to say that most of us have an address but cannot be found there."

"Jesus wants us to move from the 'many
Tommy Kiedis
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
Henri Nouwen provides a brief overview of the spiritual life. He titled the book, Making All Things New, since he hoped "to describe the spiritual life in which the Spirit of God can recreate us as truly free people." As In the Name of Jesus, Nouwen divides his work into three parts: The destructive effects of worry in the daily life; How Jesus responds to our worry with new life in the power of the Spirit of God; The power of solitude and community as devices the Spirit uses to arrest worry and ...more
Ben Rauscher
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A concise but rich understanding of the spiritual life. I plan to come back to this one. Nouwen with his typical clarity and depth writes about how we easily become both occupied (busy) and “pre”-occupied (anxious about the future), and how through the paired disciplines of solitude and spiritual community, we create space in our lives in which God can “make all things new” and the spiritual life can exist. He also discusses how it’s better to have just a few minutes of silence/contemplation con ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book that is as relevant today as it was nearly 40 years ago when it was written. I read it as someone who is on the path to a more spiritual life, as he calls it (others might say ‘mystical’). The only thing that would have made this book any better is perhaps touching a bit more on the aspects of Kenosis (as he touches on Theosis - and the two must go together), as well as a mention of the role of the Sacraments in this process. Nevertheless, this is more than worth the time it tak ...more
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heart opening! This is the first book I’ve read by Henri and will not be my last! I finished hungry for more.
I had just started writing about isolation as the key goal of the devil when this book came up as a recommendation. I know that it was spirit lead.
Henri points out how our perception of being isolated is key to the worries, anxiety and depression our society is feeling.
Our need for true community from all people, whatever differences there are allows us to go from isolation to intimacy.
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The world is no less lonely, worried, and distracted now than when Nouwen wrote this in 1981. With the advent of 24/7 social media, it’s even worse. He does a fine job of diagnosing our malady and points us in the right direction of living a spiritual life, that is, a life of the Spirit in the midst of the world.
John Dobbs
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To me, Henri Nouwen writes from the heart and for the heart. This little book challenges the dangerous effect our frantic worry-filled lives has on our spiritual life. The book centers around Matthew 6:33. There are three sections. First, "All These Other Things", then "His Kingdom First" and finally "Set Your Hearts". I highly recommend this book, along with most of Nouwen's writings.
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
Another wonderful little book by Nouwen. This time, he describes the spiritual life simply as learning to move from our busyness to a focus on Christ's kingdom, and living out of the life we receive from Him.
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very quick read. But longer to think it all through. Balancing full schedules and fulfillment. Solitude and community. Still chewing.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Short and direct. Excellent little book to begin forming a realistic spiritual life.
Aaron Priebe
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Never thought of community as a discipline before.
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. It's simplicity is what makes this book a compelling read for early seekers.
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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

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“Our life is a short time in expectation, a time in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment. There is a quality of sadness that pervades all the moments of our lives. It seems that there is no such thing as a clear-cut pure joy, but that even in the most happy moments of our existence we sense a tinge of sadness. In every satisfaction, there is an awareness of limitations. In every success, there is the fear of jealousy. Behind every smile, there is a tear. In every embrace, there is loneliness. In every friendship, distance. And in all forms of light, there is the knowledge of surrounding darkness . . . But this intimate experience in which every bit of life is touched by a bit of death can point us beyond the limits of our existence. It can do so by making us look forward in expectation to the day when our hearts will be filled with perfect joy, a joy that no one shall take away from us.” 108 likes
“One way to express the spiritual crisis of our time is to say that most of us have an address but cannot be found there.” 30 likes
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