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A Letter of Consolation

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  134 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Finding Faith in a Time of Sorrow

Beloved author Henri Nouwen reflects on the spiritual significance of death and life in this moving meditation dedicated to "all those who suffer the pain that death can bring and who search for new life."
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by HarperOne (first published March 10th 1982)
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Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: spiritual dealing with loved one's death
Shelves: religion
In spring 1979, about 6 months after his mother's death, Nouwen wrote this as a letter to his father, wanting to talk about it. Later he decided to put this out as a book (with his father's permission), and I feel it was a wise decision. The fact that Nouwen lived in US and his father in Holland meant that the communication was done mostly via letters, which is probably why Nouwen could write about what thoughts had come to his mind, easier to express than face to face. The letter reflects on ...more
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nouwen's gentle spirit and thoughtful way are a light in darkness in this letter to his father after the death of Henri's mother. Over the period of Holy Week in 1979, he wrote about love and death and grief and hope as he held this saddest of events in his life to the light of Christ.
He wrote about his mother's love for life, for her family and most of all for her God. One of the most profound thoughts in the book was his reflection on fear of death. He said that even Jesus feared death
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In these letters to his father following the death of his mother, Nouwen explores death itself, hope in Christ, the unexpected fruits that can follow the death of a beloved, and how the Christians life is shaped by Good Friday and Easter. Personal. Poignant. Beautiful. ...more
Barb Flory
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Nouwen wrote this letter to his father six months after his mother died. It is a beautiful and deep reflection on his mother's life and on death itself -- its significance and role in our lives. Excellent!
Leo Daphne
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
beautifully written, and I read it when i lost my uncle which really helped me to understand better about death-life.
Victoria Slotto
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I am familiar with the work of Henri Nouwen, a prolific writer, theologian, Catholic priest who came to the US from Holland. This book was written as a letter to his father in the aftermath of the death of his mother. My mother died late last year and I found it in her library, hoping it would help me with the grieving process. In this respect, it did not meet my expectations though its value as a theological treatise on Christian death is well tied into the pascal mystery (he wrote it during ...more
Menno van der Beek
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: document
This man might have written mediocre text, but this certainly is not one of them. Its a letter to his father, after the death of Nouwens Mother, in which he consoles his father, who lost his wife. He gradually builds an argument on the meaning of the death of his mother, using her Catholicism as a way to hint to his father how the empty space the women left behind can be filled with love and hope, while mourning can have its place to. Because he is not only consoling his father but also, even ...more
Julie Fukuda
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was given me by a friend when my husband died. I especially liked one part that spoke of times passed by like friendly visitors. "In every arrival there is leavetaking; in every reunion there is a separation; in each one's growing up there is a growing old; in every smile there is a tear; and in every success there is a loss. All living is dying and all celebration is mortification too."
William Stanger
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of Nouwen's more personal books and, as such, was quite moving. It's a long letter he wrote to his father six months after the death of his mother. Written around the time of Easter, it also reflects on the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Although it is very personal, Nouwen got permission from his father to publish it in order that it might help others who are going through a period of grief after loss.
Edward Bellis
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
He is risen

As he reflects on his mothers death and his pain and his fathers loss, he relays a deep sense of the holy mystery of Easter and its power. He let love move in and through his thoughts and feelings to bridge the farthest divide in the world - his head and his heart. In this Lenten season, his words are mile markers of my own journey and may my love lead me as well. I miss our gentle monk.
Melisa Blankenship
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
In this book we read someone else's mail so to speak. Nouwen is writing to his father after the death of his mother. He's connecting, comforting, and helping to place their mourning in the context of the love and care of God.
Christopher Pokorny
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nouwens reflections on his mothers death as letters to his father. Helpful for those who are wanting a devotional reading during Holy Week, as he is writing these letters during Holy Week. Also a helpful tool for those who are in the midst of the grief process.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"'Love is stronger than death.' This sentence summarizes better than any other the meaning of the resurrection and therefore also the meaning of death."
Feb 07, 2019 rated it liked it
A hard read given it was a letter to his dad regarding the death of the author's mother. Henri attempted to relate his mother's death with that of Christ's yet i didn't get his explanation.
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: catholic
A truly beautiful book. I didn't want it to end. A book of life and death, grief and profound hope and love. Another book which makes me fall ever the deeper in love with my faith. It gave me a new and richer understanding of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Enriching and strengthening my own faith, hope, and love. A book that can help you live with more joy. Yes, even in times of unbelievable grief. Now off to read all of Henri Nouwen's other books!
Daryl Miller
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This short book is actually a collection of letters written by Nouwen to his own father in regards to his own grief over his mother's death. They contain some insightful thoughts about life and death as well as grief and detachment. Written during the Lenten season, they also connect some of these themes with the last days of Christ and would make have some great Easter / Lenten devotional thoughts.
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grief, pastoral
These are published letters that Nouwen wrote to his father in the months following the death of his mother. In them Nouwen reflects on what has changed in his father and him, how their relationship is changed, the process of grief and making 'friends with death,' and accounting for all theologically in relationship to Jesus' death and resurrection.
Emerson John Tiu Ng
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
..paradox in life: to live in order to be able to die..... This is one the books written by Henri Nouwen.... It is a good book for the times we lost someone (death).. and a very good reflections during the time of Lent....His letters gives consolation to his grieving father... and to his audiences....
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
A spiritually mature contemplation of the meaning of Nouwen's mother's death. Written as letters to his father. As always, compact and profound meaning. The divine timing of this book for me is that I finished this during Holy Week and the writing of the book centers around Lent, Palm Sunday and Easter.
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this book to anyone who is grieving over a loved one's death- it is written by a Catholic priest to his father after the death of his Mother. A very poignant and touching reflection.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Henri signed this book for me the night I met him. The book had affected me because it was a letter to his mother who had recently died....and I had lost my mother a few year earlier.
Jan 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian, self-help
Written to his father after his mother died.
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, hopeful, true thoughts on the death of a loved one.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended by my spiritual director when I lost my mother.
Was OK. Maybe I wasn't at the right place.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
"In darkness we doubt that there will ever be light, but in the light we soon forget how much darkness there was."
Adam Gossman
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Jul 29, 2011
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Jan 21, 2017
Kevin Panameno
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Jun 28, 2014
Celina Garcia
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Dec 23, 2019
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Jul 17, 2012
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Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen (Nouen), (19321996) 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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