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Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  8,554 ratings  ·  573 reviews
Initially written for a Jewish friend, Life of the Beloved has become Henri Nouwen’s greatest legacy to Christians around the world. This sincere testimony of the power and invitation of Christ is indeed a great guide to a truly uplifting spiritual life in today’s world.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Crossroad (first published 1992)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
We may NOT think we Need the Life of the Beloved now, but when the sheer brute force of circumstance brings us down - cowering, right to our knees, as may soon happen to many of us - we may well reconsider.

What is the Life of the Beloved?

It is a life shared by believers everywhere, whom God has turned around - to see and accept Him: on His terms.

It is a life of sheer love - love in the sense of Agape and NOT Eros - for only Agape can become Universal.

Cause if it is erotic, you can be darned su
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christian-life
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
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Brian Eshleman
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think more of the book is stored away in my quote bank than not
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
Not in any way a hard read, but one I needed to take my time with, to let it settle in and make space for reflection and action.

It's seemed remarkably in tune with the relationships and topics on my heart right now, but I think perhaps it's a simple enough book and has enough wisdom that might always be true.

It was a nice moment to have it recommended as a source of comfort right now when I had just been reading it. I could go back to a specific passage and find it even more helpful in facing
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book became a horrible frustration for me to read. It started out well enough, but there were such gaps and glaring omissions and confusing logic that by the end I could barely read two pages in a row without having to put the book down. There are a few poignant points, which saves this book from getting one star, but overall this book doesn't say much that better books have said much better.

Henri Nouwen explains from the outset that this book is written to explain the spiritual life to se
Neil R. Coulter
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Henri Nouwen wrote Life of the Beloved as a kind of letter to a good friend, a secular Jew, who asked Nouwen to write a book that speaks to the questions he and his friends in NYC were asking about God, spirituality, and the meaning of life. This friend said that he enjoyed Nouwen’s previous books, but felt that they were kind of “preaching to the choir”—fine for people who already believed, but less relevant to people with more basic questions and skepticism.

The resulting book, Life of the Belo
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: faith
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
Lori Galaske
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Rachel A.  Dawson
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I cannot say enough good things about this book. I have already come back to it more than a handful of times to soak up the words again and again and again. I have always loved and wrestled with the idea of being beloved, and this book illuminated all of that. Originally written by Nouwen for a Jewish friend, I found it incredibly convicting and humbling and stunning as a lifelong Christian. I want to get the word beloved tattooed on my body to remind me forever of the core truth of my identity: ...more
Anna Clark
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"From the moment I was helped to experience my interpersonal addiction as an expression of a need for total surrender to a loving God who would fulfill the deepest desires of my heart, I started to live my dependency in a radically new way. Instead of living it in shame and embarrassment, I was able to live it as an urgent invitation to claim God's unconditional love for myself, a love I can depend on without fear."

I think I may have found my new favorite book.
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Probably one of Henri's most important books. It is difficult for many people to understand themselves as "Beloved".
Ramón S.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really consoling if you are passing times of trouble and darkness
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Every time you listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls you the Beloved, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply. It is like discovering a well in the desert. Once you have touched wet ground, you want to dig deeper.”

In characteristic Nouwen fashion, there is a great deal of wisdom here. I found the epilogue especially interesting, in which he acknowledges that the book failed for its intended audience (secular people) and it seemed th
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When we keep claiming the light, we will find ourselves becoming more and more radiant.

I was talking with a friend recently about the tumult of life, how it can frustrate and embitter. You can spiral into depression when you feel you have no control or power to affect your own life. It is critical to ground your life in something immutable or you will be jerked around by constant change. Henri Nouwen shares in this slim letter the root of his own resilience. In a world that shouts you are
Crimson Sparrow
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am deeply inspired and greatly comforted by this work. Nouwen's frankness is, simply put, beautiful. Vulnerable. Respectful. Cherishing. I am shocked by its simplicity - so easy to read - alongside its deep and tender wisdom. Nouwen is delightfully transparent and remarkably succinct in capturing the essence of truths too marvelous for words and struggles too complex for diagrams. He manages to issue a compelling invitation to redemption without demonizing anyone or anything in the process. He ...more
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Michelle Kwon
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cried on the last page! God is gracious; God is redemptive.
Cassidy Griffith
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Too good to be true!!
Kristin Gottron
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Poignant and helpful in reflecting on my own spiritual journey. I like that Nouwen is familiar with and is writing in the modern context because he speaks to struggles with which I am very familiar and reminds of the need to stay in touch with the truth of being Beloved.
Chris Didonna
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a beautiful guide to saying yes to God’s pursuing love in our everyday lives. So much of our culture has made sex and marriage the bread of life, but Henri Nouwen shows how to interact with God as our one true lover. It was a challenging read for me because I tend elevate human love over God’s love, but this book is helping me find satisfaction and belonging in God’s love first.
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nouwen, christian
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
Dec 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Winston Elliott III
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Pat Treff
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
B.J. Richardson
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Henri Nouwen has a friend, Fred, who is a secular Jew. In a discussion together Fred shares that he enjoys Nouwen's writings but he does not feel as though the books truly speak to him or to those like him. So Nouwen sits down to write Life of the Beloved as a response to that critique.

The book reads like a series of open letters from HN to Fred where Nouwen writes what he hopes his friend would come to know and understand. Using his familiar high church devotional style, each chapter has a one-
Gerald Thomson
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 13, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2015
So many gems in this slender volume. It is deep, and simple, and filled with so much love. This is a book to be savored a few pages at a time, not gobbled up in one sitting.

Nouwen's spirit in writing, which I adored, is well expressed in the epilogue where he says, "I feel within myself a deep-rooted resistance to proving anything to anybody...I can only say, 'for me, God is the one who calls me the Beloved, and I have a desire to express to others how I try to become more fully who I already a
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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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“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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