St. Henri on Mystics, Morals and Prayer

“To live a life that is not dominated by the desire to be relevant but is instead safely anchored in the knowledge of God’s first love, we have to be mystics. A mystic is a person whose identity is deeply rooted in God’s first love.

If there is any focus that the Christian leader of the future will need, it is the discipline of dwelling in the presence of the one who keeps asking us, “Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?” This is the discipline of contemplative prayer. Through contemplative prayer we keep ourselves from being pulled from one urgent issue to another and from becoming strangers to our own heart and God’s heart. Contemplative prayer keeps us home, rooted and safe, even when we are on the road, moving from place to place, and often surrounded by sounds of violence and war. Contemplative prayer deepens in us the knowledge that we are already free, that we have already found a place to dwell, that we already belong to God, even though everything and everyone around us keep suggesting the opposite.

It is not enough for the priests and ministers of the future to be moral people, well trained, eager to help their fellow humans, and able to respond creatively to the burning issues of their time. All that is very valuable and important, but it is not the heart of Christian leadership. The central question is, Are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen to God’s voice, to look at God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate Word and to taste fully God’s infinite goodness?

…  Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well informed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus, and they need to find there the source for their words, advice and guidance.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus, pg. 42. ff

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