83 Henry Nouwen Quotes from the Dutch Catholic Priest

Henri Nouwen, born January 24, 1932, was a renowned Dutch-born Catholic priest, professor, psychologist and author who profoundly shaped spiritual thought worldwide.

Known for his keen insights on psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community, Nouwen was a compelling public speaker, compassionate correspondent and an inspirational wounded healer.


He used his understanding of human frailty and woundedness to create a balanced theology of service that has influenced generations of priests, pastors, teachers and spiritual seekers.

His writings, particularly on the life of Jesus and God’s love, have guided millions towards a more profound trust in God.

Related: Hans Küng Quotes from the Swiss Catholic Priest and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin Quotes from French Jesuit Priest

Nouwen, who taught at institutions like the University of Notre Dame and Yale Divinity School, is considered one of the most influential spiritual writers of his era.

Despite struggling with his own homosexuality, a subject explored in a biography, Nouwen’s work continues to encourage spiritual formation globally.

I have curated the top quotes from Henri Nouwen.

Best Henry Nouwen Quotes


Community is where humility and glory touch. ~ Henry Nouwen.


When we are crushed like grapes, we cannot think of the wine we will become. ~ Henry Nouwen.


It is God’s passionate pursuit of us that calls us to prayer. ~ Henry Nouwen.


Prayer is not a pious decoration of life but the breath of human existence. ~ Henry Nouwen.


I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. ~ Henry Nouwen.


Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work, and not mine. ~ Henry Nouwen.


It is by chance that we met, by choice that we became friends. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Spiritual identity means we are not what we do or what people say about us. And we are not what we have. We are the beloved daughters and sons of God. ~ Henry Nouwen.


God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior. ~ Henri Nouwen.

Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the Beloved. ~ Henry Nouwen.


When we give generously, with an abundance mentality, what we give away will multiply. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Learning to weep, learning to keep vigil, learning to wait for the dawn. Perhaps this is what it means to be human. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Famous Henry Nouwen Quotes

The best of community does give one a deep sense of belonging and well-being; and in that sense community takes away loneliness. ~ Henry Nouwen.


The farther the outward journey takes you, the deeper the inward journey must be. ~ Henry Nouwen.

For Jesus, there are no countries to be conquered, no ideologies to be imposed, no people to be dominated. There are only children, women and men to be loved. ~ Henry Nouwen.


With a friend, we can be still and know that God is there with both of us. ~ Henri Nouwen.

Joy is hidden in sorrow and sorrow in joy. If we try to avoid sorrow at all costs, we may never taste joy, and if we are suspicious of ecstasy, agony can never reach us either. Joy and sorrow are the parents of our spiritual growth. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. ~ Henri Nouwen.

Our life is full of brokenness – broken relationships, broken promises, broken expectations. How can we live with that brokenness without becoming bitter and resentful except by returning again and again to God’s faithful presence in our lives. ~ Henry Nouwen.


Spiritual maturity is not knowing what to do with your whole life, but just knowing what to do next. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Just as words lose their power when they are not born out of silence, so openness loses its meaning when there is no ability to be closed. ~ Henri Nouwen.

Top Henry Nouwen Quotes


Friends share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. Love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking. ~ Henry Nouwen.

It is precisely in times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Hope means to keep living amid desperation and to keep humming in the darkness. ~ Henry Nouwen.

True Hospitality is welcoming the stranger on her own terms. This kind of hospitality can only be offered by those who’ve found the center of their lives in their own hearts. ~ Henry Nouwen.


Peacemaking is a full-time vocation that includes each member of God’s people. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Active waiting means present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Christian community is the place where we keep the flame of hope alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. ~ Henry Nouwen.


In our own woundedness, we can become sources of life for others. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Distance never separates two hearts that really care, for our memories span the miles and in seconds we are there. But whenever I start feeling sad because I miss you I remind myself how lucky I am to have someone so special to miss. ~ Henry Nouwen.

I can be fully where I am and pay attention to the many signs of God’s love within me and around me. ~ Henri Nouwen.

Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Solitude is the place of purification and transformation, the place of the great struggle and the great encounter. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Hope is willing to leave unanswered questions unanswered and unknown futures unknown. Hope makes you see God’s guiding hand not only in the gentle and pleasant moments but also in the shadows of disappointment and darkness. ~ Henry Nouwen.

When we learn to move through suffering, rather than avoid it, then we greet it differently. We become willing to let it teach us. We even begin to see how God can use it for some larger end. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Community means that people come together around the table, not just to feed their bodies, but to feed their minds and their relationships. ~ Henry Nouwen.

From the moment we claim the truth of being the beloved, we are faced with the call to become who we are. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Someday I would love to write about Vincent Van Gogh – his paintings and letters continue to inspire me very much. ~ Henri Nouwen.


Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Our brokenness has no other beauty but the beauty that comes from the compassion that surrounds it. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Spiritual Henry Nouwen Quotes

To pray means to open your hands before God. ~ Henri Nouwen.

Waiting time is not wasting time. Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Pay attention to the people God puts in your path if you want to discern what God is up to in your life. ~ Henry Nouwen.


In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Dare to love and to be a real friend. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as those whom God has given you to love. ~ Henry Nouwen.

What makes us human is not our mind but our heart, not our ability to think but our ability to love. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand. ~ Henri Nouwen.

The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Christian life is not a life divided between times for action and times for contemplation. No. Real social action is a way of contemplation, and real contemplation is the core of social action. ~ Henry Nouwen.


In solitude we become aware that our worth is not the same as our usefulness. ~ Henry Nouwen.

To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Jesus invites us to abide in his love. That means to dwell with all that I am in him. It is an invitation to a total belonging, to full intimacy, to an unlimited being-with. The light of the Spirit reveals to us that love conquers all fear. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Great Henry Nouwen Quotes

We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them. ~ Henry Nouwen.

In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds. ~ Henry Nouwen.

To the degree that we embrace the truth that our identity is not rooted in our success, power, or popularity, but in God’s infinite love, to that degree can we let go of our need to judge. ~ Henry Nouwen.

When you recognize the festive and the still moments as moments of prayer, then you gradually realize that to pray is to live. ~ Henry Nouwen.


You don’t think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Prayer leads you to see new paths and to hear new melodies in the air. ~ Henri Nouwen.

A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self. ~ Henry Nouwen.

God, help me to see others not as enemies or as ungodly but rather as thirsty people. And give me the courage and compassion to offer your Living Water, which alone quenches deep thirst. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Compassion can never coexist with judgment because judgment creates the distance, the distinction, which prevents us from really being with the other. ~ Henry Nouwen.

The only feelings that do not heal are the ones you hide. ~ Henry Nouwen.

That’s the temptation of the devil: Turn stones into bread! Be relevant! ~ Henry Nouwen.

The Lord is coming, always coming. When you have ears to hear and eyes to see, you will recognize him at any moment of your life. Life is Advent; life is recognizing the coming of the Lord. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Real greatness is often hidden, humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It is not easy to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. We must have strong self-confidence combined with deep humility. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Powerful Henry Nouwen Quotes

Those who keep speaking about the sun while walking under a cloudy sky are messengers of hope, the true saints of our day. ~ Henry Nouwen.

We are called to be fruitful – not successful, not productive, not accomplished. Success comes from strength, stress, and human effort. Fruitfulness comes from vulnerability and the admission of our own weakness. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. ~ Henry Nouwen.

God doesn’t give us just enough. God gives us more than enough: more bread and fish than we can eat, more love than we dared to ask for. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Fundraising is a very rich and beautiful activity. It is a confident, joyful and hope-filled expression of ministry. In ministering to each other, each from the riches that he or she possesses, we work together for the full coming of God’s Kingdom. ~ Henry Nouwen.


Prayer is first of all listening to God. It’s openness. God is always speaking; he’s always doing something. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Be surprised by joy, be surprised by the little flower that shows its beauty in the midst of a barren desert, and be surprised by the immense healing power that keeps bursting forth like springs of fresh water from the depth of our pain. ~ Henry Nouwen.

Prayer is the center of the Christian life. It is the only necessary thing. It is living with God in the here and now. ~ Henry Nouwen.

God’s Kingdom is a place of abundance where every generous act overflows its original bounds and becomes part of the unbounded grace of God at work in the world. ~ Henry Nouwen.

So these were the 83 top Henry Nouwen quotes and sayings on love, peace, joy, hope, gratitude, prayer, friendship and community.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Helen Steiner Rice quotes and Harvey Mackay quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar