Thursday, October 24, 2013


"Saying 'No' to death therefore starts much earlier than saying 'No' to physical violence, whether in war or entertainment. It requires a deep commitment to the words of Jesus: 'Do not judge' (Matt. 7:1). It requires a “No” to all the violence of heart and mind. I personally find it one of the most difficult disciplines to practice."

"The central message of the Gospel is that God sent his beloved Son to forgive our sins and make us new people, able to live in this world without being paralyzed by self-rejection, remorse, and guilt. To accept that message in faith and truly believe that we are forgiven is probably one of the most challenging spiritual battles we have to face. Somehow we cannot let go of our self-rejections. Somehow we cling to our guilt, as if accepting forgiveness fully would call us to a new and ominous task we are afraid to accept. Resistance is an essential element of peacemaking, and the “No” of the resisters [peace activists] must go all the way to the inner reaches of their own hearts to confront the deadly powers of self-hate."

"Real resistance requires the humble confession that we are partners in the evil that we seek to resist. This is a very hard and seemingly endless discipline. The more we say 'No,' the more we will discover all the pervasive presence of death."

"[The people of Peru] certainly suffered from poverty, oppression, and exploitation, but what they asked of me more than anything was not to solve their many problems, but to become their friend, share my life with them, mourn with them in their sadness, and celebrate with them in their gladness."

[On his participation in a Good Friday witness for peace in front of the administration building of Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut]:

"We prayed fervently with words and songs as well as in silence. We heard the story of Jesus suffering in a way we could not have heard it in any church. It was hard for me to know fully how I felt, but something new was happening to me that I had never experienced before. It was the deep awareness that prayer was no longer a neutral event without danger."

"[T]hose who see violence as the only and necessary way to peace will not only consider nonviolent resisters unrealistic and naïve, but also treat them as cowards, conspirators with the enemy, and betrayers of the national cause. Nonviolent resisters are a great threat to those who wield power, since they suggest that there is another reality than the one they manipulate and try to force on others.

As a community of peacemakers it is our task first of all to recognize and affirm the great human gifts these people [those who believe that violence generates peace] too carry within themselves. We have to see them as caring, loving, concerned human beings who, like us, desire peace and freedom, even if preparation for war is their way to achieve it. Just as we have to confess our own dark forces to each other, so do we have to reveal the gifts of peace in those whose lives and works we hope to change."

--Henri Nouwen, Peacework


  1. Heather, Love this quote from Nouwen. Dovetails with your work beautifully. I consider Henri Nouwen a friend; a patron saint. His work is wonderful and life-affirming. I often carry "The Road to Daybreak" with me in my backpack. It is like he is with me. (Do you suppose some of your readers do this also? Possible!)

  2. Great insight into what it means to be committed to peace. Made me think again in the piece you published about the death penalty. It seems to me that peace is tied to forgiveness and I pray that I keep that in mind if I ever am tested!

  3. It seems a sort of violence to me, or at least a crazy fear, that leads us to wiretap the cellphones of friendly foreign leaders. It bespeaks a sort of illness within the country that has been especially noticeable post-9/11.


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