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NEWSLETTER INSERT - ON COMPASSION IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING

By Henri Nouwen



"Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it. As busy, active, relevant [people], we want to earn our bread by making a real contribution. This means first and foremost doing something to show that our presence makes a difference. And so we ignore our greatest gift, which is our ability to enter into solidarity with those who suffer. . . .Those who can sit with their fellow man, not knowing what to say but knowing that they should be there, can bring new life into a dying heart. Those who are not afraid to hold a hand in gratitude, to shed tears of grief, and to let a sigh of distress arise straight from the heart can break through paralyzing boundaries and witness the birth of a new fellowship, the fellowship of the broken".


From 'The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers', New York, Harper Collins, 1981, p.10.


" Every human being has a great, yet often unknown, gift to care, to be compassionate, to become present to the other, to listen, to hear and to receive. If that gift would be set free and made available, miracles could take place"


From 'Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life', Notre Dame, Ave Maria Press, 2004, p.53.

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