25 Henri Nouwen Quotes on the Human Experience

These Henri Nouwen quotes will help you live more meaningfully and better understand the human experience.

Henri Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest, theologian, author, and spiritual leader. 

He is best known for his spirituality, love, and community writings.

Tell us your favorite Henri Nouwen quote in the comment section below!

The benefits of reading Henri Nouwen’s words of wisdom  

Henri Nouwen was not only a priest and theologian but also interested in psychology, community, and social justice issues. 

These interests had a special influence on his religious teachings. 

They allowed him to minister in a more relatable way than many priests and spiritual leaders of his time. 

Nouwen wanted to use psychology to explore the human side of faith, which he felt needed to be better understood from a religious standpoint. 

Reading quotes from Henri Nouwen encourages personal development in ways beyond just spiritual growth. 

Many of Nouwen’s writings challenge readers to examine their own lives, motivations, and behaviors. 

His teachings can help readers grow and develop as individuals and deepen their understanding of themselves and others.

Additionally, his writing focuses on timeless themes that everyone can relate to, such as:

Reading Henri Nouwen’s quotes will help you cultivate greater compassion and empathy for others. 

Nouwen believed strongly in the power of relationships, something he discovered while studying as a Fellow in the Religion and Psychiatry Program at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas.

During his time at Menninger Clinic, he preferred direct contact with patients over the more scientific branches of psychology. 

This prompted him to incorporate modern psychology into his spiritual ministry teachings. 

His teachings give readers a greater appreciation for the power of community and connection.

Please enjoy these quotes from Henri Nouwen! 

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Henri Nouwen quotes about love

Henri Nouwen quotes about love are profound and thought-provoking. 

1. “If fear is the great enemy of intimacy, love is its true friend.” — Henri Nouwen

2. “I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found.” — Henri Nouwen

3. “The journey from teaching about love to allowing myself to be loved proved much longer than I realized.” — Henri Nouwen

4. “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

5. “Distance never separates two hearts that really care, for our memories span the miles and in seconds we are there.” — Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen quotes about friendship

As someone who valued relationships, Henri Nouwen quotes on friendship are truly inspiring! 

6. “Friendship has always belonged to the core of my spiritual journey.” — Henri Nouwen

7. “A friend is more than a therapist or confessor, even though a friend can sometimes heal us and offer us God’s forgiveness.” — Henri Nouwen

8. “With a friend we don’t have to say or do something special. With a friend we can be still and know that God is there with both of us.” — Henri Nouwen

9. “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.” — Henri Nouwen

10. “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” — Henri Nouwen

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You will also enjoy our article on Erasmus quotes.

Henri Nouwen quotes to live by

These Henri Nouwen quotes on life are uplifting and relatable. 

11. “To learn patience is not to rebel against every hardship.” — Henri Nouwen

12. “A life without a lonely place, that is, without a quiet center, becomes destructive.” — Henri Nouwen

13. “The greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity or power, but self-rejection.” — Henri Nouwen

14. “Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us.” — Henri Nouwen

15. “The real enemies of our life are the oughts and the ifs. They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and now.” — Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen quotes on peace and prayer

A compassionate spiritual leader, Henri Nouwen, says peace and prayer will calm and center you. 

16. “Peace is first of all the art of being.” — Henri Nouwen

17. “Prayer is the most concrete way to make our home in God.” — Henri Nouwen

18. “Peacemaking is a full-time vocation that includes each member of God’s people.” — Henri Nouwen

19. “Prayer is the beginning and the end, the source and the fruit, the core and the content, the basis and the goal of all peacemaking.” — Henri Nouwen

20. “As peacemakers, we must resist all the powers of war and destruction and proclaim that peace is the divine gift offered to all who affirm life.” — Henri Nouwen

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Henri Nouwen quotes about God 

Religious or not, you can gain some perspective with these Henri Nouwen quotes about God.

21. “God wants you to live for others and to live that presence well.” — Henri Nouwen

22. “Our glory is hidden in our pain, if we allow God to bring the gift of himself in our experience of it.” — Henri Nouwen

23. “God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment, be that moment hard or easy, joyful and painful.” — Henri Nouwen

24. “God loves us, not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love.” — Henri Nouwen

25. “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.” — Henri Nouwen

The inspirational works of Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen wrote many valuable books that have profoundly impacted many readers.

One of his best-known works is The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming.

This book reflects on Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son and explores themes of forgiveness, redemption, and unconditional love.

Other books by Nouwen include:

  • The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society 
  • Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World 
  • Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life
  • In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership 
  • The Inner Voice of Love
  • The Way of the Heart
  • Bread for the Journey

Tell us your favorite Henri Nouwen quote in the comments section!

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