“Vocation, temptation, and
formation are lifelong realities. We are called not once, but day in and day
out, and we will never know for sure where we are being led . . . But when we
persevere with hope, courage, and confidence, we will come to fully realize in
our innermost being that through the downward road of Christ we will enter with
him into his glory.”
In this short work Henri Nouwen offers a penetrating
reflection on the challenge of the spiritual life, especially the call to
imitate Christ’s example of “downward mobility.” This vocation is sorely tested
by the constant celebration of “upward mobility,” which brings to mind the
temptations Christ faced in the wilderness: to be “powerful, relevant, and
spectacular.” To prepare us for this path, Nouwen describes the “disciplines of
spiritual formation,” represented by the Church, the Word of God, and the
promptings of our heart.
Illustrated with drawings by Vincent van Gogh,
The Selfless Way of Christ is an inspiring guide for ministers and
everyone walking the path of discipleship.
“When I first came across
Nouwen’s phase ‘downward mobility,’ it struck me as radical, counterintuitive,
and profoundly true. His reminder of Jesus’ message goes against nearly
everything in modern life, but ignoring it has led to most of the urgent
problems we now face: global warming, poverty, and a deep sense of alienation.
Perhaps it is not too late to change, and Henri Nouwen has shown the way.” —
Henri Nouwen, who died in 1996, remains one of the
world’s most popular and influential spiritual writers. His many books include
Adam, With Burning Hearts, Peacework, and Love in a Fearful Land.
The present work, based on a series of articles originally written in 1981,
appears in book-form for the first time.