It is not enough today to be merely a saint; we must have a saintliness demanded by the present moment.

Simone Weil wrote that, and she is right. We need saints demanded by the present moment and I would like to propose someone whom, I believe, fits that description, Henri Nouwen, the priest and popular spiritual writer who died in 1996. What was his saintliness and why is it particularly apropos in terms of the present moment?

Henri Nouwen is arguably the most influential spirituality writer of our generation. However, his spirituality was not born out of an easy temperament nor an untested faith. As Michael Higgins writes in his biography of Nouwen, his was a “genius born of anguish”. Nouwen was a saint wracked with anxiety, an ideal patron for a generation awash with it.

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