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Behold the Beauty of the Lord [Paperback]

Henri J. M. Nouwen
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 1 Feb 1987 --  

Book Description

1 Feb 1987
This twentieth anniversary edition (over 111,000 copies sold) brings Henri J. M. Nouwen's writings on Eastern Orthodox icons to a new generation and adds to the Nouwen collection published by Ave Maria Press. With a foreword by Br. Robert Lentz, a well-known painter of contemporary icons, this classic Nouwen book invites readers to pray with four Russian icons with their eyes open by emphasizing seeing or gazing, which are at the heart of Eastern spirituality. Nouwen's meditations reveal his viewing of the icons not as decorations, but holy places. The book includes four full-color icons, which can be removed for private contemplation or meditation.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Ave Maria Press (1 Feb 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877933561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877933564
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.4 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 848,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Henri J. M. Nouwen, who wrote more than 40 books, remains one of the most popular spiritual writers of our time. This paperback is a revised version of a volume released in 1987. We are assaulted by images in a society where consumerism comes at us through posters, billboards, television, movies and store windows. But icons are a different thing completely. Nouwen presents meditations on four icons: the icon of the Holy Trinity, the icon of the Virgin of Vladimir, the icon of the Savior of Zvenigorod, and the icon of the Descent of the Spirit: ''By giving the icons long and prayerful attention talking about them, reading about them, but mostly just gazing at them in silence I have gradually come to know them by heart. I see them now whether they are physically present or not. I have memorized them as I have memorized the Our Father and the Hail Mary, and I pray with them wherever I go.'' Icons are a part of the sacred liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church and are used in worship services. Nouwen points out that they do not excite our outer senses but speak to our heart. Those who gaze at icons as a spiritual practice believe they draw closer to God in the process. Nouwen presents substantive spiritual analysis of the icon of the Holy Trinity, which he sees as a pathway into the Mystery of God's self-revelation. The icon of the Virgin of Vladimir is an invitation to enter the divine milieu with gratitude and joy. Nouwen sees in the eyes of the icon of the Savior of Zvenigorod a revelation about the mystery of the Incarnation. And, finally, in the icon of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, he feels a celebration of the power and meaning of community. Nouwen concludes: ''Working on these meditations has been a great delight. Praying became writing and writing became praying. More energy was granted than consumed in the process. I fervently hope that you who read these meditations will experience some of this same delight, and thus deepen your desire to behold the beauty of the Lord expressed in these holy images.'' --Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Praying with Icons.
Full-color fold-outs of four superb Russian icons combine with the studied reflections of Henri Nouwen to offer the reader a unique way to pray with sacred images as much as with words. The meditations are the fruit of Father Nouwen's long viewing of the icons as the iconographer intended- as holy places, not as decorations.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 27 Feb 2006
Nouwen writes beautifully and his enthusiam for four of the most spiritually significant icons, such as the Rublev Trinity, certainly drew me in and captivated me. Indeed, this was a book that helped me a great deal in my spirtual life. The format of having four pull-out pictures of the icons, two at each end of the book corresponding to each of the four icons, were helpful because one could, if one wished, meditate on the pictures while reading the text. I found this was an excellent introduction to icons and one that I have returned to over the years for some marvellous quotations in the text, speaking as they do about the graciousness of God towards us. There is a ring-binder style of layout to this book which makes it easier to use for meditation.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nouwen then 15 Oct 2009
This is a beautiful book and brings alive the icons it portrays. It is updated from the original, but I did prefer the earlier layout with the ring binder and open-out icons which enable you to see the icon that was being written about.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Never used Icons before - an essay on Rublev's icon caused me to bump into this book - a classic - well worth reading. Also would recommend Rowan Williams' book on Icons as well - neither book very long but full of interesting nuggets.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully insightful book 3 Mar 2014
By Steven
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is recommended. Looking at four icons, Nouwen explains their meaning and gives a personal insight into their effect upon him. I found it encouraging, illuminating and stimulating. The author's style is fluid, easy to read, sympathetic and knowledgeable.
Worth getting as an introduction to iconography and for unfolding the deeper meanings in such images.
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