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Becoming Beloved in a Season of Suffering

Entering into the season of Lent seems to be a new and daunting task each year. This year I would like to offer a new approach as to how to take on a new meditation, contemplation and life of prayer and poverty.  

In the book “Life of the Beloved” by Henri Nouwen, he focuses our attention on developing our relationship with God by accepting our role as the “beloved child of God”. He writes, “The question is not ‘How am I to find God,’ but ‘How am I to let myself be found by him?’” 

Nouwen breaks this down into the words of the consecration: Taken, Blessed, Broken and Given. 

These four words are used over and over in the Gospels:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Matthew 26:26

While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.”

Mark 14:22

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”

Luke 22:19

Nouwen looks at the word “Taken” and references it as “chosen”. 

You have been chosen. God took you because He loves you and chooses you. 

Even in the suffering of being chosen, of being taken, you are not in a state of suffering because of a mistake or a punishment. Christ was taken and His suffering was great, and He knew it would be great. 

Nouwen explains, “Every time you feel hurt, offended, or rejected, you have to dare to say to yourself, ‘These feelings, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting embrace.’”

The chosen one is blessed. Christ took the bread then He blessed it. And why did He give a blessing? Go to the baptism at the Jordan and we see the anointing of Christ by God as His “Beloved Son.” 

So Christ is blessed to go out and pour that blessing onto those who follow Him, seeking to bless the whole world. We, too, are blessed. 

Nouwen talks about being blessed, as the bread is blessed, to feed and nourish the hungry, living the Eucharist: The blessed one always blesses. And people want to be blessed! This is so apparent wherever you go. No one is brought to life through curses, gossip, accusations, or blaming. There is so much taking place around us all the time. And it calls forth only darkness, destruction, and death. As the ‘blessed ones,’ we can walk through this world and offer blessings. It doesn’t require much effort. It flows naturally from our hearts. When we hear within ourselves the voice calling us by name and blessing us, the darkness no longer distracts us. The voice that calls us the Beloved will give us words to bless others and reveal to them that they are no less blessed than we.

It is now during Lent that we are entering into the passion of our Lord. In being the Beloved we are also called to be broken, as He broke the bread in order to give. As He was broken in order to save, we too are broken. 

We are broken because we are called to enter fully into humanity and rise with Christ for eternity. This is where we extend that blessing – through compassion, in pain and suffering. 

Henri Nouwen further expresses, “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.

If we are called to live these aspects of the Eucharist – of Christ fully alive – then we, too, are called to be given. We are called to be given to the world, to our loved ones, to our enemies, as a representative of Christ, showing what “beloved” truly is.  

Nouwen explains, “As God’s beloved children we have to believe that our little lives, when lived as God’s chosen and blessed children, are broken to be given to others. We too have to become bread for the world. When we live our brokenness under the blessing, our lives will continue to bear fruit from generation to generation. That is the story of the saints – they died, but they continue to be alive in the hearts of those who live after them – and it can be our story too.

Sit with the Last Supper this Lent, meditating on the words of Christ as He showed His Passion, Death and Resurrection in those moments of intimacy at the table with His chosen apostles. 

Pick up “Life of the Beloved” by Henri Nouwen and understand your own call to accept the title of “The Beloved”.  

Be taken, blessed, broken and given over these next weeks of Lent in order to rejoice fully in the Resurrection.  


In Christ,


Director of Faith Formation


Resources cited:
Life of the Beloved

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