Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Last Friday it was the 100th anniversary of the death of charles_de_foucauld. He was shot dead by a youngster who was keeping guard over him. This Frenchman spent the latter part of his life living among the Touaregs, nomadic tribesmen in Algeria. He wanted to bring Christ to them through his presence and simple life style. He built a hermitage at Tamanrasset and spent his time in prayer and compiling a dictionary of the Tourag dialect. He was known locally as the Marabout, the holy man. Brother Charles had wanted to set up a base near the western boarder of Algeria from which he could evangelise Morocco, a country which missionaries like the White fathers were unable to penetrate. He imagined Jesus said to him: “Take me among those who do not know me, take me among them and set up an altar, a tabernacle, and bring the Gospel not by preaching in words, but preaching by example, not proclaiming it, but living it.” Also his desire was to found a new kind of religious order but the rule he wrote was far too strict. So at the time of his murder his life seemed a failure. He had not achieved much. There were no converts to Christianity and no religious order. Yet after his death there emerged the Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little sisters of Jesus. There are also lay groups that follow his spirituality of hiddenness and simplicity.embarek
For most of my priesthood I have belonged to a group of priests known as Jesus Caritas, a priests’ fraternity. When designing his habit, for the religious order he had hoped to found, he created a simple image of a red heart with a cross at the top and the words Jesus Caritas – Jesus Love. Throughout his life, Charles was striving to find the best way to imitate the hidden life of Jesus in Nazareth. He finally settled in the obscurity of the desert.
How is his life relevant to us today who live in places that are the opposite to desert life? We meet once a month to pray, listen to the Gospel and share with each other how Christ is working in our lives. The way we are encouraged to prepare for this is by having a day in the desert. This would be in a quiet place taking with us some food and the New Testament. The idea is to let the solitude soak into us because God is found in silence; a time alone when we review our month prayerfully asking the spirit to show how Christ has been speaking to us in the events of our every day lives.
Blessed Charles de Foucauld help me to trust in the Father, to give my life to Him, that he may do with me what he wills.