On December 1st, the Church commemorates Charles de Foucauld. He was the inspiration for the religious order of the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus. They live in small communities in ordinary houses amongst ordinary people and their witness to Jesus is to share in everyday life and consecrate it by prayer and service.
Charles de Foucauld lived as a hermit in the Sahara desert amongst the Tuareg tribe. He believed that it was his mission to share the life of the poor and bring the love of Jesus to them. He taught the Gospel, translated the scriptures into the Tuareg native tongue and through silence and prayer, built up friendship. He dreamt of a community of like-minded little brothers and sisters of Jesus who would embrace the world with Christ’s love. Sadly, he never saw his dream come true because he was shot dead accidentally by French soldiers on December 1st 1916 during World War I.
However, his vision became a reality and the community he longed for now carries out his dream.
Charles was not always religious and his early life, as a French Legionnaire was one of debauchery.
Then, one day, sick in his soul, he visited a priest in Paris, Fr Huvelin, and told him that he needed ‘instruction’. ‘What you need’ said the wise priest, ‘is repentance’. He was then 28. Guided by this holy man he came to embrace Christ. He said, “As soon as I believed in God, I understood that I could not do otherwise than to live for Him alone.”
From the most unpromising material God fashioned a vessel to pour out the Gospel.
This reminds us that no one is beyond God’s redemption and love.
From the depth of Charles’ heart comes this prayer.
Father, I abandon myself into Your hands;
do with me what You will.
Whatever You do, I thank You.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me,
as in all your creatures,
I ask no more than this, my Lord.
Into Your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to You, O Lord,
with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself –
to surrender myself into Your hands,
without reserve and with total confidence,
For you are my Father.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
This beautiful prayer of self-giving to God is an excellent prayer for us to pray and meditate on during Advent. It is not, however, an easy prayer.
Pope Francis is intending to declare Charles a Saint next May.
If you would like to read more about Brother Charles, a lovely book by Little Sister Kathleen of Jesus, would be a good choice:
“The Universal Brother, Charle de Foucauld speaks to us today”