A cry from the heart: My God, if You exist, make Your existance known to me!
from Bl. Charles de Foucauld before his conversion
As soon as I believed there was a God, I understood I could do nothing else but live for him, my religious vocation dates from the same moment as my faith: God is so great. There is such a difference between God and everything that is not.
EXCERPTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF BLESSED CHARLES (feast day is Dec. 1st)
July 15, 1916
Love consists not in feeling that we love, but in wanting to love. If it comes about that we do succumb to a temptation, it is because our love is too weak, not because it does not exist. Like St. Peter, we should weep, like him we should repent and humble ourselves – but also like him, we should say three times: "I love You, I love You…You know that despite my weakness and sins, I love you." As for Jesus' love for us, He has proved it to us clearly enough for us to believe in it without being able to feel it. To feel we loved him and he loved us would be heaven. But heaven is not; except at rare moments and in rare cases, for us here below.
PRAYERS OF CHARLES DE FOUCAULD AT THE TABERNACLE
Lord Jesus, You are in the Holy Eucharist. You are there a yard away in the tabernacle. Your body, Your soul, Your human nature, Your divinity, Your whole being is there, in its twofold nature. how close You are, my God, my Savior, my Spouse, My Beloved!
You were not nearer to the Blessed Virgin during the nine months that she carried You than You are to me when You rest on my tongue in Holy Communion. you were no closer to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph in the caves at Bethlehem or in the flight into Egypt or at any moment of that divine family life than you are to me at this moment – and so many others- in the tabernacle.
Mary Magpalene was no closer to you when she sat at your feet at Bethany than I am here at the foot of this altar. You were no nearer to your apostles when you were sitting in the midst of them than you are to me now, my God. How blessed I am I!
It is wonderful. my Lord. to be alone in my cell and converse there with you in the silence of the tabernacle.
I have confidence in Your love that however ungrateful and unworthy I may seem to myself to be. I can still have hope in it and still count on it, still remain convinced that You are ready to accept me as the father accepted his prodigal son – and even more ready – and still remain convinced too that you will not stop calling me to your feet inviting me to come to them and giving me the means to do so.
O God You were not speaking here only to Your apostles but to all those who, though able to watch with you and to give their company , do not do so….They do not understand that watching at your feet is an incomparable joy, a happiness of which even the saints and angels are not worthy. They do not rejoice to be in your presence as one rejoices to be in the presence of someone one loves passionately. and they do not long passionately to console you and relieve your agony.. If they were as conscious as they should be of the infinite joy of praying at your feet in your presence, would they not stay praying to You indefinitely not noticing that time was passing and having only one fear in their joy- the fear of seeing it come to an end?
The priest is a monstrance. His role is to show Jesus. He must disappear and make Jesus seen. I must leave a good impression on all who come to see me. I must be everything to everyone. I must laugh with those who laugh, cry with those who cry to lead them all to Jesus.
My apostolate must be one of goodness. I must make people say this when they see me: "This man is so good that his religion must be good." If someone asks me why I am gentle and good, I must reply, "Because I serve One who is much better than I am. If only you knew how good my Master, Jesus, is. I want to be so good that people will say, "If that is the servant, how, then, is the Master?"
Be kind and compassionate, and do not be insensitive to any misery. See Jesus in all people. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. In light of the love and the virtue of the saints, we must humiliate ourselves and convert ourselves: what they have done we can do. God has never forsaken man. At every opportunity, enlighten your neighbor and bring good to him. Be firm but gentle, Keep severity for yourself. Be prepared to sacrifice all to help your neighbor: "What you do unto one of these children, ye have done unto me."
To prepare oneself constantly for martyrdom, and accept it without a shadow of reluctance, like the Divine Lamb-in Jesus, through Jesus, for Jesus- I must try and live as if I were to die a martyr today. Every minute I must imagine I am going to be martyred this very evening.
OUR LORD TO BL. CHARLES IN PRAYER ON HIS WISH TO BE A MARTYR:
"This life will be followed by death. You wish for a martyr's death. You know how cowardly you are, but you know too that you can do all things in Him who gives you strength, that I am all powerful in My creatures. Ask day and night for it but always with this condition, that it be My will, and for My glory and my pleasure which I know you desire and pray for above all things. And have confidence; I will grat what you ask, that which is for My greater glory. It is good to ask for this, for 'there is no greater love than to give your life for the beloved,'" and and it is right to wish to give Me this ‘greatest love of all’ “'
All we are trying to do is be one with Jesus, to reproduce His life in our own, to proclaim His teaching from the rooftops in our thoughts, words, and actions, to let him rule and live in us. He comes into us so frequently in the Holy Eucharist—may He establish His kingdom within us! If he gives us joys, we should accept them gratefully; the Good Shepherd gives us such sweet grasses to strengthen us and make us fit to follow him later along dry pathways.
If he gives us crosses, we should embrace them; to be given a cross is the best grace of all: it is to walk hand in hand with Jesus more closely than ever, to relieve him by carrying his cross for him, as Simon of Cyrene did. It is our Beloved's invitation to us to declare and prove our love for him. In torments of soul and bodily suffering, "Let us rejoice and be glad"; Jesus is calling us, telling us to tell him we love him, and to go on telling him as long as our suffering lasts.
And to a friend he wrote: Now I should like to ask something of you myself: pray that I may love; pray that I may love Jesus; pray there I may love His cross; pray that I may love the cross, not for its own sake, but as the only means, the only way of giving glory to Jesus: "The grain of wheat does not bring forth fruit unless it dies …. And I, if I be lifted up … will draw all things to myself." As St. John of the Cross points out, it was at the moment of His supreme abasement, the hour of His death, that Jesus did the most good; that He saved the world.
So then ask Jesus that I may truly love the cross, for it is indispensable if we are going to do good to souls. And I carry it very little, J am cowardly. Virtues are ascribed to me which I do not possess – and I am the most fortunate of men. So pray for my conversion, that I may love Jesus and do at all times what would be most pleasing to him. Amen.
-February 27, 1903
WRITTEN THOUGHTS ON HUMILITY
For me indeed Humility is the truth. Truth is for me to despise myself. Truth for me who falls every day, every hour, is to think meanly of myself, of the baseness of my past and my present life, of the mean prompting of my spirit. I, who have so often deceived myself must think of the weakness of my virtue which every day I see fail before the smallest temptation. I must be humble. in thought, knowing myself and facing my own misery, past and present, the faults that I have and the virtues I have not, the infirmaties that I have, and the natural gifts that I do not possess.
I must be humble in in my desires, without any ambition or any wish for man's esteem, but desire on the contrary that they should know the truth and take me as my real value as a worm, as something proud, cowardly, obstinate, and ungrateful. I must not indulge in day dreams (it is a waste of time), especially in evil imaginations full of vanity and worldliness, inspired by ambition; I must be afraid of myself, afraid of my own judgment and integrity and courage. I must attribute to God only whatever good there may be in me, and to myself alone the evil I do.
Humble in speech. I must speak little, saying no good of myself, never revealing unless under great necessity, all the God gives me; never saying anything which could give good opinion of myself to others except under necessity. I must hide all that might give a good opinion of myself others of my natural and supernatural gifts (though none come from myself, but all from God alone). I must hide any good that I may do if God does any through me. "Let not your right hand know what your left hand does." "When you pray shut your door and let God alone see you." I must speak humbly and gently and never give a proud answer to those who speak proudly to me; I must be humble and gentle with great or small whether I am reproached or praised, whether in prosperity or adversity; whether I be flattered or menaced I must be humble in speech and humble in the thought of death.
Humble in actions. I must believe no work beneath me, since Jesus was a carpenter for thirty years, and Joseph all his life. With this example I should, on the contrary, look upon any occupation or work as a great privilege. I must welcome with love and readiness any occasion for humility, any humiliation that emulates the humility of Jesus, and since if my sins were known to men nothing would seem to them bad enough for me, let me avoid all lofty occupations and all high positions because Jesus was lowly and despised. I must accept no promotion whatever it may be, unless obedience imposes it on me and if I see that it is a duty and the will of God.
-Retreat at Nazareth, November 1897
[Jesus speaks:] "Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who reject not only material things,which is the first step, but who also climb higher, emptying their souls completely of every attachment, every liking, every desire, every search of which I am not the object.
Such poverty of spirit leaves the soul completely empty, voiding it of love for material things, for one's neighbor and for oneself, expelling everything, absolutely everything from it, leaving it a completely empty space which, can be filled wholly by Me. Then I can make divine the love for material things they have expelled from their souls so as to give all the room in them to me. They have expelled all these different loves from their souls, and I occupy them completely, so that they are empty of everything else and full of Me. Then in Me and for My sake they begin to love, all these other things again, no longer for the sake of the things themselves but for Mine. Then shall their charity he ordered aright; they love all created things for My sake.
Blessed are those who hunger for justice, the rule of justice on earth, for My reign on earth, who hunger to see Me glorified by every soul, who hunger to see My will perfectly fulfilled by all creatures. You should never be without this great hunger for justice, for seeing my will perfectly fulfilled by both yourself and all mankind, for your own total sanctification and the perfect sanctity of all men. This is the hunger that weighs on my own Heart. Feel it more and more, not for your own sake, or for man's, but for God's sake, for the love of God. You will then be blessed indeed, for you will be in perfect harmony with My own heart.
Blessed are they that mourn – because they are unhappy, poor, bereaved, sick, suffering in body or soul, tried in whatever way. They are blessed because their sufferings will be effective in expiating their sins, because their sufferings detach them from the world and lift up their gaze to Me and attach them to Myself. More blessed still are those who mourn their sins. And yet more blessed those who weep for sorrow at not seeing Me and at being exiled far from Me in this vale of tears. Even more blessed are those who mourn My sufferings, My passion and all the sufferings I endured on earth. And most blessed are they who weep from love alone, who weep because they love Me, who weep for no particular reason – not from pain nor yet longing, but merely because when they think of Me their whole heart melts and they cannot restrain their tears.
Blessed are they that are hated and persecuted for My sake – blessed indeed for they are imitating Me, sharing My lot. True spouses, they share fully in the lot of their Spouse. Blessed, because is there anything more loving than to suffer with the one you love? Blessed, because they have this double happiness: suffering with their Beloved and for Him. Blessed, because through these very sufferings their love for Me will grow, increasing proportionately to their sufferings for My sake – and their growing love will not be transitory, but enduring: it will last through time and into eternity. O blessed are they who suffer persecution with Me, whose love is growing continually under persecution! Never reject or fear pains, hatred, and persecution suffered for My sake; on the contrary, accept them with joy, blessing, thanksgiving, gratitude to God and men, thanking Me from the bottom of your heart, praying for your enemies and executioners, joining with the holy guardian angels in begging me for their conversion, rejoicing from the depths of your hearts at having been found worthy to undergo suffering and humiliation for love of Me.
MORE WORDS FROM JESUS:
Here and now I am saying to other souls – to all those I who have been given me and now lead hidden lives, possessing Me without having been given a mission to preach, I tell them to sanctify souls by silently carrying Me among them.
To souls in silence, leading the hidden life in solitude far from the wor1d, I say, "All of you work for the sanctification of the' world; work in the world as My Mother did, wordlessly, silently; go and set up your devotional retreats in the midst of those who do not know Me, carry me among them by setting up an altar among them, a tabernacle, carrying the Gospel to them not by word of mouth, but by the persuasive force of example, not by speaking, but by living: sanctify the world, carry Me into the world, all you pious souls living a hidden and silent life -as Mary carried Me to John.' "
Charles de Foucauld was born on September 15, 1858 in France. He was attracted to the military life and entered the Saint-Cyr Military Academy, he later joined the 4th Hussar regiment; in 1880 his unit was sent to Setif, Algeria. He would later be discharged from the service for misconduct, including passing off his French mistress as his wife. But Charles had became so fascinated with the Arabs that he had met that he spent 15 months learning Arabic and Hebrew, and then traveled into Morocco. In May 1885 he received the Gold Medal of French Geographic Society He explored Algeria and Tunisia, returning to Paris to work on his book. But at the age of 28, he would have a profound conversion and from that moment on, all of his life was fixed on living the Gospel and his love for Jesus.
After a variety of experiences as a Trappist monk and a time spent in the Holy Land, he conceived of a new form of religious life, a life closer to the daily lives of the poor. As Jesus at Nazareth, he wanted to live amidst the people, rooted in a culture, sharing the condition of those who live from day to day by the work of their hands– of those who have no security at all and who are the poorest of the poor. He did not envision preaching the Gospel in words as such, but by crying it out with the witness of his whole life; a life lived in shared friendship, silence and prayer. He wanted to go beyond all of the boundaries of religion and race and to become known as a "universal little brother"; the little brother of his beloved Jesus. Most of all, he wished to bring the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament into the desert place.
Brother Charles hoped to found small fraternities of brothers…"What I dream of is something very plain and few in number, similar to the little communities of the first Christians…living the life of Nazareth, through work and the contemplation of Jesus…a little family, a little home, very small, very plain"… This dream would not be realized until after his death. Brother Charles of Jesus died on December 1, 1916 at Tamanrasset in the midst of the Sahara. An innocent, defenseless victim of an assassin's bullet he fell to the sand like the grain of wheat which dies so that it can bring forth its fruit… Throughout the world today there are many little groups (religious brothers and sisters) which claim as their spiritual father– Charles de Foucauld. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
The Prayer of Abandonment of Brother Charles of Jesus
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, my God, and so need to give myself–
to surrender myself into Your hands,
without reserve and with total confidence,
for You are my Father.