Feast of the day

BLESSED CHARLES OF JESUS Charles de Foucauld Priest (1858-1916)

12/1/2020 12:00:00 AM

Charles de Foucauld

         Bl. Charles of Jesus was born in Strasbourg, France on September 15th, 1858. Orphaned at  six, he and his sister Marie were raised by their grandfather, in whose footsteps he followed by taking up a military career.

         Charles lost his faith as an adolescent. His taste for easy living was well known to all, yet he showed that he could be strong willed and constant in difficult situations. In 1883, he undertook a risky exploration of Morocco. Upon seeing the way Muslims expressed their faith, Charles questioned God and he began repeating, ‘‘My God, if you exist, let me come to know you.’’

         After Charles returned to France, the warm, respectful welcome he received from his deeply Christian family made him continue his search. Under the guidance of Fr. Huvelin, Charles rediscovered God in October 1886. He was 28 years old. ‘‘As soon as I believed in God, I understood that I could not do otherwise than to live for him alone.’’

         A pilgrimage to the Holy Land revealed Charles' vocation: To follow Jesus in a life at Nazareth. Charles spent 7 years as a Trappist, first in France and then at Akbès in Syria. Later, he began to lead a life of prayer and adoration, alone, near a convent of Poor Clares in Nazareth.

         Ordained at forty-three, Fr. Charles left for the Sahara, living at first in Beni Abbès and later at Tamanrasset among the Tuaregs of the Hoggar. He wanted to be among those who were ‘‘the furthest removed, the most abandoned.’’ He wanted all who drew close to him to find in him a brother, ‘‘a universal brother.’’ With great respect for the culture and faith of those among whom he lived, his desire was to ‘‘shout the Gospel with his life.’’ ‘‘I would like to be sufficiently good that people would say, ‘If such is the servant, what must the Master be like?'’’

         On the evening of December 1st 1916, Fr. Charles was killed by a band of marauders who encircled his house.

         He had always dreamed of sharing his vocation with others: After having written several rules for religious life, he came to the conclusion that this ‘‘life of Nazareth’’ could be led by all. Today, the spiritual family of Charles de Foucauld encompasses several associations, religious communities and secular institutes for both priests and lay people.