Nine days in the life of Charles de Foucauld: the worker from Nazareth

WEB SERIES 6/9The Figaro Special Edition dedicates a number to the father of the desert, canonized Sunday, May 15th. To bring Jesus into the holy sacrament among Muslims: this is Charles’ “special calling.” To achieve this he is ordained a priest.

He wanted to leave La Trappe and become a hermit in the Holy Land. His superior sent him to Rome to study philosophy and theology. He bowed again. But to his spiritual father, Father Huvelin, he continued to confide that a “invincible strengthpushes him towards another ideal. To live what he believes has been existence “hiddenof Jesus Christ in Nazareth. Humility, poverty,rejection», According to a term borrowed from 16th century literature. Twice Brother Marie-Albéric rejected his solemn vows. His case ended up being submitted in January 1897 to the La Trappe ancestral meeting in the papal city. They will recognize that his calling is unique and grant him a dispensation.

After seven years in Trappe, Charles is free to go to the Orient. In Nazareth he presented himself after some setbacks at the poor Clare monastery. The venerable mother, Marie-Ange de Saint-Michel, is struck by the singularity of the person asking to serve as a servant. She will not hire him until Charles reveals his true identity to her. She offers him to live in a small villa outside the fence. A few days later, the hermit requests permission to move into a tool shed. He is entrusted with small jobs, sorting lentils, digging a few beds to plant vegetables on and shopping. He is also authorized to sweep the chapel and serve Masses.

“ALSO READ – DOSSIER – Charles de Foucauld, a voice in the desert

The rest of the time, the one who has assumed the name Charles of Jesus uses it to read, meditate, pray. In his letters to Abbé Huvelin, he never stops writing that he lives what he has always wanted to live. “our Lord’s hidden life, in its obscurity, its poverty“. He eats only bread, drinks only water, until Father Huvelin advises him to receive a proper meal on Sundays and holidays.
He spends them in the sisters’ little chapel. These are hours for himpleases“Where he keeps asking Jesus:”Lord, make my thoughts, make my words. He writes a prescription for the future hermits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which he calls and designs their habit: a white tunic with a heart abandoned by a cross in a red robe. to “lead others“And regent an order, Charles of Jesus, does not stop dreaming of the day when he with this new society will go to bring the light of Christ to”unhappy Muslims“.

In Nazareth, but also in Jerusalem, the hermit Clare’s hermits arouse curiosity. When he learned that the abbess Elisabeth of Calvary, overseer of the monastery in Jerusalem, was in great financial difficulty, Charles himself had suggested going to beg in France. She had refused. The sale of the monastery, however, was avoided thanks to a donation from a cousin to the strange anchor. The venerable mother wants to know him. Charles of Jesus goes to Jerusalem. He stays there for four days. Elisabeth du Calvaire, to whom he entrusted his project of founding a brotherhood, urges him to become a priest first and foremost. Charles ends up hearing his arguments as well as Father Huvelins. He then turned to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, but this one was slow to answer him, so he returned to Nazareth. He convinced himself that he needed to be ordained to offer the holy sacrament to those he had converted.

When he had become Brother Marie-Albéric again, he boarded Marseille and from there went up to Paris to find Abbé Huvelin, before going to Notre-Dame-des-Neiges. Ordained a deacon, he began the great retreat and was ordained a priest in Viviers on June 9, 1901. His sister attended his first Mass before spending an afternoon with him remembering past times. That from their childhood and Rosine’s Alsatian pretzels.

The cover of Figaro Special Edition Charles de Foucauld, a voice in the desert Private Collection – Color of Klimbim and Fond

Charles de Foucauld, A Voice in the Desert, 164 pages, € 12.90, available at newsagents and the Figaro Store

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