Acta Sanctorum: St. Charles de Foucauld (Dec 1)
December 01, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

December 1
St. Charles de Foucauld
Life (1858-1916)

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

He lost his faith as an adolescent.His taste for easy living was well known to all and yet he showed that he could be strong willed and constant in difficult situations. He undertook a risky exploration of Morocco (1883-1884). Seeing the way Muslims expressed their faith questioned him and he began repeating, “My God, if you exist, let me come to know you.”

On his return to France, the warm, respectful welcome he received from his deeply Christian family made him continue his search. Under the guidance of Fr. Huvelin he rediscovered God in October 1886.He was then 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 his vocation to him: to follow Jesus in his life at Nazareth.He 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 a priest at 43 (1901) he 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.”  In a 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, he was killed by a band of marauders who had 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 of the faithful, religious communities and secular institutes for both lay people and priests.


Scripture (James1:2-11)

Whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Let the believer  who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.


(Year A) O my Lord Jesus, here is your divine poverty. How greatly I need your direction — you loved poverty so much. Already in the Old Testament you showed your predilection for it. During your life on earth you made it your faithful companion. You left it as an inheritance to your saints, to all those ready to follow you, to all those who would be your disciples. You inculcated it by the example of your whole life and glorified it, beatified it, and declared the necessity of it in your preaching. You chose poor laborers to be your parents. You were born in a cave used as a stable. You worked in poverty during your childhood. Your first worshipers were shepherds. When you were presented in the Temple, the offering made for you was the offering of the poor. You lived as a poor working man for thirty years in Nazareth, where I am fortunate enough to live, where I have the immeasurable, profound, inexpressible joy, the bliss of raking dung into heaps. Then, during your public life, you lived on alms among poor fishermen you had chosen to be your companions. “Without a stone to put under your head.” As you told St. Teresa, at that time you frequently slept in the open air, for lack of a roof to shelter under. On Calvary you were stripped of your clothes, your only possession, and soldiers gambled for them among themselves. You died naked, and you were buried by charity and by strangers. “Blessed are the poor!”

My Lord Jesus, how quickly he makes himself poor who, loving you with all his heart, will not permit himself to be richer than his Beloved. My Lord Jesus, how quickly he becomes poor who, remembering that whatever is done for one of your little ones is done for you and whatever is not done for them is not done for you, relieves all the sufferers who come to his gate. How quickly he becomes poor who accepts with faith your words: “If you would be perfect, sell all you have and give it to the poor . . . Blessed are the poor, for whoever shall have given up his possessions for my sake, shall receive them back a hundredfold here below, and in heaven shall have eternal life,” and so many others like them.

My God, I do not know how it is possible for some souls to see you in poverty and themselves voluntarily remain rich, to imagine themselves so much grander than their Master, their Beloved, and not want to be like him in all things — as far as it is for them to decide — and especially in your humbleness. I do not doubt their love for you, my God, but I think there is something lacking in their love — I, at any rate, could not imagine love without a longing, a compelling longing, to imitate, to resemble the Beloved, and especially to share all his life’s pains, difficulties and burdens. To be rich, to live in comfort among my possessions while you were poor, deprived, living in misery under the burden of heavy labor — I just could not do it, O God. I could not love like that. “The servant is not above his master,” neither is the bride rich while the Bridegroom is poor — especially when he is voluntarily poor, and perfect as well. St. Teresa, tired of the pressures put on her to accept an income for her convent at Avila, sometimes came close to accepting, but when she returned to her oratory and saw the cross, she fell at its feet and begged Jesus, naked on his cross, to give her the grace never to accept an income and to be as poor as he was. I am judging no one, O God; the others are your servants and my brothers, and I cannot but love them, do good to them, pray for them. But for my own part I cannot understand love that does not seek to imitate and does not feel the need to share every cross.
Besides, the poor man’s possessions are so great: he has nothing and loves nothing in this world, and so his soul is free. Nothing is especially important to him. It is of little significance to him whether he is sent to one place or another, for he has nothing anywhere, and wants nothing anywhere. He finds God everywhere, and God is the only one from whom he wants anything. Moreover, if he is loyal, God always gives him what is best for his soul. How free he is! How lightly his spirit mounts up into the heavens! How weightless are his wings! His prayers are little troubled by thoughts of natural things great or small (for little things, even the smallest, are as disturbing as the biggest): how little they distract his prayers! Such things do not exist for him. (Meditations)
Musical Selection (Boston Cathedral Singers)
Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you do I will thank you. I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures. I wish no more than this, O Lord.  Into your hands I commend my soul. Into your hands I commend my soul.
Father, I offer if to you 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 boundless confidence, for you are my Father. Into your hands I commend my soul. Into your hands I commend my soul.
God our Father, 
who called Charles de Foucauld 
to witness to Christ in the desert 
and to give his life for the faith: 
help us, in the busy activity of our lives, 
to retain a silent place in our hearts 
in which we may rest in your presence. 
We ask this through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, 
who lives and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
God, for ever and ever.  Amen. (English Missal)