Wednesday, December 1, 2021

From Rags to Riches to Rags

Charles de Foucauld is someone many have probably not heard of before. He started out in life in France as an orphan who was raised by his grandfather, a military officer. What else could a military officer, now child guardian, do but send his grandson to military academy? Through the military and service in the Middle East, he was well known as a carouser/entertainer and became well acquainted with Muslims and Jews. When his grandfather died, he was left a hefty inheritance that he spent lavishly on extravagance. Resigning his commission as an officer, he chose to become a geographer in Algiers but because a Frenchman would have been killed on the spot he adopted an identity as a Jew.  He is credited with mapping Algeria. While rubbing elbows with those living the Muslim faith, Charles' spirit drew him back to France where he recaptured his Catholic faith. He renounced all his wealth and lived for a while near a convent of Poor Clare who influenced him into pursuing ordination as a priest. He was ordained and for a while belonged to the Trappist order but desiring greater nearness to God he left them and began his hermitage in Morocco.  As a hermit his sole goal was to be the most exemplary model of Jesus he could be.  He practiced love and kindness to everyone.  But on December 1, 1916, Nomadic Bedouins took him captive and in an altercation to free him he was assassinated. His meditations and fine example still sprinkle Christendom with wise spirituality. Pope Francis canonized him in 2020 and he will become a saint in 2022.  

"Have that tender care that expresses itself in the little things that are like a balm for the heart... With our neighbors go into the smallest details, whether it is a question of health, of consolation, of prayerfulness, or of need. Console and ease the pain of others through the tiniest of attentions. Be as tender and attentive towards those whom God puts on our path, as a brother towards brother or as a mother for her child. As much as possible be an element of consolation for those around us, as soothing balm, as our Lord was towards all those who drew near to him."    --Charles de Foucauld, Sept 15, 1858 - Dec 1, 1916

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