Saint December 1 : Saintly Charles de Foucauld who Converted from a Selfish Life to the Life of a Hermit in the Desert

 1. A child from a Christian home (1858 to 1873)
Charles de Foucauld and his family (to be Canonized in May 2022)
Charles was born in Strasbourg, France on September 15 1858 and was baptized two days after his birth.
But his mother, father and paternal grandmother all died in 1864. The grandfather took the two children, Charles (6 yrs) and Marie (3 yrs) into his home.
On April 28 1872, Charles made his first Holy Communion. He was confirmed the same day.
2. A young man in a world without God (1874 to 1876)
Charles de Foucauld as a youth.

Charles was intelligent and studies were not difficult for him. He loved books, but read anything he could lay his hands on.
Little by little Charles distanced himself from his faith. He continued to respect the Catholic religion but he no longer believed in God.
He says, “at 17 I was totally selfish, full of vanity and irreverence, engulfed by a desire for what is evil. I was running wild.”
“I was in the dark. I no longer saw either God or men: There was only me.”
3. An unconvinced military man (1876 to 1882)
Charles de Foucauld in the military
After two years of studies at Military College, Charles became an officer. His grandfather had just died and Charles inherited everything. He was 20 years old.
For several years, Charles would seek his pleasure in food and parties. At that time he was called “Fats Foucauld”.
But in October 1880, Charles was sent to Algeria. He liked the country and the inhabitants interested him. However Charles’ refusal to listen to his superiors in an affair involving a woman eventually cost him his employment.
Having only just returned to France, he learned that his regiment was being sent to Tunisia.
In January 1882, the columns were disbanded and Charles was again back in the barracks.
On January 28 1882 he resigned from the army.
4. A Serious Traveller (1882 to 1886)
Charles de Foucauld voyageur
Charles then decided to settle in Algiers in order to prepare his trip.
Morocco was not far away but was forbidden to Europeans. Charles was attracted to this little known country. After a long preparation of 15 months, he left for Morocco with a Jew named Mordechai who would serve as his guide.
For 11 months, Charles often received insults and stones. Several times he was almost killed.
On May 23 1884, a poor beggar arrived at the Algerian border crossing. He was barefoot, thin and covered with dirt. 
The scientific world of the time was greatly impressed by Charles’ work: a true exploration! He had travelled 3000 km in an almost unknown country. It was glory!
5. A seeker of God (1886 to 1890)
Charles de Foucauld seeker of God
Such glory meant nothing to Charles. He left Algeria and settled in Paris, close to his family. He was 28 years old.
“At the beginning of October of the year 1886, after six months of family life, while in Paris getting my journey to Morocco published, I found myself in the company of people who were highly intelligent, highly virtuous and highly Christian. At the same time, an extremely strong interior grace was pushing me
 Even though I wasn’t a believer I started going to Church. It was the only place where I felt at ease and I would spend long hours there repeating this strange prayer: “My God, if you exist, allow me know you!”
“So I then spoke to Fr. Huvelin. I asked for religious lessons: he made me kneel down and made me go to confession, and sent me to communion right away…”
“If there is joy in heaven over one sinner who is converted, there was joy when I went into this confessional!”
“I wanted to be a religious and live only for God. My confessor made me wait three years.”
“The pilgrimage to the Holy Land, what a blessed influence it had on my life, although I did it in spite of myself, out of pure obedience to Fr. Huvelin …”
6. A Trappist Monk (1890 to 1897)
Charles de Foucauld moine a la trappe
Charles was very attached to his family and friends, but he felt called to leave everything so as to follow Jesus. On January 15 1890, he entered the Trappists.
Bl. Charles explained, “every person is a child of God who loves them infinitely: it is therefore impossible to want to love God without loving human beings: the more one loves God, the more one loves people. The love of God, the love of people, is my whole life; it will be my whole life I hope.”
Charles was happy as a Trappist. He learned a lot. He received a lot. But something more was missing.
7. Hermit in Jesus’ Land (1897 to 1900)
Charles de Foucauld hermit
On January 23 1897, the Superior General of the Trappists announced to Charles that he could leave the Trappe so as to follow Jesus, the poor workman of Nazareth.
Charles left for the Holy Land. He arrived in Nazareth where the Poor Clares took him in as a servant.
But Charles wanted to share this life of Nazareth with other brothers. This is why he wrote the Rule of the Little Brothers.
Bl. Charles wrote, “My rule is so closely linked to the cult of the Holy Eucharist that it cannot be followed by a group without there being a priest among them and a tabernacle; it is only when I am a priest and there is an oratory around which we can come together, that I will be able to have a few companions.”
In August 1900, Charles returned to France. Fr. Huvelin was in agreement that he be ordained a priest.
8. Brother to All in Beni Abbès (1901 to 1904)
Charles de Foucauld brother of all
On October 28 1901, Charles arrived in Beni Abbès.
“The Natives made me perfectly welcome and I am forming relationships with them, trying to do them a little good.”
Each day, Charles spent hours before the Tabernacle.
“The Eucharist is Jesus, it is all of Jesus.”
In this region, Charles discovered slavery. He was scandalized.
The fraternity was built, but Charles waited for brothers to come.
But the brothers did not come.
In June 1903, the Bishop of the Sahara spent several days in Beni Abbés. He came from the South where he had visited the Tuaregs. Charles felt attracted by these people who live in the heart of the desert. There were no priests available to go there, so Charles volunteered.
“For the sake of spreading the holy Gospel I am ready to go to the ends of the earth and to live until the final judgement…”
“My God, may all people go to heaven!”
9. A Friend to the Tuaregs (1904 to 1916)
Charles de Foucauld friend of Touaregs
On January 13 1904, Charles left to go live with the Tuaregs.
Departure from Akabli with Commander Laperrine so as to accompany him on his expedition. His intention is to visit newly conquered peoples and to then push on as far as Timbuktu…”
He wrote, “My work on the language is going well. The abridged dictionary is finished and its publication will begin in a few days’ time. The dictionary of proper names will be finished in 1914 along with the more complete Tuareg-French dictionary. I think that by 1916 I will finish the collection of poems and proverbs and by 1917 the texts in prose. The grammar book will be for 1918 if God gives me life and health.”
Tomorrow, it will be ten years that I have been saying Holy Mass in the hermitage in Tamanrasset and not a single conversion! It takes prayer, work and patience.”
For two years, war had been tearing Europe apart. It was beginning to come to the Sahara too.
But God did not stop them and Charles was violently killed December 1 1916.
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