Pope Francis dedicated Wednesday’s audience to reflecting on St. Charles de Foucauld (1858 – 1916), who after his conversion, dedicated his life to living humbly among the people of Algeria, where he lived until he was murdered.
“He spent much time meditating on the Gospel, but this did not make him withdraw into himself; on the contrary, it impelled him to proclaim it to others. For him, the Eucharistic life was the starting point for the mission, so he prayed for hours before the tabernacle, and there he found the evangelizing strength to go to meet people who did not know Jesus. As a ‘universal brother’ he welcomed everyone, strengthening bonds of friendship and reflecting the goodness of Jesus with simple gestures, gestures that transmitted peace and joy to all who met him,” the Pope said.
SUMMARY OF POPE FRANCIS’ CATECHESIS IN ENGLISH:
Dear brothers and sisters:
In our continuing catechesis on apostolic zeal, we have been reflecting on the spread of the Gospel through the witness of men and women of every time and place. Today we consider the life of Saint Charles de Foucauld, whose passionate love of Christ led him to settle in the Sahara desert and to become a brother and friend to the poor.
Following his conversion, Charles visited the Holy Land and was moved to devote his life to bringing Christ to others as Mary did at the Visitation: in silence and by example. Dwelling as a hermit among the Tuareg people, he bore witness to the Lord above all by a life of poverty and humility centred on quiet prayer before the Eucharist, with utter confidence in its power to draw hearts to Jesus. By identifying completely with the poor, he sought to become a “universal brother” and in this way to share with them the joy of the Gospel. May the example of Saint Charles de Foucauld inspire us, in the circumstances of our daily lives, to bear quiet and joyful witness to the Lord, and to see and honor him in each of our brothers and sisters.
I extend a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups from Ireland, Norway, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Canada and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the university students taking part in the Rome International Seminar for Peace. I also greet the priests of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education of the Pontifical North American College. Upon all of you I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!
Hand-written, translated letter of St. Charles de Foucauld in the Papal Artifacts Collection
Translation of this December 1, 1916 Letter of Charles de Foucauld:
Tamanrasset, par In Salah via Biskra
15 July 1915
Very dear friend,
Thank you for your pleasant letter of 20 April. I thank God for your good health, that of Mrs. Lutoslawski and of your son. Along with you I am praying for Poland, so afflicted (in this conflict), and that God will keep safe all of your loved ones, and that He will ensure a victorious peace founded on justice and right, and that a great calm will follow this storm.
Here the country is experiencing great tranquillity, as is Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, the French Soudan, and all of French Africa. We are far removed here among the Touaregs from the war in Europe.
Ouksem (a Touareg friend of Foucauld) has left for far-off pastures. He is at more than 600 kilometers from here for an undetermined length of time…this is neither favourable to family life nor to instruction. Nomadism and barbarity are inseparable; barbarity can exist without nomadism, but nomadism does not exist without barbarity.
My close family (and friends), who are in action (in the war) are well. God has kept them from harm for the present. Of the various regions of France where I have relatives, none is occupied by the enemy.
I receive mail every 18 days, which brings telegrams, the most recent of which dates from a month ago, and letters and newspapers much older. You can understand with what impatience I await these rare arrivals and how at every hour I wonder how everything is going in this war, on which the fate of our countries, Europe, the world, the freedom of peoples and civilization depends.
From my younger days spent in the army, I still have close friends who have remained soldiers and who are all at the front. Their confidence in victory is unanimous, but not one among them will hazard a guess at a date. This war is a war of attrition, in which time is on our side and where it is to our advantage to play for time.
Goodbye for now, dear friend and brother in Christ. Let us pray together for our countries, for victory for our armies, and that justice and right will prevail.
Please pay my respects to Madame Lutoslawski.
Your affectionate and devoted brother in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Charles de Foucauld
Thank you very much for the very interesting documents from the Chamber of Commerce in Paris that you were so good as to send me.
Papal Artifacts gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Dr. Jennifer Walski, PH.D, translator.