Little Brothers of Jesus

René Voillaume (1905-2003), priest, founder of the Little Brothers of Jesus, died, on May 13, 2003.

The Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Brothers of the Gospel are inspired by the witness of Blessed Charles de Foucauld who sought to live the spirituality of Jesus in Nazareth, a poor working man.  The Little Brothers and Sisters live and work among the poor, seeking to evangelize by their presence in the world of the poor. Charles de Foucauld died with no followers. But in the 1930s René Voillaume and others formed the community of Little Brothers.  The Little Sisters were formed later by Little Sister Magdeleine de Jesus. A branch of the Little Brothers, the Little Brothers of the Gospel, was formed later.

In the early 1970s in grad school in New York City, I encountered the Little Brothers and often went to Sunday Mass in their apartment. Their witness and the spirituality of  Charles de Foucauld have inspired me –  a contemplative life, lived and worked among the poor, sharing their lives and their struggles. This life has at times been costly: a number of Little Brothers have been killed in Latin America because of their identification with the poor.

Here is a Christmas meditation by René Voillaume which sums up, for me, their spirituality.

Christmas will take place, in the depths of our heart, between Jesus and ourselves. Provided that, of course, we are totally committed to it.

The world suffers in anguish, and waits for peace among men. It is first and foremost about this reality that we shall be inclined to think. But Jesus invites us today to reflect on a peace of another kind, a peace that should exist in the deep roots of the heart of each human being. Pride, the craving for power, for supremacy and wealth are the attitudes which are at the base of projects of war and blind destruction.

In Jesus is born the one who alone can render hearts peaceful, if we know how to welcome him.

Extraits Lettre aux fraternités II, pp. 158-159

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