Charles de Foucauld had a vision of religious life in community that he never saw realized during his life. He even wrote rules of life for this community. He died, killed by extremists, in Tamanrasset, Algeria, on December 1, 1916, without seeing his dream realized.
Less than seventeen years René Voillaume and four others joined together and became the Little Brothers of Jesus, a small community which lives among the poor, working with them, living the hidden life of Jesus at Nazareth in the world of the people on the margins. Later, the Little Sisters of Jesus, a women’s community was founded by Magdeleine de Jesus. Other communities, including the Little Brothers of the Gospel, arose and men and women, lay and religious, seek to follow the inspiration of Blessed Charles de Foucauld.
Charles de Foucauld grew up a playboy. But moved by the example of North African Muslims, he experienced a conversion that led him first to one of the poorest Trappist monasteries. This was too comfortable for him as he saw the poverty around him and so he went a lived in the Holy Land, for part of the time as a handyman for the Poor Clares. Later, after being ordained, he left to live in Algeria.
He sought to live as a poor workman, preaching by his life as Jesus did in Nazareth, serving the Lord among the poor.
His life has been an inspiration to me and his prayer of abandonment is a continuing challenge:
Father, I put myself in your hands;
Father, I abandon myself to you.
I entrust myself to you.
Father, do with me as it pleases you.
Whatever you do with me,
I will thank you for it.
Giving thanks for anything,
I am ready for anything.
As long as your will, O God, is done in me,
as long as your will is done
in all your creatures,
I ask for nothing else, O God.
I put my soul into your hands.
I give it to you, O God,
with all the love of my heart,
because I love you,
and because my love requires me
to give myself,
I put myself unreservedly in your hands
with infinite confidence,
because you are my Father.
I don’t know if I have the courage and the faith to pray this prayer – but it sustains me as I seek to find how God can use me.