The Green Booklet and the Renewal of Religious Life

Following Brother Charles

For Little Sister Magdeleine, Charles de Foucauld is "the sole founder" of the Little Sisters.

"I am only the one who tries to transmit his thought, after having sought to draw it as faithfully as possible from the teachings of his life and death more than in his rule. Brother Charles of Jesus can neither be enclosed nor restricted to a rule that he never experienced with followers and from which he progressively distanced himself. " (p. 3).

Thus Little Sister Magdeleine drew her inspiration from him. The reading of his biography, published in 1921 by Rene Bazin, had stirred her. She had found there all the ideal of which she dreamt.

"The living Gospel, total poverty, becoming one with the most abandoned people... and especially love in all its fullness: Jesus Caritas, Jesus love".
This phrase already sketches the ideal of the Little Sisters. Let us underline in passing the expression
"becoming one with the most abandoned people".
Little Sister Magdeleine rejoiced to find her own aspirations expressed and lived by Charles de Foucauld.

We know that if he left the Trappist monastery of Akbes, even though it was very poor, it was in order to

"live the life of the poor". "Like Jesus, let us have that poverty which consists in living like the poor, in having as lodging, food, clothes, material goods of all sorts only that which is necessary, as-the poor have. Let our poverty not be of convention but that of the poor".

Even if the life of Brother Charles does not always correspond to this ideal, it is of this type of "becoming one" that Little Sister Magdeleine dreamt. In 1942, an encounter confirms Brother Charles' thought. After a conference, a lady came to see her.

"She was from Lyons, and her family received Brother Charles whenever he would come back to France. She told me that his final great preoccupation was to create a congregation of religious women who would be totally mixed with the people. He would have wanted her to be the first when she was only eighteen years old".

As early as 1944, she expressed to Bishop Montini and Pope Pius XII her

"suffering at feeling so much misunderstanding in ecclesiastical and religious circles... and not so much because of our desire to be poor but because of our desire to be 'socially' on the same level as manual workers. I told them how unhappy I was when I was told about 'religious dignity'. It is not 'worthy' of a religious Sister that she carry a rucksack, that she travel like the poor in the holds of boats, that she be nursed in the open wards of a hospital like the local people."

And in 1981, looking back on the years gone by, Little Sister Magdeleine could acknowledge that

"for more than forty years the Church has accepted that one of its congregations be officially part of the world of the poor to the detriment of what used to be called 'religious dignity' "

Thus, this essential axis of the Green Booklet was in line with the thought of Brother Charles who wanted a contemplative presence of religious mixed in with the human masses and adopting the social condition of the poor.