Charles de Foucauld - Blessed Brother Charles of Jesus leads us to the Holy Family in Nazareth

From Pope Francis,Vigil before the Synod on the Family
“To understand the family today, we too need to enter - like Charles de Foucauld – into the mystery of the family of Nazareth, into its quiet daily life, not unlike that of most families, with their problems and their simple joys, a life marked by serene patience amid adversity, respect for others, a humility which is freeing and which flowers in service, a life of fraternity rooted in the sense that we are all members of one body.”.

A short summery of his life....

CHARLES DE FOUCAULD (Brother Charles of Jesus) was born in Strasbourg, France on September 15th, 1858. Orphaned at the age of six, he and his Marie were raised by their grandfather in whose footsteps he followed by taking up a military career.
He lost his faith as an adolescent. His taste for easy living was well known to all and yet he showed that he could be strong willed and constant in difficult situations. He undertook a risky exploration of Morocco (1883-1884). Seeing the way Muslims expressed their faith questioned him and he began repeating, “My God, if you exist, let me come to know you.”
On his return to France, the warm, respectful welcome he received from his deeply Christian family made him continue his search. Under the guidance of Fr. Huvelin he rediscovered God in October 1886. He was then 28 years old. “As soon as I believed in God, I understood that I could not do otherwise than to live for him alone.”
A pilgrimage to the Holy Land revealed his vocation to him: to follow Jesus in his life at Nazareth. He spent 7 years as a Trappist, first in France and then at Akbès in Syria. Later he began to lead a life of prayer and adoration alone near a convent of Poor Clares in Nazareth.
Ordained a priest at 43 (1901) he left for the Sahara, living at first in Beni Abbes and later at Tamanrasset among the Tuaregs of the Hoggar. He wanted to be among those who were, “the furthest removed, the most abandoned.” He wanted all who drew close to him to find in him a brother, “a universal brother.” In a great respect for the culture and faith of those among whom he lived, his desire was to “shout the Gospel with his life”. “I would like to be sufficiently good that people would say, “If such is the servant, what must the Master be like?”
On the evening of December 1st 1916, he was killed by a band of marauders who had encircled his house. He had always dreamed of sharing his vocation with others: after having written several rules for religious life, he came to the conclusion that this “life of Nazareth” could be led by all. Today the spiritual family of Charles de Foucauld encompasses several associations of the faithful, religious communities and secular institutes for both lay people and priests.

Nazareth: a place where you go down

“‘He went down with them and came to Nazareth.’ His whole life long he did nothing other Br Charles 20.3.1916
“To be rich and secure, living leisurely off my wealth, when you were poor, needy and toiled for your living…as for me, I couldn’t do it, my God. I couldn’t love like that.” Br Charles 11.11.1897
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.' Nathanael said to him, 'From Nazareth? Can anything good come from that place?' Philip replied, 'Come and see.' Jn 1:45-46
From Pope Benedict XVI
In his search for the “last place,” Charles de Foucauld discovered Nazareth […] Nazareth has a permanent message for the Church. The New Covenant did not begin in the Temple nor on the holy mountain; it began in the little dwelling of the Virgin, the house of the worker, and one of the forgotten places of “pagan Galilee” from which no good could be expected.

Nazareth: a place where you grow

Jesus went down with them then and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people. Lk 2:51-52
From an address by Pope Paul VI:
How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth!
First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the noise so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers.
Second, we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplify its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings, in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children – and for this there is no substitute.
Finally, in Nazareth, the home of a craftsman’s son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. I would especially like to recognise its value – demanding yet redeeming – and to give it proper respect.

Nazareth: a school of prayer

“Jesus came to Nazareth, the place of the hidden life, of ordinary life, of family life, of prayer, work, hiddenness, of silent virtues with no other witnesses than God, his friends, his neighbours. Nazareth, the place where most people lead their lives.”
From a Little sister of Jesus Sometimes people will say that they don’t have the right conditions for prayer. Sometimes the situations in which people live may weigh them down to such a point that they no longer know how to pray, if ever they learned. Others are totally uninterested. To simply be a person of prayer in the midst of whatever makes up our world by sharing it, to be a presence, is essentially what Nazareth is all about. It’s about the incarnation of God’s love in a very little corner of the world. Jesus didn’t have any “conditions” other than the streets and neighbourhoods the kitchens, fields and workshops of the place where he lived. God caught up with the human race right there. This is where Jesus learned to pray.
From a little brother of Jesus: Jesus spent a lot of time trying to purify his disciples’ hopes and desires: his mission was to reveal the true nature of God and of his reign, persuading us that God wasn’t to be identified with our human categories of grandeur, power, success etc. We always have a tendency to seek God above ourselves, whereas he is beyond us. What we call the “divine” doesn’t consist in the extraordinary. It’s in fact the inner lining of the ordinary, what is “embedded” in the ordinary and gives it its ultimate meaning. (from a little brother)
Truly God is in this place and I did not know it! Gn 28:16

Nazareth: where we learn to live as brothers and sisters

“Every Christian must be an apostle. This is not a counsel, it is a commandment, the commandment of charity. But be an apostle in what way? Above by seeing every human being as their brother or sister: “You are all brothers and sisters since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven”. They must see in every human being a child of God.” Br Charles 3.5.1912
Pope Francis at the prayer vigil before the synod on the family: Charles de Foucauld, perhaps like few others, grasped the import of the spirituality which radiates from Nazareth. This great explorer hastily abandoned his military career, attracted by the mystery of the Holy Family, the mystery of Jesus’ daily relationship with his parents and neighbours, his quiet labour, his humble prayer. Contemplating the Family of Nazareth, Brother Charles realized how empty the desire for wealth and power really is. Through his apostolate of charity, he became everything to everyone. Attracted by the life of a hermit, he came to understand that we do not grow in the love of God by avoiding the entanglement of human relations. For in loving others, we learn to love God, in stooping down to help our neighbour, we are lifted up to God.
From Robert Ellsberg
Today, as never before, we are realizing the particular need for improved understanding between Christians and Muslims. Foucauld was himself killed by members of a Muslim sect whose fundamentalist zeal has obvious contemporary counterparts. And yet if Foucauld’s path had been more characteristic of the encounter between Christians and Muslims in the past, who can say whether history might be different?
In an age when Christianity is no longer synonymous with the outreach of Western civilization and colonial power the witness of Foucauld-poor, unarmed, stripped of everything, relying on no greater authority than the power of Love- may well represent the face of the future church, a church rooted in the memory of its origins and of its poor founder.

Nazareth leads us share Jesus’ passion

Pilate wrote out a notice and had it fixed to the cross; it ran: 'Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews' John 19:19

Brother Charles’ prayer of Abandon

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures. I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.