Following Jesus of Nazareth

Following Charles de Foucauld

During the long years of waiting for what Little Sister Magdeleine described as 'the hour of God' and the opportunity to pursue her vocation, it was in the life of Charles de Foucauld that she found the ideal for which she had been yearning. In Charles de Foucauld’s life as revealed by René Bazin’s biography, Little Sister Magdeleine would later explain, she found the incarnation of all the love for Muslims instilled into her by her father and it was as if his life gave expression to all that she had been quietly harbouring. Thus it is by what appealed to her about his life that the nature of her own aspirations may be inferred..

During the early part of the 1880s, reconnaissance work in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia whilst he was in the French army had brought Charles de Foucauld into close contact with the Moroccan people whose welcome, prayerfulness and faith in God touched him deeply and were the catalyst for the rediscovery of his faith after a period during which he neither denied nor professed to believe in anything. Advised thereafter by his spiritual director to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land,  there the mystery of the life and death of Jesus was brought home to him. Above all, it was the message of Nazareth which touched him, the village which in St John’s Gospel, provoked the question, ‘Can there be anything good come out of Nazareth?’, the place where Jesus led for thirty years a hidden life of extreme simplicity working as a poor carpenter. Yet, significantly,  it was not in the quiet seclusion of a chapel that Jesus of Nazareth became an overwhelming reality for Charles de Foucauld but in the noisy, bustling streets of a village in Palestine. There he was overwhelmed by the message of the incarnation, by renewed belief in the reality of a God who loved the world so much that he became one with humankind, a poor man amongst the poor. So overwhelmed was he that he was later irresistably drawn back to the Holy Land, where as a servant of the Poor Clares in Nazareth he lived a life of extreme poverty, sleeping in a shed, cleaning floors, seeking out the most menial tasks and spending long hours in silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and meditation on the Scriptures.