Following Jesus of Nazareth

Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground

‘Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains alone. I am not dead, therefore I am alone. Pray for my conversion so that in dying I may bear much fruit.. Jesus wants me to build this double family (Little Brothers and Little Sisters). How can I work to this end? By imploring, by offering, myself, by dying, by sanctifying myself, by loving Him…..Our Lord is in a hurry. This hidden life of Nazareth, so poor, so abject and recollected is not imitated.’

Some years after his death in 1916, Madeleine Hutin, obliged by her ill health and duty to her widowed mother to live out her own form of ‘hidden life’ , yearned to imitate it. In Charles de Foucauld she saw the concrete, living expression of the Gospel message and especially the life of Nazareth. She was drawn to his total poverty, to the way in which he had sought to share his life with people whom all others had forsaken. She was drawn above all to 'love in all its fullness'. She identified with Charles de Foucauld's limitless love for Jesus which meant that he had been prepared to go to the ends of the earth 'crying the gospel with his life'. Like him she felt willing to die in the Gospel cause and even yearned for such a death as an expression of love.

All this we can infer with hindsight. As she waited for the God whom she frequently referred to as the 'Master of time and of the impossible' to answer her prayer to leave for the Sahara, she spoke little even of Charles de Foucauld. Her private preoccupations found their way into her church activities. She produced a 'tableau vivant'. It depicted the successors to Charles de Foucauld. On a pure white altar stood a beautiful monstrance, while at the foot of the altar was a group of Little Brothers and Little Sisters with beyond them, Arabs, old and young. But when she actually spoke of her 'dream', nomads, gypsies and lepers were somehow mingled without, she acknowledged, any apparent logic.