Brother Charles - a family portrait

One of the people Charles de Foucauld was closest to was his older cousin Marie and at her urging, near the end of life, during a trip to France he met with her son Francois, who had taken a wayward path. An account by Francois de Bondy of that meeting is included and it provides a telling sketch portrait of the man.
"The wind was howling. It was cold and nasty. The snow was melting on the streets. I saw the black outline of a funny little priest. He entered the room and peace entered with him.
The glow of his eyes and especially that very humble smile had taken over his whole person. Aside from that intelligent, searching look, tempered if not belied by the determined self-effacement so etched into his face, nothing remained of the Charles de Foucauld whom I remembered. There stood before me a puny model of the secular priest, owing to the pathetic black quilted overcoat, which hid almost completely his missionary robe. It was only his chest that I could see something of the coarse white fabric, on which stood out the cross and the cherry-red heart. In his hand he held a pitiful clerical hat, which must have rolled in the mud, for it was streaked with dirt. And I look at that emaciated head, the face of the anchorite through the ages, without any age itself, lined and weathered, the scanty little salt and-pepper beard, the short-cropped hair and the gray skull.
"I know that you have written a novel. If you can give me a copy, I shall be happy to read it."
"But it is not at all the kind of work you would like!"
"Why not? I know the world. I too have lived. It must be very fine."
Such benevolence made me ashamed of myself, embarrassed at having, in face of the course so pure and so hard chosen by Charles, nothing but pleasures, foolish actions or at any rate frivolous ones to present to him, everything that he was likely to consider an unending trail of sins. So that, without his prompting me to do so, I berated myself for not leading a life in accordance with the one I might have originally envisioned, for being unceasingly prey to uncontrollable laziness and weakness, Conti.n y i<> what I had imagined, it was I who was reproaching myself and he who found excuses for me, with his kindness and humble gentleness.
After he was gone, I remained intrigued by this unusual visitor. A blessing was on him in the room, and there still floated around me something sweet and infinitely peaceful. He had said nothing of a nature to upset me. There was an incredible joy emanating from him who had given all, showing me the superiority of that which constituted his essence-stability, continuity. Having tasted 'the pleasure. <>l life' and able to entertain the hope of not having to leave the table for a good while, I, upon seeing my whole sum of satisfactions did not weigh more than a tiny feather in comparison with the complete happiness of the ascetic, found rising in me a strange feeling, not of envy, but of respect.
Why should he have over my mind this mysterious power? He made no attempt to lecture me any more than he endeavored to convert Muslims. Perhaps he loved In me what he himself knew of enthusiasm-even though mine was directed toward everything counter to his Ideals-because, in the wild extremes of my restless nature, at times I must have been l lose 1" Ireling what he felt in that unbridled heart, which never beat with the reliable, restrained rhythm of the peaceful heart.
For the duration of that visit I had seen Charles surrounded by radiance, neither luminous nor visible, but perceivable to some sense that we have not yet come to identify. So much faith, hope, and charity placed around him that nimbus which painters, who can appeal only to the eye, depict as rays of gold. Silent music, beneficial waves, bringing beatitude and dreams. Thus, the minute with Charles is engraved in me, eternal."    

Francois de Blic