Archive for the ‘Blessed Charles de Foucauld’ Tag

Feast of Magdeleine of Jesus (November 6)   Leave a comment

Above:  Algeria, 1935

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Rand McNally World Atlas and International Gazetteer (1935)

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MAGDELEINE OF JESUS (APRIL 26, 1898-NOVEMBER 6, 1989)

Foundress of the Little Sisters of Jesus

Born Madeleine Hutin

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As you work, as you come and go, as you pass among the crowds, to be a contemplative will mean simply that you try to turn to Jesus within you and enter into conversation with him, as with the one you love most in the world.

–Magdeleine of Jesus, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 483

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Madeleine Hutin, born in Paris, France, on April 26, 1898, was devout from youth.  She spent years seeking the best way (for her) to serve Jesus.  She found it in her twenties, after reading a biography of Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), founder of the Little Brothers of Jesus.  Hutin could not follow through until 1936, though; health and family matters interfered until then.  She sailed for Algiers in 1936 and established the Little Sisters of Jesus three years later.

The Little Sisters were “Little” out of humanity and vulnerability, just as the infant Jesus was vulnerable and humble.  The Little Sisters lived in small groups among poor neighbors and supported themselves via manual labor.  By the time Hutin died at the age of 91 years in Rome, Italy, on November 6, 1989, the order had spread around the world.  Little Sisters lived among slum dwellers, Asian boat people, Gypsies, et cetera, showing them the love of Christ.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FREDERICK MACKENZIE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CENTRAL AFRICA

THE FEAST OF HENRY TWELLS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARY LUNDIE DUNCAN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MENNO SIMONS, MENNONITE LEADER

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the devotion of your servant Magdeleine of Jesus,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 722

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Feast of Leon Bloy, Jacques Maritain, and Raissa Maritain (November 4)   4 comments

Above:  The Flag of the French Republic

Image in the Public Domain

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LÉON BLOY (JULY 11, 1846-NOVEMBER 3, 1917)

French Roman Catholic Novelist and Social Critic

godfather of

JACQUES MARITAIN (NOVEMBER 18, 1882-APRIL 28, 1973)

French Roman Catholic Philosopher

husband of

RAÏSSA OUMANSOV MARITAIN (1883-NOVEMBER 4, 1960)

Russian-French Roman Catholic Contemplative

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The worst evil is not to commit crimes, but to have failed to do the good one might have done.

–Léon Bloy, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 477

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If Christians were to renounce…the desire for sanctity, this would be an ultimate betrayal against God and against the world.

–Jacques Maritain, quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 503

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It is an error to isolate oneself from men….If God does not call one to solitude, one must live with God in the multitude, must make him known there and make him loved.

–Raïssa Maritain, quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 480

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Alors il leva les yeux sur ses disciples et dit:

Heureux vous les pauvres, car le royaume de Dieu à vous!…

Mais malheur à vous, les riches, car vous avez votre consolation.

Luc 6: 20 et 24, La Sainte Bible, Nouvelle Version Segond Révisée (1976)

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As Léon Bloy understood, Jesus said,

Blessed are the poor

and

Woe to you who are rich.

The novelist, who internalized that value system, railed against the dominant social value that says

Woe to you who are poor

and

Blessed are the rich.

Bloy, born in Notre-Dame-de-Sanihac, France, on July 11, 1846, grew up an agnostic hostile to Roman Catholicism.  His father was Jean-Baptiste Bloy; our saint’s mother was Anne-Marie Carreau.  In 1869 Bloy converted to Roman Catholicism, however.  He was a frequently controversial figure with a temper, which he brought to bear on social ills, including greed, injustice, materialism, and anti-Semitism.  Our saint also led a difficult, impoverished life.  His writings did not sell well, and poverty contributed to the deaths of two of his children.  The self-critical novelist died at the age of 71 years on November 3, 1917, in Bourg-la-Reine, France.

Bloy did, despite his self-recriminations for having done too little for God, help to bring the Maritains to faith.

Jacques Maritan, born in Paris, France, on November 11, 1882, became a prominent philosopher.  He, raised in a Protestant family, had lost his faith by the time he matriculated at the Sorbonne in 1899.  Yet the search for the truth still mattered to Maritain.  At the Sorbonne he met and fell in love with another troubled seeker, Raïssa Oumansov.

The Oumansov family, formerly of Rostov and Mariupol, the Russian Empire, was Jewish.  The family, with daughters Raïssa and Vera, had moved to Paris in 1893, to escape official anti-Semitism and to provide better educational opportunities for the daughters.  Raïssa, as an adolescent, lost her faith.  She sought the truth in vain at the Sorbonne (1900f).  She did, however, meet Jacques Maritain when he asked her to sign a petition protesting the Czarist government’s treatment of socialist students.

The Maritains, married in 1904, eventually became despondent over having not found the truth that they made a suicide pact.  They agreed that they would take their lives if, within a year, they did discover the meaning of life.  Bloy befriended them, though, and led them, as well as Vera Oumansov, into the Roman Catholic Church.  He stood as their godfather in 1906.  Jacques, Raïssa, and Vera eventually chose to become Oblates of St. Benedict, and to make vows of perpetual chastity.

Jacques immersed himself in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and spent much of his life applying Thomism to the modern world.  He, a professor at the Institut Catholique, Paris, from 1914 to 1939, offended many conservative Roman Catholics by favoring constitutional government and opposing the Spanish fascist leader Francisco Franco.  Jacques, with Raïssa acquainted with Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, also favored what he called “Integral Humanism,” or the infusion of Christian values into the world via what he called “Lay Spirituality.”  Jacques, an opponent of the Vichy government, taught in the United States and Canada from 1940 to 1945.  After World War II he served as the French Ambassador to the Vatican.  During that period (1945-1948), he befriended Angelo Roncalli, the Nuncio to France.  Roncalli went on to become St. John XXIII, Bishop of Rome, in 1958.  Jacques taught at Princeton University from 1948 to 1960.

Raïssa became a poet and a contemplative.  She understood that God was calling her to share in divine suffering, and kept a spiritual journal.  She died on November 4, 1960.  Jacques had her spiritual journal published posthumously.

Jacques, as a widower, joined the Little Brothers of Jesus, the order Blessed Charles de Foucauld founded in the Algerian desert in 1933.  Jacques became a notice at Toulousse in 1961; he made his vows nine years later.  Pope St. Paul VI recognized our saint in person at the Vatican in 1965.  The Supreme Pontiff presented our saint with a copy of the Vatican II document on the Church and the Modern World.  Jacques, aged 90 years, died in Toulousse on April 28, 1973.

Part of the meaning of life is to help each other live faithfully, to glorify God, to enjoy God, and to show the light of Christ in our lives.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF CASPAR NEUMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THOMAS A. DOOLEY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND HUMANITARIAN

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Carlo Carretto (April 2)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Carlo Carretto

Image in the Public Domain

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CARLO CARRETTO (APRIL 2, 1910-OCTOBER 4, 1988)

Spiritual Writer

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I feel immersed in God like a drop in the ocean, like a star in the immensity of night, like a lark in the summer sun or a fish in the sea.

–Carlo Carretto

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Carlo Carretto, born into a peasant family in northern Italy on April 2, 1910, eventually became a spiritual writer.  Initially he prepared to become a teacher, but politics prevented that; he was a member of the Fascist Party.  Our saint became involved in the youth wing of the Catholic Action movement instead.  That movement was consistent with his desire to advance the Catholic Church’s social and religious message.  This work occupied Carretto’s time for nearly 20 years.

In 1954 our saint answered God’s call (“Love everything and come with me into the desert.  It is not your acts and deeds that I want; I want your prayer, your love.”) to join the Little Brothers of Jesus, founded by Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) in 1933.  Carretto arrived at El Abiodh, in Algeria, in December 1954.  There he remained for about a decade.  Time in the desert prepared Carretto to return to Europe in 1964.  He settled at Spello, Italy, the following year.  There he built an experimental faith community that involved lay people in prayer and reflection.

Carretto became a respected spiritual writer, especially for Love is for Living, Letters from the Desert, and I, Francis.  He was not, however, without ecclesiastical critics, due to his criticism of certain aspects (such as triumphalism and clericalism) of Roman Catholicism.  The challenge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our saint insisted, was to create an oasis of love in the desert in which one finds oneself.

Who knows what creating such an oasis of love might require to one to do?

Carretto died on October 4, 1988, aged 78 years.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 23, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, POLYCARP OF SMYRNA, AND IRENAEUS OF LYONS, BISHOPS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER AKIMETES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEFAN WINCENTY FRELICHOWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MAINZ; AND SAINT BERNWARD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF HILDESHEIM

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Carlo Carretto,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Blessed Charles de Foucauld (December 1)   2 comments

charles_de_foucauld

Above:  Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED CHARLES EUGENE DE FOUCAULD (SEPTEMBER 15, 1858-DECEMBER 1, 1916)

Roman Catholic Hermit and Martyr

One volume in my library is Saints Behaving Badly, by Thomas J. Craughwell.  The author summarizes the point of recalling the impious behavior of certain men and women who went on to become saints:

The point of reading these stories is not to experience some tabloid thrill, but to understand how grace works in the world.  Every day, all day long, God pours out his grace upon us, urging us, coaxing us, to turn away from everything that is base and cheap and unsatisfying, and turn toward the only thing that is eternal, perfect, and true–that is, himself.

–page xii

Foucauld’s story is not in that volume, but it is suitable for inclusion in that book.

Charles Eugene de Foucauld, born on September 15, 1858, at Strasbourg, Alsace, France, came from an aristocratic family.  His father was Francois Edouard, Viscount de Foucauld de Pontbriand and Deputy Inspector of Forests.  Our saint’s mother died on March 13, 1864.  His father followed her in death on August 9 of the same year.  A maternal grandfather, Charles Gabriel de Morlet, a retired Colonel of Engineers, raised our saint and Marie, his sister.  At the end of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) the German Empire came into existence and France lost Alsace and Lorraine to the new nation-state.  Foucauld and his family had to move because of this.  They settled at Nancy.

Foucauld, raised a Roman Catholic, lost his faith as an adolescent in 1872 and regained it 14 years later.  He, a lazy student as a young man, entered the Saint-Cyr Military Academy in 1876.  Our saint’s military career, much of which he spent in Algeria, was brief, for his scandalous behavior led to his discharge from the army in 1882.  During 1883 and 1884 he explored Morocco on behalf of the French Geographical Society.  The expedition was dangerous and life-changing.  As our saint witnessed expressions of Muslim piety he began to question his own lack of religion and to consider the possibility that God might exist.  Back in France, the support of certain French lay Roman Catholics and one Father Huvelin helped Foucauld to reclaim his Christian faith in October 1886.  Our saint resolved to live for God alone from that moment forward.

Foucauld acted on that pledge.  He made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land before becoming a Trappist monk in 1890.  As a Trappist monk he lived in France then in Syria.  Our saint left the order in 1897 and became a servant at a convent of the Poor Clares at Nazareth.  The nuns encouraged him to become a priest, a vocation he was reluctant to accept.  The ordination occurred in 1901.

The newly-minted priest became a hermit in the desert of Algeria.  At first he lived at Beni Abbes, near the Moroccan frontier.  Later our saint relocated to Tamanghasset, in southern Algeria.  He lived among the Touareg people, studying their language, and writing a dictionary and grammar (Volumes I and II) of it.  Foucauld sought to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ 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?”

–Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Foucauld pondered founding a new religious order.  He did not live long enough to do that, for marauders shot him at his hermitage on December 1, 1916.  He was 58 years old.  Eventually the Little Brothers of Jesus (1933) and the Little Sisters of Jesus (1939), inspired by our saint’s example, in turn inspired by the life of Christ, came into existence.

Pope Benedict XVI beatified Foucauld on November 13, 2005.  The Episcopal Church added his feast at the General Convention of 2009.

Robert Ellsberg wrote:

Alone, a seeming failure by the end of his life, Foucauld was to become one of the most influential spiritual figures of the twentieth century.  He was responsible for reviving the tradition of desert spirituality in our time.  Rather than a retreat from humanity, he believed, the experience of being alone with God made us truly available to encounter and love our neighbor as ourselves.  In contrast with triumphalistic models of mission, Foucauld exemplified an evangelism of presence, an encounter with people of other faiths on a basis of mutual respect and equality.  Furthermore, he pioneered a new model of religious life, patterned after the life of Jesus himself, whose only cloister was the world of the poor.

All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 525

I have had conversations with people (both Christian and otherwise) who have recounted stories of having been on the receiving end of obnoxious evangelism.  These experiences turned them off, did nothing to draw them closer to Jesus, and did not glorify God.  Certainly the obnoxious evangelists meant well, but they did not seem to know which tactics to employ.  Foucauld understood well, however, the importance of proper motivations and tactics while seeking to convert people to Christianity and to make disciples in all nations.  Indeed, as many missionaries and trainers thereof have known well for a long time, insulting and alienating the population (or just one person) one seeks to convert is a counter-productive tactic.  Some of them have learned from the examples of holy people such as Foucauld.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 19, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS THOMAS JOHNSON, JOHN DAVY, AND THEIR COMPANIONS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CHALMERS SMITH, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Loving God, who restored the Christian faith of Charles de Foucauld

through an encounter with Islam in North Africa and sustained him in the desert

where he converted many with his witness of presence:

Help us to know you wherever we find you, that with him,

we may be faithful unto death; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God , for ever and ever.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 13:1-5

Psalm 73:24-28

James 1:2-4, 12

John 16:25-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 95

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