“As soon as I believed, that there is God, I understood, that I cannot do otherwise, how to live only for him ".
In the Sahara desert, which some people call the saddest and poorest place on earth, there is a poor Arab settlement, Tamanrasset. Young people from all over the world come here often. What are they looking for in this corner of the earth, "Forgotten by God and people" ? Perhaps the earth has some treasures here ? No. These young people ask for the address of the "marabuts" (God's people). A true saint of our time lived here. Today a group of his followers lives and works here, a small part of the great army of Little Brothers and Little Sisters, scattered all over the world, especially like this one, the poorest parts of our world. Who was this man, whose example so captivates today's people ?
Karol de Foucauld (read on : Fuko) was born in Strasbourg in 1858 r. in an aristocratic family, from which many famous men of the French people came out. He soon enjoyed his father and mother, because they both died him in one year, when Charles was only five years old. His grandfather took care of his upbringing. First he sent him to school, and then to junior high school. After graduating from high school, Karol entered the Cavalry School, which he graduated when he was years old 21.
Charles was a gifted boy, intelligent. At first he studied diligently, then he neglected himself. While still in junior high school, he lost faith in God and began to live very badly. He admits himself later : "Having 17 for years I have been the epitome of selfishness, vanity, impiety, overwhelmed by the desire for evil ". This is what he wrote many years later, and for now he is entertaining himself, likes to eat and drink well, he hates tough military discipline, what used to be at the Cavalry School. Thus, he is often punished for carelessness and laziness. Finally, he graduates from school with the worst opinion, which is later confirmed during his military service. He is an officer for only one and a half years and is suspended from active service for impunity and bad conduct by the decision of the ministry.. So nothing foreshadowed so far, that Charles de Foucauld would follow in the footsteps of his great ancestors. Meanwhile, he is drawn to adventures and unknown countries. So he travels to Morocco, which is then little known, wild country, inhabited by Muslims hostile to Christians. He makes many interesting discoveries and research during this journey, for which he even receives a gold medal from the French Geographical Society. But his health is getting worse and he has to return to France.
And then he has a lot of time, to reflect on your life so far. He is an unbeliever, even though he received a religious upbringing at school. But reading, friends, lifestyle - all this distracted him from God… Now the images of his travels in Africa come back to his mind. He remembers familiar Arabs, who five times a day, at prescribed hours, they were distracted from their activities, to humble himself before the Most High : ,,Allah Akber ”- God is the Greatest - they said. He also knows, that in the village, where he is now, a very close person to him, his cousin Maria, prays at a nearby church. They are African and Muslim, she is French and Catholic. Once upon a time Charles de Foucauld thought, that the dissimilarity of the various religions proves that they are all false. Now, when he saw on both sides of the sea, how believers pray, he doesn't think that anymore. From the pilgrims in Mecca and from a French Christian, it rises to the One God, Najwyższego Pana, the same voice of faith and praise. And this voice slowly awakens in Karol's soul. But there is still a long way to go to conversion. He thinks a lot. Sometimes he goes into a church and prays : ,,my God, if you are, let me know it ". His cousin Maria helps him a lot. Thanks to her, he meets Father Huvelin, the vicar of the parish of St.. Augustine. It is with him, one October morning, after much hesitation, Charles confesses and receives Holy Communion. He experiences deep joy - after 12 years of wandering he believes again. He is going to the East again, but not for scientific purposes - he is carried away by another adventure. He goes to the Holy Land and follows in the footsteps of Christ. Nazareth especially touches him to the bottom of his heart. It was here that Jesus lived in silence for thirty years, prayer and work, next to the Blessed Mother and St.. Joseph. Foucauld then experienced a kind of second conversion. This is what life attracts him : in silence, through prayer and work he wants to be conformed to the poor Christ. He will know no peace henceforth. He enters a Trappist order with very strict rules and strict poverty. Becomes brother Alberyk. He resides in the Abbey of Our Lady of the Snow in southern France, but after six months he moves to another Trappist monastery in Syria, because he is poorer than that. However, even here he does not experience peace. One day his superiors send him to a neighboring village to pray for the body of an Arab worker, catholic. Foucauld enters the deceased's hovel and is deeply moved. He discovers such terrible poverty, that the poverty of monks pales in comparison to her. He understood then, that God is calling him, that he may be among the poorest and share their lives with them. The project of founding the Congregation of Little Brothers of Jesus is born in it. He even makes rules for this assembly, whose main principle was to be poverty. Its members were to live there, where are the poorest and so are the poorest. To make it happen, asks for release from the Trappist order, Takes the name of Brother Charles of Jesus and goes back to Nazareth. There he becomes a servant of the Poor Clares, lives in a very poor booth, which formerly served as a tool store. He also studies there, how to live in complete oblivion, poverty, obedience in imitation of Jesus of Nazareth. After many months of meditation and prayer, he decides to be ordained a priest.
After ordination, he goes back to Africa to the desert. W Me Abbes, on the edge of Algeria and Morocco, between Christians and Muslims he wants to live as a hermit. But his hermitage is open to everyone : Christians come here to pray, Muslims talk to him about God, beggars are looking for help and support. But it doesn't stop there either. He wants to go further with the mission of the Gospel : settles deep in the Sahara desert, among the nomadic tribe of Tuareg. He is the only priest and Christian in hundreds of oases. He gained a great friendship between Tuareg by his behavior, which he is always ready to help. Develops a dictionary of the tribe's language, translates many religious texts into their language. He adopted as his slogan the words of St.. Paul : “I have become everything to everyone, to save at any cost at least some " (1 Disease 9, 22). You can actually say about it, that for the poor Tuareg he became a Tuareg, to bring them closer to Christ.
In year 1914 he heard the news of the outbreak of war in Europe. Almost simultaneously in North Africa, the Mohammedans are organizing a religious uprising. The fanatical insurgents who proclaimed "holy war" in the name of Muhammad wanted to win over the Tuareg for their cause. However, they were hampered by friendship and influence, that Father Karol had for this tribe. Therefore this 1 of December 1916 year, in the evening, several insurgents sneakily broke into an almost defenseless settlement, they tied up Charles's father and murdered him. After the gang left, the inhabitants of the settlement buried the martyr's body a few steps from the place of his martyrdom. You can ask now : whether Charles de Foucauld actually followed in the footsteps of his famous ancestors ? Have made in life
something really big ? At first it seemed, that no. It was even thought, that his mission and life had failed. Few of the Mohammedans succeeded in converting to Catholicism. During his lifetime he found no followers. But the seed of love slowly matured. Others took up his work. W 1933 In the year the Little Brothers of Jesus were born, a w 1939 Little Sisters of Jesus. These assemblies adopted a rule based on the ideas of Father Charles and set out, to live and work in the countries of the so-called Third World. Today, hundreds of Little Brothers and Sisters work among the poorest. They have abandoned everything and live with hope, that their evangelical life would be able to touch people's hearts. They are witnesses of Christ through prayer, Nazareth poverty and work. This is why, that sometime, decades ago, a young French officer, hungry for adventure and fame, he understood, that all things in life only then have their true meaning, when one will know Christ and follow him.
If you had the opportunity, then read the book by Krystyna Saryusz-Zaleska entitled "Karol de Foucauld, the apostle of the Sahara". Maybe you can find it in your parish library.