Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), a Trappist monk, spent fifteen years in the desert of Algeria. His goal was to develop a model of contemplative religious life living among the poor. Long after his death his goal was achieved in the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Sisters of Jesus. De Foucauld is especially remembered for his famous Prayer of Abandonment.
“Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures. I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself into your hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.”
De Foucauld lived his prayer, and in seeking greater solitude he went to Tamanrasset, a small outpost in the rugged Hoggar. It was there on December 1, 1916, that he met his death, killed by Tuareg rebels.
As noted by Robert Ellsberg, shortly before Foucauld’s death he summarized his spirituality in a brief testament:
“Jesus came to Nazareth, the place of the hidden life, of ordinary life, of family life, of prayer, work, obscurity, silent virtues, practiced with no witnesses other than God, his friends and neighbors. Nazareth, the place where most people lead their lives. We must infinitely respect the least of our brothers…let us mingle with them. Let us be one of them to the extent that God wishes…and treat them fraternally in order to have the honor and joy of being accepted as one of them.” (See: “All Saints”)
De Foucauld’s prayer is a good one for us as a way to recommit ourselves to our Lord each day. And we can offer the prayer “with all the love of (our) hearts.” The sense of abandonment is not to hurt us, but to free us to love and to serve. Our joy is most complete when we open our minds and hearts to welcome God’s presence in our lives.
Editor’s Note: This column was initially published on April 9, 2015.