Blessed Charles de Foucauld and the Presence of God

Blessed Charles de Foucauld is one of four saints studied during the Missionaries to the Family formation year. Applications are being accepted for the next class of missionary couples through the end of May. To find out more and to apply, please visit here.


From the Paradisus Dei Prayer Handbook:

Blessed Charles de Foucauld was born into a wealthy family in 1858 in Strasbourg, France. His parents died when he was five. He was adopted by his grandfather, who died when Charles was nineteen. Charles inherited a fortune — but his life spiraled downward. He abandoned the faith and indulged in his passions. He joined the army, but his quarters were filled with the finest cooks … and the prettiest “party girls.” He was disciplined by the army on numerous occasions and placed on leave. His fortune was placed in the hands of a conservator when the courts declared him a “spendthrift.”

Charles needed a change. He accepted a commission to the Sahara Desert. He fell in love with the vastness, silence, and solitude of the desert. At great personal risk, he scouted the entire Sahara. When his reports were published, he became famous and returned to Paris. Despite the sudden fame, money, and women, he longed for the silence and solitude of the desert.

He began a correspondence with a devout cousin, Marie de Bondy. She convinced him to see Fr. Huvelin at St. Augustin Church in Paris. Charles entered the confessional as an atheist and left as a man of God. He left the army and became a monk. His wanderings took him to Nazareth where, at last, he glimpsed the mystery he sought:


“I have glimpsed [the life of God] walking the streets of Nazareth.” 


“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” (Charles de Foucauld, Essential Writings, p. 28).

Charles came to understand that at Nazareth, Jesus didn’t look or act like God. No miraculous cures or profound teachings. Christ was simply present in the normal events of everyday family life. It was this presence that transformed the home at Nazareth.

This is the mystery of your home. Christ is present in all the details of normal everyday life. He is hidden like at Nazareth, but he is there. Our challenge is to discover his presence and allow it to transform our lives.