Charles de Foucauld’s secret? The Spirituality of Surrender

By abandoning himself totally to God, Charles de Foucauld gave himself totally to his fellow human beings. This is the secret of the man who revolutionized missionary evangelization.

After his conversion in 1886, Charles de Foucauld wanted to occupy the last place, not feeling worthy of being a priest or of imitating Jesus in his public life. It is rather the hidden life of Nazareth that attracts him. This is the reason why he enters La Trappe. But he finds life there too sweet, not poor enough for his taste, he who was marked by the darkness of the village of Nazareth where he went during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land before joining the Cistercians. So he ended up leaving this religious order. He will also return to Nazareth before going to the Sahara where he will do everything to everyone.

From loneliness to exposure to all

It is in the desert that he will discover his deep vocation. Let’s try to unlock the secret of the hermit of Tamanrasset. At the start, there is the call of the hidden life of Nazareth. However, this life must be nourished by contemplation and prayer. It is for this reason that Charles will be a fervent adorer of the Eucharist. This exposure before Jesus will configure him more and more to his master.

However, Charles goes a step further with his spirituality of surrender to the will of God. We all know his prayer Father, I surrender to you : it was written at La Trappe, long before his stay in the desert. The secret of Charles de Foucauld indeed lies in abandonment to the will of God: “Our annihilation is the most powerful means we have of uniting ourselves to Jesus and of doing good to souls, this is what Saint Jean de la Croix repeats almost every line,” he wrote to Marie de Bondy, some time before he was assassinated in 1916.

Like Jesus, he will welcome all who come to him.

Through this abandonment, Charles makes himself available to the Holy Spirit. Also it is from within this spiritual availability that he will end up joining the Tuaregs and will thus become the universal brother. Like Jesus, he will welcome all who come to him. So much so that his abandonment to God will lead him from solitude to meet his Tuareg brothers, whose culture he will study with great interest. The ascetic Trappist will metamorphose into a researcher of others. It is surely this aspect of his existence that most fascinates our time.

The man who revolutionized the mission

Charles de Foucault is the living incarnation of the law according to which giving everything to God, far from cutting us off from our fellow human beings, on the contrary opens us up to them in proportions that we would never have imagined. Such is the topicality of Brother Charles and the deep reason for the joy experienced by Christians at the announcement of his canonization: evangelization through kindness, the denunciation of injustices, by sharing the life of those to whom we bring Christ, but even more of those to whom Christ leads us, through an interest in their culture. The hermit of Tamanrasset has not finished encouraging missionary vocations!

Also discover the ten most beautiful quotes from Charles de Foucauld:


Charles de Foucauld’s secret? The Spirituality of Surrender