This Sunday Francisco will canonize Charles de Foucault (1858-1916), a spiritually fruitful saint after his death as he was a failure in life. explain this paradox daisy saldanagraduate in Journalism and Dogmatic Theology and author of several books: Saint Joseph: the eyes of the bowels, God’s Land: a spirituality for daily life either Inhabited routine: hidden life of Jesus and daily believer.
To which is added a very recent one: The unfinished brother Charles de Foucault (Salt Terrae).
-From where do you approach his figure?
I belong to the spiritual family of Charles de Foucaultas a consecrated laywoman in the first feminine branch, founded in 1933, the Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart. In addition, I am lucky to be part of a research team who has spent more than twenty years delving into the life and writings of Carlos de Foucauld, particularly through unpublished texts.
Margarita Saldaña (Madrid, 1972) is a consecrated laywoman. She works in a palliative care clinic, work that she combines with spiritual accompaniment, retreats and training.
»This double perspective, one more charismatic and the other more intellectual, opens up a great horizon for me to understand a very complex character, whose existential trajectory harbors a highly topical message for today’s believer.
Isn’t a French saint who lived between the 19th and 20th centuries far from the contemporary believer?
-The saints have a permanent actuality, which consists in their ability to have been allowed to work by grace. In this sense, Carlos de Foucauld is extraordinarily close to us. From his paths always open and his shadows never resolved, he tells us that it is possible to grow every day in an authentic relationship with God and with others. He, who wanted to be a “universal brother”, discovers and shows that the way to become brothers to all does not consist in moral perfection, but in the sustained openness of our fragility to God’s work in our littleness.
-Carlos de Foucauld is known as “universal brother”, and this is what Pope Francis proposes to him at the end of the encyclical Fratelli tutti. Isn’t this “title” in contradiction with the image of “unfinished brother” that you use?
-More than in contradiction, these two images are in profound continuity. When he arrived in the desert ordained a priest in 1901, Carlos de Foucauld began to feel the desire to be a brother to everyone, but gradually he discovered that the key to this relationship was not his, but others who recognized him or not as a brother. . Universal fraternity will be a vital project that will push him further and further, that will lead him to look for people more abandoned. And, at the same time, it will be a project that will never come to fruition, because Carlos experiences limits in himself that make this relationship difficult, and also because his founding ideas are not successful and he dies without companions. In some way, Carlos de Foucauld’s intuitions are being realized after his death, through his great spiritual family and also of that spirit of “going out” that Pope Francis wishes to inject into the entire Church.
-In your book you use the terms “exploration” and “irradiation” to refer to the life of Carlos de Foucauld. What do these terms express?
-The life of Carlos de Foucauld can be read from these two keys, which are also complementary. On one side, Your itinerary will pass through many different landscapes: of noble origin, lovingly educated by an extended family after the death of his parents, stops believing, joins the army and immediately goes to the reserve, makes a scientific trip through Morocco, recovers his Christian faith, spends seven years in La Trappe, seeks the radicalism of the margins in Nazareth, is ordained a priest and, in recent years, settles in North Africa and goes to meet the Tuaregs.
Charles de Foucauld, with one of the children whom he freed from slavery. Photo: @FondsFoucauld – Diocese of Viviers.
»On the other hand, these very different stages lead him to explore other interior and unprecedented landscapes: his own desires and limits, the secrets of the relationship, the meaning of the Eucharist, the value of presence as a mission space, etc. In those places, his life is simply “irradiation” of Jesusproclamation of the Gospel more by testimony than by word.
-Charles de Foucauld died without having founded anything and without making practically any conversion. Does this apparent failure have something to tell us today?
-This “apparent failure” is directly connected to two mysteries of the life of Christ that burn in the heart of Charles de Foucauld. The first of them is the ineffectiveness of nazareth, where the Son of God spends most of his human existence submerged in the banality of everyday life. Nothing extraordinary happens in Nazareth, and yet Jesus is already saving the world through intimate communion with the human being. This Nazarene life is not a failure, nor a useless phase, but a place of revelation.
»Something similar happens with the paschal mystery: jesus dies alone. The cross is another place of revelation. These two mysteries give meaning to the existence of Carlos de Foucauld and ours: even if our life does not give the “results” we would like, it can be a space of salvation if we allow ourselves to live and work for God.
-What message does Carlos de Foucauld have for the contemporary Church?
-A saint is a witness, a companion on the way, an older brother. Saint Charles de Foucauld insistently calls us to return to the Gospel, to fix our eyes on Jesus and to let ourselves be carried away by the passion of his Heart: this world torn apart by injustice, this world thirsty for salvation, this world that God has loved so much.
»Charles de Foucauld invites us to Do not live dependent on the figures or the results, no longer be afraid of wasting life wasted, because the true effectiveness is that of the grain of wheat and the handful of yeast. The testimony of Charles de Foucauld is good news for the whole Church, for all the baptized. His canonization, more than “raising him to the altars” lowers him even more to earth to walk with us in the footsteps of Jesus.