7th July

Last time I was in Lourdes I picked up a small book called A year with Charles de Foucauld. De Foucauld is a fascinating figure, but controversial. He was a French soldier and wealthy but gave it up to become a monk and then a priest of the Diocese of Viviers. He eventually went to Algeria, and being a Frenchman in Algeria we would view now as being part of the colonial establishment, but he was a man of his time. He was a person of deep thought. He sought a way in which one could become nothing so that one could welcome the One who is everything. His answer was the desert. In 1905 he went and lived alone in Tamanrasset in the heart of the Sahara, where he tended to both the French wounded and the local Touregs, who took him to their hearts. In 1914 the French began to pull their forces out to fight in Europe but he remained, helping as before and praying each day before the Blessed Sacrament. In 1916 a band of Touregs killed him. The book is a set of his sayings, but much of it is his struggle to discover what God was asking of him. He was terrified by the idea of being alone in the desert, yet thought that was what God was calling him to do, when as he says, all his reason was arguing against it. He writes to his superiors almost hoping they will forbid him, yet he goes. His interior battle is a wonderful example of vocation at work.

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