Pope Francis: St. Charles de Foucauld’s spirituality helped me through a crisis

Hannah Brockhaus  By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

 

 

Pope Francis meets members of the Charles de Foucauld Spiritual Family Association in the study of the Paul VI Hall, May 18, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 18, 2022 / 06:03 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said on Wednesday that learning about St. Charles de Foucauld’s spirituality helped him during a period of crisis as a theology student.

“I would like to thank St. Charles de Foucauld, because his spirituality did me so much good when I was studying theology, a time of maturation and also of crisis,” the pope said on May 18, during a meeting with members of the Spiritual Family of Charles de Foucauld.

The association’s members were in Rome for the May 15 canonization of the French explorer who became a hermit and missionary in Algeria, where he was killed in 1916.

Pope Francis said he learned about St. Charles de Foucauld from the Italian priest Father Arturo Paoli and books by René Voillaume, which he said he had read often.

Charles de Foucauld “helped me so much to overcome crises and to find a way of Christian life that was simpler, less Pelagian, closer to the Lord,” the pope said. “I thank the saint and bear witness to this, because he did me so much good.”

During the meeting, held in a room off of the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall before his general audience, Francis did not offer more details about the crisis he experienced as a theology student.

The pope studied theology as a seminarian from 1967 to 1969. In 1986, he spent three months at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany, where he began a doctoral dissertation on Romano Guardini, an Italian-born German priest.

His studies were cut short when the Jesuits called him back to Argentina to be a spiritual director in Córdoba and his dissertation was never finished.

At the meeting on Wednesday, Pope Francis called Charles de Foucauld “a prophet of our time, who was able to bring to light the essentiality and universality of faith.”

The Trappist priest condensed the meaning of belief, the pope said, “into two simple words, in which there is everything: ‘Jesus — Caritas.’”

Francis quoted a letter of the martyred saint, who wrote to his cousin Marie de Bondy in 1915, while “in the silence of the hermit life,” that “we are inclined to put first works, whose effects are visible and tangible, God gives first place to love and then to sacrifice inspired by love and obedience resulting from love.”

“As a Church,” the pope said, “we need to return to the essentials, not to get lost in so many secondary things, at the risk of losing sight of the simple purity of the Gospel.”


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2 Comments

  1. Impaled after a 50-foot fall: The miracle that led to the canonization of St. Charles de Foucauld

    The doctors attested that the fall and impaling should have killed the carpenter, and ordinarily would have caused the organs of the body to burst

    Louis Knuffke
    Wed May 18, 2022 – 10:19 A.M EDT

    Excerpt:

    On November 30, 2016, a young carpenter named Charle (no –S) fell 50 feet from the scaffolding of a ceiling vault in the chapel of St. Louis high school in Saumur, France, landing on the armrest of a pew below. “This piece of wood went through his abdomen and under his heart and out the back,” his supervisor François Asselin told EWTN  in an interview in Paris. “He impaled himself on the wood.”

    Although extremely injured, Charle remained conscious after his fall. He got up and walked to find help. He was rushed to the hospital for an immediate operation, but according to Asselin, the doctors found that “no vital organ had been touched, [there were] no after-effects, either of the brain or physical.”

    The doctors attested that the fall and impaling should have killed the carpenter, and ordinarily would have caused the organs of the body to burst. However, not only did Charle survive, he recovered in a matter of days.

    “Three days later, I tell you,” Asselin declared. “I was in his hospital room, [and] he was talking to me like I am talking to you. The following week, eight days later, he was released from the hospital, and two months later, he was back to work as a carpenter in the company as if nothing had happened.”

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