Sheer love

Daily Reading for December 1 • Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, 1637, and Charles de Foucauld, Hermit and Martyr in the Sahara, 1916

I wanted to be a religious and to live for God alone. I wanted to do the most perfect thing whatever it might be. My confessor made me wait three years. As for myself, though I longed to “breathe out my life before God in sheer losing of myself,” as Bossuet says, I did not know what order to choose. The Gospel showed me that “the first commandment is to love God with all your heart,” and that everything had to be enfolded in love. Everyone knows that love’s first effect is imitation. Therefore I was to enter the order where I would find the most exact imitation of JESUS. I didn’t feel I was made to imitate his public life of preaching: thus I ought to imitate his hidden life as a poor and humble workman at Nazareth. It seemed to me that no one offered me this life better than the Trappists. . . .

I was just ordained a priest, and I’m applying now to go to the Sahara where I would continue “the hidden life of Jesus at Nazareth.” I don’t mean to preach but to live in the solitude, the poverty, and the humble labor of Jesus, while trying to do good to souls not with my words but with prayer, the offering of the Holy Sacrifice, penance, and the practice of charity.

From Charles de Foucauld: Writings, edited by Robert Ellsberg, Modern Spiritual Masters Series (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1999).

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