Meditations of a Hermit
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By Charles de Foucauld || Translated by Charlotte Balfour
“My vocation,” declared Charles de Foucauld, “is to lead a hidden, solitary life.” In his desert hermitage, he accomplished that vocation with heartfelt simplicity and singular devotion to Christ crucified. At the same time, thanks to his heroic efforts to convert the Tuareg people to the Christian faith, he accepted the responsibility of writing, teaching, and preaching in order to faithfully follow the will of God. Of his writings, as René Bazin notes in his Preface, the vast majority were neither intended for the world’s reading nor devised to establish their author as a “public figure.” Rather, their sole aim was “to measure out the small amount of truth that the ‘Poor of the Sahara’ were capable of absorbing, just so much light as their blind souls could take in without being startled; for eyes, unaccustomed to light, will close their lids if too much brightness is shown to them all at once.”
As soon as I believed in God, I understood that I could not do otherwise than to live for him alone. (Saint Charles de Foucauld)
The happy exception to this rule is Meditations of a Hermit. De Foucauld, as Pope Benedict XVI noted, abandoned everything to follow the Lord Jesus “with humility and poverty.” Meditations of a Hermit is an occasion to consider doing the same; its virtue is that it transforms a challenge against comfort into an inspiration to true greatness.
Saint Charles de Foucauld (1858–1916) was a French soldier and explorer who forsook worldly success first for Trappist silence, then for servitude to the Poor Clares in the Holy Land, and then for the sacred ministry of the priesthood and the solitude of a hermitage in the Sahara. There he dedicated himself to the good of the Tuareg people. In 1916, he was murdered outside his hermitage; in 2022, he was canonized a saint of the Catholic Church.
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