By Bonnie Thurston Book Review by Linda Lee
“Father Foucauld’s life seemed outwardly to be most dissolute” yet as his labryinth of human experience wound seemingly aimlessly around the world, GOD had a plan–and in his breaking point and rebellion, it became His Kairos moment.
He was challenged by the devotion of the Muslims he observed. His decision was to live among them and to learn from them while maintaining his Christian identity. His work and life (though he had only two converts) influenced much understanding between the Muslims and Christians.
“The ordinary Muslims’ worship of God–the worship of those thousands of believers who are neither extremists nor terrorists–initiated a process of metanoia (literally, “turning around”) in a lapsed Christian.”
He aligns his life with that of Christ’s Nazareth experience, his ministry and social experiences and his desert experiences. He describes the purpose for each division of Christ’s life and that we too, have purpose in our times of solitude and hiddeness.
This book describing the life and writings of Father Charls DeFoucauld is for those who long to go deeply into the spiritual life and let go of flesh and worldly experiences and desires. It is deep, it is rich and you may even have to look up a few words–both in English and Latin which might be a stretch for the reader.
Quote from the book on desert experiences: ” The desert was the place of danger (thirst, hunger, serpents, enemies) but also of divine help. It was where Israel learned God’s name, experienced God’s attributes, and received the great gift and blessings to Israel. The desert was where Israel was taught to depend upon God alone, and in the narrative, every time they didnt do so, things went awry, and they got into difficulties….But the most important reason for the Exodus-Sinai event was liberation, freedom. God says to Moses, “I am the LORD and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them, I will redeem you with an outstretched arm”( Ex. 6:6) God intervened in human history and by means of Moses, led the chosen people into the desert to free them from oppression, from servitude and from the influence of the gods of Egypt so that they could be free to worship God”
Is this not what we all need? Is this not what you are looking for?
Theology aside, it causes one to think, to evaluate and to scan the soul with articulate depth. Like Brother Lawerence, De Foucauld concludes that all life is meant to be holy and purposeful. To be at peace with one’s soul and with God is fundamental to a life of increasing growth and depth.
Are you up for it?
D3e Foucauld says: ” Only tose who have lived in the desert and eaten sand are qualified to assist and guide others in the arduous journey through it. For that task, no certificate in spiritual direction suffices. ..” .His biographer Bonnie Thurston continues : “Resisting our deserts, our arid places, our dark places in prayer, is a little like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.
He goes on to say: ” Why are you fearful? If we shape our will to [the Lord’s], as everything that happens is either willed or allowed by him, we shall find joy in whatever happens, and shall never be disturbed or afraid.”
So then, we move from the desert experiences, which are preparation for ministry. We participate with God in the lives of others. We are not now learning for ourselves only, but to impart and share with others. Then, we find the opposition. Thurston writes: ” Several Markan stories suggest that officials were sent to “observe” (spy on) Jesus. (See for example Mark 3:6, 7:1, 8:11, 10:2 or 11:180. At issue was authority. Jesus clearly had it, and they hadn’t given it to him so where did it come from? The larger concern behind the authority question (who has the right degree or certification…”
This hits home. We believe we are kings and priests, we believe all authority has been given to us (those who are IN Christ) yet we maintain our top down leadership heirarchy, systems, and traditons of men.