Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Wednesday General Audience with Pope Francis


Pope at Audience: St. Charles de Foucauld ‘let Jesus act silently’

At the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis continues his catechesis series on apostolic zeal, and reflects on the joyful witness borne in the Sahara Desert by St. Charles de Foucauld.

By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis picked up his catechesis series on various exemplars of apostolic zeal at the Wednesday General Audience, focusing on Saint Charles de Foucauld.

Born in Strasbourg in 1858, St. Charles served as a soldier in the French army before becoming a hermit and Catholic priest among the Tuareg people in Algeria, where he was assassinated in 1916.

The Pope said the saint made Jesus and his poorest brothers and sisters “the passion of his life”.

After his conversion, St. Charles wrote to a non-believing friend that he had “lost his heart to Jesus of Nazareth.”

Pope Francis said his words show that the first step in evangelizing is “to have Jesus at the centre of one’s heart.”

“If this does not happen, we can hardly show it with our lives,” he said. “Instead, we risk talking about ourselves, our group, a morality or, even worse, a set of rules, but not about Jesus, His love, His mercy.”

Crying out Gospel in silence

The Pope noted that St. Charles de Foucauld moved from “attraction to Jesus to imitation of Jesus,” and even felt like a younger brother to the Lord.

He went so far as to move to the most remote of places—the Sahara Desert to live among the Taureg people—to “cry out the Gospel in silence.”

“Charles let Jesus act silently, convinced that the ‘Eucharistic life’ evangelizes,” he said. “Indeed, he believed that Christ is the first evangelizer.”

The saint spent up to 12 hours a day in prayer before the Tabernacle, trusting Jesus to carry out the work of evangelization.

Apostolate of meekness

Pope Francis went on to say that St. Charles foreshadowed the Second Vatican Council by emphasizing the evangelizing mission of the laity.

He wrote that “every Christian is an apostle” and that priests need to have lay people close to them who can “evangelize with the closeness of charity”.

The Pope invited Christians to take up that call to evangelization “by kneeling and welcoming the action of the Spirit”.

St. Charles, he added, communicated the beauty of the Gospel through “the apostolate of meekness” and in his desire to be a “universal brother” to everyone.

“Gradually these bonds generated fraternity, inclusion, appreciation of the other’s culture,” said Pope Francis. “Goodness is simple and asks us to be simple people, who are not afraid to offer a smile.”

Christian joy as charity

In conclusion, Pope Francis invited everyone live with "with Christian joy, Christian meekness, Christian tenderness, Christian compassion, and Christian closeness.

The Holy Father noted, “With the smile, with his simplicity Brother Charles bore witness to the Gospel. Never proselytism, never: witness. Evangelization is never done through proselytism, but through witness, through attraction."

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