The Heart of Br. Charles' Witness

This blog post is a monthly reflection by a member of The Companions from England, who had just finished the fourth month of the formation program; which involves readings on the history of de Foucauld fraternities, as well as the Gospel of Matthew.

Reading the brief article, the Legacy of a Spiritual Master, was beneficial in affirming, in simple terms, what lies at the very heart of the witness of Brother Charles, and of those who seek to be his Companions on the spiritual journey- indeed, the journey through life in its totality.

The dual pillars of returning to the Gospel and of a spiritual life centered on the Eucharist – nourishing a commitment to live the Gospel wherever we may be – have been the focus of my life for many years. It is always good to have them re-affirmed. I daily reflect on the Gospel readings set in the Mass Lectionary. In addition this month, it was good just to sit with the Gospel of Matthew, reading through it and reflecting on it. My daily Mass readings are either from the Jerusalem Bible or the New Revised Standard Version.

I have had on my bookshelf, for some years, a version of the Bible called the Christian Community Bible – Catholic Pastoral Edition. It was produced in the Philippines in 1988 and has footnotes throughout, reflecting on the Scriptures in the light of what might broadly be described as “Liberation Theology”. It has been good to read the Gospel and study the footnotes from this different version – in the past I had just dipped into it from time to time when preparing sermons, to look up how it translated a particular text, and to see what the commentary said. To sit down and read through the Gospel from beginning to end has reinforced, in a particular way, the value of listening to Jesus speaking through his life, his words and his deeds.

I came across this quotation online, from a Franciscan Sister:

“If the Church is founded on the Good News of Jesus Christ, how did it become so radically disconnected from the itinerant preacher from Nazareth?” (1)

This is something I acknowledge in the life of the wider Church, but which I have to address and reflect on in my own life, as I have read through Matthew’s Gospel of Jesus.

My daily time spent with the Eucharist was nourished this month around the feast day of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross with these words she wrote:

“If we visit the eucharistic God and seek his counsel in all our problems, if we let ourselves be purified by the sanctifying power that flows from the Altar, if we offer ourselves to the Lord, in this sacrifice and receive him into our souls in Holy Communion, then we cannot but be drawn ever more deeply into the current of the divine life. We shall grow into the mystical body of Christ and our heart will be fashioned in the likeness of the Sacred Heart”. (2)

The Legacy of a Spiritual Master also reaffirmed that Br. Charles invites us to reflect in our lives a love that particularly reaches out to those who are perceived as being “furthest from God,” and those “most rejected by people”. In the current political climate there is much scapegoating going on (fearfully reminiscent, in some ways, of what went on in Nazi Germany) of vulnerable groups – immigrants, people of the Muslim Faith, the travelling community, transgender people etc. It feels so positive, in this climate, to be following in the footsteps of one who taught and lived a love that does, indeed, reach out to, and embraces, all.

(1) Delio, Ilia. "Death in the Church: Is New Life Ahead?" 8/28/2018

(2) St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Essential Writings, Pg. 48-49.

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