When our new saint felt lonely, he would pray the Rosary, and would then feel that he was inwardly accompanied by God.
St. Charles de Foucauld had a particularly close relationship with Mary after the death of his own mother when he was only 6 years old. In his Easter meditations, he said that it was necessary to follow in Mary’s footsteps to enjoy the presence of the Risen Christ.
Every year, as the month of May approached, he hoped that this time traditionally dedicated to Our Lady would allow him to experience a new conversion.
He looked forward to it with impatience, so inadequate did he feel in the eyes of God. No prayers or devotions to Mary seemed enough for him: invocations, prayers of praise, Rosaries, acts of consecration…
Here are some of the forms of Marian devotion practiced by St. Charles de Foucauld, particularly in the month of May:
1ASKING OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP TO LEAD HIM
Conscious of his spiritual poverty, in 1893 St. Charles de Foucauld placed himself under the protection of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Constantly invoking her name, he hoped to obtain God’s forgiveness from her risen Son for himself and for all men.
It was at Christmas 1893, a period when he was spiritually lost, that he instinctively began to seek her help because he feared the wiles of the Evil One.
Invoking especially the Heart of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, he asked her to carry him in her arms as she had carried Jesus as a child: “O Mother of Perpetual Help, help me and protect me, so that I may be obedient to your Son.”
This prayer allowed him to look at all the events of his life as if they were unfolding under Mary’s gaze.
2OVERCOMING LONELINESS WITH OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY
In his spiritual writings, St. Charles de Foucauld stated several times that the Rosary had become his weapon in the fight against evil.
The Rosary helped him to overcome his loneliness, which was sometimes difficult to bear. Thanks to praying the Rosary, he felt that he was inwardly accompanied by God.
He particularly loved the glorious mysteries, which filled him with happiness. In reciting them, St. Charles was immersed in contemplation, strengthened by the beauty of the Sahara around him.
Therefore, the saint advised all those who were sad or discouraged to pray to the glorious mysteries in order to experience a comforting joy.
To convince them, he even graphically represented all the mysteries of the rosary.
On a piece of cardboard, he drew a heart surmounted by a cross, with the inscription “Jesus Caritas.”
From this heart emerge fifteen rays indicating fifteen virtues accompanied by a brief commentary. Here are some examples:
I. The Annunciation. God incarnate in Mary’s womb; Solitude
II. The Ascension. Our conversion is in heaven. Our life is hidden in God with Jesus…; Love of God.
III. Pentecost. The Spirit of Love is at the door and is knocking to reign in us forever; Hope.
V. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin in heaven. With the help of our Mother, hope also exists on this day in heaven.
3COMPLETE SELF-GIVING TO MARY
St. Charles de Foucauld wanted to be completely at Mary’s service. In his spiritual notes he summarizes this in three actions:
- I want to foster in myself the will to give Mary all that I have to offer—my works, my prayers, my sufferings, all that satisfies me, my whole spiritual life—to give it ultimately to Jesus. I will unite myself to Mary; I will give everything to Mary, through Mary and in Mary.
- I will give all my apostolic life and my spiritual life to Mary.
- I will transform myself into Mary: I will work to transform myself into Mary, to become another living and active Mary. I will transform myself into her and I will give her my thoughts, my desires, my words, my works, my prayers, my sufferings, my whole life and my death.
4MAKING AN ACT OF CONSECRATION TO MARY
The feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which marks the end of the Christmas season, was an opportunity for St. Charles de Foucauld to offer his life for the peoples of the Sahara.
As he himself said, this sacrificial gift would have been in vain without Mary’s intercession. He wanted her to guide him, to protect him from himself, to give him the grace to constantly invoke her name, so that he would know how to follow “the perfume of Christ.”
In his “Considerations on the Feasts of the Year,” Foucauld makes a note of encouragement received from the Virgin Mary herself:
Call upon me in suffering, in weakness, in moments of laziness; I will help you whenever you ask. Meditate on the Gospel in order to imitate your Brother: come, serve, imitate, you will see him now and in eternity, you will see him inasmuch as you love him. Courage! Love me!
5PRAYING WITH CATHERINE LABOURÉ IN THE MONTH OF MARY
St. de Foucauld’s Marian devotion was linked to popular piety. That is why he liked to pray the Angelus and the prayer of Catherine Labouré: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
In the month of May, he liked to quote the words of a well-known French song:
It’s the month of Mary,
it is the most beautiful month.
Let us sing a new song
to the dear Virgin.
Let us adorn her shrine
with our most beautiful flowers.
Let us offer ourselves to our Mother
along with our songs and our hearts.