Brother Charles De Foucauld

North American Jesus Caritas Communities

Prayers

7.1 “Prayer of Abandonment” of Brother Charles

 

7.1.1  Introduction

 

What we know as the “Prayer of Abandonment” is not a prayer which Brother Charles wrote  for any eventual companions, or even one he prayed himself. Rather it came from an extract of his meditations on the Gospel in relation to the ‘cardinal virtues’. These texts were written by Brother Charles in 1896 towards the end of his time with the Trappists at Akbes (Syria). At that time he was still called by his monastic name Brother Marie-Alberic. In fact it is a prayer which he puts on the lips of Jesus, and which truly cannot be said by anyone else except by Jesus. On its own, this prayer would be too demanding for any of us. If we recite it as part of his Spiritual Family, it is

a)      because we are aware that we can never say it alone, but Jesus recites it with us.

b)      to constantly advance with Jesus’ help in the spirit of abandonment, and to unite ourselves to Him in his trusting abandonment to the Father.

 

This prayer invites us to unite ourselves to Jesus. It seeks to direct our life before God and before humanity in the direction along which Jesus proceeded us; It encourages us into a confident abandonment to the Father.

 

History of the “Prayer of Abandonment”

The following ideas are based on an article by Antoine Chatelard, Little Brother of Jesus, who has analysed this prayer as perhaps no one else of  the Spiritual Family has ever done.

 

For the announcement of the death (1946) of one of the first Little Brothers(Marc Gerin) at El Abiodh, Algeria, the Prayer of Abandonment  was printed for the first time in the bulletin of the Association of Charles de Foucauld in the form we know today except that God was addressed in a more formal manner.  In this announcement a passage from the letter of a fellow student of Marc Gerin was quoted. Marc had copied the prayer for this friend. He himself had probably received it from Little Sister Madeleine of Jesus who had visited him in hospital in 1945.

 

At that time there were only about a dozen Little Sisters, but they had already been saying the prayer every day for four years.  They started doing so just before the first novitiate in 1940. One of those  novices, L.S. Marguerite of Jesus says:

 

“I remember very well the day when L.S. Madeleine  invited L.S. Annie and I to read the meditation of Brother Charles, where  this prayer is found.  She told me: ‘Don’t you think  it is a beautiful prayer, we can make it ours and pray it everyday?’   We agreed and we also thought that it was necessary for the  prayer to be  recited aloud, so some repetitions had to be  left out. That is how after some deletions and editing, it got its present form that same evening. The only difference was that we added ‘today’ . “Do with me today what you will” . After that we recited it every morning until the day, when – influenced by the Little Brothers – we recited it in the evening,  leaving out the word ‘today”.

 

The added word ‘today’ had already disappeared in 1944, as witnessed by a note in L. S. Madeleine’s diary (25/8/42) in which the prayer is quoted in full. Towards 1955, it became customary to say the prayer in the evening, after a short revision of the day.

 

 

7.1.2  The “Prayer of Abandonment”

 

Father,

I abandon myself into Your hands,

Do with me what you will

Whatever you may do,

I thank you.

I am ready for all,

I accept all.

Let only Your Will be done in me,

and in all your creatures,

I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul

I offer it to  you,

With all the love of my heart,

For I love you,

And so need to give myself,

To surrender myself into your hands

Without reserve,

And with boundless confidence,

For You are my Father.

 

 

7.2  Veni Creator – Come Holy Spirit

 

7.2.1 Introduction

 

Brother Charles wrote some ‘evangelical counsels’ between Easter and Pentecost 1908, which he intended for priests, men and women religious and for married or single lay people, in order to live the life of Nazareth, so that they come to ‘a perfect imitation of this life’, and as a help to live evangelisation in their daily milieu.  Article XI of the ‘evangelical counsels’ speaks of prayer. Three times a day, in the morning, at noon and in the evening, the brothers and sisters are called to pray, among other prayers, the Veni Creator.  He wrote:

 

The Veni Creator, recited at  the three main hours of the day, is the plea of exiled brothers and sisters to their heavenly Father, to ask him to send forth his Holy Spirit, ‘daily bread’ and ‘only thing necessary’, on this humanity which He has created, in all the hours he gives us in this ‘valley of tears’. The brothers and sisters will put all their heart into this prayer,  praying for all men and women without exception.”

 

In notes of several of his retreats, Brother Charles mentions this prayer, and in a letter of  September 19th 1911 to Louis Massignon, we can see that in fact he practiced it regularly.

 

7.2.2 Come Holy Spirit (Rabanus Maurus 780 – 856,  Bishop of  Mayence)

 

1. Veni, Creator Spiritus,                               1. Come, Holy Spirit,

mentes quorum visita:                                 visit the souls of your faithful;

imple superna gratia,                                     and fill with heavenly grace

quae tu creasti pecora.                                 the hearts which you have created.

 

2. Que diceris Paraclitus,                               2. You are called the Comforter

donum Dei altissimi,                                       gift of the most High God,

fons vivus, ignis, caritas                                 source of living water, fire, love

et spiritalis unctio.                                           and spiritual unction of souls.

 

3. Tu septiformis munere,                            3. O You, the Spirit of seven gifts,

dextrae Dei tu digitus,                                   the finger of God’s right hand,

tu rite promissum Patris                             you are the promise of the Father,

sermone ditans guttura.                               enriching our tongues with speech.

4. Accende lumen sensibus,                         4. Enlighten our minds with your light,

infunde amorem cordibus,                           inflame our hearts with your love,

infirma nostri corporis                                     strengthen the weakness of our flesh

virtute firmans perpeti.                                 by your abiding power.

 

5. Hostem repellas longius                             5. Drive far from us the wicked enemy,

pacemque dones protinus;                           and grant us serene peace

ductore sic te previo                                      that guided and led by you

omne noxium.                                                    we may avoid all evil.

 

6. Per te sciamus da Patrem                           6. Through you may we come to

noscamus atque Filium,                                                   know the Father and the Son,

te utriusque Spiritum                                       and grant that we may ever

credamus omni tempore.                            believe  in you, the Spirit of them both.

 

7. Glory be to God the Father,

and to His Son, arisen from the

dead, and to the Holy Paraclete,

both now and forever, Amen.

V. – Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.

R. – And you shall renew the face of the earth.

 

Let us pray:  O God, who did instruct the hearts of  your faithful by the light of your Holy Spirit, grant that  by the same Spirit we may know what is right and ever rejoice in his consolation, through Christ our Lord, Amen.

 

 

7.2.3 Come Holy Spirit (a simpler version)

 

  1. Come, creator Spirit,

You give life,

You strengthen our faith,

You sustain our hope.

 

  1. Come, Spirit of love,

You unite Christians in love,

You teach them to live in peace,

You put each one at the service of others.

 

  1. Come Spirit of forgiveness,

You reconcile us,

You help us to understand one another,

You remove all barriers.

 

  1. Come Spirit of power,

You give courage in combat,

You make us love the truth,

You invite us to look for God.

 

  1. Come Spirit of light,

Teach us to know the Father.

Help us to know who the Son is,

And make us always believe in you,

You who unite the Father and the Son

In a unique love. Amen.

 

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

 

7.3  The “Angelus” Prayer

 

7.3.1 Introduction

 

The Angelus is a prayer practice rich in doctrine and devotion in the Catholic tradition honoring Mary mother of Jesus. The practice commemorates the mystery of the Incarnation by reciting certain responses with three Hail Marys and a special concluding prayer. It used to be recited at morning, noon and evening.  While at Nazareth Brother Charles meditated often on both on the Annunciation of the birth of Jesus and  the Visitation of Mary to Isabel. He felt he was also silently bearing  Jesus in a world that did not recognize him.   He recommends  the prayer  of the Angelus so that we assume the same attitude of responding in faith to God as Mary did in Nazareth.

 

7.3.2 Angelus

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary . . .

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary . . .

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Amen.