The Universal Brother


The Universal Brother

Charles de Foucauld speaks to us today
Page Count
140 pages
Publication date
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    About the book

    Rather than relying too heavily on Charles de Foucauld's spiritual writings, little sister Kathleen draws on fresh material taken from his correspondence and diaries to set out his legacy for those who live in the deserts of the modern world, reminding us that at the heart of the Christian adventure is friendship with Jesus of Nazareth. Anchoring his spiritual life in the home of Nazareth, Charles discovered that being Jesus’s little brother meant becoming a brother to the least and the most forsaken, a universal brother. It is what led him to settle on one of humanity’s fault lines in the Algerian Sahara during the French colonial era in order to “cry the Gospel with his life.” All of his plans seemed doomed to failure, be it that of forming a community of little brothers or of drawing the Tuareg people closer to the Gospel. His death at the hands of Islamic extremists has obvious contemporary overtones, and yet, he leaves in the heart of his disciple the conviction that it is not a question of success but of abandonment into the hands of a loving Father who grounds our identity as brother or sister deeper than any of our divisions.

    Universal Brother is a superb interpretation of Charles de Foucauld. Sensitive interpretation of events in Br. Charles’ biography conjoined with scriptural insights from one who knows it intimately make this a splendid introduction for those new to Foucauld and a source of deeper understanding for those long acquainted with the Universal Brother. This is an engaging and challenging book.

    Bonnie Thurston
    Biblical scholar, poet, author of Hidden in God: Discovering the Desert Vision of Charles de Foucauld.

    Truly, Charles de Foucauld was one of the great saints of modern times. He set out to proclaim the gospel with his life—not through great deeds or ambitious projects, but through humility, poverty, and friendship with his poor neighbors. In this beautiful and intimate account of his life and spiritual message, one of his followers, Little Sister Kathleen, brings his story to life and shows how keenly his message speaks to our age.

    Robert Ellsberg
    Editor, Charles de Foucauld: Writings

    Little Sister Kathleen’s biography of Charles de Foucauld is very special. He calls us—whatever one’s walk of life—to a spirituality of abandonment into God’s hands, encounter with others and the fostering of community, especially with the poor. In a word, he is our universal brother. I highly recommend this book.

    Msgr. Richard M. Liddy
    Seton Hall University

    Even those who are familiar with the life of Charles de Foucauld will find many new insights in Little Sister Kathleen’s book. It’s more than a biography: it’s a guide for all of us to living the life of Nazareth; the life of “everyday ho-liness” as Pope Francis calls it. The Brother Charles who emerges from these pages is alive, endearing, and inspiring.

    Rev. Terrence J. Moran
    Office of Peace, Justice and Ecological Integrity, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth

    About the author

    Born in France in 1957, Kathleen was raised in Canada, joining the Little Sisters of Jesus in 1981. From 2004-2015 she was a member of the community’s formation team based in Tre Fontane, Rome, travelling extensively to give sessions to members of her community as well as lay people and priests attracted by Charles de Foucauld. She now resides in Walsingham, England.