By Nayaswami Narayan
January 14, 2020
“I remained twelve years without denying or believing anything, despairing of the truth and not even believing in God. There was no convincing proof.”
“At 17 I was totally selfish, full of vanity and irreverence, engulfed by a desire for what is evil. I was running wild.”
“I was in the dark. I no longer saw either God or men: There was only me.”
These were the words of Charles de Foucauld born in France in 1858. At the age of 17 he entered the military and sank into an even darker period indulging in food and drink. So called “friends” even called him “Fats Foucauld”. In his own words he said, “I sleep long. I eat a lot. I think little.”
This was the dark night of his soul.
After the military and a period of serious travel which almost killed him, he found himself at the age of 28 back in Paris close to his family. He described his family as “highly virtuous, highly intelligent, and highly Christian.” Even though he did not believe in God, he was moved by a strong interior grace. He spent a lot of time at a local Church where he felt quiet and at peace. Spontaneously he began to pray for hours at a time. His prayer was simple and strange (to him at the time):
“My God, if you exist, allow me to know you!”
Like a warm summer breeze he was bathed in the loving presence of God. In that moment he realized it was God who protected him even when he did not believe. God’s answer came in such a flood like fashion that he was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. Like a prodigal son he felt received with boundless and unconditional love by his Father.
So great was his transformation of heart that he became a trappist monk and then a priest who completely dedicated his life to “the love of God, and the love of people.”
A few nights ago, I heard Jackie, Dharmadevi’s mother, reciting a prayer to herself in bed. (For those of you that don’t know we are in Georgia helping Jackie during her transition as she recently entered hospice.)
She said softly to herself, “Father I abandon myself in your hands…” I could not make out the entire prayer, but the sweetness in her voice and her expression of surrender to God’s will touched me deeply. The next day I asked her about the prayer and she told me it was called the “Prayer of Abandonment” written by Charles de Foucauld!
Brother Charles’ (for he wanted to be known as a “universal brother”) “Prayer of Abandonment” is one of the most beautiful prayers of faith and trust in God that I’ve ever heard.
I am deeply grateful to Jackie for not only sharing this prayer with me, but more so for the example of her life that has embodied abandonment to, and into the hands of God alone!
Joined in the prayer of abandonment,
The “Prayer of Abandonment”
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
And with boundless confidence,
For You are my Father.
-Charles de Foucauld