Reading time

My reading time is increasing, mounting to a point of purpose within direction and yet allowing a wandering in curious attention.  Tonight I spend the night reading, comfortable in relaxing.  Father Thomas Philippe is emerging as a profound influencing thinker, presenting a unique man in living.  I am impressed how he finely knits together the Eucharist, the source and summit of Catholic faith, with the contemplative life.  I spent the day with my Filipino friend Mary, becoming a fixture, profound in conversation, a spirituality and prayer life able to match in dedication and maturity.  We paid a visit to my friend Jan Marie and her lovely Catholic bookstore, coming across prizes in her used book section, her Holy bartering offering.  I picked up ‘Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Directors’ a book focusing upon St Francis de Sales, St Teresa of Avila, Thomas Kempis, and St John of the Cross, authored by Joseph Paul Kozlowski, focusing upon the saints guidance rendered for others.  Also a neat paperback published in 1962, St John of the Cross’ ‘Living Flame of Love’, one of his last poems—many feel his most developed writing, the finest of a veritable smorgasbord of fruit from his mature spirituality.  Thirdly, a brand new book from Sophia press, a spiritual meditation contribution from St Francis de Sales ‘Roses Among Thorns’.  And finally a book chosen upon instinct: ‘The Desert and the Rose: the Spirituality of Jeanne Jugan’.  St Jeanna Jugan founded the Little Sisters of the Poor, a community specialized in elderly care.  I choose the book based upon the cover and the title, relating maters to Charles de Foucauld’s desert excursions, while learning in reality it has nothing to do with desert wanderings, the title utilizing the idea of a desert aesthetically.  Speaking of Foucauld, I must post a detailing of his younger years.  I am convinced an obsessive personality is an admirable personality trait for an individual striving beyond mediocrity in the spiritual life.  The willingness and courage to be different is a useful trait for one possessing a higher calling.  I do love to laugh, and the stories of Charles de Foucauld in his youth I find hilarious.  Photographs of Foucauld bring such joy to my heart, as he reminds me precisely of a Lebanese gentleman friend from Toledo, one Mr. Jim Saad.  They could be brothers.  One it comes to being a quirky holy character few can reach the heights of Mr Saad.  I am convinced Charles de Foucauld was of the same nature.

Foucauld had by now become so corpulent that he was nicknamed ‘Piggy’….Legends grew up around Foucauld’s extravagance and disregard for authority…There was the time when, confined to quarters for various dismeanours, Foucauld escaped in disguise to attend a party but on stopping at a restaurant for a snack was arrested as a spy when his false beard came unglued over the soup.  He was placed under arrest for fifteen days.  While serving his sentence, he absconded yet again, this time wandering the countryside as a tramp, begging food from nearby farms.  He was caught several days later when he jumped from a bridge onto a passing train.  His gluttony was prodigious.  He was fond of saying, ‘he who discovers a new dish does more for humanity than he who discovers a new star.’  In pursuit of this philosophy, he became fatter and fatter.  He had his coaches lowered so that he did not have to climb their steps, and on visits home he impressed his relatives with his appetite.  One cousin remembered that ‘I was terrified if I saw Charles moving towards the children’s table, for in a few seconds he invariably gobbled up all the cakes which had been set aside for us.’  –Fergus Fleming ‘The Sword and the Cross’.

Charles de Foucauld

Charles de Foucauld


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