The prayer of abandonment of Charles de Foucauld has acquired a universal dimension. But how can we explain its success?
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Over 2.5 million. That’s the number of views of “My Father, I surrender to you” over at Aleteia’s French edition. The success is enough to make any number of influencers jealous!
The success of this song, composed by members of the Emmanuel community in 2002, testifies to the undeniable influence of Brother Charles’ act of abandonment.
“Even if this song seems old to me, I really enjoy singing it often in prayer groups,” says Blandine, who is 20 years old. “For me, it is one of the only Catholic songs that really mentions this aspect of the Christian’s life, which is abandonment.”
On the eve of major life choices, the young student also likes to recite Charles’ prayer “in bits and pieces.” For Blandine, this text highlights what is most important for a Christian: “to do God’s will” and “to abandon one’s future with confidence.”
I was very angry with my father. One day, I asked my prior to go and see him. I was able to understand some of his behavior. The prayer of abandonment helped me make a connection with my father, it allowed me to take a step, to forgive!
“We all need to trust in someone who loves us,” says Brother Gilles of the Monastery of Saint Agnes in Canada. On the other side of the Atlantic, this religious witnessed every day the benefits the prayer of the universal brother had on young people in difficulty and victims of addictions.
Many have lacked a father figure and find, by reciting this text, the joy of entrusting themselves to the heavenly Father. Brother Gilles himself experienced a real healing of his relationship with his own father through this prayer. “I was very angry with my father. One day, I asked my prior to go and see him. I was able to understand some of his behavior. The prayer of abandonment helped me make a connection with my father, it allowed me to take a step, to forgive!” he recalls.
A timeless prayer
“I believe that if this prayer has such an impact, it is because it speaks to the heart of the Gospel,” says Sister Dominica Pascal. Feeling called to join the community of the Little Sisters of Jesus, the future religious was confronted with many struggles related to her temperament. The prayer of abandonment finally allowed her to find peace. “Everything is back in order and I am a very happy nun today,” she summarizes.
On mission in Aix-en-Provence, she observes that the recitation of the act of abandonment touches all nationalities, social classes, and states of life. “It is a timeless prayer that has become universal,” she marvels. The same is true for the monks of the Abbey of Notre-Dame des Neiges – a place intimately linked to Charles de Foucauld – who see many groups pass through. While the monks are accustomed to reciting this text daily, they have the joy of observing younger people – scouts, families or couples – take it up.
A meditation about Christ
It must be said that when Brother Charles wrote these words, he was not only drawing from his own history but meditating on the life of Christ. “We often speak of ‘the prayer of abandonment of Charles de Foucauld.’ But it is first of all a meditation of Charles on the Passion of Christ, it is also the very prayer of Jesus to his Father,” recalls Hubert de Blic, one of the descendants of the future saint.
If one comes to believe that the text was bequeathed directly by its author, this is not entirely accurate. The act of abandonment is taken from the ‘Meditations on the Gospel concerning the principal virtues,’ one of Charles’ spiritual writings. “When one says this prayer not with one’s lips but in a heart-to-heart relationship with one’s Creator, it takes one far, it is madness,” says Hubert de Blic.
We must believe that this radical approach responds to the thirst of our contemporaries, since the writings related to this prayer continue to be very successful. Barely three weeks after the publication of a special issue offering a novena to Charles de Foucauld, the marketing director of Magnificat has received more than 5,000 orders. Even if it is too early to draw hasty conclusions on sales, Dieudonné de Lavenne affirms that there is “a real interest in the subject of Charles de Foucauld and his prayer of abandonment.”
Buried in the desert during his lifetime, Charles de Foucauld is today at the forefront of our religious bookstores to teach us his way of abandonment.