- Little Brothers of Jesus
The Little Brothers of Jesus is a
Roman Catholiccongregation of religious brothers inspired by the life and writings of Charles de Foucauld. Founded in 1933in Franceby five seminarians with the assistance of Louis Massignon, an Islamic scholar and contemporary of Foucauld, the order took root in El Abiodh in the North African colony of French Algeria.
Founded at the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in
Montmartre, Paris, in September 1933 by five seminarians from Issy-les-Moulineaux, they first took the name of Little Brothers of Solitude. From Paris, with the assistance of Louis Massignon and with a temporary Superior named René Voillaume, they left to found their first 'fraternity' in El Abiadh Sidi Cheikh in southern Oran at the edge of the Saharan desert. There they took on their present name the Little Brothers of Jesus and the religious 'habit' of grey cloak embroidered with the 'Jesus Caritas' symbol of a heart with an outcropped cross and modified nomadic garb. Drawn by the desert experience of monastic austerity and the Islamic culture of the sub-Sahara, the first years were marked by tracing the intuitions of Foucauld, settling and adapting his original 'Directory' or Rules, and forming novitiates for their first generation of a fledgling order.
World War II, the members decided to move toward greater witness outside of Algeria into the post-war world. By modifying their original monastic idea to fit the new circumstances they split into small fraternities based on the simple rule of adoration of the Eucharistand prayer in their dwellings and a life of ordinary labor, friendship, and solidarity with those they choose to live and work amongst. The new order became somewhat linked to the Worker Priestmovement in France at that time for the non-traditional setting of religious life apart from mission, education, pastoral service, or evangelization before Vatican II. The Catholic Worker Movementin North America, though from a different perspective, also shared similar expressions of alternative approaches to consecrated lifestyles of work and prayer among those outside the immediate embrace of church and society.
They have since grown to a number of around 250 brothers, some ordained priests, and live in small communities of two or three in some 40 different countries around the world. They are one of a family of Jesus' at Nazareth communities, lay and religious, who build on the original inspiration of Brother Charles of the Desert which includes the
Little Sisters of Jesus, Jesus Caritas, and the Little Brothers of the Gospel. They were officially recognised by the Catholic Church as a congregation ‘of pontifical right’ (approved by ‘Rome’) in 1968, a recognition confirmed in 1987, after a revision of their Constitutions. The three traditional monastic rules of poverty, chastity and obedience are accepted by each brother and a period of 'formation' lasting several years include a pre-novitiate period of 'postulancy', novitiate, and some years at formal studies including Christology, Scripture, Theology, Philosophy among other subjects are encouraged - all ongoing within a fraternity setting and set around workaday living.
Though originally consisting of mostly French speaking members, today the 'Fraternity' as it is commonly known, is inclusive of many different languages and cultural viewpoints in its contemporary settings.
*"Charles de Foucauld", Jean-Jacques Antier, Ignatius Press, San Francisco 1999.
*"Seeds of the Desert", René Voillaume, Anthony Clarke Books, 1972
*"Cry the Gospel with Your Life" ("Dieu est Amour"), Edition Le Livre Ouvert, 1994
* [http://www.tcrnews2.com/charlesdefoucauld.html/ Legacy of a Spiritual Master, Jean Francois Six]
* [http://www.charlesdefoucauld.org/en/index_en.htm/ Charles de Foucauld - A Diverse Life]
* [http://www.jesuscaritas.info/jcd/node/18 Little Brothers of Jesus Web page at Jesus Caritas]
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