Andrea MANDONICO.”My God, how good you are”. Salvatore SCIANNAMEA

Among the various contributions that emerged on the figure of Charles de Foucauld, awaiting his canonization, it is worth highlighting the text My God as you are good, ed. Vatican, by Andrea Mandonico.

Priest and theologian of the SMA (Society of African Missions), Mandonico is the postulator of the Cause of Canonization of Little Sister Magdeleine, the founder of the Little Sisters of Jesus, and vice-postulator for the cause of Charles de Foucauld. It is precisely on the figure of Charles de Foucauld that the current professor of interreligious studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University has published essays, translations and articles on the Universal Brother, the next saint, Charles de Foucauld.

The challenge of Mandonico’s text was not simple. For those who know the figure of Charles de Foucauld, they know well that his life would require libraries, for the sole fact that it synthesizes various existential choices and numerous vocations.

The text is therefore the subject of a considerable effort, but at the same time brilliant for harmony, scriptural lightness and overview in the treatment.
The book is accompanied by the chronology of the saint, very useful for contextualizing the various chapters and an excellent, as well as very elegant, preface by Mons. Ennio Apeciti.

Tutto lo scritto, anche metodologicamente ineccepibile, è un faro luminoso che getta sul beato Charles dei tratti che mettono in risalto ora i suoi sentimenti, talvolta le sue emozioni e scelte. L’Autore è molto abile a far parlare il prossimo santo, attraverso i suoi scritti, le sue lettere e le testimonianze di chi ha conosciuto il Fratello Universale. Costituito da tredici capitoli, ciascuno è introdotto da una citazione, quasi un’antifona essenziale sul contenuto che si andrà a sviluppare.

After a first overview, through the introduction, Mandonico’s writing broadens the field through an intelligent historical contextualization on the time lived by Charles de Foucauld. Within the historical overview. Mandonico applies an overview of the ecclesial context, highlighting strengths and weaknesses. He pauses briefly on the social and political context, with fundamental details for understanding the biography of the blessed. After having contextualized the historical period and the current ecclesiology, he moves on to the profile of Charles de Foucauld by going through family details, his birth, his adolescence, his life as a soldier and later as an explorer. This is how he goes on to present his conversion, his meetings in Paris and the radicalism that will characterize the new Charles, a believer and “sick” of Jesus. Starting from the conversion, Mandonico briefly presents the various lives of the new convert: first Pellegrino in Holy Land, later a Trappist monk. We thus come to present the life of Charles in Nazareth, hired by the Poor Clares as a servant. It is in this context that Charles’s new vocation is highlighted, the priestly one, illuminated by the conversation he had with Mére Elisabeth du Calvaire, abbess of the convent of Jerusalem, a woman who will help him to dispel his doubts about accessing sacred orders. After this part of his life, the new ministry of Charles de Foucauld is presented in Beni-Abbès and Tamanrasset.

This is how we arrive at one of the fundamental pillars which is also the true heart of Foucauldian spirituality: Nazareth. Mandonico analyzes how the great newness of the Spirit, brought about through the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld, starts from the hiding of the Son of God and his thirty years of hidden life in Nazareth which, loved after his first pilgrimage to the holy land, will become the architectural principle on which the life of the Universal Brother is built and, subsequently, the cornerstone on which to build the spiritualities that will refer to Blessed Charles.

After the great novelty of Nazareth, as the cornerstone of the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld, Mandonico tightens the field on the two great pillars that hold Foucauldian spiritual architecture: the Word of God and the Eucharist. We know the importance of the Eucharistic cult that had the historical context from which Charles de Foucauld drew, especially for the practices of piety, such as devotion to the Sacred Heart and the redemptive sacrificial offering. What is striking, alongside this element which can also be found in other figures, is the love for the Word of God and the time he gives for the “lectio divina”, with the lover’s methodology. Mandonico carefully highlights the prophecy and the great creative novelty in the interiority of the missionary monk, in a life that is surprised in the Spirit amidst contemplative gasps and missionary announcements.

A further chapter is dedicated to the Mystery of the Visitation, the hermeneutic criterion of all human relations of Charles. He manages to go beyond his own colonial prejudices, as a priest, imagining himself as a living tabernacle that brings Jesus to others, as Mary does with Saint Elizabeth, causing little John to startle in a dance of joy in the womb for the presence of the Son of God. It is precisely the Mystery of the Visitation that will be declined in Beni-Abbès and in Tamanrasset differently, according to how circumstances required. The author continues to carefully analyze themes dear to Charles de Foucauld such as love in contemplation and the fruitfulness of the apostolate, preaching the Gospel with life, the universal fatherhood of God, the desire for universal brotherhood, the longing for supreme testimony of martyrdom and, in the last chapter, an eschatological reflection on going to meet the Bridegroom who is coming.

The text ends with two very interesting appendices; in the first there are analogies on Pope Francis and his Magisterium in the footsteps of Blessed Charles de Foucauld while, in the second, the writings of Blessed Charles himself. At the end of the text there is the bibliography cited in the text of the works and correspondence of Charles de Foucauld.

Reading this text is highly recommended because, in a careful and timely manner, it helps to understand the greatness and novelty of a new way of living and thinking about holiness today, contemplative in activity, ecumenical and interreligious in our globalized world. The text is a phrasing that makes the life and texts of the blessed speak, within the great symphony of the Magisterium, orchestrated by the Spirit, having as its score the Gospel and as irreplaceable scenography the face and life of the Unique Model, the Beloved Lord Jesus .

Reading this book, I am sure, will bring great human and spiritual benefit to everyone.

Don Salvatore Sciannamea
Priestly Fraternity


Salaam April-July 2021


  • Editorial, 79
  • A Ramzan Letter to My Muslim Sisters and Brothers, 82
  • United with Jesus Christ in silence: Spirituality of Little Brothers of Jesus – Antony Cyril SJ, 86
  • God gave the growth: A Legacy of Charles de Foucauld – Bonnie Bowman Thurston, 91
  • Charles de Foucauld, Louis Massignon, Catholic Spirituality, and Islam – Christian S. Krokus, 102
  • Charles de Foucauld: Acrobat of God without a Net – Leo D. Lefebure, 119
  • Brother Charles and the Visitation – Little Sister Kathleen of Jesus, 129
  • Charles de Foucauld: A life in dialogue – Marc Hayet, 137
  • The “Universal Brother” Blessed Charles de Foucauld: His Life and Relevance Today – Rita George Tvrtković, 146
  • Reports, 152

PDF: Salaam April-July 2021

My enemy’s brother. Aurelio SANZ BAEZA

Our heart workshop has tools for maintenance, to repair when there is a deterioration, to update or even to create good feelings. Sometimes we don’t find the tool, or they’re messy, or broken, or we need new ones that are hard to come by. We also sometimes use the wrong tool, because we think it’s easier to handle. The heart workshop may be damaged, leaky, or unventilated; it may be inadequate or not always be clean. It is likely that we have had times when the workshop was “closed for holidays”… In the heart workshop there are on a daily basis hurt feelings, distrust of others, wounded pride – our ego open to ridicule – and disappointments. Very different forms, shades and perceptions.

I once heard a person tell me “Reeds become spears”, referring to the great disappointment of the “friendly nullity” of who I believed was a great friend. Having lost a friendship we can come that distrust not only that person, but others that we are unsure of. “Our heart must be cleansed, put in order and purified. Of what? Of the falsehoods that stain it, from hypocritical duplicity. All of us have these. They are diseases that harm the heart, soil our lives and make them insincere. We need to be cleansed of the deceptive securities that would barter our faith in God with passing things, with temporary advantages.” Pope Francis at Mass in Erbil, Iraq, 7 March 2021.

We hear frequently “I’m never going to forgive him that”, “don’t trust anyone”, “think wrong and you’ll get it right”… With the gospel in hand, knowing that it is a permanent call to fidelity, because Jesus, the Master, the Lord, forgave, trusted and did not have a negative f eeling towards anyone, we cannot accept distrust and suspicion as a norm of life, but it is understandable because we are human beings, and not robots programmed to act in a certain way.

Many people pass through our lives, some stay, others simply pass by. Depending on where we may be and live, we see diverse human realities each day, and some of them require our attention for our work or coexistence in a common place or neighborhood, and other realities are outside our nearest day to day routine.

The areas of conflict or good understanding are variable according to our psychology, culture, age… There is a world in each of us different from that of others and, therefore, different ways of resolving or overcoming the difficulties of co-existence, family or community love, spirit of working together or the relationship of friendship.

If our life comes into conflict with one or more people, the workshop of our heart must produce a great deal of respect and responsibility, to place ourselves where we should be, with whatever dialogue is possible, understanding the reasons of others’ actions, without judging them. It is better to repair than to throw away. And if we close doors, we may ourselves be locked in, with the key on the outside.


when we believe that a friendship is never going to break, and it is broken.
When we stand above anyone.
When we think we are better than others.
When in life we are weighed down more by failures than triumphs.
When we consider ourselves our own enemy.
When it hurts us that there are people who do not get involved as we do.
When we’re not mature enough to concede defeat,


let us use the tool of humility, let us look at Jesus forsaken, wounded. Pope Francis said at the Chaldean rite Mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Baghdad on March 6, 2021: If I live as Jesus asks, what do I gain? Don’t I risk letting others lord it over me? Is Jesus’ invitation worthwhile, or a lost cause? That invitation is not worthless, but wise. And wisdom is the twin sister of humility.

If we find ourselves with situations in which, even having forgiven and forgotten, the workshop of our heart fails to make changes in our personal life or that of those who have moved away from our affection, from our fraternity, from our friendship and trust, from our welcome, we will feel defeat again… We cannot change others. Accepting the situation requires a degree of maturity that will leave us at peace with ourselves.

When we regarded ourselves as “prodigal sons” of our brothers, and return to where we should never have said goodbye, when the other person was waiting for us, the workshop of the heart is free of old and useless junk, clean of the cobwebs of prejudices, letting things take their course, without victors or vanquished.

That I may be a brother to my enemy, with the inner joy not of having a quiet conscience for having done things as well as possible, but that which gives peace to the heart, that which charity and love repair, and then the joy that denotes the balance in our feelings will spring forth. A challenge, the challenge of Jesus who calls us to forgive seventy times seven and to be forgiven as many again.


(Translation of Liam O`CUIV. Thank you!) (Boletín Iesus Caritas, 210)

PDF: My enemy’s brother. Aurelio SANZ BAEZA en