Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Today, July 24, is the feast day of Saint Sharbel (Charbel) Makhlouf, a Maronite Catholic monk from Lebanon. Sharbel is known for his great piety, and has been called "the hermit of Lebanon" and "the Wonder Worker of the East."
Saint Sharbel was born in 1828 in the small mountain village of Beqa-Kafra, Lebanon. His peasant family lived a strong faith, were attentive to the Divine Liturgy, and had a great devotion to the Mother of God.
At the age of twenty-three, he left his family to enter the Lebanese-Maronite Monastery, Notre-Dame de Mayfouk. Following studies and perpetual profession at St. Cyprian de Kfifane Monastery, he was ordained in 1859.
For the next seven years, Sharbel lived in the mountainous community of Anaya. He then spent the next twenty-three years of his life in complete solitude at Sts. Peter and Paul Hermitage near Anaya. He died there on Christmas Eve, 1898.
Sharbel had a reputation for his austerity, penances, obedience, and chastity. At times, Sharbel was gifted with levitations during prayer, and he had great devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament. He celebrated Mass close to noon so as to devote the morning to preparation, and the rest of the day to thanksgiving. In all things, Sharbel maintained perfect serenity. His untiring kindness endeared him to all, both Christians and Muslims. He died in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures. Numerous healings of the body, heart and mind have been obtained through his intercession.
He was beatified in 1965 by Pope Paul VI and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1977.
A Prayer for the Intercession of St. Sharbel
O Merciful Father, through the Holy Spirit, you chose Saint Charbel as a voice crying in the wilderness. His monastic life is an example to Your Church. In the Scriptures he discovered Your Holiness as Word Made Flesh, and darkness gave way to light. In the Eucharist he encountered Your Divinity as Bread of Life, and the poverty of this world gave way to the treasures of Your Kingdom. In prayer he experienced Your Silence as Mystery Present, and lonelieness gave way to communion. Through the Virgin Mother he embraced Your Son as Lover of Mankind, and hostility gave way to hospitality. We now beseech You, through his intercession, to change our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, and to grant our special request …. We give praise to You, Your Only Begotten Son, and to Your Holy Spirit. Amen.