Saint Charbel Makhlouf, Priest

Matthew 13:18-23

The man who hears the word and understands it yields a rich harvest

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are to hear the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the man who received the seed on the edge of the path. The one who received it on patches of rock is the man who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy. But he has no root in him, he does not last; let some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, and he falls away at once. The one who received the seed in thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word and so he produces nothing. And the one who received the seed in rich soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.’


Jeremiah 3:14-17

Come back, my disloyal children

Come back, disloyal children – it is the Lord who speaks – for I alone am your Master. I will take one from a town, two from a clan, and bring you to Zion. I will give you shepherds after my own heart, and these shall feed you on knowledge and discretion. And when you have increased and become many in the land, then – it is the Lord who speaks – no one will ever say again: Where is the ark of the covenant of the Lord? There will be no thought of it, no memory of it, no regret for it, no making of another. When that time comes, Jerusalem shall be called: The Throne of the Lord; all the nations will gather there in the name of the Lord and will no longer follow the dictates of their own stubborn hearts.


Jeremiah 31:10-13

The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.

O nations, hear the word of the Lord,

proclaim it to the far-off coasts.

Say: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him

and guard him as a shepherd guards his flock.’

The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.

For the Lord has ransomed Jacob,

has saved him from an overpowering hand.

They will come and shout for joy on Mount Zion,

they will stream to the blessings of the Lord.

The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.

Then the young girls will rejoice and dance,

the men, young and old, will be glad.

I will turn their mourning into joy,

I will console them, give gladness for grief.

The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Desire For God

27 The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:

The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator.

28 In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth. These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being:

From one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him – though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For “in him we live and move and have our being.”

29 But this “intimate and vital bond of man to God” (GS 19 § 1) can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man. Such attitudes can have different causes: revolt against evil in the world; religious ignorance or indifference; the cares and riches of this world; the scandal of bad example on the part of believers; currents of thought hostile to religion; finally, that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call.

30 “Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.” Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness. But this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, “an upright heart”, as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God.

You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised: great is your power and your wisdom is without measure. And man, so small a part of your creation, wants to praise you: this man, though clothed with mortality and bearing the evidence of sin and the proof that you withstand the proud. Despite everything, man, though but a small a part of your creation, wants to praise you. You yourself encourage him to delight in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.


Saint Charbel Makhlouf, O.L.M. (or Sharbel Maklouf), (Arabic: مار شربل‎‎, May 8, 1828 – December 24, 1898) was a Maronite monk and priest from Lebanon. During his life he obtained a wide reputation for holiness and he has been canonized by the Catholic Church. Many Maronite Christians have prayer cloths blessed and then place them on the sick, praying to God through the intercession of Saint Charbel, for healing.

Life

Orphan and shepherd

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born on May 8, 1828, one of five children born to Antoun Zaarour Makhlouf and Brigitta Chidiac. They lived in the village of Bekaa Kafra, possibly the highest in the Lebanese mountains. His father, a mule driver, died in August 1831, returning from corvée for the Turkish army, leaving his wife a widow to care for their children. Later she remarried a man who went on to seek Holy Orders and became the parish priest of the village.

The young Youssef was raised in a pious home and quickly became drawn to the lives of the saints and to the hermit life, as was practiced by two of his uncles. As a young boy, he was responsible for caring for the family’s small flock. He would take the flock to a grotto nearby, where he had installed an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He would spend the day in prayer.

Monk

In 1851, Youssef left his family and entered the Lebanese Maronite Order at the Monastery of Our Lady in Mayfouq to begin his training as a monk, later transferring to the Monastery of St. Maron in Annaya, located in the Jbeil District near Beirut. Here he received the religious habit of a monk and took the name Charbel, after a Christian martyr in Antioch from the 2nd century. He made his final religious profession in the Order on November 1, 1853.

The young monk Charbel then began his study of philosophy and theology at the Monastery of Saints Cyprian & Justina in Kfifan, in the Batroun District of Lebanon, to prepare himself for receiving Holy Orders. Among his professors at the seminary was Father Nimatullah Kassab, who was himself later also declared a saint. He was ordained six years later, on July 23, 1859, in Bkerke. He was then sent back to St. Maron Monastery, where he lived a life of severe asceticism in the monastery.

Hermit

In 1875, Charbel was granted by the abbot of the monastery the privilege of living as a hermit at the Hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul, a chapel under the care of the monastery. He spent the next 23 years living as a solitary hermit, until his death from a stroke on December 24, 1898.

Death and miracles

Charbel was interred at St. Maron’s Monastery on Christmas Day of that year. It was reported that, during the transport of his corpse, the inclement weather conditions hindered the pallbearers in carrying out their duty.

“Father Charbel died on the eve of Christmas; the snow was heavy. We transferred him to the monastery on Christmas day. Before we moved him, the snow was falling rapidly and the clouds were very dark. When we carried him, the clouds disappeared, and the weather cleared.” Statement by George Emmanuel Abi-Saseen, one of the pallbearers

A few months after his death, a bright light was seen surrounding his tomb and the superiors opened it to find his body still intact. Since that day, a blood-like liquid flows from his body. Experts and doctors are unable to give medical explanations for the incorruptibility and flexibility. In the years 1950 and 1952, his tomb was opened and his body still had the appearance of a living one. The official site mentions: In this century his grave has been opened four times, the last time being in 1955, and each time “it has been noticed that his bleeding body still has its flexibility as if it were alive”; no mentioning of later openings. The Catholic Tradition website says: Father Joseph Mahfouz, the postulator of the cause, certified that in 1965 the body of Saint Charbel was still preserved intact with no alteration. In 1976 he again witnessed the opening of the grave; this time the body was completely decomposed. Only the skeleton remained.

Source: Wikipedia