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Thursday, February 08, 2007

St. Charbel Makhlouf

St. Charbel Makhlouf is my "2007 Saint of the Year". Click here to read the first installment on his life.

From Lives of the Saints

By the time he was sixteen, he had completed his basic schooling under an oak in the village churchyard, where he was taught by the priest with the other village boys. The Christian spirit of the entire village was remarkable; the men regarded it as a great privilege to ring the church bells for Sunday Mass. Youssef during his days on the hillside with his little flock, often retired to a grotto to pray, for solitude was his joy, and prayer the breath of his soul. He was serving Mass every morning, and in that function he discovered the true purpose of his existence: to be, like his Saviour, a victim to be offered, with Christ, to His Father.

At the age of twenty-three he left home silently one morning, and made his way to a monastery a day’s journey away. Only one thing mattered to him — to obey the voice of the One who summons: Come, follow Me. When his uncle and tutor, Tanios, tried to persuade him to return, he could not succeed; and his mother, who had accompanied her brother, taking his hand in hers, and shaking it energetically, said to him: “Well then, if you should not become a good religious, return with me to the house!” He received the habit one week after entering the monastery, and chose the name of Charbel, a martyr of the Antioch church in the year 107.

There followed two years of a severe novitiate, completed in the monastery of Annaya, which on its mountaintop seemed to breathe the stars, then the young monk was sent to prepare for the priesthood farther away, at Saint Cyprian of Kfifan, where he was ordained six years later at the age of 31. He returned to Annaya afterwards, where for sixteen years he was in every way a model of perfection, until in 1875, at forty-seven years of age, he retired to its nearby hermitage, where he would remain until his death. He was offering Mass a week before Christmas, when paralysis struck him as he elevated the host. His sorrowing companion, during a week’s time, heard him repeating as long as he had voice, the prayers of his uncompleted Mass: “O Father of truth, behold Your Son, victim to please You; condescend to approve [this offering], because for me He endured death, to give me life...” Saint Charbel died quietly on the 24th of December, attended by three monks.

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