Friday, 24 July 2009

St Charbel Makhlouf - a glory of Lebanon, a jewel of the Maronite Catholic Church

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in 1828, in Bekaa Kafra (North Lebanon). He had a true Christian upbringing, which had given him a passion for prayer.
In 1851, he left his family village and headed for the Our Lady of Maifouk monastery to spend his first monastic year, and then he went to the St Maron monastery in Annaya, where he entered the Maronite Order, carrying the name Charbel, a name of one of the Antioch church martyrs of the second century. On All Saints’ Day 1853, he made his vows in St Maron’s monastery - Annaya. He completed his theological studies in the St Kobrianous and Justina monastery in Kfifan, Batroun.
Charbel was ordained a priest on the 23 July 1859. For 16 years he lived an exemplary life in the St Maron's monastery – Annaya, his life of intense prayer led him to become a hermit. In February 1875 he moved to the monastery’s hermitage of SS Peter and Paul. There he lived a life totally immersed in God and found his strength and joy in the daily celebration of the Mass at 9a.m. St Charbel lived in the hermitage for 23 years. On December 16th, 1898 he was struck with an illness while celebrating the holy sacrifice. He died on Christmas' Eve 1898, and was buried in the St Maron monastery cemetery in Annaya.
Many people have found the comfort of his intercession and many emulate his spirituality as they follow in the footsteps of Jesus. From Lebanon the devotion to St Charbel is now universal and more people are today seeking his wisdom and prayers for their spiritual journey especially in imitating the devotion he had towards the most blessed Sacrament, spending hours on hours in the presence of Jesus.
Saint Charbel's influence continues to grow. In Russia he has an immense following of Orthodox Christians. Muslims continue to seek his intercession, going in pilgrimage to his tomb. In Lebanon and in the Lebanese diaspora he continues to teach the way of silence, the way of the Cross, the way of humble love.

O God who called your priest, Saint Charbel to the singular combat of the desert and imbued him with every manner of piety, grant us, we beseech you, that by striving to be imitators of the Passion of the Lord we may be found worthy of becoming sharers in his kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.

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