July 23 - The Feast of St. Charbel
"On May 8, 1828 in a mountain village of Beka’kafra, Charbel was born to a poor Maronite family. From childhood his life revealed a calling to "bear fruit as a noble Cedar of Lebanon". At 23 years old he entered the monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouk (north of Byblos) where he became a novice. After two years of novitiate, in 1853, he was sent to St. Maron monastery where he pronounced the monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Charbel was then transferred to the monastery of Kfeifan where he studied philosophy and theology.
His ordination to the priesthood took place in 1859, after which he was sent back to St. Maron monastery. His teachers provided him with good education and nurtured within him a deep love for monastic life.
During his 19 years at St. Maron monastery, Charbel performed his priestly ministry and his monastic duties in an edifying way. In 1875 Charbel was granted permission to live as a hermit nearby the monastery at St. Peter and Paul hermitage. His 23 years of solitary life were lived in a spirit of total abandonment to God.
Charbel’s companions in the hermitage were the Sons of God, as encountered in the Scriptures and in the Eucharist, and the Blessed Mother. The Eucharist became the center of his life. Though this hermit did not have a place in the world, the world had a great place in his heart. Through prayer and penance he offered himself as a sacrifice so that the world would return to God. It is in this light that one sees the importance of the following Eucharistic prayer in his life:
“Father of Truth, behold Your Son a sacrifice pleasing to You, accept this offering of Him who died for me…”
On December 16, 1898 while reciting the “Father of Truth” prayer at the Holy Liturgy, Charbel suffered a stroke. He died on Christmas Eve at the age of 70.
On December 5, 1965 Charbel was beatified by Pope Paul VI who said:
"…a hermit of the Lebanese mountain is inscribed in the number of the blessed…a new eminent member of monastic sanctity is enriching, by his example and his intercession, the entire Christian people…May he make us understand, in a world largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance, and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God…"
On October 9, 1977 during the World Synod of Bishops, Pope Paul VI canonized Blessed Charbel among the ranks of the Saints.”
(Painting by Christine Habib El-Daye)