Within the hearts of Lebanese, St. Charbel holds a special place as Lebanon's first Saint formally acknowledged by the Roman Catholic Church of Rome. He was canonised a Saint on 9th October, 1977.
Named Youssef, he was born on 8th May, 1828 to a modest family from the village of Beqa 'Kafra, which is located at the feet of the Cedars on the northern slopes of Mount Lebanon.
At the age of 23, Youssef prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary to help him become a monk and so entered the Manastery of Our Lady of Mayfouq as a novice in the Lebanese Maronite Order of Monks. He was ordained a priest on 23rd July, 1858 and went to Annaya where he spent the next 16 years living in a community with other monks before withdrawing into hermitage.
In 1875, he was granted permission to live as a hermit. For 23 years he lived a life of prayer and work. He displayed piety, honesty and sincerity and his conduct was described by his superiors as more angelic than human. He died at the age of 70, while celebrating Mass in December, 1898.
After his death, his body remains incorruptible, contrary to all the laws of nature and medicine. The true miracles and great wonders performed by God through the intercession of St. Charbel are the basis of conversions of a great number of people who learned from his exemplary lifestyle and grew in faith of God, who was St. Charbel's only aim in life.
St. Charbel's life was marked by a special devotion to the Blessed Eucharist and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The solitude and example of his life and his immense love of God, induces us in the midst of this restless and materialistic world, to be silent in order to establish within our beings an interior relationship where we meet God and listen to the appeals of God's grace. Each one of us can follow St. Charbel's example from escaping all the things of this world that lead us further from God and the peace and life His loving gives us for our salvation and for His glory.
We learn from St. Charbel that each one of us can be assured of a great reward if we give God priority in our lives and recognise God's presence within ourselves, within others and within the world around us. Without living as hermits, we can learn to distinguish between what brings us closer to God and what separates us from God. We can learn to follow God's goodness and God's path of love, so that we can attain salvation for ourselves and for others through our prayer and good works.
Thanks for the ping NYer! We'll have to post article both today and tomorrow, since today is his feast in the Maronite calendar, and tomorrow is his feast day on the Latin calendar.