December 24: St. Charbel
St. Charbel was born Youssef Makhlouf on May 8, 1828, in a mountain village in Lebanon. His life was very ordinary. Youssef attended the small school and the parish church. He loved the Blessed Mother and he loved to pray. He had two uncles who were monks. Although Youssef did not tell anyone, he prayed to Our Lady to ask her help in becoming a monk. His parents wanted him to marry. There was a very nice girl in the village who would make an ideal wife, they thought. But Youssef believed it was time to follow his call to become a monk. He joined the monastery of Our Lady at the age of twenty-three. He took the name Charbel, after an early martyr by that name. He professed solemn vows in 1853 when he was twenty-five. Charbel studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1858. He remained at the monastery of St. Maron for sixteen years.
Father Charbel was a profound person whose love for prayer became his outstanding quality. From time to time he would retreat to the order's hermitage for stronger prayer times. The last twenty-three years of his life, Charbel spent in the peace of the hermitage. He chose to lead a very hard life. He made sacrifices, ate little, slept on the hard ground, and prayed long hours. The years passed, and Charbel became a person totally in love with Jesus. Then as he celebrated the Mass on December 16, 1898, he suffered a stroke during the consecration. Charbel lingered for eight painful days, then died on December 24, 1898.
Miracles began to happen at the holy monk's grave. Some of those miracles were accepted for declaring Charbel "blessed" and then "saint." Father Charbel was proclaimed a saint by Pope Paul VI on October 9, 1977. The pope explained that St. Charbel taught us by his life the true way to God. He said that our culture glorifies wealth and comfort. Charbel, instead, teaches by his example the value of being poor, self-sacrificing and prayerful.
What would happen if I shared in the love for prayer that the saints possessed?