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May 10, 2024

Saint Charbel: The Total Gift of a Life

May 10, 2024
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A Poor Peasant

In a remote mountain village in Lebanon in the 19th century, a young boy was born. He did not have, by worldly standards, any special potential. He was sometimes clumsy, had no education, and spent his youth working the long hours which his situation demanded. Yet God was working on this man through his life, calling him to himself. That call would reverberate from his remote village, through the Qadisha valley - and to the world. Before long, young Youssef Makhlouf would become known as “The Miracle Monk” - but to his brothers, he was only Charbel. 

The Voice of God Speaks

As a young man, Youssef’s family had ordinary expectations for him: that he would work hard, that he would meet a suitable spouse, and that he would live as a reliable member of his family and community. Their expectations would be answered - but not in the way they expected. Youssef was being pulled in another direction, far from his small village and his daily tasks. From earliest childhood, he would spend a great deal of time praying. He would pray as he worked or at home, always seeking union with God. He would deny himself many things, including marriage, in preparation for the great work that God was asking of him: to give his life to Him totally, holding nothing back. 

At the age of 23, Youssef entered the Monastery of Our Lady in Mayfouq. There, he took the name Charbel, after an early Christian martyr. He did not have aspirations of any extraordinary virtue, any special holiness - rather, he knew himself to be a poor peasant, but intended to seek God with his whole heart and soul. It was this very humility which allowed him to reach the heights of holiness. He would sleep very little, eat only one meal daily, and pray for many additional hours at a time, all while following the already ascetical life of the monastery. After several years in the monastery and being ordained a priest, he was given permission to withdraw to a small hermitage in the mountains, the Hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul. There, he lived out the rest of his life in piety and prayer. 

From Monk to Miraculous Intercessor

At the age of 70, Charbel suffered a stroke while celebrating the Divine Liturgy. He passed away eight days later - Christmas Eve, 1898. Since his death, many thousands of miracles have been attributed to Saint Charbel’s intercession, the most of any Saint. It was through his humility, his greatest gift, that Charbel was able to do so many great miracles. This week, The Saints: Adventures of Faith and Courage follows Saint Charbel! Listen to his amazing story on Monday, May 13, at!

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