Ordinary Time: July 24th
Optional Memorial of St. Sharbel (Charbel) Makhloof, priest
Old Calendar: St. Christina, virgin and martyr
St. Sharbel was a Lebanese monk, born in a small mountain village and ordained in 1858. Devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he spent the last twenty-three years of his life as a hermit. Despite temptations to wealth and comfort, Saint Sharbel taught the value of poverty, self-sacrifice and prayer by the way he lived his life. This optional memorial is new to the USA liturgical calendar and was inscribed on July 24, 2004.According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Christina who was martyred at Bolsena in Italy, probably under Diocletian (c. 307). She has been greatly venerated since at least the 6th century.
St. Sharbel (Charbel) Makhloof
Joseph Makhlouf was born in 1828 at Beqa-Kafra, Lebanon. His peasant family lived a strong faith, were attentive to the Divine Liturgy, and had a great devotion to the Mother of God.
"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. Through faith this hermit received the Word of God and through love he continued the Ministry of Incarnation.On the evening of his funeral, his superior wrote: "Because of what he will do after his death, I need not talk about his behavior". A few months after his death a bright light was seen surrounding his tomb. The superiors opened it to find his body still intact. Since that day a blood-like liquid flows from his body. Experts and doctors are unable to give medical explanations for the incorruptibility and flexibility. In the years 1950 and 1952 his tomb was opened and his body still had the appearance of a living one. The spirit of Charbel still lives in many people. His miracles include numerous healings of the body and of the spirit. Thomas Merton, the American Hermit, wrote in his journal: "Charbel lived as a hermit in Lebanon—he was a Maronite. He died. Everyone forgot about him. Fifty years later, his body was discovered incorrupt and in short time he worked over 600 miracles. He is my new companion. My road has taken a new turning. It seems to me that I have been asleep for 9 years—and before that I was dead." At the closing of the Second Vatican Council, 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.Taken from Opus Libani Things to Do:
- Make a virtual visit to Our Lady of Lebanon Shrine.
- Visit this site dedicated to St. Charbel and read another biography.
- Listen to an Arabic prayer for God's Mercy from the Great Paraklesis (Supplicatory Prayer) to the Most Holy Theotokos. Notice the frescoes in the video of the praying saints which are from an obscure ancient Byzantine church in Maad, Lebanon, named after St. Charbel the old.
- Learn more about the Maronites.
St. Christina of Bolsena
Saint Christina was the daughter of a rich and powerful magistrate named Urban. Her father, who was deep in the practices of paganism, had a number of golden idols. His young daughter broke them, then distributed the pieces among the poor. Infuriated by this act, Urban became the persecutor of his own daughter. He had her whipped with rods and thrown into a dungeon. Christina remained unshaken in her faith. Her tormentor brought her forth to have her body torn by iron hooks, then fastened to a rack beneath which a fire was kindled. But God watched over His servant and turned the flames back toward the onlookers, several of whom perished.
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