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Domingo Catequético 2023: Celebrando a Nuestros Catequistas
Today is the feast of St. Charbel Makhlouf, Priest. Charbel, born Youssef Antoun Makhlouf in 1828, was the youngest of five children, in a poor family in Bekaa Kafra, Lebanon. His father, a mule driver, died when Youssef was three. When he wasn't in school, Youssef was often taking care of the family's cattle. He enjoyed the solitude, spending hours in prayer, and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. When he was 23, Youssef left home without telling anyone and joined the Monastery of Our Lady in Mayfouk, Lebanon, about thirty miles away, following the example of his two uncles, monks at a hermitage in the Kadisha Valley near Bekaa Kafra. He took the name Charbel (or Sharbel) after St. Charbel of Edessa, a second-century martyr. Though Charbel wanted to be a hermit, he wasn't allowed at first. He was first sent to the Monastery of St. Maron in Aannaya, ten miles south of Mayfouk, where he professed his final vows as a monk of the Lebanese Maronite Order. Then he went to the Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina in Kfifan, just north of Mayfouk, where he learned from St. Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini. He was ordained a priest in 1859. Charbel was finally given permission to move to a hermitage in 1875, after his lamp, which had been filled with water instead of oil, burned all night anyway. This was the first of many miracles to come. Charbel spent over twenty years as a hermit, dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament and spending hours in prayer. He left only to distribute communion to nearby towns and to perform healings and exorcisms. On December 16, 1898, during the Divine Liturgy, Charbel suffered a stroke. For eight days, he repeated the prayer that had been interrupted by the stroke, then died on Christmas Eve. Soon after his death, after reports of light from his tomb, his body was found to be incorrupt. It has become a pilgrimage site for Christians and non-Christians alike, with reports of hundreds or even thousands of miracles, all over the world, from people of many religions. Over the decades, his tomb was opened several more times, and was continually found to be incorrupt. It was finally found to have decayed in 1976. St. Charbel, pray for us!
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