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St. Charbel Makhlouf Wants to Pray for You

It’s a common practice for devout Catholics to lean into a devotion toward a specific saint, perhaps unofficially adopting him or her as a patron, maybe relying on his or her intercession for specific situations (think of St. Anthony of Padua, called upon for lost items). St. Charbel Makhlouf, a Lebanese saint who bridged Eastern and Western Catholic monasticism by living the Maronite Rule, is one such exemplar.

 

His heart longed for unity among Christians and Muslims, and he was gifted at doing so through his meek disposition and his life centered deeply around prayer. This fact may be the key to why so many people of all walks of life and religious beliefs have turned to his intercession with astounding results. 

 

St. Charbel is a saint for our times. The aesthetic of his monastic life has a universal appeal, one that perhaps draws us away from our anxious and busy lives and into the realm of silence, solitude, and deeper prayer. He, like every saint whether well known or unknown, wants us to come through him to know and love God with more confidence and greater peace.

 

Who Is St. Charbel Makhlouf?

Born Youssef Antoun Makhlouf in 1828 as one of five children, he lived in the highest mountain of Lebanon, Bekaa Kafra. His father died when he was only three years old, leaving his mother a widow with young children. Providentially, she remarried a very devout man who went on to become an ordained parish priest in the village where the family lived. Youssef also had two uncles who were hermits, and as a boy he would take the family’s small flock of sheep to a nearby Marian grotto and spend most of his day in prayer.

 

He left his family in 1851 to enter the Maronite monastic order, where he studied theology and philosophy. Twenty-four years later, he was granted permission to live the solitary life of a hermit and did so faithfully for the remaining thirty-three years of his life. Notably, the monks who knew him recognized his natural ability to follow the Rule with perfect peace and obedience. He died on Christmas Eve, 1898.

 

His Mystical Life of Suffering

St. Charbel’s name means “God’s good news” in Aramaic. He was certainly a clandestine harbinger of such holiness. Immediately after his novitiate began, he donned the habit that included a black robe, symbolizing death to himself; a black-tasseled belt, which reminded him of the scourge of Jesus. Every time it is touched, the monk prays, “With your pain, O Jesus Christ.”

 

St. Charbel wanted to be given the most onerous and humiliating work while at the monastery, which was granted to him. Yet, as he harvested crops, the monks in his community observed the level of sacred care with which he did so. It was said that the degree of his poverty, chastity, and obedience and the humility with which he exemplified his vows is “unsurpassed.”

 

The day after he died, Christmas Day, a small group of monks at the hermitage noticed a brilliant glow emanating from his coffin shortly before interment. The light shone continually for four months until permission was granted to open his casket. Once this was done, the light revealed a perfectly incorrupt body of the saintly man, and the cause for his canonization began shortly thereafter. It was determined by medical professionals that there was no scientific explanation for the glow or his incorrupt body. 

 

His life and death were explained to be “more angelic than human.”

 

Monasticim, Both Ancient and New

St. Charbel was a Maronite monk who lived as a hermit in Lebanon during the late nineteenth century. 

 

St. Paul VI said of St. Charbel as he closed the Second Vatican Council on December 5, 1965, “Great is the gladness in heaven and earth today for the beatification of Charbel Makhlouf, monk and hermit of the Lebanese Maronite Order. Great is the joy of the East and West for this son of Lebanon, admirable flower of sanctity blooming on the stem of the ancient monastic traditions of the East, and venerated today by the Church of Rome…. The holy monk of Annaya is presented as one who reminds us of the indispensable role of prayer, hidden virtues and penance…”

 

Thousands of recorded miracles have been attributed to St. Charbel’s intercession throughout the years, especially by pilgrims who travel to North Lebanon in gratitude for unexplained physical healings in particular. People with diseases of the eye, spinal malformations, and other physical ailments have received dramatic reversals of their conditions and instantaneous, total healings.

 

Why We Need St. Charbel’s Intercession

Suffering exists in many forms, and St. Charbel knew this well. He lived it excellently. He chose to spend his entire life in mortification of his senses, which led him to spiritual simplicity and total abandonment to God’s holy will for his life. He wants us to learn this, too. In our frenzied culture, we tend to lose sight of God as we fill the painful chasms of our hearts with distractions, diversions, and all sorts of clutter. 

 

St. Charbel invites us to a sort of monastic renewal, regardless of our vocational state, so that we can, as St. Alphonsus Liguori once wrote, “retreat often into the cell of our hearts.” We can begin to trust God, regardless of our suffering and uncertainties, so that like St. Charbel, we may be totally resigned to His love until the end of our days on earth. 

 

St. Charbel Novena Prayers

 

St. Charbel Novena – Day 1

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Dear Lord, we thank You for giving us St. Charbel as an example of holiness. Help us to imitate the piety he practiced throughout his life, beginning when he was a small child at home. St. Charbel, you grew up in the home of a pious mother. From the time you were very young, you were attracted to the practice of virtue. You were drawn to learning about the lives of the saints, and you strove to imitate their piety. Pray that I may practice piety as you did! The foundation of holiness that your mother helped you to develop stayed with you throughout your life. You continued on the path of virtue throughout your life as a monk and a priest. Pray for me, that I may remain firm in virtue and holiness my whole life, as you did. Please also pray for (mention your intentions here). St. Charbel, pray for us! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

St. Charbel Novena – Day 2

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Dear Lord, we thank You for giving us St. Charbel as an example of holiness. Help us to imitate the holiness he showed in responding generously to Your call to serve You as a monk and a priest. St. Charbel, you were exposed to examples of holiness from a young age. Along with the piety of your mother, the examples of your uncles helped to form you in holiness. You saw your uncles following God’s call and you desired to serve God similarly. Pray that I may be inspired by holy examples around me! You did not hesitate to leave behind your home and worldly possessions to serve God in the monastic life. You served God faithfully in your religious vocation the rest of your life. Pray for me, that I may respond generously to whatever God may call me to in my life. Please also pray for (mention your intentions here). St. Charbel, pray for us! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

St. Charbel Novena – Day 3

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Dear Lord, we thank You for giving us St. Charbel as an example of holiness. Help us to imitate the devotion to Our Lady that he showed from the time he was a young boy. St. Charbel, you were drawn to the example of the saints from the time you were young. You had a particular devotion to Our Blessed Mother and you made a shrine to her. You prayed often at this shrine while you were tending your family’s sheep. Pray that I may have a devotion to Our Lady like yours! You must have known what a great help Mary can be to us in our greatest needs. You must have turned to her often as you grew in holiness. Pray for me, that I may turn to Our Blessed Mother often in my needs. Please also pray for (mention your intentions here). St. Charbel, pray for us! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

St. Charbel Novena – Day 4

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Dear Lord, we thank You for giving us St. Charbel as an example of holiness. Help us to imitate the holiness he showed in choosing a life of monasticism and in living out his vocation to monastic life faithfully. St. Charbel, you grew up witnessing the holy example of your two hermit uncles. You decided to follow their holy example, and you entered the monastic life as well. Pray that I may respond to holy inspiration in my own life! As a monk, you lived ascetically for many years. You almost never left your hermitage, and you sought to imitate the saintly hermits who lived before you. You renounced worldly possessions and society, choosing instead to serve God alone in a life of monasticism. Pray for me, that I may carry out my vocation as faithfully as you did. Please also pray for (mention your intentions here). St. Charbel, pray for us! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

St. Charbel Novena – Day 5

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Dear Lord, we thank You for giving us St. Charbel as an example of holiness. Help us to imitate the holiness he showed in following Your call to become a priest and in living out his vocation faithfully. St. Charbel, you chose to serve God in a unique way. Not only did you become a hermit and live out the monastic life of constant prayer and solitude. You also answered His call to become a priest as well. Pray for the holiness and faithfulness of all priests! You remained faithful to your priestly vocation your entire life. When you died from a stroke at age seventy, you were in the midst of celebrating Mass. You carried out the duties of your vocation to the end of your life. Pray for me, that I may respond faithfully and generously to God’s call in my life. Please also pray for (mention your intentions here). St. Charbel, pray for us! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

St. Charbel Novena – Day 6

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Dear Lord, we thank You for giving us St. Charbel as an example of holiness. Help us to imitate the holiness and devotion to You that he lived out his entire life, up until he died from a stroke while offering Mass. St. Charbel, you remained faithful and pious your entire life. You chose a life of self-denial as a monk and spent most of your days in solitude. Your life as a hermit was full of virtue and piety. Pray that I may persevere in holiness throughout my whole life! You were carrying out the duties of your vocation even up until the moment of your death. When you died of a stroke, you were in the midst of offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Pray for me, that I may dutifully carry out the duties of my state in life until my death. Please also pray for (mention your intentions here). St. Charbel, pray for us! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

St. Charbel Novena – Day 7

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Dear Lord, we thank You for giving us St. Charbel as an example of holiness. Help us to imitate the holiness he showed throughout his lifetime and the devotion he inspired in others after his death. St. Charbel, you lived out your life as a monk and a priest with faithfulness and devotion. After your death, many recognized that the holiness of your life had been extraordinary. And many turned to you for help and inspiration. Pray that I may be inspired by the holy examples of others! After your death, your intercession helped bring about many miracles. Your body was incorrupt for many years, and people sought your intercession for healing or spiritual graces. These miracles inspired many people throughout your country to return to the Faith. Pray for me, that I may never miss the opportunity to bring others back to Christ. Please also pray for (mention your intentions here). St. Charbel, pray for us! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

St. Charbel Novena – Day 8

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Dear Lord, we thank You for giving us St. Charbel as an example of holiness. Help us to imitate the holy example he lived throughout his life that continued to inspire others even after his death. St. Charbel, you practiced great virtue and holiness throughout your life as a monk and a priest. After your death, others turned to your example for inspiration, and many sought your intercession for their needs. Please intercede for all who turn to you, and ask God to assist them in their needs! The graces and miracles you helped bring about through your intercession after your death inspired many. In your home country of Lebanon and elsewhere, your intercession contributed to a rekindling of the Faith. Pray for me, that I may live a virtuous life and be a holy example to others. Please also pray for (mention your intentions here). St. Charbel, pray for us! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

St. Charbel Novena – Day 9

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Dear Lord, we thank You for giving us St. Charbel as an example of holiness. Help us to imitate his virtuous example that led many to turn to him for inspiration and intercession after his death. St. Charbel, after your death, many recognized that you had lived a saintly life. Many turned to you for intercession, and your prayers brought about many miracles. You assisted in bringing about numerous spiritual graces and healings. Pray for all who are in need of healing! The healings and graces brought about through your intercession were so numerous and noteworthy that the faith of many people was rekindled. You even brought about the healing of a woman who was paralyzed, so that others would return to the Faith. Pray for me, that I may always seek to inspire others to holiness. Please also pray for (mention your intentions here). St. Charbel, pray for us! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Written by Raphael Benedict

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