The Virtues of Saint Sharbel
The third Sunday of July, the C+hurch celebrates the feast of a Lebanese Monk. St Sharbel a hermit who lived in the Nineteen Century. During these days, the movements of nationalism mingled with revenge and retaliation. Lebanon was the battlefield of the ambitious nations. As the result, thousands of casualties, widows, orphan. Many were expatriated from their homeland to become homeless. During that epoch, St. Sharbel, Saint Rafca and Saint Nehmutallah Hardini lived and became saints. Many consider it as a sign of continuity to be witnesses for Christ during the gloomy days.
St. Sharbel rose from the ashes of a Church that has a long history of the perseverance.
The hermit of Anaya is sign of hope to those who are passing in the Valley of tears. “Those who are walked in darkness have seen a great light; on the inhabitants of a country in shadow dark as deadlight has blazed forth.” With him, many return to their faith and to their tradition. With Jubilee Year 1950, the humbled neglected monastery in the country of Byblos was the focal points of the news in Lebanon how many people were cured because a simple blessing , relic , soil, incense, or a leaf of an oak tree , blood from his unseeing hemorrhaging from his corpus without decomposition. People from Lebanon and the Middle East came to receive a blessing, returning to God give thanks to the Lord. Since that time, the humble monastery became the place of refuge and prayer for the people who a seeking the tranquility and peace.
More than that, Pope Pau VI closed the Council Vatican ii by his beatification to remind those Fathers of the council of prayer and living in the presence of God are the foundation of the mission of the Church. The Hermit was canonized during the wars against the Christians of the Middle East.
What is the Legacy of Saint Sharbel?
First of all, St. Sharbel tried to express his love and thankful to God who gave us himself to be saved. The Gift of God is not a creation but himself through his Son Jesus Christ He consecrated himself totally to God. He was similar to the man who found a treasure in a field. The man of God founded Jesus Christ. For him, the monastic life is a way to increase his knowledge of the one who captivated by his love. As Jesus loved the Father, he consecrated his life to him by proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Therefore, day and night, Jesus proclaims his Kingdom. Most of all, as Jesus emptied Him and became man, so Saint Sharbel consecrated totally to God by submitting his will to his superior in the monastic life. This is the mystery and the greatness of St. Sharbel.
Most of the time, the complications of life and its requirements would take over the intimacy with God or with. Some time would found how the anxieties of life overwhelmed many couples who would lose the marriage and end by divorce. Similarly with consecrated life would be ruined by activities. Many would lose the communication to seek with the ambitious life or luxury. In scriptures, we called the first love. In scriptures, however, the routine is look warm, or mediocrity. St Sharbel was ambitious, seeking the Kingdom of God First. This Kingdom of God is the treasure that God gave it to those who overwhelmed by the grace of God to become Children and they have been transformed by the amazing grace through Cremation, confirmation. Our nature has been change to become that of Jesus as St Peter call it the Divine Nature.
This seed of faith that started with his family, growing with his town and perfected through his monastic life, has become a grant tree. Lebanon became occupied by the sanctity of Saint Sharbel.
How come Saint Sharbel excelled over the others?
His love of God is first. His presence has filled his life. The monastic life is the Divine Philosophy that was a helpful for him for a total consecration. For him, is the daily agony the struggling to deepen his faith and his love through his body to become a vessel that is carrying the heavenly treasure. It seems the “heavenly Philosophy” started to become fruitful during his life. According to Fr. Boulos Daher, St. Sharbel has the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Those are: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self control.
Joseph and the people of the town were living a peaceful life with many priests who serve them. I my family they were many married one who are living from the labor of their hands and busy to pray the hours in syriac. Most of the boys attended the parochial school to learn the language and be ready to help praying in the Church. The monastic vocation was considered a special vocation to pray more and labor more. Instead to be busy to raise a family, the person is busy to be present in the presence of God. The monastic life is a witness to the presence of the Kingdom of God. It is similar of the presence of John the Baptist with his special garment and special message. The old time, the Maronite society was mostly monastic society the history use to be the sexiarian of the Church to day of the birth next to a great saint or occaision and the year the death of a special person.
Of the monastic life is a sign of emergency:’ the Kingdom of God is at hand repent”
The monastic life is to live with brothers who are not chosen by you but by Jesus who is present through the order of the Superior. St Sharbel was busy to read the famous book of the Kombis, “imitation of Jesus Christ. His obedience has been inspired from Jesus himself, the God from God who emptied himself to reach our human nature. With the opposed side, human being has empty himself to receive the grace of God. That what happened with Paul who was haughty his humiliation recreated him a new man. Similarly, the candidate of the monastic life uses all the method to be ready for the grace of God. The body is occupied with works and sacrifices and the mind with the Word of God.
He was always living in the presence of God. He moved from the formal prayer of the Church to an other way of prayer that is spiritual prayer. It is the prayer in Spirit that Saint Paul refers it to the Spirit of God. “The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness, for when we do not know to pray properly, then the Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans.” However, the monk is similar to the psalmist who delights in the law of the Lord and murmurs his law day and night”.
This sublimation of his earthly life is the consequence of his love of Christ. The monastic consecration through the vows, Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, became three virtues. He surpassed the obligation of a consecrated life. The vows have been transformed to three virtues.
Poverty is a virtue of faith. The Kingdom of God is first. “If you would like to be perfect sell everything and follow me”. For Saint Sharbel, poverty is a virtue of possessing the grace of God. He was satisfied with what they gave to him, and more than that, he asked to have the oldest cloths, the left over of food, and never touched the money. He never ate grapes from the vineyard or drank wine.
Poverty came to express his readiness to receive the amazing graces coming from God. For St Sharbel and the Maronite spirituality, poverty is the expression of our richness with the amazing grace the Kingdom of God. The Father has-been joyfully, ready to grant the Disciples the Kingdom. Therefore sell very thing and give them to the pour. Poverty is the expression of our readiness. Father Sharbel was radically acting for he was overwhelmed with the presence of the Kingdom of God. For St. Sharbel, Jesus was good example to him how the son foment was more pour than the birds of the for pleasure to life but for the readiness of the heart to receive the grace of God. It is clear in the parable how the seeds dropped in a thorny place would be damaged by the thorns. These thorns are the possessions. Their presence would take away our intention to be busy with them. Even though, many times, we would fell in temptation to be busy in our ministry how to control the money rather how to proclaim the Kingdom of God. the foxes of the desert, for his occupation and his richness in the presence of his Father. The richness of St Sharbel is today present, when the place became the busiest with the visitors asking for graces and they receive abundantly. Ask my home town, the house, ask the Mexican people and the others. St Sharbel is very reach because he has the key to access to the treasuries of heaven. Recently, Carlos Slim the richest man in the world paid visit to the tomb of St Sharbel and his cell room, he was touched by his poverty and how he is the richest man in the world. Poverty is not a goal in the monastic life rather than a way to express our readiness to receive the grace of God. With poverty comes the chastity. Chastity is not an obligation for those who a monastic life. It is required for those who were baptized. Chastity is a sign that the faithful is living according to the Spirit. It assign of our commitment to our faith. The fornicator never inter into the kingdom of God. For the vow of chastity is the abstinence from marriage. It is good to have a wife and a husband but for the presence of the Kingdom of God many would be the messenger of this Kingdom, like Jesus or john the Baptist. This decision is very delicate, the person hast to have his heart full of love of God and he would give abundantly his life for Christ. This coming from the love of God as St Pau is saying “the love of God has captivated us.
Chastity: is the virtue when the person gives his heart to God. He abdicates his right to have a wife and children. Always, he was seeking the face of God. No one could share his heart or emotion with Him. Only God possesses his heart. St. Sharbel refused to meet his mother; it was not because he was without kindness and emotion, but his energy is to love God alone. Also, he cut his relationship with his sisters, brothers and relatives and his home town. It is kind of expressing his total consecration. Other than chastity, there is more. Jesus is his life as St Paul says More than that, when he entered the monastery, he never turned back to his hometown. One day, they asked him to identify himself his response was: Fr. Sharbel, Hermit of Sts Peter and Paul Annaya, monk of Kozhayah.
Obedience: after his death, the Superior of the monastery wrote: “Fr Sharbel possessed an evangelic obedience”. For the humble hermit, Obedience is the imitation of Jesus Christ who:
Who, being in the form of God,
Did not count equality with God
Something to be grasped.
But emptied himself,
Taking the form of a slave becoming as human beings are
And being in every way like a human being
He was humbler yet.
Even to accepting death on the cross (Philippines 2: 6-8)
Saint Sharbel is imitating Jesus. He obeyed his Superior, and his Brothers, even the servant of the monastery. This virtue rose him from ordinary monk to a man who has the virtue of an angel.
Obedience of St Sharbel be has become a virtue like other vows. St Sharbel used to have the book of imitation of Christ. He learned from it the importance of the virtue of obedience and important to receive orders than to give orders. Obedience is the principal virtue of Jesus that is expressing the person to submit ob behalf of Jesus. In his turn, who was obedient to the Heavenly Father.
These tree virtues poverty his hand always empty from money and any possession. His mind is free from all kind of occupation. His heart is free through chastity and his will has died. The hermit is ready the lord would mold him freely. He would open a dialogue through his silent. Most of the time, St Sharbel used to live silently, and he was listen to the voice of the Lord. According to the experience of the Prophet Elias only through silence the person could listen to the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord is ready to talk. “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart;
it is a simple look turned toward heaven,
it is a cry of recognition and of love,
embracing both trial and joy.”
it way the Catechism of the Catholic Church through St Therese. The
These vows with the prayerful life raised the Hermit to become a hero that reflects the treasure of our Sprituality. Saint Sharbel has a great faith that Jesus is present in the Holy Eucharist. His day was concentrated on the Divine Liturgy. He was well prepared to start the Divine Banquet. After the ceremony he was captivated by his joyful presence. One day, they were amazed to see him untouched; after a thunderstorm praying, and murmuring while his brothers collapsed in the other room. His mind was on prayer when the fire consumed the altar cloths and burned the tassel of his cloak.
Saint Sharbel is one of the Heroes that came from the Maronite Church. He is presenting the hope of life. The Maronite Church is a resilient way that is growing after the experience of death. She is similar to her Master, who became more powerful in his death than in His public life. Always, we have to remember, we are the children of the Resurrection and life. Saint Sharbel is a sign of hope for the children of Saint Maron.