“A great blessing to have the relics of Saint Sharbel here in Northern California in December!”
Thursday and Friday, December 17, and 18
Our Lady of Lebanon Church
600 El Camino Real
Monday and Tuesday, December 14 and 15, 2015 ALL DAY
at Our Lady of the Rosary Church
6811 Fair Oaks Blvd.
Saturday and Sunday, December 19 and 20, 2015 ALL DAY
at St. Sharbel Mission
4981 E. Eight Mile Road
Sharbel was born Youssef Antoun Makhlouf, on May 8, 1828, in the village of Bekaa-Kafra, in the Lebanese mountains. He was raised in a pious home and quickly be…came drawn to the lives of the saints and to the hermitical life, as was practiced by two of his uncles. As a young boy, he was responsible for caring for the family’s small flock. He would take the flock to a grotto nearby, where he had installed an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and would spend the day in prayer there.
In 1851, Youssef left his family and entered the Lebanese Maronite Order at the Monastery of Our Lady in Mayfouq. He received the religious habit of a monk and took the name Sharbel, who was a martyr in Antioch from the second century. He made his final religious profession in the Order on November 1, 1853. The young monk Sharbel then began his studies of philosophy and theology at the Monastery of Saints Cyprian & Justina in Kfifan, in the Batroun District of Lebanon, to prepare himself for receiving Holy Orders. Among his professors at the seminary, was Father Nemtallah Hardini, who was also later declared a saint. Sharbel was ordained on July 23, 1859, in Bkerke. In 1875, he was given permission, by the superior of the monastery of Annaya, Jbeil, to live as a hermit at the Hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul, a chapel under the care of the monastery. He spent the next 23 years there living as a solitary hermit, until his death from a stroke on December 24, 1898.
Countless miracles have been attributed to him, and his body remained incorrupt, oozing a type of sweat mixed with blood for many years.
On December 5, 1965, Pope Paul VI celebrated the ceremony of the Beatification of Father Sharbel during the closing days of the Second Vatican Council. Blessed Sharbel was later Canonized at Saint Peter’s by Pope Paul VI on October 9, 1977.
Although Saint Sharbel never traveled far from the Lebanese village of Bekaa-Kafra, where he was born, his influence has spread widely.
Saint Sharbel reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. Saint Sharbel is considered one of the most saints that God performed miracles through his intercessions.
Saint John Paul II often said that the Church has two lungs (East and West) and it must learn to breathe using both of them. Remembering saints like Sharbel helps the Church to appreciate both the diversity and unity present in the Catholic Church. Like all the saints, Sharbel points us to God and invites us to cooperate generously with God’s grace, no matter what our situation in life may be. As our prayer life becomes deeper and more honest, we become more ready to make that generous response.
When Sharbel was canonized in 1977, Most Reverend Francis Zayek, bishop the U.S. Maronite Diocese of St. Maron, wrote a pamphlet entitled “A New Star of the East.” Bishop Zayek wrote: “St. Sharbel is called the second St. Anthony of the Desert, the Perfume of Lebanon, the first Confessor of the East to be raised to the Altars according to the actual procedure of the Catholic Church, the honor of our Aramaic Antiochian Church, and the model of spiritual values and renewal. Sharbel is like a Cedar of Lebanon standing in eternal prayer, on top of a mountain.”
The bishop noted that Sharbel’s canonization plus other beatification cases prove “that the Aramaic Maronite Antiochian Church is indeed a living branch of the Catholic Church and is intimately connected with the trunk, who is Christ, our Savior, the beginning and the end of all things.”