Today the Church looks East and awakes again to the deeply felt Maronite tradition of Lebanon and surrounding areas.
Deep suffering and deep faith co-exist here, as exemplified in the life of St Sharbel Makhluf. He lived and died in the nineteenth century, was canonized by Paul VI in 1977, and his holiness has proved a blessing by way of example and miracle to thousands.
Father Sharbel displayed a strong devotion to the Eucharist, celebrating Mass at noon each day so that he could spend the morning in preparation for it and the afternoon in thanksgiving. He died a hermit, in poverty and in relative obscurity. He truly is a modern exemplar for the truth of the ancient monastic way of life.
In St. Sharbel the Incarnation had its full effect, redeeming him and those whose lives he touched, both before and after death.
About him Thomas Merton journaled....
"Sharbel 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 a 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.”
Especially in these dark days of Middle Eastern conflict and dispair, may St Sharbel light the way for all people to live in peace, with our God, with each other, and with His creation.