Friday, 26 November 2010

St. Sharbel Makhlouf

Have you ever heard of St. Sharbel Makhlouf, a hermit monk, from Lebanon?  Well, this saint from the Maronite branch of the Catholic Church has become a favourite of mine.  He lived for a number of years as a monk but then, like Thomas Merton, moved into his hermitage and lived the eremitic life for his remaining years.  He has been called "a St. Anthony of the Desert in the modern age".  I guess a life lived from 1828 to 1898 could be called modern in comparison to St. Anthony who died in 356!  So, let me tell you a bit about the holy hermit, St. Sharbel.

Although this saint never traveled far from the Lebanese village of Beka-Kafra, where he was born, his influence has spread widely.

Joseph Zaroun Maklouf was raised by an uncle because his father, a mule driver, died when Joseph was only three. At the age of 23, Joseph joined the Monastery of St. Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, and took the name Sharbel in honor of a second-century martyr. He professed his final vows in 1853 and was ordained six years later.

Following the example of the fifth-century St. Maron, Sharbel lived as a hermit from 1875 until his death. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. When his superiors occasionally asked him to administer the sacraments to nearby villages, Sharbel did so gladly.

He died in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures. Pope Paul VI beatified him in 1965 and canonized him 12 years later.

When St. Sharbel was canonized in 1977, Bishop Francis 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 honour of our Aramaic Antiochian [Maronite] 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."

So, now you have been introduced to my friend, St. Sharbel Makhlouf.  Hopefully, you will hear more about him in the years to come.  By the way, make certain that you take a close look at the drawing of St. Sharbel or you might miss some parts of it!
Next, I have a series of photos for you.  These are not new photos but they have been appearing and re-appearing recently on the Internet in emails I have been receiving.  So, I thought, just in case you missed them, I should post them as they are really worth seeing.  I guess they fall under the heading of "unusual friendships".

So let me introduce you to the deer and the cat.

The cat lives in Pennsylvania and almost every day the deer comes to pay the cat a visit and then they go through the routine that follows.

The cat appears to be trying to groom the deer beginning at the back end!

Apparently, the cat is continuing to groom and not making a great deal of progress.  The deer seems to be enjoying the experience.

I have no idea how long it has taken the cat to get to the head of the deer, but it would appear that the grooming process is just about over!

Finally, the cat is finished and can take a well-deserved rest.  The deer seems to be saying thank you for a job well done.

My only thought would be that the poor cat must spit up an incredibly large hair ball after each and every visit of his friend.  Oh, well, that is sort of what friendship is all about -- if  you understand what I am saying!
As for me, things continue along as usual.  Suki hasn't done anything outrageous for the past few days -- no doubt she is working up to something! 

Even though it is the end of November, I still can't quite get my head around the idea that December is almost here.  December, as many of you know, contains a number of my favourite days:  the birthdays of my two sisters and myself as well as the birthday of my grandnephew, Daniel, and my friend, Nancy; the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the 12th and, most importantly, Christmas.  This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent and the Advent Season only has four Sundays, so... it's not long now before the big day!  Yikes -- I still haven't made any birthday or Christmas cards.  That is definitely my weekend project.

May God bless you all.

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