Help for Families from St. Charbel and Our Lady of Fatima
“Preserve the warmth of the family, because the warmth of the whole world cannot make up for it.”
We need a miracle worker. Always. Of course the power behind every miracle is God, but in his mercy, we can pray for one another so that our prayers expand and grow stronger. “The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective” (James 5:16). The saints, our cloud of witnesses, will pray for us if we ask.
Although intentions of every sort emerge daily, praying for conversions and for families is at the heart of our mission on earth. It boils down to heaven or hell? We can pray to any saint, but those who were united to families while they walked the earth, speak the language of a praying parent in a personal way.
St. Charbel Makhlouf (1828-1898) is one of those saints. The humble Maronite hermit and priest from Lebanon left behind advice and inspiration for families. He lived in obscurity, but after his death, the extraordinary phenomena of light coming from his corpse brought multitudes to his tomb. According to the Saint Charbel website, he performed hundreds of thousands of miracles as a Catholic Maronite monk and hermit and it continued after his death. His miracles have reached across denominational lines and been reported in over 133 countries. St. Maroun’s Monastery in Annaya, Mount Lebanon, where his body is entombed, receives hundreds of thousands of letters every year from people who want to share stories of miracles and wonders.
The fifth child of a mule driver and his wife, he was orphaned at an early age and raised by an uncle. He entered the monastery at the age of 23. After 16 years, St. Charbel felt called to become a hermit. He moved into a hermitage attached to the monastery. After his death at the age of 70, for 45 days, witnesses claimed a white light radiated from his body. He was canonized in 1977.
During his life, St. Charbel warned us that the devil is bent on the destruction of families. By coming to us through the Holy Family, God reinforced the importance of all families. Even among those that are broken up or never even fully formed, they carry the pieces and charism of God’s mission to be lived out and prayed about.
Advice to Families
Love is a Radiant Light: The Life & Words of Saint Charbel contains insights from St. Charbel specifically related to families. “Guard your families and keep them from the schemes of the evil one through the presence of God in them. Protect and keep them through prayer and dialogue through mutual understanding and forgiveness, through honesty and faithfulness, and most importantly, through listening. Listen to one another with your ears, eyes, hearts, mouths and the palms of your hands, and keep the roaring of the noise of the world away from your homes because it is like raging storms and violent waves; once it enters the home, it will sweep away everything and disperse everyone. Preserve the warmth of the family, because the warmth of the whole world cannot make up for it.
“Every family is a holy family because it is the image of God the Trinity. The corruption of the family means a corruption of the image of God. The family carries the torch of light and passes it from one generation to another so the world may remain lit by the light of the Lord…. The family is the basis of the Lord’s plan; and all forces of evil are focusing all their evil on destroying the family because they know that by destroying the family, the foundations of the plan of God will be shaken.”
Help Through Our Lady of Fatima
Although St. Charbel died 19 years before Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the three shepherd children, his words were prophetically reflected in the message from heaven in 1917. Cardinal Caffarra had requested prayers from Sr. Lucia (one of the Fatima children, who became a cloistered nun) for the success of Pope St. John Paul II's newly created Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. She wrote him back: “Father, a time will come when the decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family. And those who will work for the good of the family will experience persecution and tribulation. But do not be afraid, because Our Lady has already crushed his head.”
Help from Our Lady of Fatima to fight for families is still available. We can take heed of St. Charbel’s advice by responding to the International World Apostolate of Fatima and their Children of the Eucharist program calling for a Global Spiritual Bouquet of 5 million prayers or Rosaries and sacrifices from individuals and groups.
“Our intention is to pray for mercy for all families of the world and in reparation of the offenses against the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” explained Prof. Americo Pablo Lopez Ortiz, International President of the World Apostolate of Fatima. The prayers and sacrifices will be presented by Fr. Carlos Cabecinhas, Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima, Portugal, on May 13 and Oct. 13, 2020, in their Chapel of the Apparitions.
“We are living in times of great suffering when many have lost hope,” said Father Chris Alar, Director of the Association of Marian Helpers. “Evil is all around us and many families are crumbling. In this special centennial year of Saint Jacinta’s entrance into heaven I want to remind everyone through this global prayer effort of the great promise the Blessed Mother gave that in the end her ‘Immaculate Heart will triumph’ over evil.”
St. Charbel called us to pray and to hold fast to the cross as “the center of the universe and the key to heaven.” He told us, “A man who prays lives out the mystery of existence, and a man who does not pray scarcely exists.” So let us pray.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! St. Charbel, pray for us!
For prayers of St. Charbel, go here.
To participate in the World Rosary 2020 campaign, go here.