St. Charbel Makhlouf is a little known Maronite saint and priest-monk of the 19th century. While he lived most of his life in the relative silence and seclusion of monastic life, he quickly gained a widespread reputation for sanctity, and miracles were attributed to his prayers. He remained incorrupt after his death, and thousands flocked to venerate his relics. Miracles continue to occur due to his intercession.
I learned more about St. Charbel after I recently purchased, Love is a Radiant Light, a short biography of St. Charbel by Hannah Skandar that also includes a collection of his sermons and exhortations. It is an extraordinary little book, and I highly recommend it to every reader. His sermons are short, but every sentence is filled with profound wisdom. He can say more in a paragraph than many more learned theologians say in whole volumes, for his insights are the fruit of Divine Grace and not speculation.
Here is St. Charbel’s powerful exhortation to defend the family—words that are all the more urgent and relevant in our times. (This sermon is taken from Love is a Radiant Light. Purchase a copy as soon as you can; you will not regret it).
The human family on earth is an image of the divine family in heaven. This is what transmits God’s plan from one Generation to another. This is what spreads God’s love and his word down through the generations.
The collapse of the family means the ruin of the Lord’s plan for humanity, that is to say, a breakdown that removes salvation and sanctity from human beings.
Every family is a Holy Family because it is in the image of the Triune God. The deformation of the family is the deformation of God’s image. The family carries the torch and the book from generation to generation so that the world might continue to be illuminated by the light of the Lord.
The family is the cord that ties human beings to one another through history, so that humanity might grow and multiply. If this cord is cut and humanity is separated from its history, the generations will be lost without history or identity.
The family gives humanity its human identity and imprints the image of God on it. It safeguards human memory. Men without a family are mankind without a memory. Man deprived of memory goes around in circles. Humanity without memory stagnates in history and dies.
The family is the basis in the Lord’s plan, and all the forces of evil aim to demolish it, because they know that in destroying it they will shake the foundations of God’s plan.
The war of the Evil One against the Lord is a war waged against the family. This latter war is the essence of his war against the Lord, because the family is the image of God. Since the beginning of the creation of the universe, the wicked one has persistently tried to destroy the family, which is the foundation of God’s plan.
The family is the place where a human being inters into communication with God and with his brethren. Without the family, this relationship would be destroyed and nothing could compensate for it, and a if a man tries to repair the relationship by human means it will become fragile and misguided, and along with that, all humanity will be subject to an evil that will tilt it toward inevitable death.
Uphold your families and guard them against the grudges of the Evil one by the presence of God. Protect them and preseve them by prayer and dialogue, by understanding and forgiveness, by sincerity and fidelity, and most importantly by listening.
Listen to one another with your ears, with your heart, with your mouth, and with the palms of your hands. Keep your hands far from the hustle and bustle of the world, because it will sweep away and destroy everything like a raging storm and the violence of the waves when they come back into a house. Safeguard the warmth of the family, because all the warmth of the world will not make up for it.
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