Saint’s parade – Act II – St. Charbel

“I see you are also poking Saint Charbel,” I said Mart looking at the small picture standing above Lila’s bed.

“You know him?” Mart replied with a bit of a surprise in her voice.

“Yes, we even wanted to go to Lebanon, but it is too risky flying now with Szymon, so we are just trying to get to him here.”

“Do you have the oil?” Mart asked.

“Yes, and you?”

„Yes, you know that there was a meeting last weekend in church not far from here where his relics were displayed?”

“Yes, funny story about that, wanna here?”

“No,” she said it with a smile just to provoke me.

“Ok, let me tell you” replied with a smile too.

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“I will talk to you through ray of light, drop of rain, gentle breeze, singing birds and human whispers. Close your eyes, set you mind at ease and listen. Listen until you hear me, until your body shudder and then you will know it’s me. Delicately stoking your soul, letting you know, that is me.”

It was Friday, day as any other when the phone rang.

„I just had a call from our babysitter,” it was our friend calling, “She decided yesterday to go and pray in of the saint’s Mary’s sanctuary, one close to our city, and at the end of the mess it was announced that this Saturday there will be pilgrims from Lebanon visiting with a holy relic of saint’s Charbel. And I thought it would be a good idea if we take our families and go.”

“If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain” I replied when Mag hang up the phone, with two big sparks in my eyes. I could not believe, that all effort to get his saint oil, try to visit him in Lebanon, which until now were hitting the wall, finally paid off. And fact that I could not go to him ended up him coming to me. We heard of so many miracles, which happen when people prayed for his intercession. Therefore, as soon as we got the news we started to get to know him and his work better.

As strange as it may sound, but we were back to the same church we were few weeks ago. Same one where had our meeting with Blessed Martyrs of Peru. Same Basilica of Immaculate Conception, which drawn our attention for past few months. Now it was filled with people from nearby cities and pilgrims from Lebanon. We entered the main entrance of the Basilica and my little 2-year-old copycat, look at me, kneel down on his two knees and trying to imitating me, he tried to cross himself.

“Amen,” ending in his adorable way.

I looked at him, and the statue of Mary holding little Jesus and started to pray.

“I come to you with this little child, begging for a miracle, no other can understand us better. No other has lost her beloved child and can feel what we feel now. Therefore I bag you please ask God in our name so he would spare his life. He will leave him with us.”

“Amen,” Szymek repeated although I was not praying out loud it was just him trying to learn how to say it properly.

I shade a tear, smiled, and pick him up to stand in the line for blessing of the priest. Szymek was nervous at first, as if something inside of him was fighting with what was about to happen, but as we got closer he hugged me and peace fulfil his heart. When we left the church, Mag took him on her arms and we waited for our friend to also come out. This is when our eye met with Lebanese woman who was standing close by and talking to some people.

She approach us and asked, “Do you have Saint Charbel’s oil?” She was at mid-thirties, average height, with dark hear and brown eyes. There was something peaceful about her.

“Yes, just got from one of the pilgrims,” I replied. “We came here to see the relics and try to get the oil. I prayed to Charbel and I hope to visit him, but we can’t travel now due to our son’s condition. So the fact that you are here with his relics means a lot to us.”

“What is wrong with your son?” She asked and pat Szymon on his head.

“He has this uniqueness called neuroblastoma, cancer, which helps him to fly to heaven much sooner than we would wish to. Therefore we came here to pray for Charbel’s intersection, so that God will make a favor for him and show mercy on us.”

“Yes, Charbel is a great God’s advocate. He manages to get many spectacular miracles by asking God for mercy. I am visiting his grave every Friday and I will light a candle for your Son next time I will be there. Don’t worry, all will be good.”

Minute she finished telling us, that she will help us to get closer to Charbel, older woman approached us. As soon as she was told about Szymek’s condition, she took a small, old medallion, which she had tied round her wrist and gave it to us.

“Here, please take this. I placed this on his grave each time I am visiting him. I will pray for him. Charbel will come to you and he will perform a miracle on God’s glory.”

I could not believe what just had happened. How, from a small desire of visiting him in the ministry where his corpse are laying, lead us to have him visiting us in the Basilica of Saint Mary Immaculate Conception.

“We could not come on that day,” Mart interfered in my story “but visited next day. Pilgrims were still there but a lot less people. We also got the oil and not sure, how I stated to talk to one man, he is Lebanese living here for some time, and those relics are his personal ones. Given some time ago to his family. He gave me his number, and told me that on very special occasion he can lent me them for few days so I could pray to them.”

And this is how I end up on the train station, few days before leaving to south, holding relics of Saint Charbel in my hands. Lent to me by its owner who was just leaving to a different city, so I could bring Charbel to my home. I could show him Szymon from up close and beg him to ask God for mercy.

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my boy will be healed.”

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Saint’s parade

“I saw him sometimes at night standing right next to Szymon’s bed. He often stroked his head spreading comfort and easing the pain. He never looked at me, as I was not the one for whom he came, but I was always glad that he cares for him, giving the warms and relief, which I could not give…”

First you seek help among the living, from captains to anybody who, without extorting money, is willing to support you. Soon you realize, that nothing what you encounter on your path to full recovery goes without permission from He, who is not bonded by our reality. Bonded by rules, you are restricted with, to have an illusion of stable, predictable nearby future. In short, superpowers, which people don’t have not to cause even more chaos in this world. You start to read about miracles, which are happening all over the world, people who should be long dead in accordance to our medical knowledge, but are still alive. And it gets you thinking. “What can I do, how can I help myself in experiencing God’s mercy on my soul? To whom should I pray to get proper intercession of saints? To be heard.”

You start to look through those stories and try to find which of those saints had the most of those miracles happening, which had the biggest God’s grace and cured people from dread diseases. You look for patterns, which link all those miracles, and hope that if you do the same God’s mercy will come down on you. Quickly you know, on the path of being called saint, you need to be first proclaimed blessed by church. And the whole beatification process needs prove of miracles. This got me thinking, I admit it could be seen as naive thinking, but you will try everything, so I thought maybe if I pray to one of them, he will have the proof of being saint by performing a miracle on my son.

„Alright! This is my final offer! I know you need this as much as I need it. I know you need this for a different reason to mine, but I know it lays in our mutual interests to make sure it happens.” He paused for a second and then rose his finger to the air. “One miracle! One small, or maybe for some of you big, miracle, and we are good. I need it for Szymon to stay on earth and you need proof of your holiness. We all know that without it nobody will believe that you are saint, and we know only saints gets the best seats there. This is my final offer, take it or leave it. Calling once! Calling Twice! Sold! “

Act I

Blessed Martyrs of Peru

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They were one of those we decided to turn into. It was one of those situation, one could call coincidence, but those who believe would see God’s finger pushing certain people on your path. Soon after we were listed, to our room in the facility, entered a couple with little girl. And with only few words exchanged, we realized that they came from the same city as my wife, and know same people from one of the prayers group my in-laws were going to.  And we did not need to wait long, when one of those people, from that pray group, said that there is no coincidence in life. And since we are both on the same path we should pray to two Polish Franciscan priests who were killed in Peru in recent times. They were proclaimed blessed by Pope Francis, and if God’s will is to make them saints, they need more miracles. I personally was not too convinced about this idea, so soon has forgotten of their existence.

Time passed and we started to have more and more opportunities to go outside the facility. We used those breaks in the training to travel a bit, close to our home, to escape from the city and sight-see close by towns. We also started to visit nearby sanctuaries to pray for God’s mercy. There was one not far from our home, that for some reason we preferred most. We heard about couple of strange stories that happen there, people got cured from disease when praying to Holy Mary for Her intercession. Church was beautifully, with huge figure of Mary in the center, right behind the altar. You could sense that there is something special there. It was the same place where saint Maximilian Kolbe was living before he was sent to Nazi camps and died giving his life for other man, who was sentenced to death. We thought that it will be an excellent idea if we ask those monks to conduct a mass to cure Szymon. Place where you could order a mass was just next to the church. There was a small booth with priest siting inside.

“Wouldn’t you like to have a yearly mass?” He asked.

“I am not sure if we have enough money for that.” We replied we a bit of hesitation in our voice.

 “Money is the last thing you should worry about.” He replied and asked. “What is your child’s name?”

„Szymon. Please pray for his health, and help in sabotaging his training.”

 Priest stopped writing for a second, looked up and ask us. “What is he training for?”

„He has a large tumor on his adrenal gland, making him unique and qualifying for a space program where they trained children to fly to heaven.”

Priest paused again for a second and grabbed from his pocketed small, foiled picture and handed to us. Out of the whole pantheon of saints he gave as picture with relics of Blessed Martyrs of Peru and said. “Please take it, these are third degree relics of two blessed Polish priests who were killed in Peru. You have huge drama in your family therefore please pray to them and maybe they can help you on your way.”

Tears came to our eyes, from shock and emotions. It was unexpected, very touching gesture, and clear sign from God that we should, at least, try to pray for his mercy with intercession of those two priests.

All we could say was “Thank you.” We turn around and started to cry like little children.

End of Act I

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