St. Charbel is incredible in that during his life he was known for not doing anything incredible. He lived as a simple hermit in the mountains of Lebanon. He was known for his holiness and devotion, but you do not have to spend much time around monasteries and with religious to discover that many such people can be found. His greatest work was nothing he himself did, but rather what God decided to do through him.
After he died, miracles soon began to happen with his body. Phenomenon such as strange lights began to occur. In addition, his body was both incorrupt and exuding a strange red substance (not quite blood, but somewhat like blood). People throughout Lebanon began to flock to his monasteries as stories spread about miraculous healings. Included among the many pilgrims were Muslims and Druids. In fact, throughout the Middle East, many Muslims look up to and know about St. Charbel.
St. Charbel is not, however, considered the patron saint of interfaith dialogue. I have given him this title for the sake of this article. I think it is ironic that one of the figures who has done more to advance the cause of understanding among the different religions in the Middle East did not in fact speak on the subject or actively seek to engage in this work. What his story teaches us is that in our efforts of building a more just and peaceful society, the witness of the saints is the primary agent for change. This is the case not because they were more talented or they had better programs, but because in them Jesus Christ is made incarnate.
Right now, we are in midst of incredible tensions and political turmoil. I do not pretend to know the political answers to these important and pressing issues. However, what I do know is that any political or social solution must be grounded in God. Such a solution must draw its vitality from the transformative power of Divine love. This does not mean that we must all become pacifists; rather it means that any solution must come from the freedom offered through communion with God. In this way, we must keep our hearts free from the hatred and malice that are the workings of the Devil.
Thus prayer is primary, but prayer in the sense of entering into the eternal exchange of the Triune God. We should not simply present our limited solutions and answers to God in an attempt to merely reinforce our preconceived notions, but rather we must lay the trouble of the world at the foot of Jesus with complete surrender, allowing his Holy Spirit to guide our lives. We need have the contemplative heart of St. Charbel even if we are called to live in the world. In this way, St. Charbel is the patron saint of interfaith dialogue because any dialogue finds its pattern and fulfillment in God.