Beatified at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in 1965, and canonised seven years later, Saint Charbel Makhluf represents an important figure in the life of the universal Church. Born to lowly stock in Lebanon in 1828, he became a Maronite monk and priest in his twenties, living a life of strict asceticism in the monastery. In 1875 he was permitted to become a solitary hermit and remained so for twenty-three years until his death on Christmas Eve 1898. For almost seventy-five years after his death, the monk’s body remained incorrupt, and many miracles are attributed to his intercession.
Recently my parish priest, Msgr Charles Pope, wrote about the exorcism prayers in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite and their possible restoration in the ordinary form rite of baptism. On Monday I concelebrated at the Byzantine liturgy for the feast of the theophany, at which water was blessed using this prayer, attributed to Saint Sophronios, patriarch of Jerusalem in the seventh century. It is a prayer full of rich baptismal theology, and a good meditation as we approach the Latin rite feast of the baptism of the Lord this Sunday:
O Trinity, transcendent in essence, in goodness, and in divinity, almighty, invisible, and incomprehensible, who watch over all; O Creator of intelligent beings, of natures endowed with speech; O Goodness of utter and unapproachable brilliance, who enlighten everyone who comes into the world: enlighten me also, your unworthy servant! Illumine the eyes of my mind, that I may venture to praise your immeasurable goodness and your might; let my supplication on behalf of these people be wholly acceptable, so that my sins may not prevent the descent of the Holy Spirit upon this place; that without condemnation, I may be permitted to cry out to you and say: “We glorify you, O Master and Lover of us all, almighty and eternal King! We glorify you, O only-begotten Son, born of a mother without a father and of a father without a mother; for in the preceding feast we have seen you as a babe, and in this present feast as perfect man appearing as our perfect God.