Saint Charbel's Food

From A Life of Hardship.

Saint Charbel used to eat once a day, after the midday prayer, his food consisted of some vegetables, olives and raw potato skins that he used to wash, boil a little bit and eat. Whenever he came from the hermitage to the Monastery to take food for his brothers, he always chose the rotten bread for himself that was often thrown to dogs, and took the fresh bread for his brothers. Sometimes he ate the remaining pieces of bread left on the table from the previous day. He never had meat, sometimes he added olive oil to his meal and never had any food cooked with butter or grease except for Feast days like Christmas, Easter, Feast of Saint Anthony, and Feast of Saint Peter and Paul after whom the hermitage is named.

Water jars at the Monastery of Saint Maron Annaya

The Hermits used to work on the lands of the hermitage of Saint Peter and Paul, they collected fruits like grapes, figs, peaches and others, and carried their collect to the monastery where some of it was offered to guests. Father Charbel deprived himself of fruits and rarely tasted it even though he was the biggest contributor to the work in the field. He never ate unless he was asked to, and he used to eat what Father Makarius gave him. He used to fill the water jar for his brothers from the Annaya source which was half an hour of walking distance to the hermitage, but he only drank from the well at the hermitage once a day during the only meal that he had for the whole day.

Maroun Abboud testified:”When I was at the monastery, I used to help the monks in the field work and Father Charbel was one of us. He never ate unless he was ordered to by the chief of the field, he used to take the food that he was given and eat it aside, alone, complying with the monastic rule for novices:”he should never eat unless he is granted permission.” Father Paul Al Sabrini adds:”On many occasions when Father Makarius happened to be at the Monastery of Saint Maron for his service of the rule of obedience, he requested a permission to return to the hermitage in the afternoon. We often asked him to stay with us but he used to say that he needed to go to the hermitage to give Father Charbel something to eat. I asked him once:”Doesn’t he know how to eat by himself? Why do you always have to go to give him food?” He replied:”He will never eat unless I either ask him to, or I give him food to eat”. Even when he was forgotten for a couple of days without being called to eat, he never asked for food and never ate by himself. Father Aghnatios Meshmesh confirmed this fact and said:”Father Charbel was known for this”.

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