God often works through hidden ways, and those who live a hidden life – amare nesciri, as Saint Philip Neri was wont to say, ‘love to be unknown’. Behind the noise of the world, the saints are sowing the seeds of the kingdom, and one of the most ‘invisible’ of them all was the priest-hermit Saint Charbel Maklouf (+1898) whose life was an icon of ascetic, chaste, humble, monastic sanctity, spent in a desert monastery in Lebanon, praying and sacrificing for the world and for souls. Saint Charbel’s life was completely devoted to God from his early youth, fruitful far beyond what our limited senses can tell us, the ‘hundred fold’ of which Christ speaks in the Gospel.
As today’s Office of Readings has it:
You also know, my dear brethren, that ever since the transgression came to pass, the soul cannot know God unless it withdraws itself from men and from every distraction. For then the soul will see the adversary who fights against it. And once it has seen the adversary, and has overcome him every time he engages it in battle, then God dwells in that soul, and all the labour is changed to joy and gladness. But if the soul is overcome, then there come upon it grief, boredom, and many other kinds of heaviness.