A Young Man – whose life is an inspiration
Meet Fathi Baladi – Are there any Melkite youth who became saints?
We all know of young people who became saints in ages past, but are there no young people who may be saints among us?
This is the story of Fathi Baladi, the only son a pious Christian family belonging to the Melkite-Greek Catholic Church. Fathi was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1961. On New Year’s eve in 1980, Fathi was on his way to Araya, to visit a fellow student, to wish him a Happy New Year, and to review some classes in architecture.
He did not return. His parents found him riddled with bullets, lying on the seat of his car, his arms folded in the form of a cross, his face serene, suggesting peace of soul and resignation to his tragic fate.
With tears in their eyes and sorrow in their heart they buried him at Holy Savior Monastery, in Jounieh, which belongs to the Basilian Allepian monks.
Shortly after his burial, his parents plunged in grief heard the voice of their son telling them that he was in heaven together with the angels and saints. The house was suddenly permeated by the fragrance of an exquisite incense and filled with a radiant light. Others also encountered this phenomena seeking the intercession of this holy youth.
Soon these miraculous events were brought to the attention of the ecclesiastical authorities. It is well know that God often chooses men and women outstanding in holiness and gifted with spiritual charisms, to entrust with a special mission. Studies made, show that Fathi was a young man brought up in a family that lived its Christianity with conviction; that he was completely subject to his parents, and that he saw life on earth as a gift given by God for the service of the others.
Fathi kept a spiritual journal, recording his thoughts, while the war in Lebanon evolved around him. Many youth raised by pious parents in a fervent Christian family setting live out this faith and are models for Christians and non-Christians alike. Unfortunately, they often pass by unnoticed without sufficient strength to influence the luke-warmness and indifference of the world. In the case of Fathi, God seems to be sending him as a herald, to proclaim a heavenly message. And for this purpose all indications seem to point to the fact that he has been endowed with a special charism: wonderworking.
Is Fathi a saint? Only the church which Christ Himself established can say. With this in mind, the cause for his beatification was opened on November 23, 1984, under the presidency of the late Archbishop Peter Rai. We cannot anticipate the decision of the church. Yet we should consider the wonders which have occurred: sudden floods of light, incense, gentle and consoling apparitions, open revelations of the world beyond death, all of which seem to breath forth a breath of heaven.
For what is a saint, but someone who opens themselves up and allows God to work in and through them, someone who has denied themselves and taken up their cross and followed him.,
When Fathi was but a ten year old student, the priest-chaplain of Holy Wisdom School in Beirut predicted that he was destined to be a saint, a great saint: ”Fathi, one day you will be a great saint!”
Through the prayers of this holy youth, O Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and save us.
by Gina Baladi Choueiry (The sister of Fathi Baladi), excerpt reprinted from Sophia – The Journal of the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy of Newton in the United States
He was buried at Saint Savior’s Monastery, Sarba, Jounieh, Lebanon, a house of the Aleppian Basilian Fathers. After his death, many remarkable phenomena described as prodigies were attributed to his intercession, including cures, apparitions, lights, tongues of fire, voices, strains of music and fragrances of incense. To those, volumes of signed statements bear witness.
And almost miraculous consolation was to come to his parents from heaven some days after the disappearance of their son. Plunged in grief, they suddenly heard the voice of their son, Fathi. He spoke with them , calling them by name. He told them not to grieve, assuring them that he was in heaven with the angels and saints. The house was suddenly permeated by the fragrance of exquisite incense and filled with a radiant light.
These contacts with the beyond were soon known by friends and persons who had recourse to his intercessions, often concretized by miraculous healings or by personal apparitions – and often with conversation with him.
It was natural for those who were favored by these extraordinary phenomena and for those who looked into the origin to sense their divine meaning and their value as a message from heaven. Indeed, God ordinarily uses these divine signs of His presence, His power, and His love for humankind, to communicate His will and direction to them.
On July 30, 1994 the Holy Synod of the Melkite Church made a decision to pursue the procedure to announce a Saint of the Church: Fathi Baladi.
Excerpts of Fathi Abboud Baladi’s spiritual journal as reprinted in Sophia
I believe in one God, whom I love: the one and only great God, in whom one must believe!
To those who are no more, I think; to those whose life is no more a joy I pray; to those who suffer, starve or die, I cry for them. Children of the world, I love you. O my God, I love Your! I swear You are great…
I thank You, O God, for having created me, for having adorned me, and for having glorified me.
Blessed are those who have wings. I think that the future is dark for I feel that the whole world is even more dark. I feat that the war will destroy both our hearts and our homes.
One is said for those who are loved. One must refuse to accept their death, their suffering, their exhaustion. One rebels; one is distraught; one grieves. Lord, hear this melody which is being sung; do not leave us like this, O You who are so great and powerful. Look upon us! Remain in us.
One is saddened, yes, for it is necessary. One weeps, for it is necessary to weep. One is left desolate in order to be found. And you decline all this; nevertheless, it is joyful. The tears are beautiful; sadness is a path to You; and solitude is a hymn of glory to Your greatness and to man.
Lord, do not abandon me. Do not abandon those who suffer, those who are hungry, thirsty, those who are bound by the cruelty of men, those who are behind the bars of prison. Do not forget those who are loved, who are lamented, who see life as of simple men, whom You love above all, and whom You look upon, lifting up the head as they smile and glorify Your goodness and strength. Lord, help us.
Do you want to understand life? Hold a weeping infant in your arms. Dry the tears of a mother who has lost her child. Life is often hidden, but never completely disappears. Indeed, one can never forget past moments, nor the hours of childhood. One cannot forget those who have left us. Although they seem far from us, they are closer than ever, in silence, we hear their gentile voices; in their stillness , we see them in the act of moving.
If you sometimes feel cold at night, look around you and notice those who are shivering even more than you, and you will be warmed. if you suffer hunger or thirst one day, look around you at those who are dying of hunger and thirst, and you will be calmed. Do not look for life in distant wonders, it is close to you in the very act of looking, it awaits you with arms outstretched, smiling, bearing the sheaf of wheat and heather of flower.