Lebanese Man Carries Mark of St. Charbel
By Pat Szpekowski, Observer Correspondent
November 8, 2018
BATAVIA—Since 1994, Raymond Nader has experienced more than 44 apparitions and bears an intermittent imprint of the fingers of St. Charbel on his arm.
 
Nader shared his stories when he accompanied a relic of St.Charbel to Holy Cross Parish, here, on Oct. 21.
 
For every moment during the hour he spoke, those in attendance were rapt in attention. 
 
“I ask you,” he said, “shake it up, wake up, and be faithful apostles and disciples. That is the message of St. Charbel.” 
 
Nader implored people to go to church, receive the holy Eucharist, and to confess. 
 
He told them of his life-long journey and struggle since childhood to search for proof there is a God.
 
His grandfather was a Maronite priest “who was always a mystery to me,” Nader said. 
 
“As a child, I always asked him, ‘What exactly is your job?’ He would tell me that his workshop was the church, that he prayed and received the Eucharist, and because God is love, ‘you will understand when you grow up,’ ”  he said.
 
The mystery of the Eucharist put Nadar on the path to search for God. 
 
“How could this be,” Nader would ponder, “that Jesus is God, He is in the Eucharist, in me, and in the universe?”
 
His first search was not through faith.
 
“I went to science as a profession to seek answers and wanted to be a nuclear engineer because it sounded important,” he said. “I studied the stars and the universe, but still had no answers to my questions. I continued my search for God, praying every day and night.”
 
Nader had a regular ritual where at night he would leave his wife and three children and would go outdoors, lay down and look up at the stars in the sky and pray to St. Charbel asking him to “Let me touch something from the other side.”
 
He recalled how he loved the feeling of peace, lit candles to read the Bible, think, and find answers. 
“A few minutes would turn into hours,” he said.
 
On Nov. 9, 1994, he started his regular prayer ritual to spend the night in the hermitage where St. Charbel had lived. 
 
“It was a very cold night and all of a sudden I felt a warm breeze,” he said. “There was a hot wind, the trees were shaking, the sand was blowing and I was sweating. The flame of my five candles were frozen and I felt a presence.”
 
It was silent, he said.
 
“There was no voice, but I heard, ‘No, you are not dreaming.’ I asked, ‘Where am I? Who is speaking to me?’ and St. Charbel let me feel him. 
 
“I never felt such peace or joy,” he continued. “It was powerful. I was so happy and told him not to go, but he said to me, ‘I am always going to be with you.’ ” 
 
This encounter lasted for four hours but Nader felt it was a mere second. 
 
It was then Nader explained he felt a pressure on his arm. 
 
“Something was going on,” he said. “I lifted my shirt and had five fingers imprinted by a strange fire on my arm. When I touched it, I felt no pain.” 
 
Nader went home and couldn’t describe to his wife what had just happened to him. 
 
She made the sign of the cross when she saw the hand image of St. Charbel on his arm. 
 
The search for answers led him to his bishop, who told him to keep praying. He underwent medical and psychological tests. 
 
After four days, the burn was healed without treatment. He went back to work and his usual routine but realized he now wanted to dedicate his life to Jesus. 
 
“I joined our Catholic TV station and wanted to make it grow and to form a church community,” he said.
 
Since that first miraculous day, Nader has had more than 44 experiences of St. Charbel’s fingers imprinted on his arm. 
 
With a few exceptions, this occurs on the Feast Day of St. Charbel in Lebanon, which is celebrated on the third Sunday in July of the Maronite Calendar. 
 
He told the crowd he was too blind to see the reason for our existence. 
 
“I will give you answers,” he said. “God does exist and he has a plan for every human being to become holy so we can be with Him in His kingdom to be transported from human beings to divine beings. The path to God is in what we do.”
 
People are losing their way today, he said. 
 
“We must change our lifestyles. We have become digital people focusing on screens, nothing but screens, and losing our emotions. We are on the edge,” Nader said. “I am afraid the virtual world is becoming the real world. People are confused. It is so sad.” 
 
Audience members asked  Nader, “What should we do?” 
 
“Jesus said everything about everything in the Bible,” he answered. “Read Matthew 25.” 
 
About whether he really saw  St. Charbel, Nader quietly said that he did not see details of his face, “just a bright light, like his picture.”
 
Holy Cross parishioner Jane Mayer asked Nader what his wife thinks about his spending so many evenings at prayer alone without her. 
 
He explained she is a woman of very strong faith. 
 
Mayer exclaimed,  “Whoa!” Later at the reception she talked about how at times she notices that “spouses aren’t always on the same path and level of faith.”
 
People at the reception asked Nader if he had the imprint of St. Charbel on his arm.
 
He rolled up his sleeve to where a faint imprint was visible. Most who saw or touched it  were simply silent.