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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Sunday, December 18, 2016

St. Charbel Miracle?

Arizona woman cured of blindness through the intercession of Saint Charbel Makhlouf

Completely blind mother of three young children inexplicably regains her eyesight after being blessed by a relic of St Charbel Makhlouf during service at Arizona Catholic church

For months now, the news of Dafne Gutierrez's remarkable cure from complete blindness has stunned the parish community of St Joseph Maronite Catholic church in Phoenix, Arizona, inspiring people from around the country to visit the Church where the reported "miracle" has taken place.

Dafne's Miracle
In 1999 when she was just thirteen years old, Dafne Gutierrez---who is now a 30 year old mother of three young children---was officially diagnosed with a medical condition called Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH). One of the effects of this illness is that it in turn often causes a condition called Papilledema in which pressure in the brain is very high, adversely affecting the optic nerves, which in some cases like Dafne's eventually leads to complete blindness.

Dafne Gutierrez and her family
In Dafne's case, over recent years the various physicians attending her tried various pharmaceutical medicines, all of which unfortunately failed, and in 2014 her eyesight in her left eye began to deteriorate dramatically, with the various prescriptions having no effect.

In a last ditch effort in 2014 the physicians tried two separate surgeries installing different types of shunts in an attempt to drain and reduce the pressure in her brain, but this too unfortunately failed, leading to complete blindness in her left eye, while the sight in her right eye was also now deteriorating. It was at this point that she was declared legally blind.  

By November 2015 she had completely lost sight in her right eye also, and was plunged into total darkness. In an interview after her cure, she explained how at that time back in late 2015 she could look directly at the sun, and not see any light whatsoever. In addition to this, she was afflicted with accompanying headaches which she described as “vise-like,” along seizures, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vomiting and dizziness.

At this point unfortunately for Dafne her physicians had nothing left to do but to declare her blindness in both eyes to be likely "permanent and medically irreversible". 

Saint Charbel comes to the rescue
Due to her total blindness, not only was Dafne unable to care for herself, but she was also unable to care for her three young children, which completely broke the young mothers heart. On January 7, 2016, "so as to not be an additional burden on her family", she was approved for admittance to a nursing home, because "she could not take care of herself or her children, due to her blindness and seizures", and was set to be admitted as a resident in the coming months. Concerning this very difficult time for her and her family she later said in an interview: "What hurt me the most was not being able to see my children again".

In the meantime, on Friday, January 15 2016, Dafne heard in a Spanish radio news report that the first class relics of St Charbel Makhlouf were on a U.S.A. pilgrimage and were going to be coming to a nearby church --St Joseph Maronite Catholic church in Phoenix--for the weekend of January 16th-17th.

Interestingly, later that same day Dafne's sister-in-law called her and told her that she has seen a poster advertising the visit of the relics, and she wanted Dafne and her husband to go with her. At that time the relics of St Charbel were on a nationwide tour of the USA to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beatification of the great Lebanese Saint and miracle-worker.

And so it was that the blind mother of three was taken to visit the bone relics of St Charbel during a special veneration and healing service at St Joseph Church. And she candidly admits that prior to that Saturday evening she had never even heard of St Charbel before.

"Please God heal me--if not for me, then do it for my kids!"   
In a documentary on YouTube, Dafne shares a glimpse of her inner thoughts and prayers to God while she was on the way to St Joseph Church:
"I'm tired--I'm tired of going to You praying and asking You to heal me...I am giving in. If You don't want to do it for me, then do it for my kids. That is the way I went in [to the Church] I'm giving in to You. Do it for my kids"
-Such were her thoughts and prayers on the way to the Church to visit and venerate the relics of St Charbel.

When she got into the Church she prayed to God, and then to St Charbel she said: "I don't know who you are, but please help me" -for prior to this she had never heard of St Charbel before.

After Mass and the veneration of St Charbel's relic celebrated by the parish priest, Father Wissam Akiki, her sister-in-law helped her to the confessional. After confession, Fr. Akiki was told about her blindness, he then blessed her with holy oil touched to the first-class relic of St Sharbel, praying specifically for her to be cured. Fr. Wissam told her that he would be praying for her and that "I would get my vision back". Afterwards he said to Dafne's daughter: "Don't worry, your mom will see again."

Also, when Father Akiki was praying for her and was blessing her with the St Charbel holy oil, she suddenly "...felt very strongly that someone was standing next to me on my right side."

For his part, Father Akiki states: "I put my hand on her head, then on both eyes, and I asked God to heal her through the intercession of St Charbel.”

After the prayers and blessing of the holy oil, Dafne asked her sister-in-law "Who was that standing next to me, on my right side?" Her sister-in-law replied "There was no one standing next to you other than Fr. Akiki." To this day, Dafne is not sure who was standing next to her at that moment, but she knows "someone" was there.
Dafne Gutierrez, Father Wissam Akiki and Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan, Maronite Catholic bishop of Los Angeles, CA
"From that moment" Dafne's stated "I started to feel different. I can't explain it but my body felt different". The next day, Sunday January 17th, 2016, she again went to St Joseph Church for the 3pm Mass and to once again venerate the relic of St Charbel.

That same Sunday evening at 4:00am in the morning she suddenly awoke with her eyes burning "They were like burning--really burning" and her head hurt "like after an operation", so she frantically woke her husband exclaiming that they were burning---he replied "They can't be because you have no sensation in your eyes!" He then put his hands on her eyes and noticed they felt hot and he said "They are vibrating and moving" and he also noticed a strong smell like "burning meat". She then realized that in the glow of the nightlight that she could actually see her husband very vaguely--like a shadow. She shouted "I can see you! I can see you with both of my eyes! I started crying...I wiped my eyes and then opened them again to see if I really could see, and I could."

"I could not believe it. I did not want to close my eyes,” she stated afterwards in an interview. “My children were shouting: ‘Mom can see! God healed mom!’

Within 48 hours (precisely three days since her weekend visit to venerate the relics) her sight was completely restored to 20/20 vision, as was confirmed on that day by an ophthalmologist, and later by several other physicians.
Press Conference on February 18, 2016
In a verbal statement attesting to her healing, Doctor Anne Borik, D.O. stated: "....Medically speaking, what is interesting--and what captured my interest in this [case]--is that you don't see resolution of vision in 48 hours from a long standing optic nerve problem such as Dafne had. My job as a medical physician is to try to find out how this happened medically. We discussed this case with a neuro-ophthalmologist, and also an outside consultant reviewed the entire case, and basically there is no [medical] explanation how Dafne Gutierrez's vision was one day completely blind, and then 48 hours later was restored to normal...And so based on this information, we as a medical community in reviewing this case cannot explain this medically."

At the very least, the physicians felt that even if she had regained some of her eyesight, there should have been some permanent damage and vision loss in at least her left eye, for that eye had been effected for 2 years. It is expected that there should be at least some optic nerve damage, and that there is simply no medical explanation for a complete restoration of 20/20 vision in both eyes.

"Faith and confession" is what Dafne Gutierrez continues to repeat time and time again when asked about her healing. "I was desperate when I walked into St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church. I felt like God never heard me before, but this time was different, just different."
"For me to be able to see and read the papers [medical reports] that say that I would never be able to see again....It  is such a blessing!" 
Medical records relating to Dafne Gutierrez blindness

Dafne explained that throughout her long illness that she had often gone to various Catholic churches and prayed, though it often seemed to her that God did not hear her prayers, because they seemingly went unanswered. "I don't know how many different Churches I went to, how many times I asked God,..and it seemed like He never heard me. But that day was different..." She said however that she always had faith and hope that God would someday heal her.

Exactly one month later as a gesture of deep thanksgiving and gratefulness to God for her healing, a special Mass and blessing with the Holy oil of St. Sharbel took place at St Joseph Church on February 18, 2016, and was presided by his Excellency Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan, Maronite Catholic bishop of Los Angeles, CA. Eparchy.
On that day, standing in the Church before the crowd who had gathered to give thanks to God for her healing through the intercession of St Charbel, Daphne stated:
"All the doctors have said: 'There is no explanation'.....God healed me."
And in an interview on Youtube she says:
"I just want to keep on telling everybody; Don't lose faith. God does exist. Just have faith...[go to] confession. Don't lose hope."

As for a brief biography, Sr Charbel Makhlouf (1828-1898) was a Maronite Catholic monk from Lebanon who died on Christmas Eve at age 73. He spent the last 23 years of his life in a rugged cabin in complete solitude, with poor heat and the bare necessities of life, and was known for his practice of penance and mortifications, eating very little and sleeping on the ground.

Three days after his death he was buried in the monastery cemetery, and for the next forty-five nights his tomb was surrounded by a dazzlingly bright light. As the days passed this phenomenon was witnessed by an increasingly large number of local villagers who informed the religious Maronite monastery, none of whom could provide an explanation. Permission was sought from the ecclesiastical authorities for the monk’s body to be exhumed. Four months after his death permission was obtained, and upon the exhumation he was found to be completely incorrupt, though he had been buried in the ground without a casket. Charbel was given fresh clothing before being placed in a wooden coffin in a corner of the monastery’s private chapel. Soon a strange liquid was found exuding continually from the casket, coming from the pores of his body. Described as a mixture of fluid and blood, it continually flowed from his remains day and night. Soon, a local custom began where pieces of cloth soaked in this fluid were soon being distributed as relics, and were being credited with effecting cures. To this day this custom of "holy oil" touched to the relics of St Charbel used as a blessing is still a very common practice of the faithful, as was used in Dafne's healing.
"He wants me to tell everybody don't lose faith. Go to confession. Never lose hope." 
-Dafne Gutierrez

More information: 
-"She Came And Prayed Asking St. Sharbel To Cure Her" -St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona
-Saint Charbel- The Maronite Monk

-"Dafne Gutierrez Healed through Intercession St. Sharbel in Arizona"
-"St. Sharbel Healing at St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona"
-"St Charbel heals Dafne Gutierrez from blindness in America"