The Lebanese Maronite spirituality is founded on Christian faith as well as on living the presence of God. It is based on prayer and work through meditation, asceticism and silence for the real monk is a man of prayer and penitence. Therefore, the monastic process, since its foundation and till present, seeks to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ perfectly and completely according to His words: “Pray tirelessly”. Prayer is thus a dialogue with God, rather than an act of love. Charbel, Rafka, Nehmatalah and Brother Estephan, the Saints of the Lebanese Maronite Order, have lived their monastic life in austerity, prayer and endless love, moving thus through holiness from this ephemeral world to the eternal ending.
Spirituality of Brother Estephan:
When meditating the life of Brother Estephan Nehme and reviewing the testimonies and proofs on the continuous ascension of his mind and soul towards God, we can tell that this man was a spiritual citizen.
Since his childhood, he preferred remoteness, loneliness and silence. According to his brothers, he used to seek refuge in the fields where he could pray and meditate. He felt for a long time a great aspiration to join Christ and he consecrated thus his life to Him by choosing the monastic way.
Brother Estephan Nehme spent most of his time in the monasteries praying and working. His sole work consisted of working the land. Thus, his feet treated on its soil which was watered by his sweat. Both were mutually sanctified.
He used to participate in all masses without any exception. Afterwards, he spent the rest of the day praying, meditating, reciting the rosary, kneeling before the Holy Host and working the lands of the convent. For him, time was priceless. He was known by his poverty, his purity and his obedience. He talked few and whenever he had to warn someone, he did it in a low voice.
Brother Estephan was also known by his devoted love towards God as well as towards his brothers the monks and workers who used to help him. Those workers felt as if they were working with a loving brother and not with an authoritarian master. The love he bore to others required a continuous self sacrifice. According to him, the other must be accepted and loved regardless his virtues and vices. Since Brother Estephan was out of means and money, he helped others by offering himself, his tire and his own food. He loved the other more than himself. He gave food to hungry people, according to his relative Brother Gerges Nehmeh who said: “One day, he noticed that one of his workers brought a poor meal, and B. Estephan told him: “Take all my food, I can eat when I go back to the monastery.” The worker refused but in vain, and B. Estephan did not eat anything all the day until he had dinner in the monastery.”
Despite his eminent morals, his rigid piety and his progress in the frame of perfection, he was modest and humble that he neglected himself. His contemporaries said: “He reflected modesty and humbleness in each stage of his life. Thus, he has never boasted or shown off with one of the talents that God gave him. On the contrary, he built his monastic tower on the rigid basis of modesty and he reached an advanced rank of virtues. The smile had never quit his lips.”