“So, I started reading it and I started praying the rosary little by little because in his homilies he concentrated on the rosary a lot,” Elsayah said of St. Alphonsus.
When Elsayah was 34, he went out to clubs with some of his friends and was assaulted on the head with a metal bat. Matta told CNA he remembered getting a call from Elias’ friend that night he had been hospitalized in the intensive care unit.
“The sight of him in the bed unconscious, the bandages, the machines all terrified me,” Matta said.
Before going unconscious, Elsayah said he surrendered his life to the Lord while being rushed into the hospital. Elsayah told CNA that the doctors miraculously found no internal bleeding in the MRI scan.
“It was all drug-related,” Elsayah said of the attack. “This guy wanted to kill me.”
When Elsayah turned 35, he recalled one scary afternoon where he felt glued to his bed and smelled repulsive fumes. He said he lost the ability to move and speak.
“I wanted to scream. I couldn’t. I got scared,” he said. “And I looked up, and saw three devils above my head with black fumes. It’s hell!”
Elsayah prayed to the Virgin Mary and begged for her help. “As soon as I said her [Mary’s] name, it was gone and disappeared,” he said.
Elsayah said the experience reflected the grave state of his soul. His disgust of his sins moved him to make his first confession, which lasted four hours. Elsayah marked the confession as a turning point in his faith life, but noted that he still carried the effects of many sins with him.
Over the next four years Elsayah said he began to cling to the rosary and the sacraments.
At age 39, Elsayah attended a Mass by visiting priest Father Saliba Kozah, from Our Lady of the Cedars of Lebanon parish in Boston. Kozah, who passed away in February 2021, was a well-known priest in Lebanon and in the local Maronite community.
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Elsayah noted how he was not supposed to be at the Mass that day because of a fishing trip he had planned with his friend.
“My friend says don’t go on the trip, there’s a monk coming from Lebanon and he’s a saint. You’ll only see men like this once in your lifetime,” Elsayah told CNA.
Elsayah wanted to go on the fishing trip “but something in my head told me don’t go,” he said. “So, I cancelled my trip and I went to the church.”
Elsayah told CNA that during an event after the Mass, he asked Kozah a question on confession. Elsayah said Kozah replied by yelling, “You! You need to confess again!”
Elsayah told Kozah that he had confessed the previous week. Kozah responded, telling Elsayah that he committed the same sin again. Elsayah claimed that Kozah “read his soul,” although at the time he was embarrassed and wondered why he was the only one present to be called out by the priest.
Elsayah said he felt humiliated and questioned to himself “Why in front of all these people? Why Lord?” Kozah responded, “Don’t be embarrassed. Be happy. The Holy Trinity told me about you.”