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Vol. VII, October 2001

 

The 3rd instruction, XI: "I am Raphael"
(Tob 12:15)

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

Finally, in what might seem a moment of weakness for the otherwise so austere and selfless angel, St. Raphael refers to himself; he reveals his own personal name (for we scarcely ever speak of ourselves for the pure glory of God). St. Raphael does so, though, so that Tobit and Tobias become fully aware, that they have an angel before them face to face. Behold, one of God's most brilliant, awesome creatures, about whom Divine revelation tells us so many marvelous things, and to whom man owes so much, one of them now stands visibly before them in person. "I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord" (12:15).

1. St. Raphael mentions his name, making it possible to identify him concretely; for that is the purpose of a name.

a) The letter to the Hebrews refers to the name of the angels, comparing it with the name of Jesus: He "having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs" (Heb 1:4). The prophet and psalms even speak of the name of irrational beings, justifying this with the simple reason: God knows them and calls them by name: "He determines the number of the stars, He gives to all of them their names" (Ps 146:4; cf.148; Is 40:26) Similarly, Adam gave names to all the creatures in the garden of Eden (Gn 2:19-20; 3:20). In fact, Sacred Scripture, on other occasions, speaks of holy angels and mentions their names: St. Michael (cf. Dan 10:13-21; 12:1; Jud 9; Rev 12:7) and of St. Gabriel (cf. Dan 8:16; 9:21; Lk 1:9.19-26). Even more frequently Scripture gives names of fallen angels (cf. e. g. Is 34:14; Tob 3:8; Mk 3:22; Lk 10:18). This is so, it seems, because the reprobate spirits need to be distinguished from God, whereas the holy angels act in God's name and so stand in a moral unity (identity) with Him.

b) When God reveals the names of angels, when He allows St. Raphael to tell us his name, contrary to other occasions (cf. Gn 32:30; Jdg 6:22), then He wants us to have a special relationship with him as with Michael and Gabriel. Is it not very eloquent, to see, how St. Michael helps in political affairs (cf. Dan 10) and spiritual battles (cf. Rev 12), how St. Gabriel assists in the interior life (cf. Dan 9; Lk 1) and with the vocation to father- and motherhood (cf. Lk 1:13-19.26ff.), and how St. Raphael involves himself in the daily life of the family, be it in material or matrimonial affairs? These revelations are enough to convince us that God wants to help us in all aspects of our life through the holy angels: "From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their (the angels') watchful care and intercession." (CCC 336).

c) St. Raphael is mentioned only once in Sacred Scripture, here in his mission in the life of Tobit and Tobias, and yet in the piety of the faithful he received a very esteemed place. Whereas St. Michael was highly esteemed from the very beginning of Christianity, devotion to St. Raphael developed in the 10th and 11th Centuries. From the 15th Century on his feast appears in different dioceses; however, only in the 20th Century did Pope Benedict XV prescribe his feast for the whole Church on the 24th of October. The reason for the devotion to him is evidently the cordial affectionate help which he offered this family in their practical needs.

As their patron he is invoked by pharmacists. Doctors who invoke him give testimony to the considerable help they too receive through him. Also entrusted to his care are travelers and adolescents who leave their home for the first time. Not least, those looking for their future partner for life-time trust in him because of his intervention in the life of Tobias. This story "is so significant for what it says about entrusting to the angels the little children of God, who are always in need of custody, care, and protection" (John Paul II, Catechesis, August 6, 1986, 8). Mother Alexandra from the Orthodox monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, PA writes in her book The Holy Angels: "The Archangel Raphael is the angel of prayers, good deeds, and healing; he is also the protector of all wayfarers, and today especially revered by those who travel by air. Raphael's name in Hebrew means 'God heals.' ... In our pains and struggles how helpful to know that he who carries our prayers to God is the selfness of God's healing power" (St. Bede's Publications, Still River, Mass., 1981, 47).

2. In honor of St. Raphael and as a worthy sign of gratitude, we want to share with you all the following "Solemn Act of Consecration to the Archangel Raphael", with which the Ordinary officially consecrated the diocese of Luz in Brazil about 1934 (the date of the "Imprimatur"). The prayer reads:

Solemn Act of Consecration to the Archangel Raphael

"Mighty St. Raphael, illustrious Prince of the Heavenly Court, one of the seven spirits who always stand before the Most High, protector of the Brazilian nation, and guide of the Brazilian Tobias', Raguel's and Sara's! I, N.N., in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity, of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Queen and Patroness of Brazil, and of the nine Angelic Choirs, consecrate myself today to you so as to be one of your servants during my earthly pilgrimage. I promise before heaven and the earth never to let a day of my life go by without venerating you or without offering you my supplications, sorrows and works. Insofar as it depends on me I will endeavor to get others also to honor you and so they we may all experience the effects of your protection. O Holy Archangel, graciously accept my humble offerings and count me among those under your protection who know by experience the efficacy of your patronage.

Solicitous guide of the travelers, guide me throughout the dangerous pilgrimage of this life.

O heavenly guide of Tobias, inspire me in the way to conquer the monstrous fish, my infernal enemy, so that the smoke rising from the liver and the unction of the gall may serve as a remedy for my body and my soul.

Protector of the abandoned, free me of all dangers that threaten my soul and my body.

Refuge and protector of the unfortunate, succour me in my spiritual and material indigence. Consoler of the afflicted, mitigate the sorrows that oppress my heart and fill my soul with anguish.

Heavenly doctor of the sick, heal the infirmities of my soul and preserve my health so I might serve more fervently He who is our Supreme Lord.

Generous protector of Brazilian families! Deign to look benevolently upon my family so that my brothers and all the family possessions might experience the effects of your patronage.

Fortitude of tempted souls, free me from the dangerous seductions of the infernal enemy, Asmodeus, and do not allow me to fall into his satanic bonds.

Distinguished benefactor of charitable souls, knowing how much you desire that your protégés dedicate themselves to the exercise of charity towards their neighbor, so as to participate in your beneficial help, I, today in your presence, make the firm resolution to never scorn any occasion to come to the aid of my neighbor according as my means permit.

Graciously accept, O Holy Azariah, my humble offering and grant me by means of your living, heavenly manna, the grace to know throughout my life the effects of your powerful protection and even more at the hour of my death. Amen."

3. As priests, we know how manifold Raphael's salutary mission is. It is so rich and varied as are manifold the situations and needs of human life. For many people we are 'visible angels', called to help them in all situations of life. Can we really hide and excuse ourselves? Is there any justification to shirk this duty? True, we are not masters of all trades, we cannot remedy and bring relief in every situation. But we can compassionate, even as we proclaim the cross and suffering to be the principal means of salvation. In all this, however, we should be detached as the angels.

St. Raphael, whose name we know by the will of God, is certainly now too disposed — by the same will of God — to respond to our call for help at any moment: "I have come to these parts to look for work!" (5:5). We see this action in the life of St. John of God, the founder of the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God. His first encounter with St. Raphael was out on the road: He was carrying some alms and a beggar who was not able to walk. A man of a noble figure offered him his help, saying: "God has sent me to help you in your work of mercy... I have received the task to bring all those things to God, whatsoever you do with love for the poor ... I am the Archangel Raphael, ordered to protect you and your companions". A few days later, not having enough bread for the poor, the angel appeared to him in the same figure, and told him: "Brother, we belong to one and the same order; now take these loaves from the heavenly stock" (cf. the biography of the Saint by Francisco de Castro).

Let us open ourselves up to Raphael and call upon him respectfully and with faith, with gratitude and trust, for these surely honor him. The eternal dialog in GOD among the divine persons teaches us, that persons are created for community, for conversation and the exchange of their talents and gifts. What response more consequent can be made to this call to community than that we walk together along the same path in holy communion with the angel for the sake of the Kingdom of God being established in the souls entrusted to our care?

4. Dear Brothers in the Priesthood! It honors an angel when we trust in him; when we ask for his help! We glorify him, when we present him to the faithful as a mighty angelic spirit, as one personally ready to listen our invocations and attend to them according to the Will of God, as His servants ready to act in any behalf of human life! He will certainly reciprocate benevolently when we invite others to call confidently upon him and their Guardian Angels, both in their own needs and for the sake of others. The following prayers echo these intentions.

"St. Raphael, the Archangel, arrow and medicine of Divine love, wound our hearts, we implore you, with the burning love of God and let this wound never heal, so that even in daily life we might always remain upon the path of the love and overcome all things through love!" (Work of the Holy Angels, Supplication of the Holy Angels)

And Mother Alexandra recalls the following ancient prayer for those who travel:

"O Christ, Who art the Way and the Truth, send now Thy Guardian Angel to go with Thy servants, as once Thou didst send him to Tobias, and for Thy Glory keep them safe and sound from all harm and evil" (Mother Alexandra, 47).

Fr. Titus Kieninger, ORC