ARCHANGEL ST. RAPHAEL
PATRON OF OUR MINISTRY AND WEBSITE
True friend, protector and powerful intercessor!
We ask for his protection, guidance and heavenly intercession for all the sick.
St. Raphael the Archangel whose name means “Medicine of God” or “God heals” in Hebrew; is one of the seven Archangels that stand before the throne of GOD.
(Icon of ST. RAPHAEL by permission of Carolynn and Chris Moritz, ICONOGRAPHERS/ [email protected])
“I am Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the Lord.” [Tob. 12: 15]When we pray for his help he intercedes directly to God the Father. He is one of the three angels mentioned by name in holy scripture. St. Raphael appears in the deutero-canonical Book of Tobit, a beautiful narrative in the Old Testament.
He heals Tobit of blindness, he protects and guides Tobias on his travels and he delivers Sarah from an evil demon. Tobit, Tobias and Sarah were beset by trials and difficulties to purify them, but they remained steadfast in their faith during the period of testing, and eventually enjoyed God’s blessings and mercy. All prayed for deliverance and God sent St. Raphael. The longest recorded speech of an angel is Chapter 12 of the Book of Tobit.
He is the healing and deliverance Archangel, patron of the sick and sickness, travelers, the blind, bodily ills, nurses, physicians,medical workers, happy meetings and marriages.
The feast day of Raphael was included for the first time in the General Roman Calendar in 1921, for celebration on October 24. With the 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar, the feast was transferred to September 29 for celebration together with archangels Saints Michael and Gabriel.
The Old Testament is not the only place that St. Raphael makes his appearance in the Bible. Many of the Church Fathers have speculated whether or not he was the angel mentioned in John 5:1-4, which speaks of the pool called Probatica, where the ill were brought for healing: “an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under.” This account was made the Gospel reading for the Mass of the feast of St. Raphael in the traditional calendar (October 24) — which continues to be observed not only in communities which follow the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, but also in those locales where St. Raphael is a patron. In the Ordinary Form, of course, he is grouped with St. Michael and the other angels on September 29.
Raphael is the Archangel of God’s mercy and light, who comes to bring healing to many. He is the medicine of God, who comes to relieve the ills of all burdens, sufferings and to restore God’s people to the truth of God’s love and mercy. He gives graces, given over to him by the Father and glorified by the Son’s love for mankind. He is the Archangel of God’s mercy, who sheds His grace through holy priests and is the one who brings us the good news of God’s mercy and grace.
Holy Raphael says in the Book of Tobit, “Thank God! Give Him the praise and the glory. Before all the living, acknowledge the many good things He has done for you, by blessing and extolling His name in song. Before all men, honor and proclaim God’s deeds, and do not be slack in praising Him. A king’s secret is prudent to keep, but the works of God are to be made known with due honor. Do good, and evil will not find its way to you.” Tobit 12: 6-8
PRAYER TO ST. RAPHAEL THE ARCHANGEL
Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “medicine of God” I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor (here mention your special intention), and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Most Holy Mother, Queen of the Angels and Archangels, send me your Champion, the Archangel Saint Raphael, let him heal me of all my spiritual and physical ailments in JESUS’ HOLY NAME. May he protect me from satan and all the evil spirits. Saint Raphael be my guide and protector on my journey through life. O’ glorious Saint Raphael the Archangel, herald of blessings, pray for us! Amen.
Pope St. Gregory the Great calls Raphael “the Medicine of God.” His office is to heal, and he is thus especially the Angel of the Sick.
Holy Archangel Raphael, standing so close to the throne of God and offering Him our prayers, I venerate you as God’s special Friend and Messenger. I choose you as my Patron and wish to love and obey you as young Tobias did. I consecrate to you my body and soul, all my work, and my whole life. I want you to be my Guide and Counselor in all the dangerous and difficult problems and decisions of my life.
Remember, dearest Saint Raphael, that the grace of God preserved you with the good angels in heaven when the proud ones were cast into hell. I entreat you, therefore, to help me in my struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Defend me from all dangers and every occasion of sin. Direct me always in the way of peace safety, and salvation of my soul. Remember me and always entreat for me before the Face of the Son of God. Help me to love and serve my God faithfully, to die in His grace, and finally to merit joining you in seeing and praising God forever in heaven. Amen.
“May the Angel Raphael, physician of our salvation, help us from the heights of Heaven, heal all diseases and guide our faltering steps towards the true life.” (Hymn at Lauds).
The Book of Tobit tells how God sends the
Archangel Raphael to assist man.
*intercession through Angels,
*reward of good works,
*importance of prayer and fasting in our daily lives
So begins the story of a decent man who suffers for doing the right thing. In this reading, his situation will only get worse. This is a great narrative with its themes of almsgiving, personal prayer, faithfulness in suffering, and the hidden presence of God in everyday life.
Tobit is actually two stories in one—a tale of two Jewish families in the eighth century B.C., both victims of ethnic cleansing by the Assyrian Empire. Tobit, his wife, Anna, and their son, Tobias, are among the Israelites deported to Nineveh. Tobit’s relative, Raguel, with his wife, Edna, and daughter, Sarah, have ended up three hundred miles away, in Ecbatana. Both families are faithful observers of the Mosaic Law, but, assailed by sufferings that make no sense to them, they wonder: Where are the rewards of their devotion?
Tobit’s family is battered by job loss, persecution, and blindness.
Raguel’s family suffers because of Sarah, who is an innocent lightning rod for calamity. Through it all, however, these ordinary people keep trusting, praying, and doing the right thing. And God breaks into their lives in an extraordinary way.
How the two stories come together as God comes to the rescue—through a journey, a fish, and the longest angelic appearance in the Bible—is an uplifting read, with more than a few invitations to laughter. But in a simple way, it touches on a profound truth.
Commenting on that truth, St. Edith Stein wrote: “I have an ever deeper and firmer belief that nothing is merely an accident when seen in the light of God—that my whole life, down to the smallest details, has been marked out for me in the plan of divine Providence and has a completely coherent meaning in God’s all-seeing eyes.”
And Tobit and company say: “Amen!”
“Father, I believe you are at work in many more ways than I can see right now. Help me to trust you in difficult situations. Thank you, Lord, for being so near. I praise you for your goodness!”
Psalm 112:1-6; Mark 12:1-12
The Archangel St. Raphael
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
We shall concentrate on this meditation on one book of the Old Testament, the book of Tobias, also called the Book of Tobit. Unfortunately as we know, this book is missing in both the Jewish and the Protestant Old Testaments. Jews, after Christianity was established, dropped this book because it was not originally written in Hebrew. And the Protestants dropped the same book saying, “Who better than the Jews know what belongs in the Old Testament.” It is however, one of the inspired writings of the Catholic Church.*
We will take this meditation in steps, first to see and say something about the history of Tobit, who was identified as the father, and Tobias identified as the son. Then a reflection on one chapter of this inspired book in which the Archangel Raphael speaks at length. The longest recorded speech of an angel is in this chapter twelve in the book of Tobias. Then we will make some applications for our own spiritual life drawing on both the experience of Tobias and his family, and especially on what the archangel told Tobias and through him is telling all of us.
First then the book of Tobias itself. This book first of all, describes the Jewish people who were taken over by the Ninivites. And among the Jewish people, enslaved by this pagan nation, was Tobias. A captive, we might call him, but a very generous man who practiced extraordinary charity. In his old age he became blind. He sent his son, Tobias, on a long journey to retrieve a long, unpaid debt. Then Tobias’ companion on this journey was what seemed to be, spoke like, and was thought to be a man. But who was the archangel Raphael in human form. He was the companion of Tobias.
Raphael rescued the family, especially Sarah, from the powers of the devil. Raphael helped to recover the long, unpaid debt. Raphael prescribed just what should be done for Tobit’s blindness and he was healed. Before this book closes we have a wonderful and I repeat, unduplicated talk call it speech or inspired declaration by the angel. All this while, Tobias, Tobit and the family, thought he was a man. They had planned to reward this very kind human being, by giving him one half of all their possessions. But this archangel, in disguise, said Thank You, and just before the end of the chapter, this generous companion and great helper of the family identified himself as an angel of the Lord. He gives one more short statement to the family and then leaves.
I am calling it the speech of Raphael. It is the most extensive, most detailed, and for us the most practical declaration of an angel of God in the whole of the Bible.
Father and son, Tobias, and Tobit, had just finished offering their generous companion one half of all their possession. Then the angel, appearing to them as a man says to them secretly. Remember Raphael has not identified himself as an angel. He tells Tobias, Tobit, and the family:
Bless the God in Heaven. Give glory to Him in the sight of all the world because He has shown his mercy to you. For it is good to hide the secret of a king but it is honorable to reveal and proclaim the works of God. There is good in fasting, alms more than to lay up treasures of gold. For I delivered one from death and the same is that which absolves from sins. Alms provided for finding mercy and the life-everlasting. Those that commit sin and iniquity are enemies are of their own souls. I reveal the truth to you. I will not hide the secret from you. When you pray with tears, and you bury the dead, when you left your meal and without to pick up the dead and keep them in your house during the day and bury them at night, you offer your prayer to the Lord. Because you were acceptable to God it was is necessary that temptation should prove you. Now the Lord sent me to heal you. I delivered Sarah, your son’s wife from the devil. For I am the angel Raphael. One of the seven who stand before God.
The moment Raphael identifies himself as the angel of God, Tobit and Tobias fell to the ground in dreadful fear, realizing the one speaking to them was an angel of the Lord. Raphael then went on: “Peace be to you. Do not fear for when I was with you I was there by the will of God. Bless Him and sing praises to Him. I seemed to eat and drink with you, but it was an invisible meat and drink. It is time that I return to Him who sent me. But bless God and published all His wondrous deeds.” Having said this Raphael disappeared. I repeat this is the longest prologue, detail of any angels found in Sacred Scripture.
Needless to say it was given to Tobit and Tobias who are two men to us. What then are some of the implications of the message of Raphael in our own lives of meditation and devotion?
First, Raphael tells us that God sends His angels to help us in our needs. This is the teaching of the Church and the deeper and more grave our needs, the more sure we can be that God is providing us with angelic assistance. In other words, the more serious the need the more sure we can be that an angel is there to help us. This is not angelic poetry, this is our faith. Raphael tells us Tobit and his son and is telling us “Bless God.”
What does “Bless God” mean? To bless God means to speak to God, and as we have seen we begin to pray when we first think of God. We are told that we are to share God, show Him our appreciation of what He has done for us. Talk to God and tell Him how much you need Him and love Him. The more you pray to Him, the more you reap. That is why Raphael replies, “That is why God sends us trials.” We all have grace to remind us to pray to God and to speak to God. In another word to pray.
What is he telling us? What Raphael told father and son and is telling us in this language. To publicize what God has done for us. As we have seen before the retreat is over, more than once, the angels will help those who they hear the lines to use. Make known what God has done for you. Proclaim God’s goodness to all. Do not keep God’s gifts to you in secret. Share, communicate what God has given to you.
We continue. Raphael insists on prayer as an imperative “Pray, pray, pray.” Talk to God, talk with God. It is all part of our faith—God is always speaking to us. He wants us to engage Him in conversation in prayer. Raphael at length, praises the father for His great charity telling us therefore to practice charity.
Practice charity, see the needs of others before they can tell you what they need. The deepest needs of people, they do not expect. Charity begins in the mind. When the mind sees someone in need the heart goes out to that one in need. Finding the need and filling it. Whatever verb we use, help others, assist others, give to others. The deepest need anyone has is our love for them.
No matter what we can give them materially, what the human heart most wants is love. Raphael goes on, how this needs to be underlined and memorized.
Says Raphael: “God tries those who love Him.” What a statement. This is God’s way of enabling us to grow in our love for Him. Love is in the will. The main reason we have a free will is to love God. But how this needs to be understood, the more demanding, the more difficult, the more reluctant we are to do something, and yet we do it, the more our will is used to do what our conscience tells us is the will of God.
Thank God for the trials in your lives. Express your gratitude for the hardships and trials He gives us. Quoting the archangel Raphael, God sometimes enables us who love Him to love Him more through trials. How we need to hear this. God’s graces can be pleasant and enjoyable, but the graces can also be difficult and painful. Never deceive yourself that what is pleasing to us is displeasing to God. Raphael talked to Tobias’ son and is teaching us this.
Finally, Raphael told father and son to be at peace. As we have seen on Christmas morning, again not just one angel, but a host of angels tell us “Peace on earth to men of Good will”. Whatever else we should learn but from not only Raphael, but from God speaking through His angels, is that we should not just be at peace but cultivate peace in our minds and in our hearts. What is peace of mind? Peace of mind is the experience of knowing the truth. Behind that statement stands years of experience. One allegedly developed country after another has tried everything that this world can offer, but are not at peace. Why not? Because we are only as much at peace in our minds as our minds possess the truth. That is why when God became man, He identified Himself as, “I am the truth.”
What is the truth? Truth is our minds corresponding with reality. Yet, millions are living in a dream world of unreality. They do not posses the truth, and the truth, I repeat, is the agreement of the mind with reality. I keep telling one audience after another, statisticians tells us that ninety percent of reading American read is fiction. How we need to guard our minds from reading bewitched by the untruth.
How do we acquire the truth? We acquire it, of course, from God’s revelation. But it is one thing to say posses the truth-such as there are three persons in one God, or I know that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ, the living God-man is present here on earth in the Holy Eucharist. But if we are to grow in this peace of mind, we are to grow in our understanding of the truth that God has revealed.
That is the main purpose of meditation. By prayerfully reflecting on God’s revealed truth we grow in our grasp and understanding of what God has revealed. And our minds grow in this blessed gift of peace of mind. But, as Raphael told father and son and is telling us, we are to have also peace of heart. A synonym for peace of heart is peace of will.
What is peace of heart? Peace of heart is the experience of doing God’s will. And that is the only true source and foundation of joy in this valley of tears. We shall have peace of heart only in the measure that we are doing God’s will. Ah, what an examination of conscience we must all make. How faithful to God’s will am I? How ready am I to accept the cross He sends me? How willing am I to share with others what God has so generously given me? How much attention do I give to prayer in my life? So the litany goes on. Peace of heart is the experience of doing the will of God, and that experience is the happiness of spirit. Know God’s will with the mind and doing it with the will.
As Christ later on will tell us, we are to be peace makers. We shall bring peace to others only if we are at peace ourselves. We will bring peace to others by sharing with them the truth which we believe. We shall bring peace to others only in the degree that we ourselves are generous, loyal and doing the will of God. All of this and far more is locked up in the most detailed and deepest revelation of an angel sent by God to teach us how we are to live our lives here on earth in anticipation of joining the choirs of angels in a heavenly eternity.
Lord of the angels, we thank you for providing for our needs by sending your angels to help us. Your angel Raphael’s name means “God heals,” send us your angels to heal us from such bodily infirmity as you wish us to have removed. But, dear Lord, heal us especially in our spirit from the sickness of soul so that healthy in mind and body we may bless you, the Lord of the angels, and that we may grow in our love for you, healed by you through your angels here on earth and that we may reach you and join you for all eternity.
Fr. Hardon Archives – The Archangel Raphael
Father John A. Hardon was a tireless Catholic writer. Some of his best-known books are the Catholic Catechism, the Modern Catholic Dictionary, and the Treasury of Catholic Wisdom. But over and above these, he wrote literally thousands of articles of timeless value dealing with practically all aspects of the Catholic Faith. Many of these are contained in this archive. Upon reading them you will discover the mind and expressions of a saint who always wrote to help his readers more deeply know and love the Catholic Church and her faith. Few, either in the past or in the present, have written about these matters as well as Father Hardon.
Fr. Burns K. Seeley, S.S.J.C., Ph.D
This question raises the issue of the biblical canon. Originally, a canon (from the Greek kanon) meant a rod or stick that one used to measure length, and hence a criterion or standard.
Catholics and Protestants accept the same 27 inspired books as making up the New Testament. But when we turn to the Old Testament, some significant differences emerge.
The decision finally determining the exact number of books accepted as inspired Scripture for Catholics was not made until the Council of Trent in 1546. The Council fathers accepted 46 Old Testament books, following what appeared to them as a firm tradition of the Church from ancient times. The leaders of the Protestant Reformation, on the other hand, rejected some books agreed upon at Trent.
The seven disputed books are: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and 1 and 2 Maccabees. There are also some sections of Esther and Daniel not considered inspired Scriptures by Protestants. Protestants call these seven books the apocryphal (uninspired)books. Catholics, however, call these same disputed books deuterocanonical.
Fortunately, today, modern translations of the Bible are published in Catholic editions. These translations will include an imprimatur (assurance of a Catholic bishop that the text is in line with Catholic teaching) and the seven deuterocanonical books.
The Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God. All Christian faiths teach these two points. But many Catholics and most Protestants do not know that the Bible has always had 73 books, not the 66 books that the Protestants recognize. We know this because in the very early years of the Church, there was no Bible. Instead, there was only oral tradition and scrolls of scripture used in the Jewish faith, supplemented by the occasional letter or writing. But since most of the world was illiterate, oral tradition was the primary means of evangelization and catechesis for the first Christians.
Some of the apostles and early disciples recognized that it was going to be important to write this down in case Christ did not return during their lifetime or within the following generation. Remember that St. Paul and many others believed that Jesus was going to return during their lifetime or soon thereafter. Paul actually had to rebuke those who believed Christ’s return was imminent and stopped working and providing for themselves. So within a decade or two after Christ’s resurrection, people started writing stories and accounts about Jesus and his apostles.
After the apostles were all martyred or dead (tradition tells us that St. John the Evangelist was the only apostle to die of natural causes), the early Church fathers began to sort through the writings that had been in use in the early Church. They quickly identified that some were much more accurate and reliable than others. A discussion regarding the authentic works of the apostles or the immediate disciples of the apostles persisted until the fathers arrived at the most important books in the 200’s. But the Bible was not identified quite yet.
A large portion of the Bible was already in existence by the time of Mary’s Fiat. This portion of the Bible which was in existence in apostolic times is now known as the Old Testament. The problem was, different sects of Jews used slightly different lists of books of the Old Testament. Therefore, different Jews recognized different writings as the inspired and inerrant Word of God, even in apostolic times. This continued through the first few centuries of the early Church.
In about 250 A.D., Origen became the first known person to list the same 27 books of the New Testament that we use today. But other than Origen (who is considered a Church Father), the Church was yet to make a formal declaration. There was still uncertainty about which books belonged in the Old Testament. This was important to the early Christians because they desired to be one Church, unified in doctrine and in practice, as Christ had commanded. Therefore, they needed to agree on which books could be used in celebrating Mass, other liturgical practices and in teaching the faith.
Pope Damasus, understanding the concerns of differing sources, wished to correct this by having a “common” translation. To assist in this he called upon St. Jerome, who had shown his expertise in languages at a recent synod. This was not expected to be as large of a project as it eventually became: Damasus asked Jerome to revise the Old Vulgate only for four Gospels. Jerome began this process in A.D. 382, and was able to complete it in about two years, using many original Greek manuscripts, and comparing these to the Old Vulgate versions that existed. He did not give us a new translation, but about the year 383 revised the then current Latin text in accordance with some Greek MSS. Latin being a dead language would not continue to evolve like all other languages. In 1546, the Council of Trent finally gave the Vulgate official approval. But it did not exclude the possibilities of other editions.
In 367 A.D. St. Athanasius set forth the very first list of the books that were considered inspired and inerrant. He listed 73 books and if you look at the index of your Catholic Bible today, you will see the exact same books that St. Athanasius listed over 1,600 years ago. However, the Church had not yet formally declared any books as inerrant or inspired. This happened for the first time 15 years later, at the Council of Rome (382 A.D.), again in A.D. 393 at the Council of Hippo, later at the Council of Carthage in 397 and 419 A.D. and several other times in history. Each time, the 73 books listed by St. Athanasius were officially accepted and ratified by the Catholic Church. Keep in mind that no other Christian church existed during this entire time.
While the Catholic Church truly believes that reading and understanding the Bible is a good and holy thing, she cautions strongly against trying to understand the true meaning of sacred scripture on your own. After all, Peter warns in his epistle “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, ” (2 Peter 1:20). And there is also 2 Peter 3:15-16: “And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.”
Pope Benedict emphasized the importance of reading Scripture “in the Tradition of the Church.” The inseparable relationship between Tradition (the word of God revealed to the living community of the Church) and Scripture remains as perhaps the single most misunderstood element of the true Christian religion among those who trace the origin of their particular faith tradition to the Reformation. Simply, Tradition is viewed today by some Christians as an intrusion on the word of God, when, in fact, it is just the opposite: it is essential to a fruitful and proper understanding of Scripture. One without the other diminishes the whole of God’s revealed word.
The notion that Scripture should be interpreted in an isolated fashion apart from Tradition was foreign to the apostolic Church, as St. Paul attests: “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours” (2 Thess. 2:15).
The task is to determine what constitutes authentic tradition. How can we know which traditions are apostolic and which are merely human? The answer is the same as how we know which scriptures are apostolic and which are merely human—by listening to the magisterium or teaching authority of Christ’s Church.
Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.