St Raphael the Archangel
Today is the Feast of the Archangel Raphael.
From the Roman Martyrology:
The Feast of St. Raphael the Archangel, whose dignity and benefits to mankind are set forth in the holy book of Tobias.
The Collect for his Feast, from the Roman Breviary:
O God, who gavest blessed Raphael the Archangel unto thy servant Tobias to be the companion of his wayfaring : grant unto us thy servants ; that we may ever be protected by the guardianship of this same thine Archangel, and defended by his help. Through.
The Proper Lessons, from the Roman Breviary:
Then Tobias called his son unto him, and said unto him : what can we give to that holy man that is come unto thee? And Tobias answered and said unto his father : Father, what wages shall we give unto him? or what can be a sufficient reward for all the kindness that he hath done? He hath led me, and brought me again in safety, and himself received the money from Gabel, and made me to have my wife, and driven away from here the devil, and made her parents to rejoice , and delivered my myself from being swallowed up by the fish. Thee also he hath made to see the light of heaven, and by him are we filled with all good things. For these things what sufficient reward shall we give him? But, I pray thee, my father, ask him if haply it please him to take half of all that hath been brought.
So the father and the son called him, and took him apart, and began to ask him if it would please him to take half of all that had been brought. Then he said unto them secretly : Bless the God of Heaven, and confess him before all living, for he hath had mercy upon you. Verily it is a good thing to keep the king's secret, but to shew forth and to acknowledge the works of God is honourable. Prayer is good with fasting, and to lay up alms rather than to lay up stores of gold. For alms doth deliver from death, and the same it is which purgeth away sin, and causeth to find mercy and everlasting life. But they that work sin and iniquity are enemies of their own soul. Therefore I shew you the truth, and will not keep an hidden matter back from you. When thou didst pray with tears, and bury the dead, and leave thy dinner, and hide the dead in thine house by day, and bury them by night, I did bring up thy prayer before the Lord. And because thou wast accepted with God, it was needs that temptation should try thee.
And now the Lord sent me to heal thee, and to deliver Sara thy son's wife from a devil. For I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven, which stand before the Lord. And when heard it, they were troubled, and quaked, and fell upon their faces on the ground. And the angel said unto them : Peace be unto you ; fear not. In that I was with you, I was with you by the will of God, bless him and praise him. Unto you indeed I seem to eat and drink, but my meat is a meat which is not seen, and my drink a drink which man cannot behold. It is time therefore for me to return unto him that sent me, but bless ye God, and tell of all his marvellous works. And when he had so said, he was taken away from their sight, and they beheld him no more. Then they cast themselves down upon their faces, by the space of three hours, and blessed God ; and they arose, and told of all his marvellous works.
Raphael by interpretation is : The Medicine of God. Consider therefore the three remedies bestowed upon us by Raphael which are, as it were, medicines to heal our sickness. First of all Raphael the physician would deliver us from infirmity of soul by inducing within us the bitterness of contrition. This is attested by the Book of Tobit, where we read how Raphael telleth Tobias to anoint his father's eyes with gall ; and how, when it was done, Tobit did see. Could not Raphael have done the anointing himself? Nay, for an Angel cannot give repentance, but only shew the way thither. For by gall we are minded of that bitterness of contrition which is healing for the interior eyes of the soul, as saith the Psalm : He healeth those that are broken in heart : for if we would have spiritual insight, surely contrition is the best eye-salve. In Chapter two of the Book of Judges we are told that the Angel of the Lord ascended to the Place of Weepers, and said to the people : I made you go up out of Egypt ; and I have done unto you thus and thus, naming many great and good things : and all the people wept, so that they called the name of that place Bochim (that is, the Place of Weepers). Dearly beloved, all day long Angels do set before us the good things of God, and put us in remembrance of them, to wit : Who is it that created thee? who is it that redeemed thee? how doest thou? whom hast thou offended? If ye consider these things, ye have no recourse except tears of repentance.
Secondly, Raphael would deliver us from the devil's bondage by putting us in remembrance of the passion of Christ. This is set forth in Chapter six of the Book of Tobit under a figure of the heart of the fish which, when it is burning, driveth away all kinds of evil spirits. And again in Chapter eight, where we are told that Tobias placed the heart on live coals and the evil spirit fled into the utmost parts of Egypt, and the Angel bound him. What is this? Could Raphael bind an evil spirit only when the heart of a fish is set on fire? Did the Angel need a fish to enhearten him with great strength? Not at all! There is nothing worthwhile here except we take it mystically. Now the fish is a long-used symbol of Christ, because its letters in Greek are the initials of these words : Jesus Christ, Son of God, the Saviour. And so we may understand by the heart of the fish that there is nothing today to free us from the bondage of the devil except the passion of Christ, which same proceedeth from the depth of himself, namely, his Heart burning with love. For the heart is the fervent fountain of all life. The Heart of Christ, whence his passion proceeded, is the source of a charity which burneth with love, and so is the cause of devotion in us. But thy memory is often to thee coals of fire. If therefore thou wilt place the Heart of Christ within thee, upon the dead coals of thy memories, and let them burn with the flames of that Heart, at once the devil will leave thee. Yea, he will be rendered harmless, as though he were bound.
Thirdly Raphael would deliver us from the wrath of God, incurred by sinning against him, and this he would do by inducing in us greater earnestness in prayer. Consider how the Angel Raphael, according to Chapter twelve of the Book of Tobit, said : When thou didst pray, I did bring the remembrance thereof before the Holy One. For in such fashion the Angels do all that they can to reconcile us to God. The devils are the fallen angels who accuse us before God. But the holy Angels excuse us, namely, when they bring before God those prayers which they have already stirred us up to offer more devoutly. Thus Chapter eight of the Apocalypse saith : The smoke of the incense ascended up before God out of the Angel's hand. For those sweet-smelling savours are the prayers of the saints. Wouldst thou appease God whom thou hast offended? Pray with devotion. And Angels will offer thy prayer to God in order to reconcile thee to God. It is related by Luke that Christ, being in an agony, prayed more earnestly, and that there appeared an Angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And all this was done for our sakes, for he had no need of such comfort. Yea, it was done to shew us how the Angels assist those who pray earnestly, and how they freely help and strengthen all who pray, and how they do offer our prayers to God. - The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XV extended the feast of Saint Raphael to the universal Church.
At that time : There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And so on, and that which followeth.
What are we to learn from the healing power of this pool? What mystery doth it signify? For these things are not written without purpose. In figure and type they do shew us something of things to come, so that what was exceeding strange might not, by coming unexpectedly, shock the faith of the hearers. What then is it that they foreshew? A Baptism was shortly to be instituted ; a Baptism of such abundant power and grace as would cleanse all sins, and make the dead to live. These things are therefore set forth under the type of the pool and in many other figures. First of all, there was the use of water for washing away the stains of the body, and for cleansing from certain ceremónial defilements, such as the uncleanness engendered by touching dead bodies, or lepers and the like. Under the old Law, many things were cleansed by water for similar reasons.
But let us now return to the subject. As we have said, water is chiefly used to cleanse bodily defilement. It is also used to do away with infirmities of different kinds. God would have his people familiar with the benefits of water that the grace of the waters of Baptism might not seem strange to them. To that end he gave water as a means of cleansing, not only from defilements, but also from disease. Now it would seem that as the time of fulfilment drew nigh, the figures given for Baptism, and the passion, and such approaching realities, were clearer than those which had been given in times further back. Just as the king's bodyguard is more carefully uniformed to shew what it is than are the king's men at a distance, so was it done with types. On this wise we are told how the Angel came down and troubled the water, and endued it with a healing power, that is, that the Jews might learn how the Lord of Angels had even more power with which to heal the diseases of the soul. But here it was not simply the nature of the water that wrought the cure, otherwise it would always have done this. Rather it was done by the handiwork of an Angel. So likewise it is not merely the water used in Baptism that worketh in us, but rather the gift of the Spirit, which same it hath received to the end that we may be set free from all sin.
Around this pool lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. And a certain man who desired to be healed was there, whose very infirmity prevented him from entering the waters. But now everyone that so desireth is able to come unto the water of life. For it is not an Angel that giveth virtue to this water, but the very Lord of Angels, even he that is able to do all things. We cannot now say : While I am coming, another steppeth down before me. If the whole world were to come, grace would in no wise be lacking for each and all. Nor doth its power to cure ever grow less, but is always the same. Just as the sun's rays give light every day, and are not diminished, nor their brightness made less by their lavish supply, so (and much more so) is the working of the Spirit not diminished by the number of them that receive it. The wonders that were worked at this pool were done to teach mankind how that by water bodily diseases could be healed, so that being long-exercised in this belief, they might the more easily have faith in the waters of Baptism for the healing of sick souls.
The article on him from the Catholic Encyclopædia.
The aricle on him from Wikipedia.