Saturday, October 23, 2010

St. Raphael the Archangel, pray for us!

Today (Sunday Oct 24) is the Feast Day of St. Raphael the Archangel.  We know comparatively little about him, but we do know that he has appeared on earth in the form of a man in order to aid Tobias during his time of trial.

Tobias of the tribe and city of Nephtali was made captive by the Assyrians.  The king of Israel made golden calves, but Tobias always fled alone and adored the Lord God of Israel.  He performed many works of mercy among his fellow captive brethren.

King Sennacherib ordered the slaying of many of the children of Israel, but Tobias buried their bodies (burying the dead is one of the corporal works of mercy), lest they remain in the streets.  He risked his life in doing so, for if the king had known, Tobias himself would have been put to death.  This he did in addition to his regular duties, exhausting himself for the honour of the children of Israel, in the love of God.

Tobias 2:10-18: "Now it happened one day, that being wearied with burying, he came to his house, and cast himself down by the wall and slept, And as he was sleeping, hot dung out of a swallow's nest fell upon his eyes, and he was made blind.  Now this trial the Lord therefore permitted to happen to him, that an example might be given to posterity of his patience, as also of holy Job.  For whereas he had always feared God from his infancy, and kept his commandments, he repined not against God because the evil of blindness had befallen him,  But continued immoveable in the fear of God, giving thanks to God all the days of his life. For as the kings insulted over holy Job: so his relations and kinsmen mocked at his life, saying:  Where is thy hope, for which thou gavest alms, and buriedst the dead? But Tobias rebuked them, saying: Speak not so: For we are the children of the saints, and look for that life which God will give to those that never change their faith from him."

Tobias 3: "Then Tobias sighed, and began to pray with tears, Saying: Thou art just, O Lord, and all thy judgments are just, and all thy ways mercy, and truth, and judgment: And now, O Lord, think of me, and take not revenge of my sins, neither remember my offenses, nor those of my parents. For we have not obeyed thy commandments, therefore are we delivered to spoil and to captivity, and death, and are made a fable, and a reproach to all nations, amongst which thou hast scattered us.  And now, O Lord, great are thy judgments, because we have not done according to thy precepts, and have not walked sincerely before thee:

"And now, O Lord, do with me according to thy will, and command my spirit to be received in peace: for it is better for me to die, than to live.  Now it happened on the same day, that Sara daughter of Raguel, in Rages a city of the Medes, received a reproach from one of her father's servant maids, Because she had been given to seven husbands, and a devil named Asmodeus had killed them, at their first going in unto her. So when she reproved the maid for her fault, she answered her, saying: May we never see son, or daughter of thee upon the earth, thou murderer of thy husbands. Wilt thou kill me also, as thou hast already killed seven husbands? At these words she went into an upper chamber of her house: and for three days and three nights did neither eat nor drink:

"But continuing in prayer with tears besought God, that he would deliver her from this reproach.  And it came to pass on the third day, when she was making an end of her prayer, blessing the Lord,  She said: Blessed is thy name, O God of our fathers: who when thou hast been angry, wilt shew mercy, and in the time of tribulation forgivest the sins of them that call upon thee.  To thee, O Lord, I turn my face, to thee I direct my eyes.  I beg, O Lord, that thou loose me from the bond of this reproach, or else take me away from the earth.

"Thou knowest, O Lord, that I never coveted a husband, and have kept my soul clean from all lust. Never have I joined myself with them that play: neither have I made myself partaker with them that walk in lightness.  But a husband I consented to take, with thy fear, not with my lust.  And either I was unworthy of them, or they perhaps were not worthy of me: because perhaps thou hast kept me for another man.  For thy counsel is not in man's power.

"But this every one is sure of that worshippeth thee, that his life, if it be under trial, shall be crowned: and if it be under tribulation, it shall be delivered: and if it be under correction, it shall be allowed to come to thy mercy. For thou art not delighted in our being lost: because after a storm thou makest a calm, and after tears and weeping thou pourest in joyfulness. Be thy name, O God of Israel, blessed for ever. At that time the prayers of them both were heard in the sight of the glory of the most high God: And the holy angel of the Lord, Raphael was sent to heal them both, whose prayers at one time were rehearsed in the sight of the Lord."

From here continues the beautiful history of the helps given to Tobias and Raguel through the holy archangel Raphael.  It is very profitable indeed to read the book of Tobias, especially for men and women who are united in holy matrimony or who expect to be.

Lessons from Tobias:
Tobias 4: "Therefore when Tobias thought that his prayer was heard that he might die, he called to him Tobias his son, And said to him: Hear, my son, the words of my mouth, and lay them as a foundation in thy heart. When God shall take my soul, thou shalt bury my body: and thou shalt honour thy mother all the days of her life: For thou must be mindful what and how great perils she suffered for thee in her womb. And when she also shall have ended the time of her life, bury her by me.

"And all the days of thy life have God in thy mind: and take heed thou never consent to sin, nor transgress the commandments of the Lord our God. Give alms out of thy substance, and turn not away thy face from any poor person: for so it shall come to pass that the face of the Lord shall not be turned from thee. According to thy ability be merciful. If thou have much give abundantly: if thou have a little, take care even so to bestow willingly a little.  For thus thou storest up to thyself a good reward for the day of necessity.

"For alms deliver from all sin, and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness. Alms shall be a great confidence before the most high God, to all them that give it. Take heed to keep thyself, my son, from all fornication, and beside thy wife never endure to know a crime.  Never suffer pride to reign in thy mind, or in thy words: for from it all perdition took its beginning.  If any man hath done any work for thee, immediately pay him his hire, and let not the wages of thy hired servant stay with thee at all.

"See thou never do to another what thou wouldst hate to have done to thee by another. Eat thy bread with the hungry and the needy, and with thy garments cover the naked.  Lay out thy bread, and thy wine upon the burial of a just man, and do not eat and drink thereof with the wicked. Seek counsel always of a wise man.  Bless God at all times: and desire of him to direct thy ways, and that all thy counsels may abide in him.

"I tell thee also, my son, that I lent ten talents of silver, while thou wast yet a child, to Gabelus, in Rages a city of the Medes, and I have a note of his hand with me: Now therefore inquire how thou mayst go to him, and receive of him the foresaid sum of money, and restore to him the note of his hand.  Fear not, my son: we lead indeed a poor life, but we shall have many good things if we fear God, and depart from all sin, and do that which is good."

The whole book is remarkable (it is, after all, Scripture inspired of God).  I would post the whole thing, but you can go read it on your own.  No commentary I can make will be better than just making the time to read this excellent book.  It is not very long, only fourteen chapters, each about the length of those I have posted above, or even shorter.  Go read it!

And then say some prayers in honour of the great Archangel St. Raphael.  Husbands and wives ask him for his help and protection against temptations of the flesh.  Men and women who might one day marry, ask him for his guidance in doing the will of God the Most High.

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