Happy Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels…wow, that’s a mouthful! No wonder it used to be known as just “Michaelmas.” While I have a strong devotion to St. Michael, and there are some lovely traditions that go along with Michaelmas, it seems a shame that St. Michael should get most of the attention. If we get past the fact that St. Michael has a day named after him, is the prince of the archangels, and get to kick Satan out of heaven, the next angel to come to mind is probably Gabriel. After all, many of us were performing in Christmas pageants by the age of 5, so we are well aware of his role in the Annunciation. But Raphael? Who on earth (or in heaven) is he? If you haven’t done a thorough reading of the Bible, or at least read the Book of Tobit, you might be a bit fuzzy on that. I reread the Book of Tobit a few years ago, so I have been familiar with his story for a while, but only in the past year have I begun to develop a particular devotion to him.
I had been through a rough break up several months before, and I was still hurting- badly. Deep down, I was still hoping to reconcile with my ex-boyfriend, even as I forced myself to look to the future and tried to trust that God has someone else in mind for me. One day, a friend told me about St. Raphael. Apparently, he is the patron saint of women looking for their soul mates. (I wasn’t able to find an authoritative source to back this up, but he is definitely considered the patron saint of happy meetings and marriage, since he brought Sarah and Tobias together, so close enough.) My friend gave me a beautiful prayer she had come across and suggested that I start saying it regularly. So I did. I wasn’t sure what I was praying for- another chance with the man I had loved, or a fresh start. So I just prayed and asked St. Raphael to lead me to whoever God had set aside for me:
O Raphael, lead us to those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us! Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand towards those we are looking for! May all our movements, all their movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your Joy. Angel Guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of earth, we feel the need of calling to you and of pleading for the protection of your wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the Province of Joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country. Remember the weak, you who are strong–you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene,and bright with the resplendent glory of God. Amen.
After about a month of saying this prayer every day, and after a year of avoiding my ex, I ran into him. Literally.Out of the blue, just like that, we nearly collided. And we started talking. One thing led to another, and to make a long story short, we have been back together (quite happily) for several months now. In hindsight, I truly believe that St. Raphael had a hand in this. He led me to the one I was waiting for, the one who was waiting for me. He made a happy meeting, quite literally, come about. As a result, I now have a special place in my heart for Raphael, and on his feast day, I’m making a point of giving him due credit, along with his better-known counterparts.
Fortunately, angels don’t mind sharing feast days (unlike children who share birthdays), so we can make an effort to pay attentionto Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael today. And for me, their shared feast day will be particularly meaningful, since I’m pretty sure that Raphael wasn’t the only one conspiring to lead me to the one I was waiting for. The night before that “happy meeting,” I had the powerful experience of giving the Lord my “fiat,” inspired by Mary’s response to the Angel Gabriel. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gabriel himself was giving me a spiritual nudge to offer up my will to God, letting go of my own hopes and dreams so that the Lord could give them back to me with interest. So I’ll be giving Gabriel some extra thanks today, too. And don’t worry, I’m not forgetting St. Michael, who I’m pretty sure was also a conspirator in all of this. After all, the man I had been waiting for is named… Michael.