To avoid sinking into despair, the human spirit needs to find repose in dignified and well-ordered things. Let us ask St. Raphael the Archangel for the desire to make earth similar to Heaven and thus prepare ourselves for the Reign of Mary and eternal beatitude.
S t. Raphael, as one of the most eminent Angels, has a privileged place in our devotion. On the other hand, the fact that he directs man’s prayers to God and, of course, to Our Lady – who also intercedes by means of the Angels – is a special reason to venerate him.
One of the forgotten notions with regard to the devotion to the Angels, and which I think is interesting to recall, is that Heaven constitutes a true court. In former times, it was common to refer to the heavenly court, which finds its foundation in the idea that in the Glorious Church, God is, before the Angels and the Saints, as a king before his court.
The curious thing is that, because of the similarity between things on earth and in Heaven, some characteristics of the courts of this world are also found in the heavenly court – a court in a much more literal sense of the word than one might imagine.
Model for all earthly courts
St. Raphael – Church of St. John the Baptist, Yvelines (France)
For example, when on great occasions the king granted audience to his subjects to hear their requests, he would receive them surrounded with the princes of the royal house. The appeals were submitted in writing, but the person concerned appeared before the monarch and could address him. It was also possible for some prince or person of high rank, or someone close to the petitioner to speak. The latter would then hand a dignitary the scroll upon which the request was written for the king’s perusal. There was a table on which the petitions were gathered together, to later be dealt with by a special council.
We see that there was a kind of hierarchy of functions, of dignities, of intercessions that led to the king and then proceeded from him to the individual. This was the mechanism of a court.
In the heavenly court the same protocol exists, in the final analysis, for the same reasons. God evidently does not have need of anyone. Nevertheless, having created diversified beings, it is natural that He should entrust them with missions in His service, according to a hierarchical arrangement, and that such beings should possess a lustre, a splendour, and a dignity in the heavenly mansion corresponding to the tasks with which they are entrusted, and these tasks, in turn, correspond to their very nature.
Thus, it is in keeping with the order of the universe that men are governed by Angels, and that Angels are their intercessors with God. As a result, there is truly a court life in Heaven, which serves as a model for all earthly courts and indicates the necessity for protocol, hierarchy and diversification of functions.
Placing our hope in Heaven, a condition for surviving on earth
The feast of St. Raphael leads us precisely to this idea. He is a heavenly intercessor of the highest order, who carries our prayers to God. He is one of the highest angelic spirits who assist Him, and therefore one of those who are closest to Him to intercede for us, constituting natural channels for the graces we desire.
And this consideration increasingly reinforces within us the desire that earthly realities resemble heavenly ones. Only to the extent that we love these realities do we thus prepare our souls for eternal beatitude. If, at the time of our death, we lack this appetite, we will have no appetite for Heaven.
There is therefore something in the spirit of hierarchy, of distinction, of nobility, of elevation which indicates a true preparation for Heaven; a preparation which becomes all the more desirable the further we are immersed into a world of horror, in which all the exterior realities with which we come into contact are monstrous, chaotic, and disorganized.
The human spirit needs to set its exhausted and suffering sights on something dignified and well-ordered, to avoid sinking into despair. It is not proper to man to live in the mare magnum of things that collapse, founder and decay. He needs a place upon which to rest his joy and hope.
However, everything of dignity is disappearing from this world to such an extent that either we direct our desire more and more towards Heaven, or we will not have the psychological conditions for survival on earth.
There was a certain Saint who saw her Guardian Angel. He was of such a noble and exalted nature that she knelt down to adore him, thinking he was God himself. The heavenly spirit had to explain who he was. Now, we know that the Guardian Angels belong to the lowest hierarchy in Heaven. In comparison to that, what can we imagine about an Angel like St. Raphael, of the higher hierarchies?
St. Louis, King of France, and St. Raphael, heavenly prince
Blanche of Castile instructing the little Louis – Church of St. Martin, Fleurigné (France)
However, in order not to be left with an ethereal concept of a pure spirit, we can make use of an anthropomorphic comparison that gives us a better appreciation of this reality, imagining, for example, St. Raphael in his contact with Our Lady in Heaven in the manner of St. Louis IX, King of France, in the company of his mother, Blanche of Castile.
It is known that St. Louis was a man of lofty stature, great beauty and very imposing, who at the same time captivated, instilled deep respect and aroused immense love. He had the makings of a formidable warrior when it came to combat, but he presented himself as the most regal and decorous king of his time.
We can imagine this monarch, in whom all the glories of sanctity shone and who was a very loving son, in the splendours of the court of France conversing with Blanche of Castile. What distinction, what reverence, what elevation and what sublimity would mark that scene! This allows us, in some way, to envision St. Raphael addressing Our Lady. A king like St. Louis was a sort of Angel on earth; St. Raphael may vaguely be regarded as a St. Louis in Heaven. Only with the difference that St. Louis was a king, and St. Raphael a heavenly prince; and Our Lady is Queen to a far higher degree than Blanche of Castile.
This transposition provides us with some slight notion, humanly speaking, of the joy with which we shall be inundated in Heaven when we are able to contemplate an Archangel like St. Raphael, and of all that we shall see of God in admiring this heavenly prince.
Let us ask him for the grace to attain such contemplation, but also that something of it may imbue us even during this present life. May the consideration of this ideal and truly existent order comfort us with the hope of Heaven and of Mary’s reign, dispelling all the growing sadness of these days in which the chastisements predicted by Our Lady at Fatima are so quickly approaching. ◊
Taken, with adaptations, from:
Dr. Plinio. São Paulo. Year XXII.
No.258 (Sept., 2019); p.26-29