The Marriage Angel

by Abigail Powers

Description

A look at St. Raphael the Archangel, the patron of happy meetings, as a powerful ally in finding the marriage partner. Includes a prayer for single Catholics.

Larger Work

New Covenant

Pages

14-15

Publisher & Date

Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., June 1997

I had no idea weddings could be so depressing until I went to eight of them one summer.

Sure, I was glad the marital miracle could happen for so many people just like me. But after that eighth wedding, I started wondering when it'd stop happening for people like me and actually happen for me. After all, I had prayed, discerned, consulted my spiritual director. I was sure God was calling me to marriage. Why wasn't my future spouse listening?

While I was moaning something along these lines to a co-worker, she said, "I have this really cool prayer to St. Raphael — I'll give you a copy."

I thanked her, hesitating to ask the obvious: If this prayer is so great, why are you still single? I delicately inquired if she knew anyone who thought their marriage had anything to do with the St. Raphael prayer. Well, she thought she knew one couple . . .

I wasn't convinced but, when I read the prayer, I knew she was right. It's a great prayer. I don't say that because I instantly met and married the man of my dreams. (I didn't.) I say that because it was like a spiritual whack on the side of the head, letting me recapture something of God's vision for marriage.

This little-known prayer is derived from the Book of Tobit. Here's a quick summary of the relevant section:

The Archangel Raphael is sent by God to heal Sarah, who, grieved by her trials and the insults of others, has begged God for death. And a unique trial it is: Sarah had been married seven times and seven times had seen her husband killed on their wedding night by a jealous demon.

Raphael persuades a young man named Tobiah to marry Sarah, assuring him that he will not be the demon's next victim. Tobiah follows Raphael's directions for driving the demon away, then he and Sarah pray together for God's mercy and deliverance. God hears them, and (to the relief of Sarah's father, who already had a grave dug for son-in-law number eight) they spend their wedding night in connubial bliss.

The author of this prayer must have figured that, if Raphael could help Sarah, he could help anyone. In this often lonely search, it's comforting to have a friend who can truly help us find a helpmate. St. Raphael is no Cupid, blindly shooting love darts with no regard for his victims.

Raphael is an archangel commissioned by God himself to lead us to the person God has chosen as our spouse from all eternity.

It's especially good to remember this when friends — bless their well-meaning hearts — try to help. Their favorite suggestion is that I move to a place with a bigger eligible bachelor pool. But I don't think moving is the answer: God knows very well where I am and where my man is. So, unless God tells me to move, it seems pointless to run about searching for a mate. I'm consoled, too, by Tobiah — he was simply running an errand for his father, but Raphael led him to Sarah. Being where God wants you to be, doing what He wants you to do, means you'll be ready for the spouse He has for you, whether you meet him or her tomorrow or in 10 or 20 years.

This prayer also cuts straight through the media's sugarcoated, sex-charged images of romance and marriage, which focus almost exclusively on superficial qualities.

It homes in on the characteristics that lay the groundwork for a relationship that lasts throughout eternity, instead of those that satisfy only immediate desires for companionship or convenient sex.

Asking for a person "whose character may reflect some of the traits of Jesus and Mary" may seem unrealistic. The prayer doesn't say the person must reflect all the traits of Our Lord and Lady; nor does it say the potential spouse must perfectly reflect them. In fact, it says our helpmate should be "upright, loyal, pure, sincere and noble," so that together we may strive to perfect ourselves in soul and body. Spouses not only have the sandpaper of the daily trials and irritations to smooth away their selfishness and pride, but they can actively encourage one another to be made perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.

St. Raphael can intercede for us in another challenging area: chastity. Just for the sake of contrast, I'll tell you about a recent conversation I had with a gentleman who's pushing 60. We were discussing chastity, when he asked abruptly, "Does anyone keep their mouth closed when they kiss anymore?" "Uh. Well, certainly not on TV or in the movies," I replied.

"Back when I was dating, you could give a woman a goodnight kiss as a thank-you for a pleasant evening," he said. "It certainly didn't mean anything sexual. Now, people go so far just with kissing, I'm not surprised that so many end up in bed together."

Since God didn't make chastity optional after the '60s, we still need to strive to live chastely. St. Raphael, the "angel of chaste courtship," can pray that our love will be pure and that "sin may have no part in it." How sweet it would be to pray along with Tobiah on our wedding night, "Now, Lord, You know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose" (Tb 10:7) and with Sarah, who said, "You know, O Master, that I am innocent of any impure act with a man" (Tb 3:14).

Trying to live chastely can be even more difficult when you doubt that God has a plan for you at all, let alone one that includes a good Christian spouse and wonderful children. Some days it's easy to believe people who say, "You should have married her," or, "If you weren't so picky you'd be married by now." But just because the "Honey,-I'm-sure-he's-the-right-one-for-you" crowd can't imagine a better plan, doesn't mean God can't. His plan is that I marry the person "with whom I can best cooperate in doing God's Holy Will, with whom I can live in peace, love and harmony in this life, and attain to eternal joy in the next." And that person is worth waiting for. St. Raphael, angel of happy meetings, pray for us! •

Prayer to St. Raphael

St. Raphael, loving patron of those seeking a marriage partner, help me in this supreme decision of my life. Find for me as a helpmate in life the person whose character may reflect some of the traits of Jesus and Mary. May he (she) be upright, loyal, pure, sincere and noble, so that with united efforts and with chaste and unselfish love we both may strive to perfect ourselves in soul and body, as well as the children it may please God to entrust to our care.

St. Raphael, angel of chaste courtship, bless our friendship and our love that sin may have no part in it. May our mutual love bind us so closely that our future home may ever be most like the home of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Offer your prayers to God for the both of us and obtain the blessing of God upon our marriage, as you were the herald of blessing for the marriage of Tobiah and Sarah.

St. Raphael, friend of the young, be my friend, for I shall always be yours. I desire ever to invoke you in my needs.

To your special care I entrust the decision I am to make as to my future husband (wife). Direct me to the person with whom I can best cooperate in doing God's Holy Will, with whom I can live in peace, love and harmony in this life, and attain to eternal joy in the next. Amen.

In honor of St. Raphael: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

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