Proper of the Saints and Feasts |
Thursday, October 24:
Traditional Double Major Feast of Saint Raphael the Archangel
Saint Raphael the Archangel
This holy Archangel Raphael identified himself to the exiled Jew Tobias as “one of the Seven who stand before God” (Tob. 12:15). His name means the healing of God, and he is thought to be the Angel who came down and agitated the water of the pool of Bethsaida in Jerusalem. The sick, who always lay around the pool, strove to be the first to enter the water afterwards, because that fortunate one was always cured. We read of this in the story of the paralytic cured by Jesus, who had waited patiently for thirty-eight years, unable to move when the occasion presented itself. (Cf. John 5:1-9)
Saints Chrysanthus and Daria
Saint Raphael is best known through the beautiful history of the two Tobias, father and son, exiled to Persia in the days of the Assyrian conquest in the eighth century before Christ. In their story, the Archangel plays the major role.
The father Tobias was a faithful son of Jacob and was old and worn out by his manifold good works; for many years he had assisted his fellow exiles in every possible way, even burying the slain of Israel during a persecution by Sennacherib, and continuing this practice despite the wrath that king manifested towards him. Having been stripped of all his possessions, he desired to have his son recover a substantial sum of money he had once lent to a member of his family in a distant city. He needed a companion for the young Tobias. God provided that guide in the Archangel Raphael, whom the son met providentially one day, in the person of a stranger from the very area where he was to go, in the country of the Medes. Raphael to all appearances was a young man like himself, who said his name was Azarias (Assistance of God). Everything went well, as proposed; the young Tobias recovered the sum and then was married, during their stay in Media, to the virtuous daughter of another relative, whom Providence had reserved for him.
All aspects of this journey had been thorny with difficulties, but the wise guide had found a way to overcome all of them. When a huge fish threatened to devour Tobias, camped on the shores of the Tigris, the guide told him how to remove it from the water, and the fish expired at his feet; then remedies and provisions were derived from this creature by the directives of Azarias. When the Angel led Tobias for lodging in the city of Rages, to the house of his kinsman Raguel, father of the beautiful Sara, the young man learned that seven proposed husbands had died on the very day of the planned marriage. How would Tobias fare? The Angel reassured him that this would not be his own fate, and told him to pray with his future spouse for three nights, that they might be blessed with a holy posterity. Sara was an only daughter, as Tobias was an only son, and she was endowed with a large heritage.
During the absence of the young Tobias, his father had become blind when the droppings of a pigeon had fallen into his eyes. When the two travelers returned after an extended absence, which had cost his mother many tears, the young Tobias was deeply grieved to find his father unable to see him and his new daughter-in-law. But Raphael told the son how to cure his father’s blindness by means of the gall of the fish; and after the remedy had proved efficacious, all of them rejoiced time in their blessings.
When Tobias the son narrated his story and told his father that all their benefits had come to them through this stranger, both father and son wished to give Azarias half of the inheritance. Raphael declined and revealed his identity, saying he was sent to assist the family of the man who had never failed to obey and honor the blessed God of Israel. Raphael, before he disappeared, said to the family: “It is honorable to reveal and confess the works of God. Prayer is good, with fasting and alms, more than to lay up treasures, for alms deliver from death and purge away sins, and cause the giver to find mercy and life everlasting... When thou didst pray with tears and didst bury the dead, and didst leave thy dinner to hide the dead by day in thy house, and bury them by night, I offered thy prayer to the Lord. And because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that trials prove thee... I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the Lord.”
Source: The Holy Bible: Old and New Testaments.
Friday, October 25:
Traditional Simple Feast of Saints Christiana and Daria, Martyrs
Chrysanthus was the son of a Roman senator, born in Egypt. While still young he went with his father to Rome, where his superior intelligence was quickly appreciated. Convinced of the vanity of idol worship, he undertook every means at his disposition to learn the truth and deliver his soul from the doubts afflicting him. An elderly gentlemen was pointed out to him as a sage, and Chrysanthus went to him with his questions. The old man, who was a Christian, had no difficulty in opening the eyes of the young neophyte; Chrysanthus instantly embraced the truth with ardor and became an apostle.
His father, at first astonished, became irritated and decided to bring his son back from what he called his superstitions and errors. No means were effectual for this purpose. Thus, influenced by his associates, the father locked him in his palace and sent a courtesan to seduce his purity.
When the first one did not succeed, others were commissioned for the infamous task, and finally a vestal virgin, Daria, priestess of an idol regarded as the empire’s bulwark, attempted every artifice to corrupt the young Christian. Instead, she herself became the conquest of grace. The two Christians saw themselves united by the bonds of faith, hope and charity, and determined to add to these holy chains those of a virginal marriage. This decision brought about liberty for Chrysanthus and gave him the means to continue his preaching of Christ. Many conversions among the officers of the Roman society with which he was already familiar, were the fruit of the apostolate of the young spouses, including that of the tribune Claudius, with his household and seventy soldiers.
But complaints began to be addressed to the prefect of Rome, who arrested the young couple. After enduring torments, Chrysanthus was shut up in the Mamertine prison, and Daria was sent to a house of ill fame. But the Lord watched over both of them as He had done over many others, and they surmounted their trials, intact and pure. To be done with them, the irritated emperor had them buried alive. It appears this torment was chosen in order to inflict on Daria the death reserved for unfaithful vestals. The principal relics of Chrysanthus and Daria are in the Abbey of Saint Avold in the diocese of Metz.
Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12.