We meet the Archangel Raphael, whose name means “God heals,” in the Old Testament book of Tobit. Raphael guide Tobit’s son, Tobiah,” to Media to obtain a cure for his father’s blindness. While there he instructs Tobiah how to drive away the evil demon that had inflicted Sarah, the woman Tobiah wishes to marry. The story of Tobit reminds us not only that the existence of angels is a belief of our Christian faith-tradition, but also that God can “send” angels to help us in our needs, although we cannot see him. The archangel Raphael is regarded as the angel of joys and is invoked as the angel of healing, the patron of travelers and bearers of the Good News, and the patron of men and women seeking a good spouse. The booklet contains morning and evening prayers, a Novena to St. Raphael, Prayer for Travelers, a Commuter’s Prayer, Prayer for Healing, Prayer for the Choice of a Spouse, Prayer for Newlyweds, and more.
The tradition of praying novenas has its roots in the earliest days of the Church. Christians have always prayed for various needs, trusting that God both hears and answers prayer. The word “novena” derives from the Latin term novem, meaning nine. In a novena we pray a prayer for nine days. “But,” we might wonder, “doesn’t God know our needs before we event ask? Isn’t praying once for something enough?” Although we believe in God’s love for us, something we need to remind ourselves of this. Although we know we are held in God’s hands and that God will not let go, sometimes we need reassurance. What may appear to be mere repetition in a novena is really a continual act of faith and hope in our loving God.
Just as we pray for each other while here on earth, those who have gone before us and are united with God in heaven can pray for us and intercede for us as well. We use the term “communion of saints” to refer to this exchange of spiritual help among the members of the Church on earth, those who have died and are being purified, and the saints in heaven. Devotion to the saints can help us witness to our faith and encourage us in our commitment to lead lives of holiness and service as they did.