24 October: Feast of St Raphael, Archangeleditor
Some years ago, when I lived in the north of England, I had the pleasure of meeting Margaret, RIP, who was, at that time, an organiser of the Traditional Latin Masses in the area, for the Latin Mass Society. On one occasion, I told her that I was heading for a teacher’s in-service course at the University of Warwick the following day, and I hadn’t a clue about how to get there. I’d never heard of a satellite navigation or satnav system, relying on that age-old “Excuse me, could you direct me to…” – yip…that system.
Margaret told me that, as a driver, she was totally reliant on St Raphael, urging me to pray for his guidance to get me to the university, and then told me the following amazing story to encourage me to do just that.
She had gone to Dublin on holiday with her brother some years previously and had booked into a very nice Bed & Breakfast Guest House. They had a most enjoyable time, but the day before they were due to fly home to England, Margaret became unwell and wanted to book a flight to get home right away. They contacted the airport but were told that there were just no flights available that day, everything was fully booked. Margaret asked if they could go to the airport and try for a stand-by flight. She was told that there was very little chance of a flight, but they could go to the airport and wait on the off-chance, if they chose. They set out for the airport, with the Guest House owner saying she would keep their rooms for them in case they had to return for the night. All the while, Margaret prayed to St Raphael.
Regularly, over the hours of waiting, Margaret would approach the desk and ask if there were any cancellations, any “no shows” but was told “no” – there was almost no chance of a flight that night because the only flight left was one always full of businessmen and it was due to leave soon. It was looking like Margaret and her brother would have to return to the Guest House. Then, suddenly, they were called to the desk and told that there was a last-minute availability – of two seats! They would need to hurry though because the plane was on the tarmac ready to go, but someone was coming to collect them with their luggage and take them straight to the plane. Within seconds, a young blond man came along on one of those luggage buggy or cart vehicles and before they knew it, they were signalled to jump aboard and driven at some speed through the airport and right onto the plane. The young man did not speak at all, and only when they were settled in their seats, did Margaret and her brother look at each other in surprise, with Margaret saying, “That was St Raphael”. Her brother did not disagree.
So, with that impressive story in the mix, I put my journey to the University of Warwick into the care of St Raphael. I told him that I didn’t expect him to get me to the exact location of the in-service course, just, please and thank you, get me to the University of Warwick and I’ll take it from there! Well, I kid you not, the journey could not have been more straightforward, and I noted that on every occasion where I know I would normally have doubted, gone round a roundabout at least twice etc. I drove straight ahead, round all corners, so to speak and arrived at my destination in record time. As I drove through the gates of the university, I saw a group of women coming towards me, so I drew up alongside and (not expecting them to be able to help, really) asked if, by any chance, they happened to know where the teachers’ in-service course was being held. Immediately they all turned and pointed to a building saying that it was in there, first floor, etc. I couldn’t believe it. So, I remain thankful to Margaret to this day for giving me every reason to have confidence in the power of St Raphael to help travellers.
He is also patron to those with other needs, including – I believe – those seeking spouses, so if you’d like to marry but Mr or Miss Right hasn’t turned up yet, ask St Raphael for his help. I did once think I’d met Mr Right and the wedding plans were underway – until I discovered that his first name was “Always”… 😀
Feel free to share your own stories about St Raphael, or your favourite prayers and hymns to this very powerful archangel. St Raphael, Archangel, pray for us!