|Giving thanks to St Raphael in California|
Some years ago, as a twenty-year-old I was skeptical of praying to the angel St Raphael. I thought he was ‘a made-up saint’, and thought that someone of New Age persuasion had invented him as an imaginary friend. I believed in Guardian Angels, but surely Archangels were stretching the point?! How wrong one can be.
Then another young girl told me that they had received great favours from the Archangel Raphael; that they were owed a large cheque, and that on praying to St Raphael, the money had been paid swiftly. As a student, a saint who could act as a debt collector seemed very attractive!
I was a university student and a teacher-in-training at the time. It was a heady time of waiting to be assigned the professor that would spend five weeks evaluating my lesson plans and my performance in the classroom and give me that final exam grade that would be with me forever.
I decided to say this novena to St Raphael and my intention was simple, ‘let me get a fair professor that will give me a decent grade’.
Sharing a house with other university students at the time, I had just completed the novena, when one of the housemates came home and looked at me with sad eyes. She told me that she had ‘really bad news’. She had been in the doorway of ‘the education office’ (the busy place where the admin staff did the paperwork for student teachers) and had overhead them reading out my name and saying, ‘Mary O’Regan is on Professor X’s list’. Taking a step into the office, my housemate saw a sheet of official looking paper and saw that my name was down as being the student of Professor X.
On hearing that I’d been assigned Professor X, my face fell. Getting Professor X meant that I wouldn’t get an Honours degree. But it popped up in my mind that I’d invested nine days of prayer in beseeching St Raphael for a professor who would judge me justly.
With renewed enthusiasm, I said to the housemate who had encumbered me with the bad news of Professor X, “I’ve said a novena to St Raphael, he won’t let me get Professor X.”
My housemate was a nice girl and nodded her head sympathetically, before looking at me like I was in denial, and said, ‘Mary, I think you have to face facts, you’ve probably got the worst professor ever.’
“We’ll see, something will change. I won’t get Professor X.”
Sure enough, when the official lists went up on the wall, I had a pleasant surprise, and had been given Professor O’Connor, a respectable professor who was sweet-natured and eager to give students good grades. He was the type whose students got all grades, from being failed to being given A grades.
“I’m flabbergasted,” said my housemate."I'm speechless."
Then during my first meeting with Professor O’C, he said, “are you sure you are meant to be on my list? Is there any chance you are on two professors’ lists at the same time?”
I shook my head vigorously and turning on the charm, I said, “I’m delighted to have you as my professor. I’ll do my best.”
“I have no idea how you ended up on my list. It’s a complete mystery. The education office said to me that they had made a mistake and you were meant to have another professor.”
Later on Professor O’C noted, “I could have opted not to accept you as my student. You had been on another professor’s list. But I felt compelled to keep you on my list.”
The fact that I did not get Professor X made all the difference in the end. I got a very good grade from Professor O’C and even today as I update my resume / CV, I am delighted to be able to put down Honours Degree. Had it not been for St Raphael's intercession, it may never have been a reality.
Some prayers that are answered have a positive benefit that lasts a lifetime. This is one such example.
In the ‘new’ calendar, we hold September 29 as the feast day for all the Archangels. We know that St Raphael is an Archangel because he said, “I am one of the seven who stand before the face of God.”
Thank you, St Raphael, for making sure that I got a ‘decent’ professor.
In the next picture, you see St Michael, and alongside him is St Raphael, signified by the large fish in his grasp. This wonderful illustration is the oeuvre of Matthew Alderman, a friend of eight years. Go ahead, and check out his visually stunning website.