Monday, September 29, 2014

On the Feast of St. Raphael

Since today is the Feast Day of the Archangels, I found myself reflecting on the Archangel St. Raphael, and the fact that he is both the patron saint of relationships (specifically, matchmaking and marriages), and also a patron of healing. As I was reflecting on this at Mass today, I started thinking about the connection between those two things, and how they can be intertwined. Most especially, I think it is interesting to think about how it is often through relationships that we are brought healing. Relationships, the love and affection that we share with one another, are the most valuable things we have as human persons. As such, there is the capacity to experience great pain in broken relationship. In reflecting on the connection between healing and relationships, one most often thinks about the healing FROM a painful relationship; but what about the healing that is brought to us THROUGH a flourishing relationship? The truth is, I think one of the great gifts of healthy relationships, even those that are just temporary (such as some dating relationships), have the opportunity to bring not only joy and love into our lives, but profound healing as well.

When we are in a relationship, whether its a friendship, a dating relationship, relationship with a sibling, relationship with a spouse, we have the opportunity to speak healing into another's life. I do not mean this in a clinical sort of way, but through the transformative power of interpersonal connection. By the way we love the other; by the way we affirm the dignity of the other; by the way we challenge the other to use their gifts; by the way we speak hope where there was darkness - healing enters in. I think this is such a beautiful, but perhaps under recognized, dynamic within relationships. The fact that we have the ability to minister to others we are in relationship with, and bring healing to the wounds of one another -simply through our presence and our love - is a very powerful thing.

To be perfectly honest, I think even within the context of dating relationships that eventually fizzle, we can encounter the healing effect of the other. Just as within a positive dating/courtship relationship have have the ability to bring the other person joy, affection, and love, I think that we can also be used by God as an instrument of healing to one another. Somehow, in a mysterious way, we can achieve a greater wholeness, through our dating encounters and friendships and experiences along the journey. Certainly, pain and heartbreak can also be threaded in relationship loss. But I think if we look closely enough, we can also see how healing and growth was a part of the best relationships too - and recognize those parts of relationships that were in fact, redeeming and restorative to our soul. Ultimately, these experiences bind us up into the person we are meant to become.

And so on this Feast Day, through the intercession of St. Raphael, may we thank the Lord for all the ways He has brought us healing through our friends and family and relationships. May we be made whole and help others on their path to wholeness. May we be instruments of the Divine Healer to all He puts in our path.