Raphael (and Tobit)

Robin and I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and Mass intentions over the course of the past few weeks. Our baby (Raphael) was delivered on Wednesday evening and a small private funeral will take place this week or next.

Raphael was chosen as Wednesday was the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels and as we did not know the sex of our baby, it seemed appropriate to give the name of an angel who being pure spirit, is neither male nor female. But it is important to give the baby a name by which they may be remembered and individually prayed for nonetheless.

Furthermore as Catholics will be aware, the archangel Raphael is associated with God’s healing ministry, appearing in the book of Tobit, an extract of which we had as a reading at our wedding. Raphael is sent from God to heal and protect Tobit and his son and daughter-in-law, Tobias and Sarah. All three were beset by trials and difficulties  but remained steadfast in their faith and eventually enjoyed God’s blessings and mercy.*

One of my favourite lines of Scripture is Romans 8:28  “And we know that to them that love God all things work together unto good: to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints”.

Even though terrible things may happen, while he has not willed them, God will still work to bring about good consequences for his people, from even the greatest of suffering.

I can already see several graces occurring from the experience of discovering your unborn child has died in utero, but that doesn’t make the grief any the less raw. Life seems a little less rich, a little more bleak, from the moment you discover a positive line on a pregnancy test, it becomes impossible to detach from the fact that there is a little life growing inside you and so for the last few months we have been adjusting to the fact that a new baby is on the way as well as looking forward to their arrival. An event that will not now happen. Our precious baby has died and can never be replaced.

But we named the baby Raphael in the expectation of divine healing and my hope is that in time, our experience may be of benefit and consolation to others.

*The Apocrypha is sadly all too often overlooked by RE syllabi, while I’d encountered the term in other literature as a schoolchild, it was never mentioned, not even in passing, as being an important part of Catholic cultural heritage. The book of Tobit is particularly rich and pertinent to Catholic spirituality as it emphasises the sanctity of marriage, Angelic intercession and the importance of prayer in daily life, as well as fasting and almsgiving as atonement for sin.