Monday, October 24, 2011
St. Raphael, Prune Us With Your Sword
Feast of St. Raphael, archangel - III Class
In the Book of Tobias, the angel St. Raphael slays the demon Azmodan (also called Azmodeus or Azmodai) on Tobias and Sara's wedding night. Sara had been married seven times previously and was still a virgin as the demon slew each man before the marriage was consummated. Each man was lustful, as St. Raphael explained to Tobias. They were all of the lot that seeks sexual pleasure and are willing to give the girl as much emotional pleasure as it takes to get sexual pleasure. An equivalent girl is the inverse: she demands emotional pleasure and is willing to give sexual pleasure to get it. This is how the world goes about relationships, with two types of lust interacting. It's all about being happy and making the other person happy just so they'll make you happy. It's mutual manipulation to get pleasure. You let the other person use you because you're using them. It's all a pursuit of pleasure.
That is not love. It is called love, that is a lie. The seven husbands all behaved that way seeking pleasure. Sara never "joined herself to them that play" She consented to take a husband, but with fear of the Lord, not human lust. (cf. Tob 3:17-18) The Book of Tobias sets up love as the antithesis to lust. In lust, one desires happiness from another. In love, one desires to give oneself completely to take care of another, in this case a spouse and children. Happiness is not desired in return, the only desire is to care for the other. Happiness is in never in any way necessary to love's survival. Lust is the extreme opposite: it absolutely cannot exist without sufficient happiness. Only if it is an addiction can it survive on even low happiness. In his prayer on the first night of continence, Tobias prays, "And now, Lord, thou knowest, that not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity, in which thy name may be blessed for ever and ever." (Tob 8:9) He wants children. He does not want to have sex for pleasure, but rather to beget children. He desires only to give himself to his bride to take care of her, to conceive children, and take care of them. He gives her everything, even his very body. That is the intention of his complete gift of himself to his bride.
This is what St. Raphael defends, defeating the demon that promoted lust. The demon slew the perverts that lusted. St. Raphael describes the husbands by saying that they "shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power." (Tob. 6:17) Lustful pleasure is an addiction. You become a slave to it. Everytime you get a craving, you just have to have it. It controls you and you live at it's mercy. The demon promoted lust in the seven husbands and they all ended up dead. It consumed them. Death and eternal damnation is the natural end of lust. Even if you prolong your life, death and damnation is still inevitable. Those who instead love and cultivate self-control have as their lot Heaven after they die.