One of the things I most look forward to when I am finally retired is spending time every day in Adoration. Believe it or not, I started going to Adoration before I made the decision to return to the Church. I would leave services at the Anglo-catholic church I attended for awhile and then stop in to the little Adoration chapel down the street. There were a few things I remembered from my Catholic school days such as making sure I was dressed modestly. That included no bare arms or legs or shorts or other clothing that would be offensive to the Eucharistic Lord.
Once I made the decision to return to the Church, I did everything I could to make it to daily Mass, but I hadn't figured things out yet about how I could do that and so I got to Mass whenever I was lucky, like if the schedule was light and I could leave early enough to get to an evening Mass near where I worked, or if I had the day off and could go in the morning. I liked going to the church down the street because of their Adoration chapel where I could remain behind after Mass to pray the Rosary and my other devotions.
One Saturday, I went to the 8am Mass and the Old Testament reading was from the Book of Tobit, where Azariah revealed himself as the archangel Raphael. I remember at the time of the reading that I had an aura which I could not explain, but it was almost as if a strong wind had entered the chapel. I looked around because I couldn't believe the others at Mass did not notice or feel anything different. The aura (which is the best word I can use to describe it) dissipated and I listened to the words of the reading with chills and the hair standing up on the back of the neck. The notion of Raphael taking Tobit's prayers directly before the Lord's throne was so beautiful to me it left me what I could honestly describe as shaken.
Mass ended, and I stayed behind to pray. I was on the 7th day of my Novena to St. Therese and I had set the little booklet I pray from on the seat next to me and took out my Rosary. I prayed with my eyes fixed on the Blessed Sacrament. When I looked away for a second, I must have first glanced at the wall next to the window where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me because on the wall was the image of someone in prayer, their eyes downcast and a serene expression on their face. I blinked a few times and looked away, thinking perhaps it was some kind of optical illusion for staring so long at the Sacred Host, but the image remained. The image had long hair which was parted in the middle and seemed to be loosely pulled back over their shoulders. I honestly could not tell whether I was looking at a male or female, though at first I was pretty sure it was a woman by the length of the hair. The image had its hands folded upright in prayer. It appeared to be wearing a tunic or gown of some sort with a rounded neckline. It never looked up, but its eyes were downcast in what I can only describe as prayer. All that was visible was what you'd see in a bust of someone, not the entire body.
I looked around at my fellow adorers but no one seemed changed or moved in any way.
At first I had no idea who or what I had laid eyes on. To say it was an apparition would be very wrong. It was more the appearance of an image. I thought about it for weeks. At first I said nothing to anyone, but then I confided in a good friend what I had seen. Neither of us had any clue, especially since the image did not speak or even look at me. However, my friend was convinced it was supernatural and a gift and that I should just accept it without speculation. But months later, I think I figured it out. I think what I was permitted to see was the reflection of the angel who knelt in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Whether or not it was Raphael is not for me to say.
This took place during a very trying time in my life when I was praying in earnest for an intention for myself. When I listened to the Old Testament reading that morning, I imagined St. Raphael taking my plea and bringing it before the Lord. I have to tell you that the prayer was answered in the way that I had hoped it would be shortly after that morning in the chapel.
For a long time I have kept this pretty much to myself, but at this young man's suggestion that I talk about my experiences at Adoration, I felt moved to share it.
Please believe me when I say that I did nothing to deserve this little gift from God, nor would I expect any such thing to happen again. I have to be honest and say that when I am alone in Adoration, I have a fear almost of something similar happening again, so I try not to think about it. I go to Adoration to keep Jesus company and hopefully, make atonement to Him for the neglect He suffers from so many cold and hardened hearts. The last person in the world that would deserve such a gift once twice let alone once is me, trust me.