Tuesday, February 03, 2009

St Blaise and the Blessing of the Throat

Sounds like a name for a movie or an emo band, doesn't it?

Like My Chemical Romance.

But today is the Feast of St Blaise.

Blaise, who had studied philosophy in his youth, was a doctor in Sebaste in Armenia. He apparently worked with miraculous ability, good-will, piety. When the bishop of the city died, he was chosen to succeed him. His holiness was manifest through many miracles: from all around, people came to him to find cures for their spirit and their body; even wild animals came in herds to receive his blessing. In 316, Agricola, the governor, arrested the bishop. As he was being led to prison, a mother set her only son, choking to death of a fish-bone, at his feet, and the child was cured straight away. Regardless, the governor, unable to make Blaise renounce his faith, beat him with a stick, ripped his flesh with iron combs, and beheaded him...

St Blaise is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

St Blaise is depicted with crossed candles. These crossed candles (left unlighted for safety reasons!) are used for the blessing of throats on the feast day of St. Blaise, which falls on the day after Candlemas . St Blaise is traditionally believed to intercede in cases of throat illnesses. One blessing is: "Per intercessionem Sancti Blasii liberet te Deus a malo gutteris et a quovis alio malo." (May God at the intercession of Saint Blaise preserve you from throat troubles and every other evil).
We are lucky in our parish. We still have the blessing of throats, the blessing of St Blaise. I have been in other parishes where this blessing is forgotten, is left out of the liturgy. But tonight, we received the blessing and also a homily on the use of sacramentals in the Church.

Sacramentals? The Baltimore Catechism states ~
292. Q. What is a sacramental? A. A sacramental is anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to increase devotion, and through thesemovements of the heart to remit venial sin.

Fr. stressed the help we obtain from the use of sacramentals, and the strengthening of the faith that we have, like the faith of the woman in the Bible, the one with the issue of blood, the faith she had in the healing power of Jesus.
Mark 5 25 And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years,
26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well." 29 And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease
And this homily, this blessing, followed by the weekly novena to St Anthony of Padua, was part of our mass, our daily liturgy. When my dh talks about moving, I understand his need for change. Change in life. Change in work. But I find it hard to want change in our liturgy, in our parish.

We have reverence in our Masses. Would that be the case elsewhere? Maybe yes, maybe no.

A writer in the magazine AD 2000 delplored the lack of reverence in some parishes. He quoted a Catholic philosopher ~ It once was the case that Catholic children were taught a reverence for the sacraments and the liturgy. This effect was produced by pious devotions, modes of dress and behaviour, stories of heroic devotion and so on. One benefit of these efforts was to prepare children for the idea that amidst the ordinariness of life there are channels of transcendence. It is much easier for a child to believe that God is present on the altar if the setting is physically special, if the demeanour of older children and adults is reverential, and if the priest takes evident care to clean the vessels and consume the residue of the body and blood of Christ ...
"[T]he well-educated Catholic knows that the Mass is not a religious service, a family meal, or a community feast. It is an event in which heaven and earth come together, as mundane time and sacred time are united. In it the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, a Divine Person, is made really present - not reenacted or remembered, but made actually present as a means of sacrifice by which our sins and those of mankind generally are atoned. The Messiah whose voluntary death opened the gates of Heaven is presented to us as the priest speaks the words of consecration.
I find that, amid the very mundane ordinariness of my life, the masses I attend at our parish church, during the week, and on Sundays, are a light. A beacon. A help. I get past the ordinariness, the drama, the crossness, the tiredness, the self-centredness, and am encouraged to be with God. To think of God. To pray. To receive our Lord. To be part of that sacredness.

1 comment:

Hopewell said...

St. Blaise sounds like a pony name! Nice post!