Tuesday, February 3, 2015

St. Blaise

Because we're still rather snowed in, we weren't able to make it to 7 a.m. Mass this morning to celebrate the feast of this great saint -- and we're all pretty disappointed about that.  We owe a particular debt to St. Blaise!  He was the saint whose intercession we begged most ardently for during Dan's surgery and hospital stay -- for a wound to the throat.  There are few cases more obvious to put before St. Blaise than ours was!  But now, having come through the whole ordeal with flying colors, we hoped, not only to thank this saint, especially on his feast day, but to get all our throats blessed to ward off future problems -- especially for Dan!  Hopefully we'll be able to get the blessing this Sunday, though!  (I'm rather counting on it!)

But, St. Blaise now.  Besides the "throat blessing guy," who was he?

He was the  well-educated son of a wealthy family in the 3rd century.  After years of study in the science of the time, he became a physician and was well-respected and busy with a thriving practice.  He was an intelligent man, St. Blaise, but more-so, a wise one.  In his duties, attending to the sick, he realized that, though healing the sicknesses of body was true and good work, the greater need was for healing the sicknesses of soul, and he set out to do just that.

A brave man, too, our Blaise. It's unclear whether he was born a Christian or converted, but we do know that he left his secular career for a religious one, becoming a priest and eventually the bishop of Sebaste, Armenia -- but it was during a time of difficulty for Christians. In fact, just as he entered his see in Sebaste, the persecution under Licinius were becoming particularly intense, and St. Blaise was forced to take refuge in a cave on Mt. Argeus.

The story continues as recounted in the Golden Legend:
...the birds of heaven brought to him meat for to eat. And it seemed to him that they came to serve him and accompany him, and would not depart from him till he had lift up his hands and blessed them. And also sick men came to him and anon were cured and healed.

Now it happed that the prince of this region sent his knights to hunt, and they could take nothing. But by adventure they came unto the desert place where S. Blase was, where they found great multitude of beasts which were about him, of whom they could take none, whereof they were all abashed and showed this to their lord, the which anon sent many knights for him, and commanded to bring him and all the christian men with him.

And that night Jesu Christ appeared to him thrice, which said to him: Arise up and make to me sacrifice. Lo! here be the knights that come to fetch thee at the commandment of the prince. And the knights said to him: Come out from this place, the president calleth thee. And S. Blase answered: My sons, ye be welcome, I see now well that God hath not forgotten me. He went with them and continually preached, and did many miracles tofore them.

There was a woman that had a son dying, in whose throat was a bone of a fish athwart, which estrangled him, and she brought him tofore his feet, praying him that he would make her son whole. And S. Blase put his hand upon him and made his prayer to God that this child, and all they that demanded benefits of health in his name, that they should be holpen and obtain it, and anon he was whole and guerished.

Another woman there was that was poor which had a swine, which the wolf had borne away, and she humbly prayed to S. Blase that she might have again her swine. And he began to smile and said: Good woman anger thee not, for thou shalt have again thy swine, and anon the wolf brought again to the woman, which was a widow, her swine.
Eventually, St. Blaise was captured and taken before the prince, and St. Blaise did not hesitate to inform him that his so-called deities were demons. Enraged, the prince threw him in prison. The stoy goes that the widow whose pig was returned to her killed the pig and fed Blaise with it. 

The Golden Legend continues: 
And when this good widow, which by S. Blase had recovered her swine, heard thereof, she slew it, and the head and the feet with a little bread and a candle, she brought to S. Blase, and he thanked God and ate thereof, and he said to her that every year she should offer in his church a candle, and know thou that to thee and to all them that so shall do shall well happen to them, and so she did all her life, and she had much great prosperity.
Even after imprisonment, St. Blaise refused to worship the prince's gods, and for punishment his flesh was torn by wool combs. He was finally beheaded, martyred along with seven women and two children, circa 316..

Because of the cure of the boy's throat, St. Blaise is patron against troubles of the throat, and today our throats are blessed at Mass on the 3rd of February.  Here's how the ceremony goes:

  The priest will bless two candles in honor of St. Blaise. The words of this blessing are:
V. Our help + is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit. Let us pray. 

Almighty and most gentle God, Who didst create the multiplicity of things through Thine only Word, and didst will that same Word through Whom all things were made to take flesh for the refashioning of man; Thou, Who art great and without measure, terrible and worthy of praise, a Worker of wonders: the glorious

martyr and bishop Blaise, not fearing to suffer all sorts of diverse tortures because of his profession of faith in Thee, was suited happily to bear the palm of martyrdom: and Thou didst grant to him, among other graces, the favor that he should by Thy power cure all kinds of illnesses of the throat: we humbly beg Thy Majesty not to look upon our sins, but to be pleased by his merits and prayers and to deign in Thy venerable kindness to bless + and sanctify + this creature of wax by the outpouring of Thy grace; that all whose necks in good faith are touched by it may be freed by the merits of his sufferings from any illness of the throat, and that healthy and strong they may offer thanks to Thee within Thy Holy Church, and praise Thy glorious name, which is blessed forever and ever. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.

R. Amen.
Crossing two of the unlit blessed candles and holding them across our throats, he prays:
Per intercessionem S. Blasii liberet te Deus a malo gutteris et a quovis alio malo

May God at the intercession of St. Blasius preserve you from throat troubles and every other evil.
Then he will make a sign of the Cross over us.

And those who have been present to partake will be blessed for another year.  I feel sure it would take God's active Will to override this special blessing when it's received with pious intent and understanding.  God is generous to the requests of his saints on their big days!  

A Few Facts about St. Blaise

* St. Blaise is the patron saint of:

   -- animals
   -- veterinarians
   -- builders
   -- carvers
   -- wool workers
   -- infants
   -- choking

* St. Blaise is one of the 14 Holy Helpers

* Shipwrecked in the 8th century, during Leo III's iconoclastic persecutions, St. Blaise's remains found refuge in the basilica in the beautiful seaside town of Maratea, Italy.  They can still be seen there today.

* You can find a beautiful coloring page for the feast of St. Blaise here

* Prayers for the day:

Novena Prayer of St. Blaise

Almighty and Eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy Divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of the saint in whose honor I make this novena, and following his example imitate, like him, the life of Thy divine Son.

Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saving, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul. Amen. 

Prayer in honor of St. Blaise

O GOD, deliver us through the intercession of Thy holy bishop and martyr Blase, from all evil of soul and body, especially from all ills of the throat; and grant us the grace to make a good confession in the confident hope of obtaining Thy pardon, and ever to praise with worthy lips Thy most holy name. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Invocation of St. Blaise

St. BLASE, gracious benefactor of mankind and faithful servant of God, who for the love of our Savior did suffer so many tortures with patience and resignation; I invoke thy powerful intercession. Preserve me from all evils of soul and body. Because of thy great merits God endowed thee with the special grace to help those that suffer from ills of the throat; relieve and preserve me from them, so that I may always be able to fulfill my duties, and with the aid of God's grace perform good works. I invoke thy help as special physician of souls, that I may confess my sins sincerely in the holy sacrament of Penance and obtain their forgiveness. I recommend to thy merciful intercession also those who unfortunately concealed a sin in confession. Obtain for them the grace to accuse themselves sincerely and contritely of the sin they concealed, of the sacrilegious confessions and communions they made, and of all the sins they committed since then, so that they may receive pardon, the grace of God, and the remission of the eternal punishment. Amen.

St. Blaise, pray for us!

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