Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Blessing of Throats, the Intercession of the Saints...

February 3 is the Feast of St. Blaise. Today, however, is Sunday and, as such, is a day of the Lord taking precedence over commemorations of Saints. Nevertheless, Catholic Churches will be blessing throats today. Why? It goes back to the martyrdom of Blaise who was bishop in Armenia at the beginning of the 4th century. Even though the Emperor Constantine had granted toleration to Christianity by his edict in 312, it took time for this to become the law throughout the empire. The governor of Armenia remained proactive in eradicating the practice of Christianity. Our saint was captured. According to legend, while on his way to prison, a woman besought him to help her son who was choking from a fish bone caught in his throat. St. Blaise prayed, and the boy’s throat was freed of the bone. After refusing to give in and worship pagan idols, he was tortured and then beheaded. After a few centuries people started asking St. Blaise for his help, especially for healing of problems with throats. It is a tradition that bishops, priests and deacons bless throats on his feast day. 

God wants all of us to have happiness in this life and in the next. The only way that this can happen is by accepting Him in our lives and doing his will. We know that others can pray for us so that it’s not just us praying for particular needs. Those in Heaven pray for us too. Some of these Saints are associated with particular needs because of some incidents in their earthly lives. That’s why we go to them – to ask that they pray to God that our particular problems be solved. We all remember that Mary asked her Son to help with the shortage of wine at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-11). Certainly if God is concerned about saving someone from an embarrassing situation at a party, He will help us with anything that troubles us. He listens to his friends in Heaven. 

In addition to praying for us, the Saints in Heaven serve as great examples for us. They are examples of faithfulness, loyalty, courage – all the good virtues. Some of them were sinners, and show us their struggles to overcome a bad life and turn to God. 

Today, priests will use blessed candles while praying for the health of those who come forward. These candles were blessed yesterday, February 2 which is Candlemas Day or the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Forty days after his birth, Mary and Joseph followed the Mosaic law of bringing Jesus to the temple and offering Him to God. Candles are blessed on this day to indicate that Jesus is the light of the world. This reminds us also that Mary who did God’s will perfectly is our best model of holiness and also our best intercessor. 

Let’s continue to pray to our Lady and to pray to the Saints, including the Angels, who will always pray for us. 

Father Stanley 

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