Saturday, February 3, 2018

February 3 - St. Blaise

+ Today we celebrate the feast of St. Blaise, (who died around the year 316), an early bishop of Sebaste in Armenia who was martyred under the emperor Licinius. He is also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of saints to whom there was much popular devotion in Germany in the 14th and 15th centuries. Little is known about his life. One legend has him saving the life of a boy with a fish bone caught in his throat. The boy’s mother is said to have brought Blaise food and candles when he was imprisoned. Thus we have the use of two candles held in the form of the St. Andrew’s cross to bless throats on this day. This custom, still in use today, supports the Church’s belief in the intercessory power of the saints against ailments of not only the throat but of the whole body! It is Christ who heals, but through the intercession of not only Fourteen, but many thousands of helpers.

Our first reading today for Mass, tells us to boast not only of the good things that happen to us, even the answer to our prayers for healing, but also for our afflictions – for these produce endurance, character and hope – that one day Christ will heal all that needs healing in everyone. The gospel passage recommends the sick to the “elders” – the priests – who are to lay hands on them for their restoration and recovery; if done with faith, much transformation and renewal can take place in the ailing person.

The Lord is with us always, especially now in his Church, and in its ministers! Amen.

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