Fr Billy Swan
Dear friends. Friday 3rd February is the feast of St Blaise. Blaise came from a place called Sebastea in Armenia. He was born to a rich and noble family who raised him as a Christian. He became a priest and was nominated bishop. Blaise is best known as an intercessor for ailments of the throat because he intervened to save the life of a boy who was choking on a fish bone. This is the origin of the custom of blessing throats on his feast day.
To bless someone’s throat might seem odd to some. However, the blessing also includes the whole person. So, if you come forward for a blessing, please know your entire being is blessed by the God who created you, knows you and loves you. In fact, the English verb ‘To Bless’ comes from the Latin verb ‘Bene-Dicere’ which means to speak well of someone. Therefore, when we ask God’s blessing, He never refuses to bless us and to speak well of us, his beloved children.
The wording of the prayer of blessing on the feast of Blaise is: ‘Through the intercession of St Blaise bishop and martyr, may God spare you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.
Finally, something else to think about in advance of having this blessing. When we think of St. Blaise we think of the Blessing of throats and while this is important, we should also ask his protection against any spiritual ailments that pass from the mind to voice box and out into open speech - Words of profanity, blasphemy, cruelty, gossip, disrespect or bullying. Pope Francis reminds us that: ‘Gossip can also kill, because it kills the reputation of the person! It is so terrible to gossip'.
Through the intercession of St. Blaise may we be protected against physical and spiritual ailments and may we choose our words carefully so that they may bring comfort, hope and love to all.