February 3, 2008

My dear parishioners and friends of our parish community: Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!

 Have you ever received a blessing outside of Mass? You can get your car blessed, or your home blessed. A favorite pair of rosary beads can be blessed. Often young parents bless their children every night before bed. Priests bless young children and babies when parents come forward as a family to receive Communion at Sunday Mass. There are special blessings for many different things.

 Every time, we are asking God to watch over us, protect us, and give us grace and strength to follow Him. Today, on February 3rd, a special blessing takes place in Catholic Churches on the feast of St Blaise, Bishop and Martyr.

 On this day, Catholics ask their parish priest to have their throats blessed. As a young man, St. Blaise devoted his early years to the study of philosophy and became a physician. Then, receiving a call to serve God, he was later ordained to the priesthood and many years later consecrated Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia.

 At about this time, a new persecution of Christians began. St. Blaise fled into the hills to escape this persecution, so that he might minister to the flock. He went high into the mountains and took refuge in a cave. The pagan governor of the region sent men into the hills to hunt down Bishop Blaise. The men finally came across the cave, surrounded by wild animals all suffering from various diseases. St. Blaise moved among them, healing the animals, unharmed by them!

 The hunters seized St. Blaise and took him back to the governor. On the way, he continued to perform miracles. He persuaded a wild wolf to release a poor woman’s pig. In gratitude, the woman followed the saintly bishop and brought him candles and food while he was imprisoned. It was while Bishop Blaise was awaiting trial that he performed his most famous healing – he cured a young boy who was choking on a fish bone. He did so by touching two candles to the boy’s throat, whereupon the bone was dislodged and the boy safely returned to his parents.

 After suffering various tortures, St. Blaise was beheaded. As Christians continued to suffer for the faith, his relics were dispersed around Europe and his veneration was increased by many more miraculous cures, especially of sore or diseased throats. He is represented holding two candles in his hand used for the blessing of throats, or surrounded by wild animals, as he was found by the governor’s men.

 Today I invite all to come to me, Deacon John, or Deacon Anthony, who will place blessed candles around the throat of whoever seeks the blessing, using the formula, “Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat, and from every other illness, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” We invite all to receive this very special “Winter Season” blessing on this special feast of St. Blaise Day.

                      Pleasant Sunday to All!
                      Happy Superbowl Sunday too!
                      Special Prayers for the New England Patriots!
                                             Devotedly and always, 
                                             Fr. Jim                                             


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