Like our earthly friends who are just a phone call away, the saints—those in the Church Triumphant who have already achieved the final goal—can hear the prayers of those of us who lumber along back here in the Church Militant. When we pray, they carry our fervent prayers and intercede with the Father on our behalf; and Scripture assures us (Proverbs 15:29, Psalm 34:17, John 9:31) that God, Who hears the prayer of the righteous man, will listen.
Of those saints who have gone before us in the sign of faith, a personal favorite of mine has always been St. Blase. Little is known of his life, except that he was bishop of Sebastea in Armenia during the fourth century and, we believe, he was martyred under the reign of Licinius. But according to tradition, St. Blase was approached by a mother whose young son was choking on a fishbone. The bishop blessed the lad, and the boy was able to cough up the bone.
For this feat, St. Blase has been named the Patron Saint of Throat Illnesses. He is remembered on February 3, and the church celebrates the feast with a blessing of throats. On that day the priest or deacon holds two blessed candles together in the shape of a cross, and touches them to the neck of each person, reciting the short blessing above, and praying that the person may be healed especially of any throat infections or illnesses.
As a small child I was given to frequent colds and respiratory infections. In fact, when I was six years old, doctors attempted to forestall future episodes of strep throat by removing my tonsils and adenoids. St. Blase seemed to me to be to be a kind of Spiritual Super-hero, helping me over the hurdle of sickness in the middle of winter. I remember that back then, I didn’t much like the doctors, who were always poking me, choking me, and forcing me to swallow foul-tasting medicine. But now a guy like St. Blase, who could reach down from Heaven and scoop up those bad ol’ germs, was a guy you could trust!
In the ensuing years, I’ve matured a lot in my understanding of contemporary medical practice. I know that the doctor—who orders bothersome tests and who sometimes prescribes stinky medications—has my best interests at heart. But at the same time, I know that St. Blase is there, too, ready to take my case before the Throne.
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Through the intercession of Saint Blase, 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.
— From the blessing of throats on the Feast of St. Blase, February 3
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Lord, hear Your people through the intercession of St. Blase. Help us to enjoy peace in this life and find a lasting refuge in the next. Amen.