February 2, 2017

Why are Throats Blessed on the Feast of St. Blaise?

Saint Blaise

On the feast of St. Blaise, a bishop and martyr of the 4th century, it is customary to bless the throats of the faithful with two candles tied together with a red ribbon to form a cross (typically before or after Mass). The reason for this custom of blessing throats and asking St. Blaise’s intercession for good health is because of popular piety about this saint. A woman whose son was choking on a fish bone came to Bishop Blaze and begged him to heal her son. St. Blaise prayed and the boy was cured. Thus began the tradition of the blessing of throats today.

Sometimes people wonder about customs like this. Is this superstition or an attempt at magic using blessed candles and putting them around a person's throat, and saying a prayer?

No, not at all. Jesus prayed for the healing of many who came to him, and he used things like mud when he healed the eyes of a blind man. With Bishop Blaise, we and all the baptized are part of the body of Christ. Christ continues to work through his body on earth today. He cares about us and our health. But if Jesus, being God, knows our every need, why does he rely on human instruments and our prayers? This is because he loves and respects us so much that he invites us to work with him for the good of others. We are to be instruments of and channels for his love and mercy in the world.

Will you accept your call as a baptized member of his body today and let him work through you? Because, we are his body, as St. Teresa of Ávila once said, "Christ has no hands-on earth but yours."

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