Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

01 February 2014

In a Bla(i)se of Glory

1. It wasn't all that long ago that I first heard of the "Fourteen Holy Helpers," saints whose intercession was sought amid the ravages of the Black Plague. For reasons understandable, Saint Blase was listed among them. Many people know the story of him saving a boy from choking on a fish bone. All it took was a prayer and a blessing. And that's why he's a saint.

2. The Catholic Heimlich Maneuver is administered on the third of February with crossed candles aimed at the recipient's throat, with these words:
Through the intercession of Saint Blase, Bishop and Martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and every other illness; in the Name &c.
Per intercessionem Sancti Blasii, episcopi et martyris, liberet te Deus a malo gutturis, et a quolibet alio malo. In nomine &c.
Alio malo: "other evil." In the first use of malum, "ailment" or "disease" seems appropriate. The second malum typically is rendered "illness" as well; but I prefer "evil," as sickness and traumas are examples of "physical evil," lasting effects of the original sin.

3. The elder Fr. Z. wrote a few years ago about his experiences with requesting blessings and receiving inauspicious results: the old "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" fallacy. He's not alone in that regard, concerning both of the examples he offered. Rather than considering a blessing as a "jinx," he prefers, rightly, to persist in seeking divine protection and care through the devout use of sacramentals. They are neither good luck charms nor bad luck guarantors.

4. In my youth I never saw this saint's name spelled with an internal "i"--never, I swear! Now my chances of seeing either version are almost even. I prefer it without the "i." And I prefer the period inside a close quote that ends a sentence.

5. The pastor of my parish told me that, when he was a kid, he was initially afraid because he thought the saint's name was spelled "Blaze" and that the candles were supposed to be lit! In flagrante delicto!

6. This feast falls on the day after the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (which occurs this year on the Lord's Day, and therefore trumps the Sunday per annum). I found this piece illuminating the connection between "Candlemas Day" and the next day's blaze. Why the candles? Jesus is the Light of revelation to the Gentiles, as Simeon declared to Jesus' parents (as we read on 2 Feb). Why the candles on the martyr's feast? St. Blase read the Scriptures in his jail cell by candlelight. True or not, it makes for a good story.

Notice they're lit! And "friggin' 'uge!"*
*best said with a Scottish accent
7. So this has turned into a "7 Quick Takes" (hosted at, though not on the prescribed Friday! Since we're off the mark already, I will give no technical seventh point regarding this topic. You will have to live with my hamartia. I have a hard enough time with it ma-self.

No comments:

Post a Comment