Here’s a brief rundown: Monday morning, iced-over car, lingering sniffles, few minutes late for work etc. etc. etc. Blech.
And then I got to work and I realized what day it was, so I posted on Christine’s wall, “It’s your favorite feast day! The feast of St. Blaise!”
This is one of those weird feast days with strange traditions that become favorites in the end. Kind of like having a quirky cousin or friend or something. You don’t really understand them at first, but they make gatherings more interesting until you look forward to seeing them.
St. Blaise, it’s said, was a bishop and a martyr. And, the story we all know best of all was this: a woman’s only son choked on a fishbone. Things were looking very grim until St. Blaise prayed over the boy and his prayers dislodged the fishbone from the boy’s throat.
And now, every February 3rd, there’s the obscure blessing-of-throats which involves a priest crossing two candles against your throat and murmuring a prayed-blessing.
I know, I know. It’s obscure and a little strange…but it’s kind of endearing, too, honestly.
I walked to the farther-church for mass today because I wanted to go to confession. Alas, no confession today. So instead I sat in front of a man on the pews on the left-hand side and sniffled into Kleenex and waved at the Sign of Peace instead of shaking his hand because, again, sniffles.
The readings were about King David, the ups and downs of his life (he had a dramatic life, didn’t he??) and the man released from a Legion of Demons.
There was a table at the front of the church with the white candles, wrapped in red ribbons, for the post-mass blessing.
My sister, Christine, loved the throat-blessing when we were kids. I don’t really know why–maybe because it was something medical-related and she also loved taking my blood pressure every evening for weeks after her friend’s dad gave her a blood pressure monitor. I remember her getting pumped every year when the blessing was announced at mass. “I’m gonna get my throat blessed!” Excitement shining in her eyes.
It’s kind of weird, though. I know it is. Candles-over-the-throat and all. But, hey, here I was with a lingering yuck and you bet your boots I didn’t feel like missing out on wellness-prayer.
So, I joined the shuffling line of the faithful in salt-stained boots and dark winter coats.
There was a wee family of five right next to me; parents and three children. The oldest girl would start jumping in place, “I’m so excited!” she’d whisper, and then her dad would pat her shoulder and say, “Settle down, Henrietta.” (Or maybe “Maria”? I don’t know. I think he said both?). And the little boy was well-behaved but, God bless him, he’s a little boy, and he didn’t have the straight-line thing quite down pat so he was kind of weaving between other people and wandering in between the pews as his parents tried to usher him, too. And the baby-girl they were holding wasn’t sure which parent she wanted to hold her, but she was sure that she wanted her hood “OTT!” or, “off,” I believe (not that I’m fluent in baby).
But it was so cute, you know?
And then it was my turn and the priest crossed the candles in front of my throat and I stared at the red ribbon as he touched my forehead and prayed that I would be “delivered from every affliction of the throat and from every other evil.”
Catholicism: amusing bits of historic tradition, vintage devotion, memories and, most of all, heartfelt blessings. For real.
I walked back to work smiling the whole way. 🙂