We know more about the devotion to St. Blaise by Christians around the world than we know about the saint himself. His feast is observed as a holy day in some Eastern Churches. The Council of Oxford, in 1222, prohibited servile labor in England on Blaise's feast day. The Germans and Slavs hold him in special honor and for decades many United States Catholics have sought the annual St. Blaise blessing for their throats
We know that Bishop Blaise was martyred in his episcopal city of Sebastea, Armenia, in 316. The legendary Acts of St. Blaise were written 400 years later. According to them Blaise was a good bishop, working hard to encourage the spiritual and physical health of his people. Although the Edict of Toleration (311), granting freedom of worship in the Roman Empire, was already five years old, persecution still raged in Armenia. Blaise was apparently forced to flee to the back country. There he lived as a hermit in solitude and prayer, but he made friends with the wild animals. One day a group of hunters seeking wild animals for the amphitheater stumbled upon Blaise's cave. They were first surprised and then frightened. The bishop was kneeling in prayer surrounded by patiently waiting wolves, lions and bears.
As the hunters hauled Blaise off to prison, the legend has it, a mother came with her young son who had a fish bone lodged in his throat. At Blaise's command the child was able to cough up the bone.
Agricolaus, governor of Cappadocia, tried to persuade Blaise to sacrifice to pagan idols. The first time Blaise refused, he was beaten. The next time he was suspended from a tree and his flesh torn with iron combs or rakes. (English wool combers, who used similar iron combs, took Blaise as their patron. They could easily appreciate the agony the saint underwent.) Finally, he was beheaded.
Four centuries give ample opportunity for fiction to creep in with fact. Who can be sure how accurate Blaise's biographer was? But biographical details are not essential. Blaise is seen as one more example of the power those have who give themselves entirely to Jesus. As Jesus told his apostles at the Last Supper, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you" (John 15:7). With faith we can follow the lead of the Church in asking for Blaise's protection.
"Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Blessing of St. Blaise).
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
"Come to me all you who are burdened
By God's grace I was born to live in freedom.
I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God. I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them. Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment.I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.
The Word of God
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Meditation: 2 Samuel 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13
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Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr
Perhaps the Lord will look upon my affliction. (2 Samuel 16:12)
How easy it is to think that when someone sins, it means he or she doesn't love God! How easy to assume that this person has a permanently hardened heart or has completely turned against the Lord! But King David is the perfect example that this is far from the truth. David pleased God, warts and all, because he continued to pursue a relationship with him, despite his sins. So pleasing was David's desire for holiness that God chose to have Jesus born through his line.
David remained faithful to God—not through never sinning but through repentance and humility. Shimei cursed David and threw stones at him, and when David's nephew, Abishai, offered to "lop off" Shimei's head, David rebuked him. "Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David," he said
(2 Samuel 16:10). David knew he was a sinner, so Shimei's curses came as no surprise. But at the same time, he surrendered himself to God, trusting that the Lord would be gracious to him. Such humility and faithfulness must have pleased God very deeply.
Guess what? You please God! We have all sinned. Maybe our faults are not as grave as murder, and maybe they are. Whatever our sins may be, we all have our own list of offenses against God that deserve strong judgment. Like David, we know these offenses, just as God does. But what God wants, rather than to curse us, is to see us face our sins in the same way that David did. He wants us to acknowledge them, turn from them, and earnestly seek his forgiveness and healing.
Even when David was suffering the consequences of his faults, he trusted that God is good and that he can do nothing but good. No matter what we do, God is ready to sweep away our sin and strengthen us against temptation. Fix this truth firmly in your mind. And when your feelings tell you that God doesn't love you, remember David. Remember God's mercy. Remember: he is pleased with you!
"Father, remind me today of your unshakable love. Help me find joy in your mercy and redemption."
Psalm 3:2-7; Mark 5:1-20
Our Lord came up to a hillside, of the Gerasenes, and earlier we read that David was on a hillside, being yelled at by the son of Gera. There is a connection here, one of evil, one of an accuser, and we know well that the accuser is Satan. Here the temptation hit David "shall we lop off his head?" was the temptation, another murder to silence another murder. But David sought God's forgiveness, realizing the sin, and trying to come to terms with the Lord. In the case of our Lord, Jesus was being yelled at and all the while was praying for the possessed man. The man was surely cursing every nasty utterance imaginable, "what the heck do you want with us?" evil wants you to shut up, "don't touche me!" and "I don't want you near me", and "leave us alone, don't say anything to me or about me!", yet Jesus prays, and prays, delivering one evil spirit after another, because a legion in the early Roman times was comprised of a thousand men, and in this case perhaps over 1000 demons. How can a person be possessed by thousands of demons? Perhaps through thousands of temptations. Because we are in a battle that is not going to end until the end of the world..."for our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places" (Ephesians 6:12). (From NewAdvent.org) But the influence of the demon, as we know from Scripture and the history of the Church, goes further still. He may attack man's body from without (obsession), or assume control of it from within (possession). Now we know what Legion means, and temptations mean, but the very word legion (from Latin legio "military levy, conscription", from legere "to choose") gives choice. David chose mercy, tormented by past sins, he chose God's mercy instead of being merciless...again. We are not merciless when we sin. The sins we will pay for are those against our God and He is in every soul. Jesus saw this in the chained man. He knew He came to deliver and save, even though the man would yell "leave me the heck alone" Jesus was persistent, and that is how His mercy works. It is our choice to prostrate ourselves before God. We the sinners prostrate ourselves before God in Holy Mass. We beg for mercy throughout the Mass, and what does God do? Offers Himself as the bread of life, the flesh for the life of the world. The visiting priest said "if you are capable, you should make every effort to always be at Mass, a little snow, a little cough, nothing should keep you away" (i'm paraphrasing of course). But the truth is there and the truth is to be had and shared, because we are speaking of Jesus. I can testify how sin haunts you like it haunted David and begs Jesus to go away. You stay away because something is keeping you away. Yet it is our choice in the end. Our Lord gives enough will, enough power to pull ourselves out of where we are, and if we are too weak, we have each other to deliver each other from bondage, to salvation. All were amazed at the saved man, who was told to proclaim to his family what the Lord had done in his pity for him. St. Paul became amazing after an encounter with the Lord. We too we can become amazing once we encounter our Lord. And this is the encounter we need. But even an encounter calls for one to move as the other moves towards you. Funny thing is...He already moved towards you...us, once and for all...