With all the snow this week I was pretty concerned that I might not be able to get my throat blessed on this Memorial of St. Blase. My four-wheel-drive didn’t let me down this morning, and I got to the chapel in time for mass and for the traditional throat-blessing.
The parish in which I grew up did throat blessings every year on the Sunday before the Memorial of St Blase. Although they didn’t have quite the same candleholding contraption as my current employer, I sometimes smile to think of all the years tromping up the aisle at St Margaret Mary’s on those winter Sundays, considering all the luck I’ve had with my throat (or, more specifically, my voice) as I’ve grown.
Blessings are not magic. It doesn’t surprise me that those sorts of rituals have fallen out of favor among post-modern Catholics who want to avoid those practices that smack of superstition. I’m sure that if most people had seem me this morning, two crossed candles jabbed into my throat, curved at the ends into handles as if they formed a divining rod, they would have made all sorts of erroneous assumptions about my spirituality. And yet, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Ive been wondering all day where this practice really fits in to my spiritual life. Do I just do it because it hearkens back to my childhood? I don’t believe that my voice will give out if I don’t have my throat blessed, nor do I believe if I get strep throat tomorrow it will be because we did the blessing wrong. Is it just something cute that I do, that I know can’t hurt?
Blessings are not magic, but they are evidence of goodness, and we can be lavish with blessings because God is not stingy with grace. A gratuitious blessing on something that is already good fits right in with a spirituality of abundance. I am already graced but I will call for more graces, because there are more than enough to go around. I will invite others into my personal economy of grace, asking them to mediate the blessing and praying for them in return.
And I will accept the fantastic tales of St Blase not out of slavish desire to verify historical accuracy but because countless blessings have been offered in the shadow of those tales.
[The other side of a spirituality of abundance is the assumption that God can take care of spreading the goodness around, so we might as well let God worry about the depth of the ritual while we just shut up and do it.]
Through the intercession of St. Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil.