For two years now I’ve avoided colds and the flu while working on not catching COVID. Perhaps it’s because of this that a combination of throat tickles and headaches had me thinking it’s my turn now. I doubt it. It’s been going on like this for days and not getting any worse. I’m not running a fever.
Whatever! My throat does remind me that today is the feast of St Blaise. One of my clear memories from childhood is the physical sensation of two cool, smooth candles resting against the skin of my throat while the priest says a blessing in Latin on an early February morning . Having left the church more than 50 years ago, I realized yesterday that I had melded the blessing of the throats on February 3 with the blessing of the candles on the day before, Candlemas. The timing may have gotten fuzzy, but I still remember clearly how it felt.
I think my memory is associated with serving as an altar boy at daily mass before school started. That’s why I still feel the cold, dark church and the chill of the candles. I checked with my younger sibs who attended the same parochial school. They said we used to walk the half mile from the school to the church to get our throats blessed as a class. I can remember doing that walk, but not specifically for St Blaise. Or for Ash Wednesday, which they said we also did. I do remember going over on Friday afternoons in Lent for the Stations of the Cross.
I took many of the “mysteries” of the Catholic Church as articles of faith when I was young, but I never believed that this blessing would really protect me from sore throats or worse. Nor did I particularly disbelieve. The blessing just seemed like a nice gesture. It was just something we did.