The eve of Saint Blaise

The eve of Saint Blaise

Today is Candlemas, when the Catholic Church blesses the candles to be used during its liturgy. Tomorrow is the feast-day of Saint Blaise, patron of ailments of the throat. Some churches still do the Blessing of the Throat, in which the priest uses the newly-blessed candles to bless the throats of congregants.



Saints become patrons in peculiar ways. Clare had a vision on the wall in front of her and became the patroness of television. Joseph of Cupertino levitated helplessly, yelping and crying, and became the patron of aviators. Blaise miraculously made a child cough up a fishbone, thus making him Mister Throat.




The Church asks and answers the question: Why doesn’t God always cure ailments of the throat, even if you pray for it? Why doesn’t he cure everything, while he’s at it? It’s a mystery.




Mystery schmystery. It’s still a pretty good question.




Disclosure: Partner gave a Saint Blaise medal last year, which I carry with me religiously, you should pardon the expression.




What could it hurt?

Saints and talismans


I have cancer, and this is no time for quibbling about what helps and what doesn’t. Lots of people of different faiths have said they’re praying for me, and I accept their prayers gratefully. Why in the world would I be stiff-necked enough to say: “Nah, I’m an atheist. Save your prayers”?

And I am not un-superstitious. I read Tarot cards, after all, and I look at horoscopes, and find profitable information in them. (Not the newspaper ones, kids. The real ones.)

So who am I to scoff at talismans and charms?

When my father was diagnosed with cancer in 1975, I was in my sophomore year at Gonzaga and just on the verge of converting to Catholicism. As you can imagine, I became very devout in no time at all. I attended mass almost daily, and said novenas, and prayed like a banshee.

Dad died anyway, in May 1976, despite all my masses and novenas. But it didn’t stop me from believing, deep down in my soul, that prayers and talismans are effective, if you only use them correctly.

For years I carried two holy medals on my keychain: Saint Dymphna (who guards against mental illness) and Saint Peregrine (who guards against cancer).

Somehow both of them disappeared from my keychain some years ago. And look what happened!

I found Peregrine and put him back on my keychain a few weeks ago, and told him to get back to work.

Also: Partner, being a cradle Catholic and understanding my state of mind, recently gave me a medal of Saint Blaise (who guards against afflictions of the throat).

Whatever happens now, I’m prepared

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