QUAERITUR: St Blaise blessing but not on 3 Feb

From a reader:

Our priest mentioned on Sunday that they will administer the traditional St. Blaise Blessing at the 8am mass today. He also noted that since many of us travel great distances and may not be able to attend, they would also administer the blessing at the masses this coming weekend. He then wondered out loud whether the blessing will have its intended effect if not administered/received on the feast day, but they would go ahead and do it anyway.

What’s the churches teaching on this? Are the graces associated with blessings tied to a feast day only good if they are administered/received on the feast day?

I don’t see why you couldn’t get the blessing later, especially if you suffer from maladies of the throat.

A blessing is a blessing, after all.

Nevertheless, there is great value in maintaining the integrity of the customs with the calendar. Without real need, we should stay within those bounds.

That said, I am fully aware that the integrity of customs and calendar has been compromised by post-Conciliar changes to feasts. For example: Do I bless chalk only on 6 January or on the Sunday to which Epiphany is transfered? Both? Either way, I know the chalk will be blessed chalk once I’m done.

Back to the blessing of throats… I like to stick to the proper day, but I wouldn’t ever refuse to do a blessing if someone requested it, especially because this is an invocative blessing rather than a constitutive blessing. That is, once I bless your throat, it is not a blessed throat in the same way the chalk is blessed chalk, or water is holy water, etc. I invoke a blessing on you, rather than make you or just part of you a blessed thing.

And I seriously doubt St Blaise will mind the extra work on one of his many days off.

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  1. Scott W. says:

    I am of the mind that our understanding of blessings is terribly skewed toward the view that it is merely symbolic, but this example shows that we occasionally have to work the other side of the street that questions a blessing’s efficacy if things are not *just so*.

  2. I have a “bad throat” that has never returned to health after I ended up with a strep throat infection after my mother died in 2005. I’ve been stuck with a perpetually swollen throat and constant ear aches and sore throat ever since. Sadly I can’t get the throat blessing today because our dear priest has also died and our parish priest is down on the mainland of Scotland until Sundays and Mondays when he makes the trip up here to say mass. If I pray to St. Blaise and ask for his blessing would that work? I would love for my throat to be healed. Or at least for it to not get worse. It’s a worry! After all, what makes your throat stay unhappy for nearly five years????

  3. Choirmaster says:

    I like the fact that the priest is offering the blessing on the prescribed day, but is also trying to extend those blessings to the faithful who cannot attend on the feast day due to “grave” inconvenience.

    I like the fact that the priest is duly concerned that the faithful also get the most efficacious blessing possible.

    I think this situation will work just fine for the priest and the parish. Proper intentions, and good attention paid to matter and form.

    St. Blaise, pray for this pastor, his flock, and for us.

  4. Incaelo says:

    My parish priests gave the blessing both yesterday and today. His reasoning was that yesterday was the eve of St. Blaise’s feast day, and there would be more people at Mass anyway, because of Candlemass. Today he did tell everyone who didn’t receive the blessing yesterday to come forward so they could get it today.

    Coffee Catholic, I’d say that asking for the intercession of any saint is always a good thing. I can’t say if it will be more or less effective, of course. After all, we don’t make any decisions in the matter. But perhaps you can also ask your priest for the blessing once he is back?

  5. Father G says:

    I, too, was wondering whether the blessing of throats could be given outside of Feb 3rd.

    During my very first week as a parish priest six months ago, I went to anoint a man who was suffering from throat cancer. He had a large lump on the left side of his throat. After the anointing, I remembered about the blessing of throats and said the prayer of blessing over the man, although I didn’t have the candles with me. He and his family were comforted by it.

    I visit the hospital on Fridays and I am thinking of bringing the candles with me this Friday so as to give the blessing to the Catholic patients, since the prayer states it’s not just for diseases of the throats but for “every other illness”.

  6. Dr. Eric says:

    Are lay people, specifically Catholic School Teachers, allowed to help the priest in the St. Blaise Throat Blessing by performing the exact “ritual” that the priest does? 3 teachers “helped” our priest bless throats today as it was the grade school’s turn to go to Mass today. The kids also did the readings (I mean mumbled through the readings.)

  7. Kurt Barragan says:

    Dr. Eric:

    From “The Book of Blessings”:

    “A minister who is a priest or deacon touches the throat of each person with the crossed candles and says the prayer of blessing. ‘Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.’ Each person responds: Amen.

    A lay minister touches the throat of each person with the crossed candles and, without making the sign of the cross, says the prayer of blessing. ‘Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ Each person responds: Amen.”

  8. William says:

    At Masses at our place this past weekend, lay people, too, were administering the “blessing.” Is this not a priestly blessing, i.e., to be given ONLY by a priest? Went to Holy Mass this morning hoping to secure the traditional blessing, but Father simply used the St. Blaise blessing for the final blessing of the Mass. What to make of all this?

  9. ssoldie says:

    Back in the old days, when we would have Low Mass during the wk, we would always be at the Feast of St. Blaise to have our throats blessed. We don’t have the T.L.L.M. during the week anymore but we have been able to get the blessing on the fallowing Sun. So as you say it would be better on the proper day, but alas, maybe in the near future, if I live long enough, God willing, I can once again recieve the blessing of St. Blaise on his feast day.

  10. Philippus says:

    I keep hearing more and more about this. My mother-in-law mentioned that the blessing of the throats was done at her parish in NJ this past Sunday. I gasped in horror, not because of the blessing, but at the lack of discretion in recognizing feast days for what they are.

    Secondly, I thought Saints are particularly stronger by God’s grace on their feast days. After all, they are feast days for a reason.

    In addition, When we transpose or transfer feast days, they become prone to being misunderstood and under-appreciated. I cringed when I realized Epiphany would be celebrated 4 days earlier –on Sunday this year. Is it that necessary to dissuade people from attempting to exercise responsibility by getting to church on a weekday? Because of such confusion in the church, people don’t realize they still have to abstain from meat on Friday or do some sort of penance to make up for eating meat.

    It is a shame that we could walk into one form of the Mass and have it be a feast day, and then walk into the other form of the Mass and have it not be a feast day. I think it is a suppression of sorts when this happens

    I seriously doubt we as a Latin Rite could sustain two forms of expression for too long. One has to decrease or the other can increase.

  11. Girgadis says:

    Our pastor made an announcement this weekend that because not everyone is able to get to weekday Mass ( not necessarily true, many simply don’t want to go, but ok) he would bless throats on St. Blaise’s feast day and again at the following weekend’s Masses.

    Coffee Catholic, it is not normal to have a sore throat for five years. Have you seen an ENT for a thorough evaluation? I’m not a doctor but I do know that chronic sinus infections can wreak havoc on more than just your sinuses. A sore throat that doesn’t go away is also one of the warning signs of something more serious. Please investigate this further.

  12. wolfeken says:

    In our parish, some laymen helped the clergy by printing little cards the priests could hold if they did not know the traditional Latin blessing:
    “Per intercessionem Sancti Blasii, episcopi et martyris, liberet te Deus a malo gutturis, et a quolibet alio malo. In nomine Patris, et Filii +, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.”

  13. Father S. says:

    I am a very strong proponent of doing things on the proper days. That being said, it is certainly fitting to give blessings on other days, too. The blessing St. Blaise may be given year round. I work with a large Hispanic population. Our folks work ten hour days and have no opportunity for daily Mass. Certainly some try to take advantage of it and have received the blessing of St. Blaise today. However, on Sunday after Holy Mass, I will offer the blessing. Even though there is permission for anyone to pray for the intercession of St. Blaise, (and not to give an actual blessing) I will be giving this blessing exclusively to about 400 persons.

  14. Bill in Texas says:

    As Father Z said, the blessing is for you. It isn’t dependent on the calendar date. It seems to me that there are two reasons for the special attention given to February 3. One is the importance of the integrity of the custom and the liturgical calendar. The other is a practical management consideration — time management for Father and for parishioners, if you don’t mind my putting it that way. People are constantly coming to our parish priest for blessings, not just for objects (rosaries, medals, scapulars, and new cars seem to lead the list), but for themselves, for healing from specific illnesses or physical problems. We can always pray to St. Blase for our throats, to St. Roch for healing from communicable diseases, to St. Peregrine for healing from cancer, and so on — any day, any time. And a priest can always invoke the intercession of an appropriate saint when giving you a blessing.

  15. And there are lots of candles around, too!

  16. Father S. says:

    That is an interesting comment about candles, by the way, Fr. Z. I have often wondered about the candles used in the blessing of throats. In the Roman Ritual, a blessing of the candles exists before the blessing of throats. I wonder a few things. First, are candles blessed anew each year, or were new candles always used. If new candles were used, were the old ones to be burned in any special way. Also, if new candles were used, were they among those likewise blessed at Candlemas? I have often felt strange in the OF with just finding the candles that we use every year and then putting them back in the drawer for another year. Thoughts?

  17. Fr Martin Fox says:

    My vicar and I had this discussion last night, to wit: should we administer the blessing at weekend Masses this coming weekend? I asked his advice, but he hasn’t given me his recommendation.

    I am of two minds. As Father Z and others have observed, it is good to keep these things tied to their days for their full meaning.

    On the other hand, there are two reasons to do it on the coming weekend, beyond the obvious one of providing a blessing for people:

    1) Blessings and rituals of this sort do a lot to express and reinforce Catholic identity, which we need to do every way we can.

    2) People love when you give them something free at Mass–they love palms, ashes, holy cards and blessings. (Yes, I know, they get the Mass…but there it is.) I joked with the vicar about maybe planning something “extra” every month, it might increase Mass attendance!

    I’m inclined to do it.

    Also, as far as the issue of involving extraordinary ministers as helpers, there is an alternative: the blessing can be imparted, by the priest, to all assembled at one time. However, this means no candles-under-the-chin, which a lot of people like.

    One alternative, we did one year, was to have the priest impart the blessing to everyone, and then have folks come forward for the candle-part, but that’s not really provided for in the book. But then the Book of Blessings is a complete mess.

  18. Frank H says:

    Perhaps this perspective might be helpful… Would anyone consider distributing ashes on the Sunday preceding or following Ash Wednesday? No. So, keep the St. Blaise throat blessing on his day, promote it a bit, and perhaps more folks will attend the weekday Mass that day. They sure show up in droves for Ash Wednesday!

  19. gambletrainman says:

    Frank H: You just reminded me– I have attended the Traditional Latin Mass since 1985. The pastor we had would do the blessing of throats on February 3 AND,for the benefit of those not able to attend, repeated the blessing after Mass the following Sunday. The same for distribution of ashes. According to his statements, these were SACRAMENTALS, and, frankly, did not mind if you got the blessing/ashes on the proper day AND that Sunday. Now, 2 priests later, the new pastor will distribute the ashes, and give the throat blessings on both the proper day and the following Sunday, but if you received either on their proper days, he does not want to see you at the communion rail for a “repeat” on Sunday.

  20. Rev. Philip-Michael says:

    This reminds me of a story a priest friend told me about a Catholic High School that wanted to administer ashes for Ash Wednesday on Tuesday evening to the parents at parents night. You know that ancient and venerable feast…Ash Tuesday! Most people have no concept of the theology of time and space. Cosmology has largely been denied since modern scientific advances. Theologians have really dropped the ball. And the liturgy has suffered as a consequence.

  21. Father S: Candles for St. Blaise do not have to be blessed again each year… if you keep them, that is.

  22. MrsHall says:

    Father blessed throats on Wednesday and will do so again at the weekend Masses. He _likes_ to bless anything he can, and every Tuesday night blesses religious objects at the evening Mass. Wednesday afternoon there is a Catechism session and Father went to each class and blessed the childrens’ throats and gave a brief lesson on St. Blaise. I am sure if I went to him on the Fourth of July with a throat ailment he would bless my throat all the same.

  23. Joshua08 says:

    Offering the blessing again for St. Blaise makes sense, but Ash Wednesday? That is very very different. The blessing for St. Blaise is great, but it is not intimately tied to the liturgy. The Great liturgical blessings (Candlemas, Ash Wednesday, and Palm Sunday) are tied to their respective days

  24. al007italia says:

    Back when I was a child in the early 60s, pre-Conciliar Church, my parish always did it on both the feast of St. Blaise as well as well as the nearby Sunday.

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