Today is the beginning of Catholic Schools Week. Catholic Schools Week was initiated in 1974 as an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the gift of Catholic education at both the primary and secondary levels. The theme of this year’s celebration is: “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.” The kick-off Mass for our celebration of Catholic Schools Week will be at 10:00 a.m. today, Sunday 29 January, at the Notre Dame worship site. An Open House at Notre Dame school will follow from 11:00 a.m. until Noon. Blessings upon our students, administration, faculty, staff, and members of the Board of Limited Jurisdiction for all that they do to make our school such a treasured part of our parish community.
The memorial of St. Blaise is this Friday, 3 February. Throats will be blessed during the weekend Masses of 4 & 5 February. Throats will also be blessed at the monthly school Mass at the Notre Dame worship site on Thursday 2 February at 8:30 a.m.
St. Blaise was martyred in the early fourth century. The Blessing of Throats, and seeking the intercession of St. Blaise for this purpose dates back to the sixth century. St. Blaise saved an individual from choking as well as having persuaded a wild animal to release a domesticated animal it was attacking. Thus, St. Blaise is the patron saint of diseases of the throat as well as for protection against attacks from wild animals. I need to start praying to him for protection against all of those foxes that are roaming through Ridley!
Throats, during the blessing, are placed between unlighted candles that are crossed. Two thoughts on that. First, candles, these and others, are blessed on Candlemas Day – The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. So it seems natural that these blessed candles would themselves be used as sacramentals to invoke a blessing. Second, St. Blaise, while he was in captivity awaiting execution, was secretly given candles so he could pray with the words of Sacred Scripture. So the candles provided St. Blaise the strength to be faithful to his prayers, devotional life, and the fortitude to face his impending martyrdom. Thus the candles signify to us the necessity of remaining strong in spirit when we face the challenges of illness.
The prayer for the blessing of the throats is:
Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness.
The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – Candlemas Day, as mentioned above, is Thursday 2 February. This feast commemorates when The Blessed Mother and St. Joseph brought the Infant Jesus to the Temple to fulfill the requirements of the Law. “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.” (Luke 2:23-24)
The Holy Family, while performing this ritual, encountered a holy and righteous man named Simeon. It was he who took the child Jesus into his arms and praised God using the following words: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32).
Therefore, candles are blessed on this day in reminder of Simeon’s prophecy of Jesus being the Light of all nations. Thus the candles we carry, “treading along the path of virtue, will lead us to the Light that never fails.” (Roman Missal – Introduction of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.)
The Feast of the Presentation occurs forty days after Christmas. Biblically, the number forty symbolizes penance, purification, preparation, and testing. There are four forty day periods in the liturgical year.
A – Christmas to the Presentation of The Lord
B – Ash Wednesday to the Sacred Triduum
C – Easter Sunday to the Ascension of The Lord
D – Transfiguration of the Lord to the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Remember that the 8:30 Saturday morning Mass will resume on 11 February at the Notre Dame worship site.
Have a blessed week!