February 3.   Because of the ongoing ravages of COVID-19 occasions for special prayers and blessings for the sick – even if churches are closed – was being encouraged. Fr Brian included these in his on-line Mass of the day.  “It is good to remember that, while we rely on medical science and vaccinations, God is our first healer, who works directly or indirectly through medical professionals. Covid is not a disease of the throat but difficulty in breathing is a symptom.  St Blaise, in 4th century Turkey, was a bishop who may have been a doctor before.  He was imprisoned, tortured and killed during a persecution. He was reputed to have miraculously cured a little boy who nearly died because a fishbone was stuck in his throat. For this reason he is the patron of diseases of the throat.“ Fr Brian asked those participating on-line to remember in prayer all the sick and those who had died and reminded them to be responsible at all times in their own behaviour. “And be careful of fish-bones!” he added.

The use of candles for the blessing of throats is believed to stem from the candles that Blaise was given in prison.  When an old woman’s pig had been miraculously rescued from a wolf by Saint Blaise, she visited him and brought food and candles to light up his dark prison cell.  The feast was apparently instituted at a time when diphtheria and other diseases were a serious health threat.

Go out into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.  In my name you will cast out demons and lay their hands on the sick and they will recover.  Then the Lord was taken up into heaven  and worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs.  Mark 16:15-20. 

Part of the plan laid out by God’s providence is that we should fight strenuously against all sickness and carefully seek the blessings of good health, so that we may fulfil our role in human society and in the Church.  Catechism of the Catholic Church 1622.