Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Feast Day of St. Blaise Feb. 3, 1964

He had just returned from morning Mass. He was just about to turn 30 and he was a young man on the rise. The world was his oyster and he just loved life. The songs of Frank Sinatra that Jack O'Brien, the DJ of the early morning drive show on WEAF played were still in his ears. Life was good. His beautiful wife met him at the door and he took off his overcoat but kept on his suit jacket making sure that his white shirt, tie and neatly pressed suit didn't get a stain on them. All the externals were good. Feb. was as cold as it always is in New York City but the City was bustling, The World's Fair was a big draw, the new group named after insects were coming to town. There was a big hullabaloo being raised by the colored people, some were now referring to them as Blacks, over segregation in New York Schools. Baseball was going to start up pretty soon. The Yanks were still at the top of their game and the Mets were babies learning to walk.He sat down at his usual spot at the kitchen table and his youngest son was to his left in his high chair. He noticed the quiet that filled the air as his four other children were upstairs , two getting ready for school and two others staying out of the way. His youngest was about six months old. He was a cutie, nice and round and chubby with a great smile. Five boys, what more could a guy ask for? Maybe a daughter. Down deep in his soul he was a little afraid of being a father to a girl. One has to be softer with a girl. She gets into trouble you can't tell her to go and punch the guy in the nose, can you? Then she grows up and if she is anything like her mother the animals begin to stalk her and she has to keep fighting to keep herself pure, he hoped. That's when she draws away from everyone and family becomes secondary. Boys on the other hand play ball, fight and always remember family, or at least that's what he thought. But that wasn't the problem this St. Blaise's day. He just got his throat blessed, received Holy Communion and lived in the greatest City in the world, was a man on the rise, had a beautiful wife and five boys. The externals were there. Life was good.As he was eating breakfast he and his wife were having a conversation about nothing. She looked over to the baby in the high chair who seemed to be having trouble swallowing. They both looked and didn't seem concerned. Kids are always choking, aren't they? But this time he was having what seemed like real trouble. His wife rushed over to try to get him to spit up but he only gaged more. She called to her husband who tried to bang his back but that only seemed to make matters worse. Nothing they did helped instead the baby was turning blue and seemed on the verge of passing out. "He could die!", the husband thought. What seemed like a very long time but probably was only seconds, everything that seemed so great seemed like nothing. He was on the verge of seeing his youngest son die! The swinging town, the job that looked so bright, the house, Frank Sinatra, The World's Fair all the externals all for naught. It was if his life was passing before him; as though he was dieing; he was lost nowhere to turn. Then suddenly he yelled out "Saint Blaise Help Us!" and at that moment just as he finished his plea a piece of bread came flying, literally, flying out of the baby's mouth. The youngest son's eyes were wide open and he was crying loudly. He was breathing. He was alive. The mother picked up her baby and hugged him as she was in tears and the husband was exhausted, spent but happy beyond words. In his happiness taken up by the euphoria  of the moment he said the next son they would have would bear the name Blaise  she responded that it would be better to think about that since she was a bit tired having given birth to five children in the first six years or so of their marriage. Then he remembered that he promised Christopher as his next son's name but then there was always a middle name or more sons.The years have passed by and they did have two more children, twins, the boy carried Blaise as his middle name and the girl, yes the girl, honored the Blessed Mother The fifth son was no longer the youngest son and the father found that having a girl while different than having a son wasn't so bad after all in fact it was a pleasant change. Most of all both parents realized the miracle bestowed on them through the intercession of St. Blaise their fifth son lived and through this miracle left them with the knowledge that the miracle of life is far greater than the externals. The parents loved their children deeply but differently. The mother was always the softie but the father always marvelled at his children's accomplishments as they made their way through life. Life's roads are full of bumps that pop up at the most unexpected times but if we could just rely on that power that is beyond our limitations and cry out St. Blaise, you who work through and for God, HELP US. Then watch whatever is choking us be spit out so we can breathe again, and just like that baby cry and come alive again with the knowledge that life is still full of wonder and good surprises and really IS worth living for those trust and have hope.       
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