February 6, 2021 Column Father De Celles

“Pre-Lent.” In the “old days” (50 or so years ago) the 3 Sundays before Ash Wednesday were called Septuagesima (“seventieth”), Sexagesima (“sixtieth”)and Quinquagesima (“fortieth”) Sundays, respectively, referring to the days left before Easter (approximately). This was done to remind us that Lent (“Quadragesima,”) was approaching, in order that we might begin to prepare for Lent.

            I used to think this was kind of unnecessary, reasoning that Lent itself is a season of preparation for Easter, so why did we need a “semi-season” before that to prepare for Lent—i.e., preparing to prepare for Easter.

            But over time I’ve come to see the wisdom of the “old calendar.” Preparing for Lent doesn’t involve beginning to do extra penances, etc. of Lent, but it can involve thinking about what those penances should be. Considering, what sins really need to work on, whether particular mortal sins, or even particular venial sins that are habitual, i.e., a “vice.” And then figuring out what sacrifices, prayers and acts of charity I should adopt as Lenten penances to help me to overcome them, with Christ’s grace. Or maybe I want to grow in a particular virtue. Maybe you want to be kinder to your spouse, or more honoring of your parents. What penance(s) would help me to do this?

            Last Sunday was Septuagesima Sunday and today is Sexagesima Sunday. So start to think and pray about what you can do for Lent that it may be truly fruitful.

Politics and the Pulpit. It was brought to my attention recently that I’ve been preaching on political matters a lot lately, and some say I am expressing my own personal political opinions from the pulpit. I don’t like to preach about political issues, and I especially don’t want to insert my mere opinions. I try very hard to avoid both. But the former is all too often necessary and unavoidable these days when our government is intruding so much into our lives and culture, and so affecting our rights, duties, liberties, morality, culture and spirits.

Moreover, while some facts are open to different interpretations, sometimes we risk serious damage if we are frozen by an unwillingness to make a judgment and act. Again, I am very hesitant to do so, but sometimes it seems necessary, if I am to be a true spiritual father. I apologize if I sometimes do so unnecessarily. Pray that the Lord give me wisdom, prudence and courage.

Developments in Richmond. While political eyes have been focused on the events in Washington the last few weeks and months, “our” legislators in Richmond have been busy trying to undermine our culture. Here are several examples listed last week by the Family Foundation:

Repealing Natural Marriage – HJ 557 (Lopez – D), HJ 539 (Levine – D) and HJ 582 (Sickles – D) seek to amend the Virginia Constitution to remove language affirming natural marriage.  These would enshrine in the state constitution the right to “marriage” between individuals of the same sex even if the Obergefell (2015) is ever overturned by the newly comprised Supreme Court.  The House Privileges and Elections committee will vote on these resolutions February 1.  The Senate version, SJ 270 (Ebbin – D), has not been heard.

Suicide Decriminalization – HB 1951 (Simon – D) repeals the common-law crime of suicide, which will remove legal obstacles that could open the door to physician-assisted suicide. The bill passed the House 66-34.

Freedom From Medical Mandates – HB 2335 (Walker – R) declared that each adult has a fundamental right to be free from medical mandates from the government, private employers, health care entities, or providers of public accommodations. The bill would prevent people from being forced to undergo treatments or procedures, including receiving vaccines against their will.  The bill failed in the Health, Welfare, and Institutions committee on a vote of 15-6.

Religious Exemption for COVID Vaccine – HB 2268 (Cole, M – R) sought to protect individual freedom by preventing Virginians from being forced to get a COVID-19 vaccine despite their sincere religious objections, and by protecting parents’ rights to object to mandated vaccinations for their children during a declared emergency.  It was defeated on a party-line vote 13-9, with Democrats voting against it.

Health Insurance Coverage of Abortion – SB 1276 (McClellan – D) would allow coverage of abortion on demand in health insurance plans in Virginia’s Obamacare health exchange. Taxes pay for managing the exchange and for subsidizing health plans in many cases. The Senate passed the bill 20-17, and it now goes to the House for consideration.

Health Insurance Coverage of Abortion – HB 1896 (Hudson – D) is identical to SB 1276.  The House passed the bill 55-45.    

Conscience Protections for Genetic Counseling – SB 1178 (Ebbin – D) seeks to eliminate the religious conscience protections for genetic counselors who assist a patient in understanding certain genetic tests and any inheritable diseases, which could be used to choose an abortion or the destruction of a human embryo.  The Senate Education and Health reconsidered the bill on Thursday (even though it was not on the docket), and passed it 11-4

“Workplace Harassment” based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – SB 1360 (McClellan – D) would punish virtually all private employees for dissenting over the LGBTQ ideology.  It would make any “direct or indirect” and “verbal or nonverbal” conduct on the basis of “sexual orientation,” or “gender identity”, etc. “workplace harassment” – even when the accusation occurs outside the workplace.  The Senate Commerce and Labor committee voted to pass the bill 10-1, with 3 abstentions. The House version, HB 2155 (Watts – D), was approved by the House General Laws committee on a party line vote 13-9.

Prohibit Anonymous Teen Sex Text Lines – SB 1235 (Peake – R) would prohibit the Virginia Department of Health from facilitating dangerous programs that involve contacting children without parents’ consent or knowledge, like the Teen Sex Text Hotline. The bill passed the Senate Education and Health committee 8-6.  The House version, HB 2084 (Byron – R), failed in a subcommittee for lack of a motion because some legislators raised concerns about how broad the bill could be interpreted.

Passed Senate: Expanding Who Can Become a ParentSB 1321 (Boysko – D) would amend current law to allow “a person with a legitimate interest” to file a petition to the circuit court for adoption of a child.  This bill could potentially allow a live-in boyfriend or former step-parent, with no real connection to the child, to be able to petition the court for adoption.  The bill passed the Senate 24-13.

Legalized Marijuana – SB 1406 (Ebbin – D) would legalize the recreational use of marijuana.  The Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee approved a 500+ page bill and referred it to the Courts of Justice committee.  A subcommittee recently debated the specifics of the bill. The House version, HB 2312 (Herring – D), was debated in a House General Laws subcommittee. 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles