February 6, 2021 Column Father De Celles

Presentation of the Lord: Candlemas. This Tuesday, February 2, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus, recalling the presentation of the Baby Jesus in the Temple 40 days after his birth, as prescribed by the Law of Moses. It also recalls the prophetic prayer of Simeon, the Nunc Dimittis, said every night in the Liturgy of the Hours of the Church, and the prophetic proclamations of the prophetess Anna.

            This feast is also called “Candlemas”, because historically it was the day priests would bless the beeswax and candles for use in the Church, symbolizing the line from the Nunc Dimittis, that Jesus would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” If you wish for your own candles to be blessed, bring them with you to the 8:30 Mass and I will bless them at the beginning of Mass, along with the candles we will be using in the church.

            Traditionally, this is considered the last of the Christmas feasts, for obvious reasons (i.e.., the date is determined by Christmas and it is a feast of the Baby Jesus). So, perhaps one last time we can say, “Merry Christmas.”

Feast of St. Blaise. This Wednesday, February 3, is the Feast of St. Blaise—the day we bless throats. St. Blaise was Bishop of Sebaste (in present day Turkey) and was martyred about A.D. 316. Legend has it that one day Bishop Blaise restored a pig (alive) to its owner, a poor woman, after it had been eaten by a wolf. A few days later, when Bishop was imprisoned for his Catholic faith, the woman brought him candles to light the darkness of his cell. In that same prison, he miraculously cured a boy who was choking to death from a fishbone lodged in his throat. Thus, the custom arose of using candles and invoking the Saint to bless throats against all sorts of ailments.

The blessing will be given at the end of the 8:30 Mass, and then I will give the blessing without Mass at Noon and 5:45pm, and then after Benediction at 7pm. Because of COVID I will give the blessing in two ways: first to all the people present at once (so you need not approach me) and then individually using the candles but without touching you/your throats.

First Confessions. Please keep our second graders in your prayers this week as they prepare to receive the Sacrament of Penance for the first time next Saturday morning, February 6. Pray that the little ones are not too nervous, make good confessions, accept God’s grace and develop a true love for this sacrament.

Vaccines. I’d like to call your attention to two items on our website. Go to the website and at the top of the page click “Apostolates,” then on the new page click “Respect Life.” Near the bottom of the Respect Life page you will see two links. The first is “Important article on The Unborn Babies Used For Vaccine Development Were Alive at Tissue Extraction.” The second, “Pfizer COVID Letter,” is a form letter we drafted that you can use (making your own appropriate changes) to send to the manufacturer(s) of the COVID vaccines using cell-lines aborted fetuses in their development, testing or production.  Specifically, if you elect to take the vaccine, the Church says you must do something to show your objection to the use of these cell-lines. This is a very simple way to do that.

Government Schools vs. Science. Sadly, Virginia government/public schools and many (but not all) of their teachers have lately officially abandoned science.

Re-Opening. By now we should all be aware that for months teachers’ unions, have objected to re-opening Virginia’s government/public schools for in-person instruction. Because of this the government has made the teachers eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. But because there is a local vaccine shortage, a Fairfax union wants to postpone FCPS’s new “tentative return to class start date” from February 16 to some later date.

            We all want the teachers to be safe, but all the science tells us we can do that and that we must open the schools NOW: there is “no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus.” FCPS and teachers, all we ask is “follow the science.”

Transgenderism. We also ask them to “follow the science” when it comes to their policies on transgenderism. As we all know, science, not to mention common sense, clearly teaches us that males are males and females are females—every cell in their body tells us this through the DNA. But the government of Virginia and its schools reject the science.

            On January 4th the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) opened the public comment period on new draft model policies for the treatment of transgender students that can be adopted or expanded by local school districts. According to the Family Foundation the proposed policies include:

            “Failure to use a student’s new “preferred pronouns” – which can change from day to day and even defy basic rules of grammar (“ze/hir/hirs”, “they/them/their”) – would be “harassment” and “discrimination”, for which both faculty and students would be subject to disciplinary action….

            “Schools will be permitted to help a student explore, facilitate and make decisions regarding their gender expression of sexual identity while at school, without a parent even knowing!…

“The definition of “Gender identity” is completely subjective to each person claiming it, hence it cannot possibly be known by anyone except that person. …[N]othing could prevent any student from constantly “changing” their “gender identity” to exploit many situations…

“Parents who encourage their children to embrace their God-given sex would be at risk of being reported for child abuse or neglect by the school….

            “Students will be allowed to claim to be either a biological male or female (or both, neither, or something else entirely) for any duration of time, without providing any evidence to a teacher or administrator, making it impossible for teachers to comply with these policies….

Schools would be prohibited from notifying parents if a biological male is using the same changing facility as their daughter that was designated for girls….

            “All students will be allowed to use any bathroom or locker room they choose, without being questioned by any school administrator or faculty, eliminating privacy and safety of students in states of undress….

“The requirements for schools to maintain gender-neutral dress code standards will cause disruptions and distractions, permitting boys to wear skirts and girls to go topless in activities where boys can….

Parents will not be notified that their child is being interrogated by school officials for allegedly violating these policies, or have the opportunity to intervene on their child’s behalf, UNLESS the complaints are not resolved “at the school level.”…

“The policies provide absolutely no exceptions or accommodations for a student or teacher whose religious faith, conscience, or understanding of biology and sociology prevents them from being able to go along with the “transgender” ideology and policies…”

If you haven’t added your voice to the comments please do so as soon as possible. Go to our website (“https://straymonds.org/) and on the drop down menu “Important Announcements” click “Comment on awful school transgender policies.” This will take you to the State’s website.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles