I have been reflecting on the loving gifts I have received this Christmas-expressions of love never cease to amaze me. Some were small material gifts thoughtfully matched to who I am or what I like and some were gifts of calls and cards and messages sending love. They were especially important in this year of Covid19 when we cannot travel to be with our loved ones. And they were especially important to me this year as it is my third Christmas without my partner in life, love and ministry- Rev. Judy Beaumont.
(We were both ordained Roman Catholic Priests through the Roman Catholic Women Priest -RCWP-Movement that began on the Danube river in 2002. After many years of service and compassion particularly to the homeless and outcast we were both called by our local community to also serve as Priests. We were already serving our Good Shepherd Ministries of SW Florida and we became Co-Pastors of the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers. I was ordained in 2008 and Judy Beaumont was ordained in 2012. Over 400 persons joyfully participated in her ordination. Our service continued with a new sacramental dimension supported by our varied and loving community.)
On New Year’s Day, Jan 1, 2021 Judy began the New Year by leaving the suffering of AML Leukemia behind and going home with Love. Her life is now eternal and she remains our guiding star and angel. As all who lose loved ones know all too well, the Holidays, and even the most Holy days can be a difficult time, a time of remembering and a time of missing and a time when there is one foot in the past and another in the present. So love expressed at Christmas is particularly important. Yet Christmas is ALL about Love. God’s tremendous love for us. A beautiful Christmas song popularized by the Jars Of Clay and available on Youtube is entitled Love Came Down At Christmas. (It adapted by the jars of Clay but was written very long ago by Christina Rosetti- 1830-1894 with a Traditional Irish Melody). The words say it all:
“”Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas; Star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead, Love incarnate, Love divine….
Worship we our Jesus, But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token; Love be yours and love be mine,
Love from God to all of us, Love for plea and gift and sign”.
When we embrace the love of God at Christmas we are never alone and never ‘Unloved”, though we remember the loves of our life who have gone before us. Those of us in older years may often say: “There are more of my loved ones in heaven than on earth”. Some may even say “ALL of my loved ones have now gone before”. There is a poignant sadness in that, yet a hopefulness. I ask you to remember love with me now. The love we were blessed with, and the love we are still blessed with- and most especially the Love that came down at Christmas.
As a special gift I am sharing here Chapter 12 of my book about Judy’s life of complete loving service. There are Chapters that are written by Judy and Chapters about what she accomplished and how she struggled and served. A few Chapters are about our life together as well. This is one of those Chapters. If you care to read this Christmas chapter, it may whet your appetite for the whole story. It is appropriately entitled “Every Day Is Like Christmas”. Click on Download if you would like to read it.
Here is a link to the book: https://www.amazon.com/author/judyleejudithablee
A Blessed Christmas Season and a New Year in which you know without a doubt that you are loved-most especially by the Love that came down on Christmas. Let us remember to be the hands of Love this Christmas and always.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee
Co-Pastor of The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community and Good Shepherd Ministries in Fort Myers Florida
The view was breathtaking as Amanda and Andy exchanged their vows to love and cherish one another forever on a hilltop in the beautiful wine country of Virginia in the late afternoon of August eleventh 2013. The bluegreen mountains in the background framed the scene as many shades of green punctuated by the bright yellows and oranges of huge butterflies and the bride’s lovely shimmering dress with beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers on either side of the couple, formed the altar where they were wed. The butterflies ,a symbol of new and beautiful life, were all around. One elegant rust and orange butterfly settled on the bride’s side as she, aware only of her handsome groom, said her vows. His eyes intently rested on her. One had a glimpse of that first Garden where life and love were ignited.
Rev. Judith Beaumont began the ceremony in an unusual way, asking the families and friends gathered there to state their intentions with an “I do” to vows of supporting the couple in the ups and downs of married life. The large group gathered were joyful as they pledged their support and love. They were also asked to raise their hands in blessing the couple along with the priest.
The Gospel reading was from John 15:9-12 (Verse 12) ” And this is my commandment, love one another as I have loved you”. In the brief Homily Rev. Beaumont located the love of Andy and Amanda and their families and friends in the heart of God’s love for them as expressed in the life and example of Christ. The couple also chose Adam Sandler’s song about growing old together and Apache (Native American) and Jewish Wedding blessings as readings.
Their vows were moving and loving,truly sacramental. Toward the end of the ceremony Rev.Beaumont wrapped their joined hands in her wedding stole and united them with a blessing including God in their marriage and naming the many ways their hands would comfort and enable them to serve one another and God’s people as they have already been doing in their service to others.
After the ceremony many attending thanked Rev. Beaumont and remarked at the deep and sacramental meaning of the holy, beautiful, simple and inclusive ceremony. Those gathered were a very diverse group of all ages, races and religions, but most were Roman Catholic by birth. Some were practicing Catholics and some “fallen away” but all welcomed Rev. Beaumont warmly. Many who never even heard about the existence of women priests said that they were so pleased to experience the difference a woman priest can make and to know that church renewal has begun.
Reported by Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP 8/13/13
Rev. Judith Beaumont, ARCWP, Officiating
Rev. Judy Beaumont, Roman Catholic Woman Priest Presides at Magdala Celebration On Thursday July 18th,2013 Southwest Florida Call To Action members and friends gathered to celebrate the Eighth Annual Magdala Celebration. Eighteen enthusiastic and thoughtful participants included representatives of Pax Christi, Rev. Joe Irvin’s Bootstrap Ministry of Cape Coral, the Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, and the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers where Judy Beaumont,and Judy Lee, Roman Catholic Women Priests are Co-Pastors. Rev. Judy Beaumont put together and led an inspiring liturgy that celebrated Mary of Magdala as Apostol to the Apostles and other woman leaders noted in the Scriptures as well as the nineteen women who were auditors at Vatican II. These diverse women were called to represent the world-wide church born anew in the promise of the Council. They paved the way for female theologians and for the increased participation of women in the life of the church.
Mike and Imogene Rigdon of Venice led the group in a rousing chorus of “Standing On The Shoulders” written by Joyce Rouse. As they sang “Standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us, we are stronger for their courage,we are wiser for their words…” each one present recalled the people in their lives, well known and unknown, who led the way for the new and sometimes revolutionary roles of women and the laity in the church. The shared homily included these reflections. Cardinal Leo Suenans was remembered as one of the Bishops who spoke at the Council of calling for the participation of ” the other 50% of the human race”. Some also remembered pre-Vatican II Catholic Action Movements including Pat and Patty Crowley and their Catholic Action and Christian Family Movement. All of this paved the way for Call To Action to form in Chicago in the late 1970’s. Reflections included the sentiment that the shoulders of those present would be there “to hold the ones who follow us”.
Judy Beaumont presided at the Eucharist and all said the words of consecration and wore stoles to symbolize the priesthood of all believers. The assembled closed with blessing one another, asking the Spirit of God to aid them to “warm frozen hearts and subvert frozen structures for the sake of the Kin-dom.
By Ellen McNally and Judith Beaumont as shared with Rev. Dr. Judy Lee
Photo by Michael Rigdon