Candlemas came a little early this year at our parish.
On Saturday we celebrated a memorial Mass for one of the legendary lights in our parish—and Judy’s sendoff included a joyful candlelit serenade sung by about six or seven dozen of her closest friends from St. Joe’s and around the Archdiocese.
They say Judy passed away last week while relaxing at home, but that’s certainly not how most of us remember her. To the contrary: ‘Indefatigable’ is a better characterization. It seemed Judy was always in action, starting most of her days off with a work-out…before heading to 6:30 Mass…then grabbing a cup of coffee at Breadco…and then off to work at a home for abused and neglected children.
In her spare time, Judy was a ringleader of the highest order—organizing pilgrimages and trips and brunches and parties that people tended to remember for years on-end. She served on dozens of ACTS teams over the years, too, and did lots of incredible stuff behind the scenes at St. Joe’s (like laundering the altar linens for a parish that celebrates Mass 17 times a week; and frequently cooking dinners for our priests.)
All of which helps to explain why the impromptu rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” seemed so very appropriate at her funeral over the weekend. Judy really lived the words of her favorite children’s tune.
So it seemed odd not to have her with us this morning at Mass, on Candlemas Day, the feast when traditionally we bless the candles that will be used in our liturgies and prayers throughout the year.
I heard echoes of Judy, though, in the stories we heard about Simeon and Anna—two of the faithful who spent all their time at the temple awaiting news of the coming of the Savior. Judy would have understood that instinct, I think. She deeply loved the encounters she had with Christ…both in the church building she frequented, and in the people whose lives she touched.
It wouldn’t surprise me to learn if Simeon’s words were on her lips at the time of her death, because they’re certainly reminiscent of how she lived her life:
Lord, now you let your servant go in peace,
your word has been fulfilled:
My own eyes have seen the salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.
Godspeed, Judy dear!
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.