One of the things that initially drew me back to my faith was my culture. My family is Cajun, and one of the definitions (at least originally) of "a Cajun" was that one had to be Catholic. Heck, that's part of the reason they were expelled from their homeland of Acadia in the first place. I figured, if people in my not-to-distant family were willing to die for their faith, who was I to think I was too good for it?
|One of Uncle Jules' projects|
July 28 commemorates Le Grand Derangement (The Great Upheaval) in Canada, and I am thinking about my Uncle and my culture a lot these days. This was the time when the English (and American colonists) went into Acadia (now Nova Scotia) and expelled the Acadians-- sending them across the country, ripping families apart. Catholicism means "universal" and I think about those Acadians, some alone, in their new "homes" going into a Church and finding something familiar and comforting. I see anti-Catholicism everywhere, in benign places that people who aren't Catholic may never even see. I think about my little culture, so misunderstood in the greater American culture today, and the outposts of who we are. I think of the new Evangelical and non-denominational Christianity, widespread across the Bible Belt, seeping into the Cajun Prairie and claiming people as the English once did, using the same vicious rhetoric against us, our culture (French) and our traditional religion. I can't help but draw parallels in the way Hispanic culture is looked at today and see a common denomination in incense, the Virgin Mary, a tendency to insulate against outside influences. I can't help but equate so much of my culture with Catholicism.
I can't speak Cajun. I can speak Provincial French (badly), and I can say a few words here and there. I grew up in Colorado, not Church Point, so I was removed from it. A displaced Cajun displaced further. It is no wonder then, that all I can preserve, in a way, of my tradition is my religion, my faith.This story isn't singular, it is echoed in the lives and words of emigrants from all over the world: Polish, Irish, Vietnamese. Spanning over hundreds of years that is what we, the Cajuns, had, and hopefully what we will always have. I know Uncle Jules is praying for that, as well.