Today is for Roman Catholics the Feast of the Assumption. Today is the National Day of the Acadians. those of us who are both would like those in the Acadian Nation who are Jewish, Protestant, (even Anglican though today is an awkward day to be both), Freemasons with no other formal religion and adherents of other faith to join what is still the (not so large) Roman Catholic majority and not merely plurality of their countrymen in celebrating the Le Jour National des Acadiens. We also wish those Catholics who are not Acadians but live among large numbers of us would remember this is a dual holiday for us. It is a sad kind of National Holiday. We do remember all that we are but we are not principally celebrating the founding of Acadie by our ancestors which has become Nova Scotia. We are not primarily remembering the founding of the Novelle Acadie in Louisiana which has become Acadiana. We are primarily remembering the tragedy, time of weakness (relative to an old and established empire in its homeland) , loss and death which is the destruction of the land of Acadie and the start of Le Grand Derangement. This holday has roots in the past since the Acdians were French subjects and as the first came to the new World the King of France had just designated the feast as the special day of France and the Fench. In 1881 there was the first large publisc and open convention of the Acadians since the exile itself in which a few thousand gathered for real national policy and it was at that time that they declared the holiday a national feast. The reason cited by some knowledgeable sources is in part to distinguish them form the Freanch Canandians who honored St. John the Baptist as their patron. You will see that I think the truth is more complex but the tie to the French synthesis they left behind is vital enough. We are remembering that we are a people and have a past and future in the face of great suffering. Here are some Acadian links in this site itself:
There are many more than these posts and pages which reference Acadian ethnicity and the Acadians in some way. I hope that this set of links will help the reader to find more than they planned on in the time devoted to one post. Then there is the other side of the Holiday. Acadians celebrate the Feast of the Assumption as their National Day partly because it falls during the days when the first flotilla of surviving exiles were all at sea. Having watched the destruction of Acadie largely in the form of dying frail relatives and the plumes of smoke from farms and churches near the coast. But Acadians also choose it because it is a holiday that has entered the Universal calendar of the Catholic Church as a Solemnity in this modern era in which they experienced this loss. They also honor it because it is a feminine holiday in a Christianity which has sold out to a largely woman-hating world in much of the modern era. While some parts of the world were more anti-feminist in the past and some are eager to bring that back — the feminine half of things was prized in much of Ancient Greece, Byzantine Christianity, High Medieval France and Acadie. Acadians can remember that we stand with that always developing tradition and against its destruction. In 1938 the Pope officially recognized the Acadian celebration of the Feast of the Assumption as their national holiday. He also entrusted them to the special patronage of Our Lady that this recognizes.
Of course the Assumption itself actually celebrates the raising of the body of Mary into Heaven to join her believers spirit. this is very hard for Protestant, Jewish or Skeptic Acadians to relate to one would think. First let us think about the celebration in Biblical terms of interest to Protestants and Jews. The Bible talks of Enoch and Elijah being taken up into heaven and so it is not without precedent in the Jewish Scriptures. For Protestants remember that in addition to these two Old Testament precedent we have what can be taken as the prophecy of Mary in the Canticle Catholics call the Magnificat .
And Mary said.
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely , from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done Great things for me, and holy is his name…
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.”
Luke 1:46-49, 56
Depending upon one’s hermeneutic the whole canticle is even more of a prophecy of such an event as this one or it is not such a prophecy at all. But there is a case which can be made.
For the true skeptic especially in modern times the whole thing is indeed pretty alien but remember if you possibly can, how very much you take on faith from poorly reported science that is constantly changing. There are different kinds of faith, some see this holy event and others out of ordinary experience as primarily symbolic and having a great deal to say about womanhood, queen mothers, suffering mothers who lose sons, the human body, death and other things without really thinking of any event. Others have a more earthy and integrated faith. The point is that sadly while your skepticism is poorer than religion in artistic light and shadow I am afraid theat I cannot grant you status as having a more rational faith experience — that has not been my experience so far. I do have lots of experience with skeptics.
I wish everyone a happy Feast of the Assumption and National Day of the Acadians. Life is marked by holidays in important ways.