Holy Mud: Cajun Joy and Devotion Built on Love of Our Lady
Every year people from all over the world come to Louisiana to experience the “joie de vivre” or the “joy of living” that is so tangible in the Cajun and Creole cultures.
As we greeted Sister Jeanne d’Arc following an all-day Eucharistic procession down the Bayou Teche in southwestern Louisiana we couldn’t help but notice that the entire last third of her habit was soaking wet and her feet were covered in mud. Her sunburned face and happy eyes tell the story of a very long and wet journey as the summer storms rolled in.
It's not every day that you see a young sister smiling, sunburned and totally drenched. Father Michael Champagne inaugurated this fifth annual procession down the muddy waters of the Bayou Teche which has occurred every year on Aug. 15, the Feast of the Assumption. This procession follows the same path that the exiled Acadians from Nova Scotia took when they first arrived in Louisiana after they were deported by the British and banished to this subtropical climate 254 years ago.
Two weeks ago, on this year’s Feast of the Assumption, special to the Acadian people, this Eucharistic procession of more than 50 boats bearing Acadian Flags, crucifixes, priests, religious, Our Lady of the Assumption, and our Eucharistic King, would raise even the most casual observer’s eyes. The mud on Sister’s feet and the wet hair of all the children, fathers and mothers and everyone who followed this procession reminds us that heaven is our homeland. First communicants in their festive white veils tossed rose petals and transformed the muddy puddles into a pathway fit for a King.
Our muddy feet and tired hearts need regular opportunities to be taken up into the divine. Every year people from all over the world come to Louisiana to experience the “joie de vivre” or the “joy of living” that is so tangible in the Cajun and Creole cultures. This joy has its roots solidly in Catholic culture and “fetes” or “feast days.” Feast Days are one more beautiful example of how we should celebrate the fact that God became a man, gave every drop of his precious blood out of love for us, and daily offers us the grace to make all things new.