Bishop Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles
Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
St. Leo the Great Catholic Church
August 15, 2015
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
“Un signe grandiose apparat au ciel: une Femme! le soleil l’enveloppe, la lune est sous ses pieds et douze étoiles couronnent sa tête. »
No child forgets his mother. And we are here today to remember our mother who introduces us once again to her Son. She is a warm and gentle mother. Her words are few but her actions are many. Her greatest act, her greatest work, was to say, “yes.” “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Luke 1:38). This was her response to the angelic being who announced that she was to be mother of God. And with that response, the Word of God became flesh.
Today we see Mary not visiting her cousin Elizabeth, or holding the child Jesus in the manger of Bethlehem, or presenting the first-born son to God in the Temple, or prompting the first miracle of Cana in Galilee, or at the foot of the cross, or present for the birth of the Church at Pentecost. All these are her Scriptural appearances, but her final act is to be other-worldly, an assumption into heaven, taken body and soul, to be crowned by her Son in glory. “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1). This is what Scripture says. Her life lived in the most intimate details of Jesus’ upbringing, doing only what a mother can do—giving birth, nursing, cleaning, protecting the body of our Lord Jesus Christ—this woman is made lady for us all, Notre Dame de l’Assomption.
No child forgets his mother. And less we forget, we are here today to remember the exile of the Acadians, their arrival here 250 years ago, and Mary’s constant protection extended to them. It is a history well known to us. We will not repeat it, but we will recall one detail of the exiles unsavory history. Mary will help us remember.
Some noted historians who have studied the details surrounding le grand dérangement, the great upheaval, now conclude there was one prevailing reason for the exile. The Acadians were guilty of a “double flaw,” “le double tort.” They were French and Catholic. While other reasons might be posited, “no one has improved on [this] summary judgment” (John Mack Faragher, A Great and Nobel Scheme, Norton & Co., New York, 2005, p. 468).
And this Catholic faith nurtured in the hands of Cajun mothers praying their rosaries, bringing their children to Mass and the other sacraments, where is she today? How is she languishing in the materialism of contemporary Louisiana? Where is she forgotten in the relativism of the modern world?
Mary promised in her Magnificat in the Gospel of St. Luke that she would never be forgotten. “[B]ehold, from now on will all ages call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). This is no idle chatter. These words are no pious fabrication. This is the word of God, spoken by the Mother of God. Some conveniently ignore the words, but the Catholic cannot. The Cajun dare not. “Oui, désormais toutes les générations me diront bienheureuse” (Luke 1:48). Non, Marie. Les Acadiens n’oublieront pas ce que vous avez fait pour eux. Vous êtes la bienheureuse qui nous fait voir le fils de Dieu, Lui qu’avait soutenu les Acadiens pendant les chagrins de grand dérangement et maintenant les défis du monde contemporain.
Notre Dame de l’Assomption reminds every Acadian, every Cajun by blood or by adoption, that he or she belongs to Christ Jesus and His Church, for it is not only the courage of Gabriel and Evangeline that resides in the body of the Cajun, not only the blood of Acadie that runs through veins of the Acadian, but a timeless wisdom in a faith hidden in God’s intent but “revealed to us through the Spirit” (cf. I Corinthians 2:7-10) that permeates the very soul of a people.
No child forgets his mother, and no Acadian should forget the soil from which he sprang, a soil watered with the blood of martyrs, outcasts, and exiles. But let the Lady of the Assumption have the final word:
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever (Luke 1:50-55)